I was scheduled to wake up this morning in a hotel room in Los Angeles, California. The Cubs were playing the Dodgers last night at Chavez Ravine and Greg and I were supposed to be there. We were flying to LA for the game and then heading up the Pacific Coast Highway this morning to Malibu for fresh seafood and the annual Pepperdine Lectures. But… Covid.

This weekend when I turned my desk calendar over from April to May, the new page greeted me with a discouraging litany of crossed out programs and important events — some postponements, mostly cancellations.  May is always a busy month but, good grief, my May was packed.

Cubs and Dodgers. Pepperdine. Senior Sunday. 5th Grade Blessing. KU graduation. A week of family vacation leading up to our daughter Valerie’s wedding. The trip to Israel. But… Covid.

I’m hoping May 31 happens. That’s the Sunday morning we’re planning to reopen our Sunday morning worship assemblies here at Central. There will be plenty of restrictions and guidelines to follow that day. We’re asking those in the at-risk categories to stay home and those who come to wear masks and practice social distancing. These will be temporary arrangements during this transition phase of getting our church family back to whatever we remember as “normal.” But it’s going to be a very important day for all of us.

Of course, we’ve got to get there first.

Our city of Amarillo is right now one of the hottest spots in the country for community spread of the Covid-19 virus. The virus is concentrated in the meat-packing plants here and in nearby Moore County (Dumas) and it’s spreading. The numbers of positive cases keep going up and the anxiety here locally and regionally isn’t going down. Governor Abbott has ordered the re-opening of the state of Texas and Carrie-Anne and the girls and I have dined-in at both Rosa’s and Cheddar’s since Saturday. But most everybody is still very uneasy about things up here.

Governor Abbott and Vice-President Pence have sent what they’re calling a Federal Covid-19 Task Force to Amarillo. They’re setting up operations at the Tri-State Fairgounds today to increase our testing here and to work out some strategies for the packing plants. The increased testing means our numbers are going to go way up before the end of the week. The hospitalization rate will certainly go down, the number of critical-care beds and ventilators available might remain the same, but all the positive test results are going to upset a lot of people. It’s going to to get a little worse here before it gets better.

We’re doing what we can here as a church. Prayer parades and parking lot worship, Bible classes and covenant groups on Zoom, livestreamed Word & Prayer sessions and podcasts — we’re trying almost anything to keep our church family connected and communicating during this strange time. And it’s fine. It’s actually going pretty well.

But I’ve got Sunday May 31 circled in red on my calendar. I can’t wait to see everybody in person. I can’t wait to worship God together in the same room in person. In person. In person. It’ll be better than a Dodger Dog in LA.