Rodger McDaniel FILE

Rodger McDaniel

Welcome back to our church, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. We missed you. They say the church is not the building, but we know better.

Hold up. Before you come in, I need to take your temperature. 100.5 degrees. Sorry, Mr. Smith, but I can’t let you in. I hope you feel better soon. Mrs. Smith, let’s take your temperature. Come on, you don’t need to leave unhappy.

Hello. Are you new here? We’re happy to have you. Can I take your temperature? 100.3. That’s just below the mark. Come in, just don’t get within six feet of anyone, and please don’t touch door knobs or any other surface. If you forget and touch something, you must tell an usher immediately. Is that a promise? Very good, and I hope you feel welcomed.

Good morning, Mrs. Wilson. You didn’t bring a mask? We have one for you. And these rubber gloves. Please wear them until you leave. Sit anywhere except the roped off sections. We can’t have people sitting less than six feet apart. Glad you came early, because the restrictions reduced our capacity by about half. Now, it’s kind of like Walmart. Once we are at social-distancing capacity, no one comes in until someone leaves.

Hello, Pastor. It’s wonderful to be back in our building. Love your mask. Where’d you get a mask with John 3:16 on it? Before anyone arrived this morning, the cleaning crew sanitized the entire building. They sprayed chemicals of some sort on every pew, table, hymnal and whatever they can find. I read somewhere the EPA deregulated those chemicals. We aren’t guaranteeing they won’t cause cancer. But, we can assure you, every surface is temporarily free of the virus – that is, unless someone touches it again.

Look who is here. So nice to see you, Mrs. Green. Who is this little sweetie? Your granddaughter? How nice. Oh no, the little girl just sneezed, and she touched the door knob. Could the sanitation crew wipe down this door? Quickly. Others are coming. Thank you. And did I say, “Welcome to church?”

Hey, Reverend. Look. It’s Mr. Jensen. He’s filling in for our pianist. Her family didn’t think it was safe for her to come to church. So, we recruited Mr. Jensen. Welcome.

Bulletin? No bulletins. Not safe. The virus can live even on pieces of paper. You won’t need a bulletin. You can play whatever you’d like because we won’t be singing hymns. You know that social distancing thing? If we have a conversation, those droplets from my mouth or nose can travel about six feet. If I’m singing, they fly about 18 feet across the room. So, no hymns.

Oh my, that visitor just touched the table in the narthex. Could we get the sanitation crew to wipe it down? And the door into the sanctuary. I’m not sure, but I think she may have touched it also. Could we get one of the sanitation crew members to wipe down the door into the sanctuary? Thank you.

I agree, Mr. Anderson. It is hot in here. But, we can’t turn on the fans because they spread the virus. What’s that, you said? Someone used the bathroom. Oh my. Could you block the door so no one else goes in there until the cleaning crew sanitizes it?

Good morning, Mrs. Jones. Good to see you. Coffee? I’d love to offer you a cup of coffee, but with all the rules about safety, we aren’t serving coffee. We won’t even be serving communion. Public health folks say there’s no safe way to do that. No passing the peace, either. The good news is, ha, we can’t even safely pass an offering plate. But, we do have lots of hand sanitizer and masks.

Pastor, if we do all of these things that make church not feel like church, can we assure people they won’t get the virus because they came to worship?

Nope.

Zoom church sounds pretty good. I’m going home to log in.

Rodger McDaniel lives in Laramie and is the pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. Email: rmc81448@gmail.com.

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