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Is it over yet...?

By Steve Gregg

The other night my family and I did an amazing thing: for the first time in over a year we went out to dinner as a family.  We sat inside at a table, enjoyed a meal, and actually bantered with the waiter. The time together was good, the food pretty tasty, but, if I’m honest, it was all a little strange.  A year and more of living with COVID restrictions doesn’t go away overnight. The waiters and staff were still in masks, some of the diners, too, and I felt a nagging internal strangeness in doing something that I hadn’t done in well over a year. We are feeling some of that same strangeness at Creekside as we emerge from a year of COVID. Some  folks will continue to wear masks as they wait for vaccines for our children or simply for more people to be vaccinated. There are those that have complicating health issues and feel safer wearing a mask in a crowd. Add to everything the effects of a stressful and challenging year. Stepping into this new phase of the COVID crisis brings a mix of relief and gratitude, but also hesitancy and weariness. As we seek to walk through this next phase well, here are some thoughts and next steps.

Masks at Creekside:
We are recommending that Creeksiders follow the CDC guidelines:
  1. If you have been fully vaccinated (you are 2 weeks past your final vaccination) feel free to go without a mask indoors or outside. 
  2. If you have not been vaccinated, the CDC recommends you wear a mask indoors. COVID is still out there; there are folks in our church who are in the high-risk group who have not been vaccinated, and our children are not vaccinated at this time.  While we are not going to check, we would ask you to consider the impact you could have on yourself or someone by inadvertently spreading the virus. 
  3. If you are sick or have cold or flu symptoms, please don’t attend services until you feel better. 
  4. If you test positive for COVID, please let us know as soon as you can. There is still the possibility of outbreaks in communities, and we need to know if folks in our church family test positive. 

The social cost of COVID and internet experts:
As your pastor I encourage you to get vaccinated unless you have talked to your personal doctor and have compelling medical reasons not to. Please beware of internet doctors, YouTube videos, and Facebook posts. There is so much misinformation out there, and it continues to spread confusion and suspicion. It is not only not helpful, it is destructive and damaging. Unfortunately, a significant part of the damage comes from the social divisions and fault lines that are created as people take sides on how people should respond.

Rebuilding our relational networks:
I am praying that this summer we can begin to rebuild our network of social connections at Creekside. I encourage us all to take the smaller groups, pods, or gatherings many of us have been a part of and reach out to other groups, pods, or gatherings to start that process. We need to strengthen the bond we have in Christ, and while that unity is something we are graciously given, it is also something we can foster and strengthen. Here are some suggestions for you to try:
  • For anyone unsure where to start, may I suggest one of the greatest tools we have for fellowship and encouragement is our dining room tables. Table hospitality is powerful. Invite others over for a meal or to sit on your back porch and get caught up.  
  • Those of you in a One Another Group could reach out to another OAG to host a joint get together.  
  • Invite other Creeksiders to lunch after church on a Sunday.
  • Kim and I found when our kids were younger inviting families over for a pool party was a great way to spend time with each other. 
  • Whatever you do. It’s pretty clear that we will have to be intentional about rebuilding this relational ties that have been strained and even severed during the past 15 months. 

Thankfully, Scripture speaks pretty clearly to this.  Much of the New Testament was written to churches in conflict and trials. Creekside, as we work our way through this next and hopefully last phase of COVID, hear this from Paul as he wrote to our sisters and brothers at the church at Ephesus:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:1-6