Friends and fellow journeyers.
Sitting with a friend (safely distanced!) at Carver Lake Park in Woodbury on a hot, sunny afternoon, we began to reflect on worship: when does a church reopen, what has the online experience been like, what about the churches that have reopened.
We remarked on the richness of in-person worship in more normal times and on how deeply community is connected to faith and religious practice. And we thought about how sterile a worship experience would be when stripped of all the elements that we do together, all the shared acts of faith, and the give and take of hospitality: singing, shaking hands, communion, bulletins, hymnals, coffee, gathering before and after to visit with friends.
Trinity, we miss each other so much. And we remind each other often that we are still the church. Nothing has changed that. We are not shut down. We are not cowering in fear. We are boldly finding ways to be the church and to worship the God who stands with us in pandemic and racial awakening and confusion and fear. We are faithfully and hopefully gathering around Word, wine and wheat. We are praying together and singing in our homes. (And at the Drive In!)
It has been said that to wear a mask or not open our church building is to fail to trust in God and to live in fear.
The Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy opens with the recollection that Timothy learned the faith from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. And so Paul writes: “For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you… for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”
As the people of God, the body of Christ in the world, we do not act in fear. We act in the power granted us in Christ to love our neighbor and we exercise the self-discipline necessary to do just that.
We too have ancestors in the faith who endured hardships. Some watched as churches failed their members, closed their doors or gave into destructive infighting. And still they passed on to us the faith and hope that the body of Christ emerges victorious in new places, new buildings, new people and new expressions.
The day will come when we are gathered back in our sanctuary with the Resurrection Wall framing the band and choir, when we can pass bread from hand to hand and sing until our hearts are full. Until that time, we celebrate Christ alive in the world, emerging victorious through Zoom and Facebook and YouTube and Love Drop bags and hand-written notes and safely-distanced visits.
I celebrate Christ alive in you.
In gratitude and hope,