Devotion for September 1, 2021, from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King:
A couple of months ago the kids and I went to Fairyland in Oakland for the first time in 17 months. Another first in a long list of firsts in these past weeks upon the reopening of California. We all had cherished memories of this little dreamland at Lake Merritt that served as an inspiration for Disneyland! It’s this perfect mix of play structures, animals to look at, stories that one can unlock with a magical key, carousels, trains and puppet shows. In short: It is everything a child could possibly wish for. Just a pool might be missing.
Our expectations and anticipation were accordingly. As soon as we entered the park, the kids ran off. They still remembered everything. I followed Theo to the merry go around, no waiting in line, he could pick among half of the horses (the others were blocked), life was restored!
Until Toni came and also wanted to ride along. And the lady told her that she was too tall. Just by hardly an inch. Yet, she couldn’t get on. Toni was devastated. She cried and cried, wished to be smaller again. To her the day was ruined.
At the end of our 3-hour visit I solemnly declared that this was our last visit and that they had graduated from Fairyland now. They weren’t happy to hear that. Even though they had been a little bored, to be honest.
This visit had shown them more than just the simple fact of having grown in the past 1,5 years. It also reminded us of what we have missed out on. In Toni’s case: Going to Fairyland while she was still small enough. It reminded us that there is no simple going back to how it used to be. Because we are not who we used to be anymore. A place we used to love might not be anymore what we remembered it to be. Or maybe it is to some, but not to others.
While the change is easy to see in kids, all of us adults have been changed, too. It might not be as visible to the world, as easy to measure. It will have to do with acknowledging that we have grown. As a church. Some things might not fit us anymore. (Also, some clothes.) We might be sad about it. We might mourn without knowing exactly what it is we are missing.
The hard work of “reopening” has just begun. And it’s not just about opening doors and welcoming people into our physical spaces. It’s about seeing ourselves as the new people we are. The people that have worshipped faithfully from our homes and cars and vacation rentals. The people that made do with Zoom and built new relationships. The people who stayed inside for months upon months to be safe. The people that took whatever was at hand for communion. The people feeling God’s presence amidst a pandemic. The people knowing that a church is so much more than a building. The people meeting new people of God on Zoom, listening to different pastors preach, reading different devotions. All of us, blessed people, God’s people, sitting and walking through a wilderness longer than anyone could have imagined.
And now? Now, we discover that cocooning doesn’t leave us unchanged. That our life isn’t a merry go around. That we are resurrection people. And that resurrection is more than reopening. It’s about new life, new connections, revisioning what it means to live as Christians in our communities. We better be ready for God’s amazing work of renewal and resurrection. God is about to do a new thing! Pastor Tia!