The last day of May was Pentecost Sunday. We now move, liturgically, into the season of Pentecost which focuses on the Spirit’s movement through the church. It is a long season. In the same way we experienced the shock of being caught up in a global pandemic, as a state and as a nation, coping with it by staying home and away from others. But now the shock has worn off and we are dealing with the day to day issues, the realization that this pandemic will be with us for a while. It will be a long season.
So, as a church, how do we live out our mission of connecting people to God when it might be unwise to connect with each other, face to face? I don’t ask that as a rhetorical question. Our mission is still valid, still relevant. But how we carry out that mission is changing very rapidly. We, as a church and as families and individuals cannot go back to the “way things were before” no matter how badly we want to. Our technology has made connecting possible, even if a little awkward and not universally accepted. It has made on-line worship possible, it has made Bible Study and confirmation classes, council and committee meetings possible, if not ideal. And we know that for a while, gathering together in a confined space may be dangerous for some, perhaps fatal.
Maybe the Holy Spirit is using the COVID Crowbar to pry us out of our beloved buildings. We are very attached to our sacred spaces and familiar places of worship. But maybe the Holy Spirit is not. Maybe, this summer, the Community Garden, for example is going to be a place we connect with our neighbors the most. Or maybe it is going to be your front yard! I don’t know. All of these “maybe’s” and questions are by way of admitting I don’t know what God is up to right now. But I do know that God is up to something. God is always up to something. And we cannot be afraid to follow leads, hunches, try new methods, experiment; and most of all we cannot be afraid to fail. The Church will prevail, even if it ends up looking differently. Our church, LCM, will prevail, even if it has a different form. I believe that we can trust God to preserve us even when we cannot imagine what the future will hold. “By faith” is how followers of Jesus have always made their way through the world. Maybe some things never change.
Psalm 42: 4-5 NIV
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.