I have been thinking a lot about the "return from exile" as part of my leadership role at my own church. Neil makes some very good points here--and I wanted to add a few of my own.
As we come back together again, things will probably not look or be exactly the same again. The older exiles, who had seen the glory of the former temple, wept with sadness when they saw the foundations of the new temple—which seemed “as nothing”. Things will look different post-pandemic—in positive and negative ways. It is okay to mourn what has disappeared--both in terms of people and ministry. But also look forward to the new--and perhaps better--ways of ministering to people.
The prophets had to push the people to re-order their priorities and get back to work on the temple after things stalled for 14 years. We all, in our own churches and ministries, need to determine our core priorities and put our energy and creativity there. We may not have the staff and volunteers and finances to do everything that we had done in the past.
The leaders--Ezra and Nehemiah--give us some pretty good examples to follow. Ezra reminds us of the importance of keeping the focus on God's Word, and Nehemiah is a great example of using prayer as a first (and not last) resort AND combining prayer with action.