Experience Real Life
Today, I am reminded of our Journey’s theme from this past Lent. Our Journey did not turn out how I had planned. Groups could no longer meet together for study and fellowship, yet I am still seeing connections today.
In so many conversations and social media posts about what our world is experiencing right now, I hear a longing to go back to how things were, a desire to get back to “real life.” I have probably said that myself at times, knowing that we will not return to how things were, but still longing for “real life.”
Two things recently have challenged that way of thinking for me.
In several meetings with Bishop Bill Gafjken lately, he has shared that he is trying to stop using “virtual” to refer to things that happen online. When we participate in worship online, we are not participating “virtually,” we are truly worshiping the one who creates, redeems and sustains us. When we gather online or call each other on the phone, we are not participating in “virtual” community, we are truly building our community. What we do online is part of who we are. Our lives are not lived with a divide where things that are “virtual” are any less real or less important.
This morning, I watched a video from Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. She began by sharing how she had been setting her sights on future events, which helped give her hope to make it through present difficulties and cancellations, yet one by one, those too were cancelled. As she continued, she shared insights from two men who had been incarcerated, acknowledging that this is different but could have helpful lessons for us. One of the men was Damien Echols, who had been wrongly convicted of murder and spent almost 20 years on death row. He shared, “The #1 thing that helped me stay sane was figuring out that I could not live for the future...What it came down to for me [in prison] was having to create a life for myself, not making myself insane constantly wondering when is this going to be over?...Whether it’s news about the pandemic, or your possible upcoming execution date, you can’t sit around dwelling on that stuff or you are going to stew in fear and misery.”
How do we create a life for ourselves during this time instead of constantly wondering when is this going to be over? Can we experience the abundant life promised by Jesus, even when we are staying home and not gathering together?
This is not to say that there are not things to be mourned about the shifts life has taken around us. I mourn that we could not celebrate Holy Week or Easter together and that we will not be together for Pentecost. I know graduations have been missed, parties have been cancelled. Funerals have had to be done differently, without the same time and space for being together and comforting each other. Personally, I mourn the changes to my wedding celebration, that Arthur and I will not be surrounded by as many friends or family members. I mourn that we most likely will not be able to celebrate our marriage with Arthur’s family in Uganda this summer. And yet, in all this, I am challenged to live the life in front of me, living it fully and embracing the opportunities, rather than just sitting in a holding pattern and waiting for an unknown future.
Help us dream about how we can continue to grow in faith and in relationship with each other. We know that even when we return to worshiping in person, we know that there will be some who cannot join us, either due to health underlying concerns or need to quarantine after exposure. We also know that, even when we begin to worship in person, we may have to stop it at times and return to worshiping remotely and that our gatherings will be different than what we are used to as we figure out how to accommodate physical distancing needs. We have the opportunity right now to live life together. What would help you? How might you be able to help gather others and truly live in this time?
One possibility in front of us is offered by our Hospitality Ministry Leader, Connie Temm:
“While we are in waiting for gatherings to resume in a safe manner, we are considering starting a small group or two by zoom encounter for a coffee chat (Thurs at 1pm) or a happy hour (Wed 5:30pm).
Alternatively for those who are willing and able an outdoor meditation (weather permitting) could be undertaken. This would require that we remain 6 ft from each other, but we can be together. (Hand washing before and after is nonetheless recommended) After a short walk we could sit down (6ft apart) in our own camp chairs and talk about how God spoke to them during this time of communion with nature and each other. The time for this may vary due to weather and which park we chose. First, let’s see who is interested.
If anyone would like to participate in one of these groups please email me including which group(s) you would be interested in. The groups will start beginning next week provided there is enough interest.”
There are always other opportunities to participate in worship by reading or leading prayers. Facebook users can host a worship “watch party” or there are other ways to connect during this time. You can share your prayers with firstname.lastname@example.org so the prayer team can pray for you and what is on your heart.
If you are interested in having a 1:1 with Pastor Lecia about growing your life of discipleship or to dream of ways to live life now, you can sign up for a time or email with several possible times to meet. We can either meet on the phone or with video conferencing.
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,