As I reflect on the last 20 months or so, my life has taken twists and turns that I never could have anticipated: plans upended, job loss, two moves in less than fourteen months, Zoom school, the stress of being a healthcare worker during the pandemic, fractured friendships, and disconnect with overseas work. All these things, like blinking neon lights, easily overshadow the good that came out of lockdown and pandemic stress.
However, I still stand in a strange gap—one moment I find myself grieving over so much loss, and the next moment I’m reminiscing about how life slowed down for a while, how neighbors pulled together, and the kindness of others brought comfort and hope to the lonely and afraid. When I go back to those “early days,” I begin to count my blessings… groceries dropped off at my door while I was in clinic, encouraging messages from my church family, and heart-warming video calls with our friends back in Asia (because everyone was home!). Though so many of us were disconnected physically, some connections grew stronger! And perhaps, if we look back at lockdown life and dig deep, we might find some things we want to hold on to.
For the better part of ten years, our family lived in a remote, rural part of East Asia where there was no formal church—no official meeting place where believers could gather. Although there were a few Christ-followers in our region, we did not attend their sporadic meetings for the sake of their security and safety. Instead, we met up with our brothers and sisters in more casual, socially acceptable ways, through the conduits of professional work life, neighborly meals, or outings. On most Sunday mornings we gathered as a family, along with teammates or other visitors in town to sing, read and discuss Scripture, and listen to a sermon. The fellowship was simple, uplifting, and truly special during that time.
After a few years back in the States, home church was just a memory. Life had moved on, we were involved in a church and enjoying the benefits of larger fellowship. Then came along Covid, closing down businesses, churches, and any sort of gathering. When lockdown hit, however, our family kicked into high gear and did home church like we did in the “old days.” My husband pulled out his guitar, I found our old song sheets, and the kids picked their favorite Bible stories to study. We still tuned in to online church, but there was something so second nature about home church that got us super excited about “lockdown Sundays.” We started making our favorite meals that reminded us of after-church lunches and dinners with our local friends back in Asia—dishes sizzling with familiar spices, sour vegetables, roasted peanuts, hot pot and sticky rice. Sometimes after a meal we’d Zoom with former teammates who we used to do home church with because…why not!? It gave us time to connect and pray for our friends in East Asia.
In the midst of uncertainty, our family found comfort in home church. We were reminded of the power of Christ’s home in us. Like Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three gather together in My Name, I am there among them.” Throughout the pandemic, our kids expressed how much they had missed family church time and the way it reminded them of “home.” For me, doing home church allowed me to reconnect spiritually with my husband and children in fresh ways and be even more present in their lives.
Even though lockdown is over (at least in our current location) we have decided to keep up the practice of home church about once a month. It might include a nature walk or a spicy meal along with worship, family prayers and Scripture study. Making Christ’s home in us, in my family, keeps us knit closely together when the rest of the world seems to be unraveling. Now that’s something to hold on to!
What about you? What did church look like for you during the pandemic or lockdown? How has doing church changed for you (or not)? I know life during the pandemic looks different for people depending on where they live in the world, so, what aspects of the lockdown are you grateful for or happy to hold on to? Please share with us in the comments!