I carried hope with me the last time I stepped out of our office. I thought we’ll isolate for a month at most, weathering this treacherous viral storm that gains ground every time somebody decides to get a bit too close. I was wrong, it’s been over 4 months, and I’d forgotten what my desk looks like.
At the start of the year I was working 12 hour Sundays, wishing it could be better and easier because I love what I do. I did miss lazy Sundays, thinking I’ll never meet one again. I was wrong. This morning, I woke up at 7, and went back to bed, because there’s no truck to load, no mall to ingress in, no tithe envelopes to collect and snacks to put out on cocktail tables.
Some days it pains me to think that as the world heals and finds the footing it’s lost, the church will probably be the last to gather again. It’s unwise, even irresponsible, to resume our 300-people gatherings with COVID-19 still around. It’s almost impossible to do contact-tracing if the transmission happens in our halls. What is church without the handshakes, the hugs, the standing around in our makeshift fellowship area catching up on each other’s week? Even with the most stringent measures in place, one slip up can cause a ripple effect through our communities, and we can’t afford to be the catalyst for that.
By forgoing gatherings, the Church supports the front-liners who bear the brunt of this pandemic.
I’m proud of my home church, Bradford, for adjusting and recalibrating the year’s plans to serve where needed the most.
For housing and supporting over 150 medical front-liners for 4 months.
For YOU, our understanding, patient members who willingly adjusted to our online worship and stayed connected with us, transferring the fellowships onto Zoom Meetings and group chats.
For those who patiently learned online banking and GCash just to continue giving their tithes – in turn, sustaining over 30 pastors and several church workers in a time of job insecurity and scarcity.
For our faithful church staff and volunteers who produce hours and hours of content every week for the kids, youth, and everyone who clicks on our page for spiritual sustenance.
For the quiet, unseen work of our pastors conducting necrological services and distributing aid whenever and wherever they can. It’s hard to articulate the weirdness of grief right now – several church members have gone home to the Lord and we could not gather to celebrate the lives they lived. I can’t imagine how hard it is for our pastors to bear that weight, that long, quiet drive home with no other members to grieve with.
A lot of these things were done quietly, without pomp or parade, but I praise the Lord for all these and I am so blessed by the lives surrounding me at church. You’ve taught me to work for the Lord and make Him my only audience, and find life and fulfillment in that close, uninterrupted space.
If there’s anything more evident to me now than before, it’s the love the Father has for His church. Nothing ever formed shall prevail against it. Not even a pandemic and isolation and locked doors can stop His favor pouring out on His people. There have been times of lack and need but He is showing His provision in new ways.
The changing of my job description was swift. My ministry used to be physically taxing. Organizing ministry events. Now it’s hours in front of my laptop, thinking and dreaming up content, providing support wherever I can. Two months in, I caved and bought a desk. I realized I’ll be sitting here, editing at home, longer than planned.
I miss preparing the classrooms for the BGroup Leaders. I miss printing your manuals and editing your tarps and bugging Kuya Jocel to put it up after Saturday lunch. I miss asking Kuya Manny to buy bread and he’ll smile when I say he can buy whatever snacks he wants too. (RIP, Kuya Manny.) I miss the predictability of my Sundays, the clockwork humdrum I lost before I came around to despising it. I miss the plans we had to forgo and the plans we might have to do away with, for the remainder of the year. Above that, I miss you, Bradford Church, and your smiles and greetings and love and warmth. I’ve weathered too many personal storms around you and you helped me navigate them all. I’ve grown because of the patient mentors and the friendships and the unofficial adopting of me into families. I still feel it through the screen sometimes. I’ve been privileged to host and arrange the webinars and SOD classes we’ve had, and it’s nice to see you say hi to each other, coo over the cute babies and dogs who make an appearance, and still be excited about our little plans for our online church.
I will always hold your resilience, humor, steadfast faith, and add it to my longing for our physical reunion.
The Lord handed this job to me, and my love for the church had grown exponentially ever since I stepped foot in Bradford 8 years ago. For all the highs and lows, the almost-running-aways, I’m here because I know you and I love serving you and worshipping the Lord with you. I’m here because the Lord so graciously allowed me to be.
I still carry hope with me, a steadfast flame latched onto my heart, that the Lord will bring us back together safely and beautifully and we will offer our worship like never before. Now that we’ve distilled into the basics, done away with the numbers and setups, I pray that your love for the Lord is deeper, rooted in His Word, built upon His faithfulness, sheltered in His peace.
I’m excited to arrange our first worship service back. It’s something I look forward to every day. I was reading Colossians 1 when the Lord confirmed in my heart my calling to serve Bradford. It’s something I want to read to you today:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you.
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.
For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
I pray this prayer for you everyday. Until then, please stay safe. Stay at home if you can. Keep growing in the Lord, and keep our pastors and workers in your prayers too. We’ll see each other soon.