Seeing the world through a theological lens...
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
If you are a regular reader of these Lenten Devotionals and was looking forward to more of our journey through the Gospel of Luke, take heart; we will return to Lukan Lent tomorrow.
Today is a special day in the life of our community of faith. I was reminded yesterday that March 15th marks one year since our church began online streaming. Our Ministry of Visual Arts and Technology (better known as MOVAT... a.k.a. Dave Acosta) composed a beautiful video of the sermon titles from the past year, and included the music from the very first online service. It was wonderful.
For me personally, it was a very moving experience. MOVAT had let me know about the video right before church, and what it contained, so I should have perhaps been better prepared. Yet, seeing each sermon title come up one after another brought up a host of memories and emotions. The naming of a sermon is somewhat like the naming of a child. It's selected during the preparation; before the actual "birth" of the sermon. Seeing the list of names, remembering some of the joys and angst in preparation.
The prayers: "God, what does the congregation need to hear this week? Where is the Spirit moving this week in both the lives of our congregants and in the world? What will encourage people to follow Christ- what will help them see the Christ in Us, and the Christ in others?"
The pangs: How do I remain faithful to the text and culturally and contextually relevant? How does this passage help us get through this difficult time of isolation? Who will receive care and comfort through this sermon? Who might be challenged and even put out by my words? What informs my interpretation of this passage?
The personal: How will I balance care of others with self care and nurture? Am I shepherding the church in a faithful and Godly manner when I'm struggling too? When is the right time to reopen? Will my leadership remain effective when we are not able to be together in person? Can I actually hold it together to see this through?
As each "child's name" came up yesterday, the memories came with them. I found myself reliving the journey. I remembered the feelings, fears, fires, and frenzy of the past year. But I also experienced a sense of gratitude for God's provision and grace. Because for each prayer, God gave an answer. For each pang, God granted balm. For each personal trial, God blessed me with a person(s) who brought comfort, healing, companionship, and presence.
One year later, and as Isolated as we were from one another, we have never been alone. Through the past year we've moved beyond where we thought we would, and grown in ways we didn't know we could. We are not the same congregation one year later. We've been through something that few generations are granted the opportunity to experience. And though it was painful, we are better for it. We've seen God's hand, felt and followed the movement of the Spirit, and held one another in love for a solid year. To each of you who had a part in caring for me, caring for one another, and just caring in general, thank you.
I am so eager for the future, to see what God will do in and through this community of faith.
Peace to you,