Love in the Time of Zoom Worship

by Pam Collins,
President of the Board of Trustees

I hope I’m not taking advantage of my privilege as Board President by writing these missives every week, but since I am unable to connect with all of you after services, they seem to be at least a one-sided substitute.  Besides, according to our new By-Laws, we are trying to evolve into a new role for the Board — that of being the visionary body for the congregation.  For now, this is my fledgling attempt at a) staying connected as your president, b) offering what insight and inspiration I can in these difficult times and c) making a stab at what it means for a Board to be “visionary.”

This week I want to share what I felt after last Sunday’s Zoom service which was a tossed salad of emotions: joy, inspiration, longing, thankfulness (x10), worry, love, amazement, and an urge to play “Filled with Loving Kindness” on the piano while we sang, and on the ukulele afterwards (it’s only three chords after all).  I imagine many of you felt the same mix of emotions.  I don’t think I have to enumerate what was attached to all those feelings…I think you already know.

This morning I read two distressing articles.  One was about a Presbyterian Church in Washington state that held choir practice recently, thinking that because they were out of the epicenter, they’d be fine.  Out of 60 people who showed up, 45 subsequently tested positive and two died.  You can imagine where my mind went.  And then there was the Megachurch in Tampa, Florida  that defied the social distancing rules and held live service last Sunday. (The pastor has since been arrested).  Of course, the urge is to think, “how dumb are these people?” and yet as I sat on my couch last Sunday for our Zoom worship, I could, briefly, totally understand the urge to throw caution to the wind to be with my beloved community again, in the manner I’ve grown accustomed to.  If it were only about me and my health, that would be one thing, but it’s what could happen to others that makes it a no-brainer to find ways to do without the very basic human need to be in community — especially in community around shared beliefs and aspirations.

Dan’s message was so right on target.  “Choose to be hopeful and courageous.”  I should write that in magic marker and put it on my fridge.  These things are choices, after all.  Actions, beliefs, feelings — they’re all choices, some more conscious than others, but choices none-the-less.  When we’re in community, it’s easier to bring those choices to consciousness and live into them.  When we’re alone, it’s harder to maintain our resolve.  And so, for all its imperfections, we meet virtually.  This past Sunday, even more of us than the Sunday before showed up from our kitchens, our dens, our living rooms…and bless Rev. Joe, Judith, Laurie, Dan and Barbara for making it happen — no small feat, let me tell you.

I always knew intellectually that we need each other, but now I know it in my gut.  We need community.  We need human touch.  We need to share ourselves with others in a variety of ways — our thoughts, our talents, our concerns, our joys, our questions and our answers.  If we learn nothing else from these challenging times, it’s to cherish community more than ever.

So I’ll end this with a concern that has come to light thanks to those who have taken on the task of ensuring the financial health of UUCSS.  All this change has resulted in fewer folks making payments toward their pledges.  It’s understandable.  We’ve got other things on our minds and, tragically, some of us are out of work.  But our staff still needs to be paid (and are still hard at work, and under more difficult conditions).  We still have a mortgage, utilities and other commitments.  Some of you are likely facing your own financial hardships and of course, immediate monetary well-being is top priority.  But if we’ve just forgotten about our pledges because we aren’t seeing those baskets move around the sanctuary every Sunday, here’s a gentle reminder.  We know now, more than ever, just how important UUCSS is to us.  We cannot let it falter.

My most heartfelt blessings to all of you.  May you find a way to choose courage and find joy where you can.  And thank you all for bringing your whole and beautiful selves to “service” electronically.  We can’t weather this storm as well as we want to without each other literally “being there” for each other.