With a hint of sun peeking from behind the clouds my family and I gathered together on the couch, our backs to the window, and our faces to the TV. Our stomachs filled from a breakfast of pancakes, rich and decadent for the occasion. The kids already found the few hidden eggs in our living room. My daughter stacked her blocks on the coffee table while our son zoomed his trucks and cars, and my husband and I sipped our mugs filled with hot coffee. It was Easter Sunday, but besides the shouts of Christ is Risen from the TV our surroundings were quite different from past years.
It’s nothing new for our current world to be worshipping from home on Sunday mornings in an effort to keep ourselves and others safe from sickness. Yet, as a pastor myself, married to a pastor currently working in the church, the difference for this Easter was even more striking.
Thanks to technology and the help from others in our congregation, my husband pre-recorded and completed the Easter service before Easter Sunday. Any other year that would not have been the case. In the past one of us would have been up late putting finishing touches on sermons, or making sure the sanctuary was set up, or connecting with volunteers, or going over the liturgy, or any other manner of small detail that needed to be addressed before Easter Sunday. There is never a shortage of things to do and prepare for in a worship service, especially one like Easter where all the stops are pulled out.
The last few years, as I’ve been home with our children, I’ve been the one on Sunday mornings to get the kids ready. My husband has been the one up early and out of the house for sunrise services and Easter breakfast. This year, however, we all woke up together and stayed together. I made the pancake batter with my daughter and my husband cooked the pancakes. We gathered around our dining room table and feasted, together.
I know that plenty of other pastors this year were busy and working hard on Easter morning streaming services live or connecting with their members on Zoom and other means of technology. I know many pastors who are tired and weary from this new way of being church. I know many pastors who are longing for the day to be able to worship in person.
The church has connected with people across the world in new and varied ways, yet the heart of worship remains the same – proclaiming God’s love for God’s world. Perhaps it’s needed now more than ever; the message that God loves God’s people so much that Jesus was sent into the world to know our pain and suffering, to walk with us, and to overcome death on the cross.
We have a beautiful story to tell, a powerful one that is meant for the world. And this year so many people heard that good news from their homes on computers, radios, and TVs. I wish I could tell all the pastors I know that the work they do and are doing matters. Thanks seems too small a word, but it’s what we have.
Pastors, musicians, lay leaders, and the entire church body have been stepping up to tell God’s story. They’ve paved paths where none have been before. They’ve learned new skills in technology and social media. They’ve worked late nights and early mornings. They’ve adjusted to being home with kids and spouses, all working and learning. They’ve grieved not being able to see the community in person. They’ve continued to follow their call to God’s church and God’s people.
If you have been blessed by your church or another church this season, let them know their work matters. Tell them you appreciate the time and creativity that goes into online worship. Tell them that you see them. Tell them you’re praying for them.
We’re in this together – and together we’ll continue to proclaim God’s great love.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.