Regardless of what one may think of the state of Texas opening back up, I believe a blessing that many, including myself, are thankful for is the ability for churches to full capacity within the state.
While some stores still count entrants, restaurants require masks and theatres require social distancing, many churches have taken these “post-shutdown freedoms” and ran with them, my home church included.
For some context, let me lay out that this semester has felt spiritually lonesome. I still pray. I read my Bible (although not as much as I should). I listen to worship, but with all my church friends moved out or graduated, I resorted to watching services online.
That’s my choice, but I have found it hard to go to church in Abilene when graduation is just around the corner. I thought something was wrong with me, until I went home a few weeks ago.
While my home church only closed attendance during the initial large-scale shutdown, it remained at 25%-50% capacity until Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement.
I was concerned about my first church service back to 100% capacity. Would it feel lacking? Am I truly looking for God or just a feeling? Will people show up?
When my fiancée and I arrived our initial feelings were of shock. Everything felt strange as congregants poured in and filled the auditorium, some in masks and some not but no social distancing enforced.
However, as I settled in I began to feel at home. I was excited to be in a filled space worshipping God with others and to listen to a sermon as a church body.
What made it even better was that it was a place where people could show up with masks and gloves or none at all, but both would be treated just as kindly.
No longer was I just turning on a sermon because I need at least some Jesus for the day, but I was able to be a part of the church body again.
For some, the live streams may work, but what I discovered is that I needed to be back. By being back at a church in-person, I saw the body of Christ like I had not seen it before: as a working machine.
Where I once was annoyed by the scuttling of hundreds of feet and lack of parking spots, I now saw people craving to hear and feel God with others.
This feeling is one that everybody in the church needs. Although one may be more hesitant right now, I encourage everyone to pray and ask God when the right time is for them to return to services as quickly as possible.