Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I keep rolling with the punches as the Coronavirus saga continues and we’re forced to adjusting our boundaries and personal thresholds in the face of what I call “the interim normal“. Among several changes I neglected to mention in Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 was that our church moved to online services effective March 15th. Once boasting a membership over 2000 at its peak, and located squarely within the very first Indiana town to confirm a positive COVID-19 diagnosis once those started happening here, our church knew they couldn’t procrastinate taking action. Thankfully the IT infrastructure needed for such an undertaking was already in place. They’ve been recording and sharing sermons online for years — an audio-only stream back in primitive times, now with value-added video today.
Services in recent times had already been stripped down for a number of reasons. The online version captures the gist of the weekly worship we’ve become accustomed to lately. Our house band plays three songs. A staff member provides an intro, either before or after the band. Our lead pastor delivers the sermon. He digresses once or twice as new jokes pop into his head. Scripture is cited and a message is delivered. We pause for communion. The band returns to the stage for one more song. The congregation is dismissed and begin the usual bumper-cars ritual to see who can speed to Olive Garden or the nearest steakhouses first. Then, Lord willing, we ostensibly head out into the world as the hands and feet of Jesus.
The church can provide much of that routine via magical internet science, but not all of it. Any and all restaurant racing is on our own recognizance, and any traffic violations committed in the name of Texas Roadhouse are on us. And then there’s communion. Even in ordinary times, volunteers deliver communion to the elderly and other shut-ins each, but obviously aren’t expected to expand their Doordash-style delivery to every church member or would-be visitor. For that standard part of the Christian service, it’s BYOBB (Bring Your Own Bread and Beverage).
Last Sunday and earlier today, Anne served ours as pictured above. One Whole Wheat Ritz cracker for each of us. One dollop of juice for each of us — cranberry for her, diet grape for me — served in li’l souvenir jars we got from Fantastic Food Fest 2016. At the time, we couldn’t think of a practical use for such tiny jars, but they were too cute to toss out. At long last their true purpose has been revealed in accordance with God’s timing.
For anyone curious, this week’s service is linked below. Our pastor shelved the sermon series which had been ongoing until events steered worldwide everyday life a bit off the rails, and instead this week spoke on what happens when we’re faced with terrors beyond our mortal capacity for coping, and on the triumph of God’s perfect love over earthly fear. In no way whatsoever does that translate into “Sure, go to bars, do spring break, go wild!” It means facing the trials and tribulations set before us with wisdom and courage, secure in the knowledge that we’re not facing them alone. No matter what kind of crackers or juice we’re devoutly snacking on in His name. No matter where the church is nibbling.