It’s been a very long time since I had this much trouble trying to write a newsletter article. I’ve been writing these as long as I’ve been on a church payroll. In the beginning it was difficult to think of a subject. But after I did, the words would usually just flow. Then I developed a rhythm and it became almost easy. Possible articles, like possible sermons, are absolutely everywhere! For a number of years, I contemplated starting a weekly Facebook or blog post. I confess that I was still afraid that I wouldn’t have enough to say. Yet when COVID-19 pushed us all into isolation, all I thought about was how to keep us bound together. I didn’t worry about what I would say. I just wanted to reach out and touch as many of you as possible all at once. And everyone knows how hard we have all worked to keep us together for worship each Sunday. We entered a crisis mode.
A crisis calls for “fight or flight”… or “freeze” which we talk about less often. Each of the three possible responses use tremendous amounts of energy which we have because of the adrenaline dump that happens in a crisis. But we only have so much adrenaline. That burst of strength that lets someone pick a car up off of a loved one will only last for so long. Eventually, if the car is not put down, it will come crashing down. We can only run at top speed for so long, even with a lion in hot pursuit. Even if we freeze, we can only hold that freeze frame for just so long before we start to twitch. Many years ago I volunteered at a suicide and crisis center where we were taught that a crisis in an individual life can only last for six weeks. If something doesn’t change or things don’t get better in six weeks, it is no longer a crisis but something else. It is the moment we move from acute to chronic…to the beginning of a new normal.
April 19, 2020 was our sixth Sunday of suspended in person worship…it is now the beginning of December. So how have we done? I’m incredibly proud of all of you and the way that we have all adapted. On April 17 we resumed our church meetings through the technology of Zoom…right on time…for the beginning of our new normal. I was so busy that I didn’t even catch the timing when it happened! We have continued to grow in how we worship and I, for one, have developed an even deeper theology around the sacrament of Holy Communion, which I would never have considered offering online in March. That Holy Mystery has expanded for me to not just transcend time but space in ways that I never thought possible in the time B.C. (Before COVID). We continue to develop in ways that are innovative and exciting with very little looking back. We are willing to try things that we wouldn’t try previously and if we succeed or we fail, we always learn and keep moving. If we’re in a war zone or a pandemic, that’s how we get to the other side of the lake or even an ocean.
There also comes a point when we begin to realize what really mattered in what we have lost. The truth is that it didn’t all really matter…but some of it did and still does…it matters infinitely. While we have been very successful in reaching as many people as possible as often as possible using technology, it will never take the place of relationship. We were created to live in community, to depend on others and they on us, to love and support one another. And it can only be sustained through technology for so long.
How important are relationships? Our God is relational, three in one, and was before all of creation. That’s big…huge actually. Even God is relational and was before we humans ever existed. We were created for relationship with God and for relationships with one another. You might even say that it is the reason we exist. We need one another…and I need you. Where does creativity and inspiration come from? First, it’s God inspired. But God also uses us to inspire one another.
New Covenant family, I confess that I have spent way too much time looking at my own face and listening to my own voice since March. I need to see and hear you. So while I can always find something to say, our daily devotionals are going to be reduced to weekly so that I have more time to devote to one on one time in relationships. I’ll be calling you and if you think there is any chance that I don’t have your correct phone number, email or texted it to me. I need you. Where possible I would like to FaceTime our calls because I also need to see you.
We are in Advent and some of you have sent me the requested pictures. I hope that all of you will send a few to me. Before we finish Christmas Eve, I would like to have represented everyone in our congregation during worship. Because not only do you need to see others, but they need to see you too. Maybe you’ll see a face and remember a call that needs to be made.
Brothers, sisters, siblings…we can’t afford to give up now. We have come so far and there really is no going back. We must continue to move forward, but we still need each other. If this Advent and Christmas if you find your eyes leaking or your nose running when you don’t have a cold, pick up the phone and call someone. Don’t do this alone. We are music and light…for one another and for the world. God is holding onto us…and through the mystery of Holy Communion that transcends time and space, we continue to hold onto one another. This Christmas will not be about gifts and parties. It will be about the coming and birth of the Christ child…as it should be.
May the peace of Christ be yours,