This week has been particularly difficult; I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps with all that's been going on in the world, the stress of it has finally caught up with me. Maybe at some point over these last two months, you've experienced a week like this, too. So much has changed. Psychological research suggests that it takes approximately 18-24 months to adjust to a major life change or a "new normal" and here we are, only eight weeks in!
Many people continue to work from home even as restrictions begin to lift, while those who work on the frontlines are having to face the risk of exposure to COVID-19 on a daily basis. Then there are companies having to lay off employees and many small businesses are having to close. As hard as it may be to come to terms with, life as we once knew it, has changed.
Typically, I'm one who appreciates change and encourages it. I firmly believe change helps us to grow, and uncover gifts that we never knew were there, but hey.... even I have limits! To be frank, I'm tired and my creative tank is running a little low these days. We are constantly having to search for new ways of being, in our personal and professional lives, and as we've learned, new ways of being the church. It would be naive to think that what we are experiencing as a faith community, as a local community, as a state, a nation, and as a global society would have little or no impact on us. We might even find ourselves asking..."Can anything good come from this?"
Remember when Jesus called the first disciples in John's Gospel? First he called Andrew, then his brother Simon Peter, who Jesus calls Cephas, and then Phillip. Phillip then found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph's son, from Nazareth" (John 1:45, CEB). And Nathanael responds, "Can anything from Nazareth be good?" and Philip replies, "Come and see" (John 1:46, CEB). As tempting as it is to do more exegetical work at this point, I'm going to spare you right now and save it for a Sunday sermon down the road. However, as followers of Christ, we know the answer to Nathanael's question is an emphatic, "YES!"
But, what about in our current context? Well, there are actually good things happening within the context of the church. Planning worship every Sunday, I see leadership coming together for one service of worship in which different gifts are celebrated. The walls of "traditional" and "contemporary" worship preferences no longer exist and the body of Christ is unified as one. When my family and I participate in the Sunday morning Christian Education offering, I have the honor and responsibility of talking about our Christian faith with my partner and children, which is very important to living a life of faith. When I lead or listen to Story Time on Wednesday mornings and tune into the Wednesday evening reflections with Lou Ann Karabel, I see an opportunity to fill my spiritual well. What's more, video conferencing has helped many of us consider new ways of communicating and collaborating, and to really think about necessity. These are just some of the ways we are working together and finding imaginative ways to be the church. New growth is emerging!
The people who make up First Presbyterian Church have certainly risen to the occasion. Together, we continue to find new ways of being the church and for this I give thanks to God! And so, I hope that you will join me in accepting Philip's invitation, even and especially on those really tough days or weeks to "come and see" for God is good!
In God's Grip,