This country is making progress on getting people vaccinated against covid. But though we hope to get back to normal, the experts tell us that some things will never be the same. There are some people who will not go back to brick-and-mortar stores but will continue doing most shopping online. That means there will be further dependence on a fragile supply chain. We saw what the grounding of one ship in the Suez Canal did in delaying the shipping of many goods because other ships could not get through. Even goods manufactured in the US were delayed because they were waiting on foreign manufactured parts. Most companies no longer keep large stocks of parts in supply, because it is cheaper to order them as needed. But when snowstorms or hurricanes or ship groundings interfere there are delays, and inevitable price hikes.
Church experts say that many of the people who have joined worship online (especially the younger generations) will not want to return to in-person services. They warn that churches will need to be constantly innovating how we reach out to people online as well as in person. That gives us a challenge for future planning.
But perhaps the most difficult thing to recover from after covid will be people’s attitudes toward one another. We have been somewhat isolated: zoom meetings and video worship just don’t have the same effect as meeting each other face to face. People have become less trusting of one another, a trend that had begun before the pandemic but has accelerated. People seem to be much less tolerant of people with differing opinions. Again, this had started before but somehow seems magnified when people are doing most of their communication online. It is much easier to speak slightingly when we don’t have to face one another in person.
Perhaps I have been more aware of this because the lectionary scriptures in April and May lean heavily toward the fact that we are called to love one another as God loves us. Part of loving one another has to do with how we treat others. As I looked at these scriptures, I realized how much more I am willing to dismiss out of hand anyone who disagrees with me than I used to be. I have less patience than I used to. Instead of letting God remold my mind into His image, I have let the world remold me in its image.
The scriptures, as we approach Pentecost, also stress the work of the Spirit in our lives. How often have I quenched the fire of the Spirit trying to recreate me? But I have also remembered that the Spirit within us is much more powerful than the world. As long as I remain open to God, the Holy Spirit can work in me. As long as I work toward becoming the person God calls me to be, God won’t give up on me. The same is true of our society as a whole. We need to pray for one another and for our nation, and for the world that the Love of God will become more evident and that people will be more responsive to the Spirit. We need to pray that changes in us coming out of the pandemic will be those that draw us closer to God, and more able to show love.