The delta variant and planning for what’s next

I think it was about this time last year that I confessed here on the Presbyterian Outlook blog that I didn’t have a plan for the upcoming months. As someone who is a planner that was a very hard thing to own up to.

This year my white board is full of dates as I try to plan ahead for worship in through Advent. I am doing more planning than I did last year when I was living week to week with the lectionary as my guide. However, as I am writing this, the delta variant of COVID-19 has me asking questions again about what is safe — especially for our youngest members who cannot yet be vaccinated. During the past year our Christian education program went on hold. I have just begun dreaming with my team again how we might bring people back to learn together. Now, those plans are on hold again. My plan from here on out is patience and perseverance as we once again wait and see.

The thing is, I am kind of running low on both of those as we enter the third wave of COVID-19.

This time has changed me as a person, parent, pastor and leader. Where I once had color-coordinated calendars and sticky notes, I now have lots of question marks. I have had to learn to go with the flow even when all of who I am was desperately wanting to make a plan to survive this time. I am living into this new version of myself. It takes a lot of practice. What I have learned in the letting go is that the Spirit always seems to show up when needed. There have been Sunday mornings with rewritten sermons. Saturday nights working out technical issues. Tuesdays with online prayer vigils because we couldn’t gather. I am learning to trust the Spirit and the Spirit’s leading.

None of this has been ideal, but I have noticed that some amazing things happen when I trust and let go a bit. We have prayed together in new ways beautifully. We have worshipped and adapted and adapted again in new ways. We have found ways to serve the community. All this time, we have been the church, serving the world and the people of God. I cling to this hopefully as I look to September and wonder if all my well-laid plans will just fall through.

I am not sure what will happen this year. I am not sure if unseasonable thunderstorms will keep us from a special Christmas Eve worship in the parking lot. I am not sure if Easter sunrise service at the lake will happen. I am not sure how Christian education will work. I am not certain how fellowship time will pan out.

I am sure the Spirit will show up!

I’m sure that we will continue to prayerfully listen to her guidance and be the church. I am certain we will continue to love our neighbors. I believe God has got this and the weight of it all doesn’t have to be on our shoulders. I am so glad that it isn’t all up to me.

Beloveds, I am praying for you and with you as we navigate this next season of unknowing. May we all embrace the Spirit and trust that God has got us covered.


REBECCA GRESHAM-KESNER is pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Medford, New Jersey. Outside of church and family life, you can find her in nature, finding fun ways to be creative or asking awkwardly deep questions of people she just met.