A parishioner has made headlines after detailing her experience with in-person church services more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic stopped much of America in its everyday tracks.
What are the details?
Bea L. Hines shared her experience for an article published in the Miami Herald on Friday.
She wrote, "There's just something special about being in the House of God on the Lord's day."
Hines said that she was visiting New Orleans, Louisiana, last week with her goddaughter, her husband — a minister — and their family.
Hines said that the day was also especially important to her because it was Mother's Day and the first time she'd attended in-person services at a church since the beginning of the pandemic.
"Just walking into the sanctuary after so many days of virtual church gave me such a joyful feeling," Hines wrote. "Although I was many miles away from my own church, I felt at home."
Hines said that her home church in the Liberty City neighborhood in Miami has held only virtual services since the pandemic sickened and killed millions of people across the globe.
Hines added that when she entered the New Orleans church, she could "feel the loving warmth" that "even the masks could not conceal."
"Just sitting in a pew inside a sanctuary, smiling at other worshipers behind my mask, raising my hands in praises to God, and singing the beautiful songs of Zion gave me a warm, happy feeling," she wrote. "I was home."
Hines said that in the moment, she immediately recalled the importance of church and God's people gathering together in His house.
"As I prayed and joined in the singing, I realized how much I probably took for granted about being assembled in the house of the Lord with my brothers and sisters for worship," she admitted. "After all, attending church is what I do. It's what I have been doing for all my life, even before I sought the Lord for a personal relationship with Him."
Hines said that Christians — including her — need to lean into their faith when it comes to times of trials and tribulation — and especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
"COVID-19 is a killer," she wrote. "But it has also been a time of learning. We learned new ways to do things, to be creative. We had to wear masks, so we made them beautiful and stylish. When we could not congregate in our sanctuaries, some churches erected canopies in their parking lots, creating sanctuaries without walls, so their parishioners could worship while safely social distancing."
Hines noted that attending church last week for her first time in more than a year was "almost like old times again."
"The sweet fellowship among parishioners, the taking of Holy Communion and listening as [the minister] preached about the virtues of motherhood, had me on cloud nine," she wrote. "I could hardly contain myself."
She concluded, "It felt so good to be able to raise my hands in praises to the Lord, thanking Him for allowing me to set my feet inside His house once more. And while everyone wore a mask and elbow bumped each other, it was still special. We were in the sanctuary of the Lord, basking in His glory."
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