There’s a chance that we’ll be able to gather again as a congregation this coming Sunday. The governor’s office and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare have been putting together a plan to “reopen” Idaho, which advances in stages, once certain health criteria are met. And, as we stand right now, thing are looking promising. We may be able to open our doors on the Lord’s day, and gather together around God’s word again. But it will not be exactly like it was two months ago. A lot has changed, and we’re still getting used to it.

This last Sunday afternoon, staying at home was getting a little stale, and we thought that we might take a drive as a family. By this point, just getting out and seeing something other than the inside of our house felt like pretty essential travel. In keeping with the spirit of limiting social contact, we decided to stay on the backroads. We took Frozen Dog Road out of Emmett, which turned into Shalerock Road on the south side of Black Canyon Reservoir. From there, we crossed the river at Montour, then up to Sweet. From the Sweet/Ola Highway, Brownlee Road takes you up to Dry Buck Road. Aren’t these great names for roads? There’s a story behind each one of them.

What has changed for you over the last few weeks? Jay Webster, Bob and Shari’s son, teaches at Sage Middle School, and obviously he’s been in a different mode these days since his classes have moved out of the classroom to distance education. Keri, his sister, was sharing that he was grateful that he had been able to spend so much time with his newborn daughter and her brother. For those of you who have been teachers, you know that you often end up spending a lot of time with other people’s kids, and not so much your own. Jay realized that even with the challenges presented to his occupation, there was a blessing laced into the situation, too.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”   John 13:1

      In an ordinary world, we would be having Love Feast this Thursday evening. In the tradition of the Church, the Thursday before Easter—Maundy Thursday—is reserved for the commemoration of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. The Church of the Brethren—holding to the deep authority of Scripture—has always taken Jesus words in John 13:8 pretty seriously: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Whether you want to take these words of Jesus literally, or search for a more symbolic meaning, that’s up to you. But the reality is that the washing of feet has had a powerful place in the liturgy of the Church since the beginning.

So, we’ve been in “stay at home” mode for a few weeks, now.  Some of us are still getting out and about, performing essential duties.  But there’s no denying that our regular patterns have been suspended.  Even if we haven’t needed to adapt that much personally, we’re still interacting in a world that has changed profoundly over the last few months.  We’re all trying to get used to a “new normal” when “normal” changes every few days.  One thing that’s becoming clear is that when this virus finally runs its course, and we come out from under our rocks, we’re going to enter a different world than the one we inhabited at the end of last year.  2020 is going to change things.