Seeking Comfort in the Late Pandemic Era

From the Pastor's Desk

Greetings from the “Late Pandemic Era”! That’s what I’ve been calling these days we now live in. Vaccinations are picking up the pace, and we see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can imagine a life resembling normalcy coming soon. Spring has sprung and lifted our spirits. The Day of Resurrection is only a few weeks away!

I’ve been feeling very hopeful in so many ways lately. But it’s also a challenging time to be a pastor. I tend to be a “people pleaser,” meaning that I gravitate towards trying to make everyone happy. But I also know from experience that I can’t let that guide my decisions, because making everyone happy is impossible.

Under normal circumstances, it’s no longer as difficult for me to see the right decisions for the church, even though they will not please everyone. But in this Late Pandemic Era, I’ve reverted back to my people pleasing ways.

You see, I want nothing more right now than to bring people comfort after a year of disruptions, anxiety, and trauma. We all share a need right now to feel safe, loved, and at peace. But we are unique individuals, so what comforts one does not comfort all.

Take worship, for example. Some in our church are overjoyed at the return to sanctuary worship. Others eagerly hope for the still safer and more novel experience of outdoor worship. And many have discovered the sacredness of worshipping as a family in the comfortable environs of home. Add in our differing preferences for music, worship style, and sermon topics, and it becomes nearly impossible to make us all happy. In a perfect world, I would have the time, energy, and resources to craft a service for each of you individually, in whatever unique way you need to feel God’s love and hope.

Alas, many limitations preclude me from doing so. It’s very likely that at some point this year, you will wish for Avery UMC to be something that we cannot be right now. You’ll seek comfort and be unable to find it in the church’s ministries.

When that time comes (if it hasn’t already), I want you to remember two things:

1. As your pastor, I pray for each of you by name on a weekly basis. I have not been able to keep in touch with you all as closely as I want to, but you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.

2. When the church cannot comfort us, the Lord can and will. Scripture is abundant with words of comfort and hope. It’s a reminder for us to place our hope and trust not in things of this world, even the institution of church, but rather in things above.

Some day, either months or years from now, we’ll experience the joy of togetherness as a congregation. I don’t yet know what form that will take, or who will be there. But I do know that God promises brighter days ahead, beyond the Late Pandemic Era. May you be blessed and comforted until those days come.

-Pastor Erik

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