In the Midst
We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. – Psalm 48:9 (NRSV)
On my first Sunday back in the sanctuary after fifteen months, I made sure to mark the moment. Masked, I looked for a pew labeled with the service time, every other one wearing a sign for 8:15 or 11 a.m. During Covid-19, the sanctuary received a glow-up; the new cushion on which I sat felt firm and supportive, grounding me in a well-loved space that is familiar but different after all this time. Fresh paint, new blinds and lights, and new flooring have changed the landscape, but not whose it is. This space belonged and belongs to God.
Sitting up front, knowing the limited seating would fill up quickly, I felt the weight of waiting’s end in a space that – like so many churches I have loved – breathes the Spirit of God into me. Like mouth-to-mouth, it resuscitates me.
We have not arrived at normal, whether the old version or a new one we may yet reach. On that morning, in the midst of the sanctuary, I pondered the steadfast love of God that sustains me and mine, and I hope yours, too. While the organ played, I heard murmurs behind masks, “Holy, holy, holy,” one of the hymns I have known the longest and sung the most in my 60 years. Early in the morning, 8:25ish, my song, though not full-throated, rose, hopeful.
Wherever we are, God is there with us.
Holy God, we give thanks that you are in the midst of all the spaces, virtual and in-person, where the faithful gather, and we give thanks for your love that never ends. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, new from The Pilgrim Press.