by Rev. Margaret Marcuson for The Christian Citizen

I’ve talked with dozens of pastors over the last 4 or 5 months about how they and their churches have adapted to the coronavirus pandemic. They have created virtual worship. They’ve learned Zoom. They’ve found people to edit video or learned how to do it themselves.

Now they are tired. And instead of a break they are dealing with church members who are pressing for in-person worship, or conversely, don’t want to talk about it at all, even to make a future plan for gathering again.

And of course it’s not over by any means. A widely available vaccine is months out at best. The deeper economic implications will be years long, and the financial fallout for churches has yet to be seen fully. You may feel like you’ve moved from a sprint to a marathon.

What’s a leader to do? A marathon is exhausting. Instead consider slowing down to a brisk walk. Slow down a little. When you walk, you make progress, and you exercise your body. You also have time to look around you. I’ve found that a lovely way to connect in person in this isolated time—to wave and say hello from six safe feet away. In the summer there are flowers. People are walking their dogs. It’s uplifting.

In her recent book, “Keep It Moving,” artist and choreographer Twyla Tharp writes about the importance of movement. She’s 78 and still moving—and still creating. She suggests looking for a daily miracle. “Practice this: each day expect one miracle—one instance of elegance or beauty from the world—it’s your right.”[i] It helps your brain stay active by anticipating something special. For people of faith, it’s a wonderful way to live. You have to slow your pace a bit to notice, rather than rushing from task to task (or Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting).

It doesn’t have to be a big miracle. Tharp notices when someone uses a word she hasn’t heard before, “the miracle being an expanded vocabulary.”

Or here’s an even bigger miracle. I heard an amazing story recently from Rev. Zach Bay of First Baptist Church of Middlesboro, Kentucky. For weeks after they shut down in-person worship, he invited members to meet him one at a time and in household groupings outside the church building. The individuals and families, one per day, then rang the church bell as a witness to their community He then posted the pictures on their Facebook page, as a way to maintain connection among members. (See one example here).

These small and bigger miracles are ways to keep yourself going. Your brain is designed to notice the negative—it’s a survival tool. It takes extra attention to keep walking along this path, to slow down a bit, to tune your brain to see the positive, the miracles. You will begin to notice. 

What are the miracles you’ve seen in the last months? What about yesterday? What about today?

The Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources.

[i] Twyla Tharp, “Keep It Moving” (Simon & Schuster, 2019), 81.

Photo by Alistair MacRobert on Unsplash