Here on the fifth floor of Friendsview, the retirement community where I live, we’ve decided to worship together at vespers every Sunday afternoon. We, like everyone else, are under “lock down” rules and can’t congregate.
So, human creativity to the rescue!
The first two weeks we all opened our apartment doors at 4:00 p.m. on the dot, then stood in our door ways, waving and shouting (some are hard of hearing) at each other. Then, music was played, songs were sung, the Lord’s Prayer loudly prayed—and worship concluded with more waves and shouted blessings.
It all passed quickly within the space of ten minutes, but it reaffirmed, not only our faith, but our sense of family up on the fifth floor.
So I wrote it all up in an article, shared it with the Friendsview administration, and sent our director into what he named as a “near panic.” Within a few days, a new restriction was put in place against “doorway meetings.” It seems singing and shouting expel moisture and germs with a force that might overcome the distance between our doors.
I admire and am grateful for the care our administration takes of us. We are, I am told, a vulnerable people. So we complied, of course, with the new regimen, but with a sense of loss.
We’ve amended our vespers practice, but we still worship together at 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoons (this time, with the administration’s approval).
Here’s the procedure: At 4:00 sharp, at the sound of Howard’s trumpet or Hal's French horn, we all open our doors to a two-foot gap, then sit down comfortably in the middle of our apartments. The trumpeter, alone, walks the hall, loudly tooting his horn. Then the Singer-in-Chief, Marie, takes her turn alone in the hall, her loud soprano voice helping us keep on the same verse of the two hymns whose words we hold in our hands. Although the near-deaf among us say they can’t hear a thing, the rest of us manage to make it through the music at roughly the same pace.
Then it’s Francie’s turn, and she stands by herself in the hall and yells the Lord’s Prayer, enabling most of us to follow out loud. Hal ends our worship by walking up and down the hall playing the Doxology on his harmonica.
I miss the waving and shouting that used to come at the end, but it’s still good to worship together—to remind ourselves that God is still sovereign and we, together, are God’s family.