So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:12-17)
Good Day Family,
Church Days: Pentecost, Strengthen the Church and Our Doors
This Sunday, we join with the church around the world in celebrating The Day of Pentecost. The disciples had heard and believed the promise of the coming Holy Spirit. They had no idea what that would look like, but they knew that could not move forward until that day came. They waited together, staying place, anticipating that their lives, and their world, would change forever.
Could they have imagined that two thousand years later, the church is still moving, still witnessing, still engaged in the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ? Would they be astonished at how far and wide the good news had spread? Would they be surprised to find the church thriving in a new way as we find ourselves in a holding pattern of our own waiting for the opportunity to go forth freely in the world?
We have the blessing of technology beyond their imaginations, so that even as we continue to worship from home, the church is not closed. The moment helps us remember what was essential to their understanding that first day of the Church, she was born as people gathered together to proclaim the good news. That’s what happened that day. The church was born, and we don’t have that address or specific location, because that was the least important element of the story. That room in which they waited and prayed and worshipped was sacred space, but it was made sacred by their actions and the community they forged, not by its particular location. It’s a timely consideration for our times.
Do I know when we might gather together again? I get asked that in nearly every conversation. The truth is, I don’t know. It won’t be in the month of June. Testing for COVID-19 has only begun to ramp up and there is no significant contact tracing. Because this virus is highly contagious at the same time that many do not and will not display symptoms even as carriers, this is very different from the flu or common cold. We can’t simply say stay home if you don’t feel well, because that doesn’t really indicate whether one is infectious or not. There is no vaccine or reliable therapeutic to treat the virus.
When we do return, we will have to make significant changes until there is a vaccine. We will have to revamp communion, there will be no handshaking or hugging, and we will have to block off seating for physical distancing within the sanctuary. The recommendation from several national choral associations is for no singing in gathered spaces so our music would also change radically. To continue to engage with our online community, we will invest in cameras and projectors for live streaming in our building. The church leadership has been engaging in this conversations for weeks and will continue to do so as we prepare for the days when the doors to the building open.
But please remember above all, the doors to the church are continually open as long as we, the Body of Christ, continue to live, breath, and have our being as a gathered community spreading the Gospel in the world. We do that as we support Well Help. We do that as we pray for our neighbors. We do that as we participate in Bible Study and Sunday Morning Worship from our homes, sacrificing our desire to be together with our commitment to keep one another safe, healthy, and whole. And, we do that by supporting the mutual ministry and mission of the wider church through special offerings such as Strengthen the Church (more information on that below).
The Holy Spirit transcend physical bounds and continues to unite us as one. This is my prayer for us:
Make us one, Lord, Make us one
Holy Spirit, make us one.
Let Your love flow so the world will know
We are one, in You.
Yours in the Spirit,