Worship in a facemask
Our return to church in the midst of COVID-19

In the past few weeks, my church has been slowly and cautiously resuming in-person worship services.

In an effort to love and protect attendees, and out of deference to authorities,  there is a litany of strange, “never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine this” precautions.

Once everything started shutting down, church was the first things that really felt like a gut punch.  Sure, school was canceled, Tom was working from we stopped going to the grocery store, and a pandemic was raging outside, but from within the four walls of my home, everything felt normal. Then on Sunday, we gathered around our tv to worship. Watching the livestream, I mourned for the first time. Early on, they hadn’t had time to figure out the technology, so the connection wasn’t great. It highlighted what we already knew. This isn’t how worship should be — impersonal, distant, a frustrating confluence of technology.

During that first live-streamed service, I imagined returning to worship once all of this is over. I knew I would weep with joy when we could gather in-person and hug and celebrate because, we made it! The world failed us but we got through!

Now, here we are. Six feet apart, wearing masks. There is no coffee, no greeters. The two elderly women who sit in the foyer and chat every Sunday are absent.

I wept because it didn’t feel like home.

Sitting in church is never uncomplicated. I always show up with a mess of convictions and righteousness in my heart that needs confessing and sorted out. This even more true now. I’m sad, overwhelmed, tired. I come to church knowing that I will be reassured with the hope of the Gospel.

Now, in June 2020, sitting in the service I feel safe and unsafe, reassured and not reassured, home and not home.

This is such a difficult time.

For the past 15 years I’ve heard my pastor preaching that this world is not safe; it is not our home. And now, here we are, sitting 6 feet apart, wearing face masks, that message is impossible to ignore. This place we live, it is killing us.

Before now, whenever I go to church I’ve been able to dress nice and smile to hide my struggles, disappointments, and besetting sins. But this morning I thought about how ridiculous that looks now. I wore a bright orange eyelet dress, as if that would distract from the face mask I was wearing. I have always done a version of that, but I couldn’t ignore the absurdity this morning. If I dress my kids in cute outfits, perhaps I won’t have to confront my struggles in parenting? If my husband and I look put together, who would guess that we had a huge fight on the way to church? If I wear a bright orange dress, who will even notice the pandemic raging outside?

These days, I feel so much discomfort. The world is uncertain and dangerous. As a spiritual practice, I’m reminding my fearful heart — the world has always been this way. And Jesus has always been caring for us. Now, I cannot pretend the danger isn’t real and present. I am wearing protection on my face.

I look to my face mask, soap and water, a vaccine, and Phase 3 guidelines for hope. And because these are not comfort, I still feel scared. Jesus says LOOK UP. Look up to the one who holds you, who has always held you. And when I worry because I don’t know what will happen and how justice and peace will come to a world that is filled with riots and sickness, Jesus says, “I am.”


He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
– Psalm 91:1-2-




P. S. Now, more than ever before we’re so very grateful to our church and its leaders for their quiet ministry to our family — welcoming and worshiping alongside our loud, messy, impossible-to-keep-quiet kids. Let’s all hug when we’re allowed. xo


  1. ravina June 29, 2020


  2. caressa walker June 30, 2020

    I have not went back to church as of yet, and honestly dont know when I will feel comfortable doing so. It was great hearing about your experience as well.

  3. Kinzy June 30, 2020

    This is certainly a difficult time. Stay safe, and let’s not take for granted simple things like hugs anymore <3

  4. kimberly k lewis June 30, 2020

    scary time! it’s hard to know what to do in the midst of all this

  5. Sarah July 1, 2020

    It really is such an interesting and strange time! Hope you and your family are staying safe.

  6. Jeff Rendell July 1, 2020

    This was great, Amanda. Will be linking to it in my weekly email for our church. Thanks for writing!

    • amandakrieger July 3, 2020

      thanks so much Jeff! I’m humbled that you’re sharing it with your church.
      so good to hear from you!

  7. Jennifer Van Haitsma July 1, 2020

    I’m not a church goer, but glad you are all taking measures to stay safe. Hang in there!

  8. Ngozi July 1, 2020

    We need a strong relationship with the Creator in these times. Continue to stay safe.

  9. Sana Sareer July 2, 2020

    We can just pray and stay hopeful after taking all the precautions. Loved reading this

  10. Julie M Smith July 2, 2020

    It is a different world indeed.

  11. Sara July 2, 2020

    Our congregations has been meeting in person for 3-4 weeks now, but we haven’t gone back yet. We are still participating in online worship. There are just too many restrictions right now, and having 4 kids it’s just not feasible. They want you to try to refrain from using the bathrooms, and if you do need to use them then you have to go with your child, and sanitize the bathroom when you’re finished. I’d probably be sanitizing the bathroom 4 different times for one service. You also have to keep your kids with you at all times and 6 feet away from other people. My young kids aren’t going to understand why they can’t go hug their friends. So no thank you. I will wait a few weeks or months before I go back to in person services.

    • amandakrieger July 3, 2020

      i agree, all of the restrictions are really hard!
      we also have four kids 🙂 my youngest is 2.5. we tried to prepare them like we do for a road trip — go to the bathroom ahead of time, etc.
      also, i found it was easier to keep my kids away from people than i expected because EVERYONE was trying to keep kids away from everyone.
      the hardest part was actually paying attention. my husband and i also prepared ourselves that we would spend the entire service keeping the kids quiet and wrestle with the kids and that going to the service is an exercise in obedience. It’s tough, I won’t lie. But being back in worship has been good for our family.

  12. Jami July 3, 2020

    Our church has also started allowing people to come back and have implemented many changes for health reasons. One of the changes was to hold three different sessions and split the congregation up by last names to make the groups smaller. Definitely something I don’t want have to get used to for too long.

  13. Taylor July 3, 2020

    This world is not our home … we can’t hide our mess … so true! We handed out communion in plastic bags (for families to take in their own spot (outdoors!)) with gloves and masks and it’s just so obvious that nothing about the Gospel or life in Christ can be sanitized! Body and blood cannot be anything but flesh. We’re making accommodations to keep our community safe but it’s so obvious this isn’t how it’s meant to be.


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