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Being Back

Loretta and I just finished watching Marvel’s WandaVision series. It begins with reality viewed through a strange and quizzical lens, with subsequent episodes hinting at and then revealing more recognizable events. Our two-weekend binge on the show lined up with GPPC’s first two return-to-in-person worship services. Being an impressionable young man, I couldn’t help but notice the Wanda-esque parallels as GPPC moves carefully from strangeness to familiarity.

No matter how unusual our first service back - everyone masked, gentle a cappella singing, mostly hug-less greetings, and just being in the sanctuary after 15 months away - I sobbed several times, beginning with Carla’s proclamation that it was a beautiful, terrible morning. And again, simply overwhelmed by the presence of nearly 90 people who felt the need to get themselves there. Beauty, terror, the longing to feed our souls. Being human and being aware.

Then this morning, familiarities began to crack the lens of oddness. We mostly unmasked. We sang more fully - I did, anyway - and accompanied by piano (organ surely to come). Paige led us in “Listen” - what a touchstone. Hugs numbered in double figures.

As Carla reminded us most every week in Zoom worship, it was a blessing to be able to gather in such a manner. Agreed. And part of the blessing for me is to cherish worship in the sanctuary in ways I had lost touch with over the years - as I focused on being a good choir member, internally critiqued the flow and execution of each service, and began to think of getting lunch on the table somewhere near the end of many sermons. I find myself these last two Sundays connecting with the elements of worship in line with their intended meaning and purpose. This morning we acknowledged that every atom is full of God’s energy. I took that to mean my atoms as well, and that is great comfort to someone staring down a heart procedure. The rest of the week I may fret over my frailties, but this morning we stood and affirmed my God atoms!

A friend wrote “WandaVision is the story of grieving that our world needed this year. (After) so much collective loss, the whole show was one big catharsis for me.” Returning to the sanctuary has been the catharsis I didn’t know I needed, grounded in faith, familiarity, and fellowship, and shimmering with joy and affirmation.

Alfred Walker

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