Post COVID Church at Crerar

“We are having two resurrections today. It’s the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, and the resurrection of Crerar from two years of COVID!” I was present as pastor Lawrence Page spoke these words on Sunday to the congregation at Crerar Memorial Presbyterian church, on Chicago’s South Side. Easter Sunday was the first day of in-person worship service for Crerar since the beginning of the pandemic. Worship was joyful and full of energy, even though the participants were masked. They were asked not to sing, but that did not prevent them from shouting Amen throughout the service!

COVID has been a season of Psalm 42

As a deer longs for flowing streams,

so my soul longs for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God,

for the living God.

When shall I come and behold

the face of God? Psalm 42:1-2
Lawrence reminds us that we are living into the resurrection. Many of our congregations have already begun meeting in person. The feeling of being together, fellowship, singing and worship, is being felt around the presbytery.
Now, as we carefully return to in-person worship, we are living into resurrection. But what does resurrection look like? Are we content to try and recreate the church we were before COVID? Are there learnings from COVID we can incorporate into a new way of being church? What does it mean to take our online presence seriously? How can we cultivate relationships with those who watch from afar? What type of leadership do we need to take us into this new church- the post COVID resurrection church? Are there changes to our of polity and liturgy that should be made to fit this changed church?
Lots of questions! This is the work of the session, pastoral staff, presbytery, and members of the congregation. At Crerar, the members are excited and worried. They tell me that it is great to come back together in-person. But they also realize the challenges they faced before COVID are still present with them as they return.
My hope is that an encounter with the risen Christ who has been changed, will change us as well. Just as Jesus gave Mary and the disciples the boldness to run and tell the story, I pray that we too will find boldness and courage to engage our world. As the resurrected church, we can become models of justice, righteousness, and peace to a divided world.
Hallelujah! Christ has risen! Christ has risen indeed!
Rev. Craig Howard