What about church do you find yourself missing the most?
If you’d asked me three months ago, “What would you miss the most if you were unable to attend church for an extended period of time?” I think I probably would have said something about getting to participate in ancient rituals, layering my voice on top of the voices of countless millions of people of faith who have gone before me. I almost certainly would have waxed poetic about the profound beauty of receiving communion. Maybe I would have recalled the satisfaction of offering something lovely to God, like the tablecloth I helped embroider by hand for my church in Washington, DC, or the delicately harmonized anthems I once sang with my home church choir, or just the feeling of standing in the warm rainbow light of our stained glass windows.
But now, as much as I miss the beauty and as much as I yearn for communion, I think I’m finding that what I miss the most is the voices.
I miss hearing someone else read the morning’s scripture. I miss hearing dozens of voices fall together into the familiar cadence of the Lord’s prayer. And I think that, most of all, I miss being able to say, “peace be with you!” and hearing the words “and also with you.”
When I sit in the spare bedroom that was once my craft room, filled with neatly labeled boxes of colored papers and costume pieces and spools of thread (now neglected and pushed aside out of the camera’s frame of vision), I find myself nervously beginning Sunday services with the words “Good morning” instead of “Peace be with you.” The absence of an echoed “good morning” is easier to bear than the absence of the words “and also with you.”
To say “Good morning” is familiar, and welcomingly everyday, the expression of hope. To say “Peace be with you” is scriptural, and sacredly special, the giving of a blessing.
My craft room doesn’t feel like a sacred space, for all that I’ve tried. I know that God hears me, but talking to my camera feels like talking into a void. I miss the echo of blessings, the unison prayers that feel like an embrace, the voices that come together to enter God’s courts with praise.
I suppose that all of this is just a long way to say a simple sentence:
Peoples,…I miss you.