The world has changed (again) this week.
It feels strange to be looking back on the beginning of this pandemic like it was in the ancient past, but I have found my thoughts drawn there this week.
My first clear pandemic memory is from January of 2020. I was attending the Alberta Synod Study Conference in Canmore, AB. Each night as we flipped on the TV before bed, the news kept talking about this Novel Coronavirus. I knew that I should be paying more attention to this, but the things happening more immediately around me pushed those thoughts away. It was still 6 weeks before that fateful week in March when the whole world changed.
Back in mid-November when Omicron was identified as a variant of concern, I had a similar feeling to the one I did in that hotel room in Canmore.
And this week has felt an awful lot like March 2020. When things that seemed to be on certain footing just a few days ago have become shifting sand.
I am sure there are many who are wondering about Christmas. Some might be hoping that we may be able to hold on and still get our in-person gatherings with family or at church. Others are probably already adjusting plans, and re-thinking things that felt set in stone for weeks or even months.
With the new public health orders that arrived Friday afternoon, we know that as of today, our capacity will be limited to 50%. For this reason we will be adding a second service at 4PM in order to spread out our attendance and to keep from having to turn folks away.
We are committed to keeping everyone as safe as possible at Sherwood Park. And in addition to the extra 4PM service, online services continue to be available no matter what.
This pandemic has again certainly put a damper on the season. I also suspect that the new year will bring a challenging time and things might feel like they are going back to those early days of the pandemic.
But we have been here before. We have weathered this storm before. And this time we know how to make things work.
And remember that first Christmas had a number of bumps along the way as well: government required travel, full inns, mangers for beds. And yet the Angels still appeared, a crowd still gathered even if in an unconventional way and the Christ-child was still born.