On the bad days of the pandemic, I wasn’t sure when or if we would be coming back in person to sing, to receive communion or even to have committee meetings. Those days I was just trying to survive the upheavals until a vaccine was available. Brad and I kept masking and stayed hunkered down in our home. Vaccinated now, I feel relieved but also cautious and anxious for those who, through no fault of their own, haven’t been able to get vaccinated — not just those around me, but those who live continents away.

Slowly, carefully, I’m venturing out. Like never before, I am now appreciating the chance to sing the doxology with others in worship and to hear the squirming of children behind me in church. I smiled when I watched someone nod off during the sermon (something I hadn’t noticed when preaching to the camera!) I am so glad to be present for a careful hug or pat on the shoulder. When you are ready, we are here for in-person worship.

A few weeks ago we sang “Holy, Holy, Holy,” a familiar hymn that celebrates the Trinity of God’s presence as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I’ve sung it all my life, but this time the hymn’s refrain connected with me in a new way. We sang during the communion prayer: “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” We gave praise that God comes to us in person as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. 

God is not remote or online or virtually present in our homes, like the checkerboard faces on our countless zoom meetings. God is not stored away and preserved in a cloud or flattened into a file on our desktops. Right now, this very moment, God abides in person with us.  The Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament announced that the Almighty Creator would come and be with us, in person. God’s name would be Emmanuel which means “God is with us.” And that’s how we know Jesus, the presence of God in person, sitting right beside us in the people around us, in the beauty of creation surrounding us and in sounds of life and hope. 

Take a moment wherever you are and look around. How do you see and hear God right now?

This summer, I hope you feel that in-person presence of God who continues to support, heal, guide, and sustain you during this journey.

And when you are ready, I look forward to seeing you in person, too.