I really cannot imagine how the next generation will hear about 2020, or what they will think about the pandemic, or if they will really laugh that it was toilet paper that was a “hot” commodity for the first 6 months. I know we’re not fully back to our “normal” but we’re getting there in some places. I know it’s had an impact on us in different ways, but I’ll be honest that it’s taken a while to admit to the impact personally. My kids are out of the house, I have worked remote for nearly 20 years before all this, and I was already going to grad school online….so in my mind, I didn’t have as much adapting to do as everyone. I realize it was a monumental shift for most, and my hat is off to everyone who has to navigate it different than I did!
That being said, I’m an extrovert. So in spite of having worked from home for all these years, not being able to gather – specifically at church – has probably had the biggest impact on me. Not that I don’t know how to seek God or learn on my own – I do. But in gathering, that truly is where I find so much joy, being with others whose lives are also being transformed by the life and way of Jesus. I know doing things digitally and “fellowshipping” remotely has taught us in new ways to be the Body of Christ scattered– and I so much want to hear what we all have learned in the midst of it!
Today, sitting in a common space that once used to be bustling with people having coffee and lunch after church… I realized something. I miss the feeling of all of us having BEEN in the presence of God – and having worshipped and been taught — together. Maybe bored sometimes – sure. Maybe challenged, maybe not. But seeing each other, seeking God, seeking to learn. I miss that.
I miss it because being together is a good reminder that we are not on this journey alone. Some of the videos I have seen this past year of people singing, together, across continents and countries has been just beautiful and healing. This one from Zimbabwe singing the Blessing song just about brought me to tears, especially given much of the hurt our country is feeling over racial things right now. It felt like my brothers and sisters from across the ocean singing healing to our wounded places, reminding us that in Christ… we ARE ONE.
https://youtu.be/OA1tVs7VNcY (you might have to copy and paste this, or just look up “The Blessing Zimbabwe” )
So as we step into Easter this weekend, regardless of whether your church is meeting in person, if you are still watching it at home…. If your church is big or small, or you are one that feels like you are on the margins and have been pushed out of the body of Christ for some reason (you know who you are, and let me remind you – you still belong)…. I offer you this humble thought on Good Friday, when we remember that our lives have been changed forever.
My dear family in Christ:
Remember that we are a force to be reckoned with, when we put ourselves in the presence of our God, then we walk forward in the love and joy and freedom we have found knowing Jesus. There is no depth of love that can every compare. You ARE the city on a hill, you ARE the light that is meant to shine hope and share an anchor we have.
It’s not that we huddle in our little groups and worship (which I’m sure folks think is strange) because we are proud, or exclusive, or want to perpetuate an “us-vs-them” mentality
It’s not that we have checked our brains at the gate, or been duped into believing some tale that gives us an escapist perspective that nothing matters
It’s because we’re willing to admit there is mystery in what we do not understand
It’s that we have been through knock-down-drag-out fights with the stuff of life and are STILL HERE
If we’re still in the dark, still in the hard stuff – it’s that we know there is a way out, because our God is not made of darkness
It’s that in spite of cultural messages that tell us we have to have the latest and greatest to stay relevant – we know we are being made new every morning when we talk to the One who created us.
(I guess that means I’m on v48.353… )…. hahaha!
It’s because in spite of bodies that age and break down, in spite of old injuries or surgeries or glasses or maybe a bout with cancer or two – we know and have experienced the Source of life – and that keeps us young forever
It’s because we haven’t settled for the subtle message that “everything will be ok”. We have wrestled with the God that created us and we know He’s real, and his promise to not abandon us is true. THAT’s why it is well with our soul
It’s because our faith is built on the stuff of wilderness and wandering, of calling back and of knowing we are here to live into a kingdom of forgiveness, mercy, grace
It’s because we too, may have at one time thought we didn’t need God, or his power living in us…But now we know it’s more important than anything else that lasts in this life
It’s because we know this is for everyone else too…. And we know the story isn’t over yet
That’s why we gather. That’s why we worship
That’s why we celebrate a leader, a master, a king….one that is not an idea, or just someone in a history book, or just a moral leader
It’s because the very life that brought him up from the grave brings us to life IN ALL THINGS.
So tonight, may things be surrendered at the cross that need to be surrendered. May we take the cup He offers, however hard, and say “your will, not mine”, knowing our Savior is right there with us.
And come Sunday… oh Sunday……may you worship with abandon, however you do it. May you delight in the body God gave you, however young or old. May you know your worth as a child in a kingdom that has been wrestling to make itself known since the day He walked the earth, but one that will never cease to be built as long as His story is told in us.