July 23, 2020
Last week I left you hanging. I shared with you only two of three thoughts inspired by Bolsinger’s and Wheatley’s assertion that “the primary way to prepare for the unknown is to attend to the quality of our relationships….” The first two thoughts were gratefulness for the existing quality of our relationships at Immanuel, and the call to keep our relationships as one of our top priorities.
Here’s the third thought: we cultivate the quality of our relationships by serving each other and by serving others together. The passage from Hebrews that I mentioned last week reinforces this point: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” (Hebrews 10.23). For many of us, the challenges presented by transition, COVID and other forces tempt us to focus solely on ourselves, whether “ourselves” means our personal lives or the broader life of Immanuel. The call to life, however, turns us upward and outward. Here’s Canoeing the Mountains yet again:
“People must be engaged in meaningful work together if they are to transcend individual concerns and develop new capacities…. The trust needed to bring…transformation in a changing context is not built sitting in a circle. It’s not even built in small groups or Bible studies. Those activities may create connections, strengthen affinities and even conceive friendships. But only ‘meaningful work together’ develops the kinds of relationships that will endure into uncharted territory.”
Our “meaningful work together” is twofold: worshiping the Triune God, and extending his Kingdom into our communities. This time of COVID, even though frustrating and wearying, is also a unique opportunity for worship and mission. Just as Immanuel has not waited for a building in order to love God and neighbor, nor do we wait for COVID to end to do the same. Here are a few ideas emerging as to how we can begin (or continue!) to do this:
Prayer-walk our neighborhoods, both where we live and where our mission outpost/building will be constructed.
Continue serving through the Backpack for Kids and connections with organizations like CCoM and ACTS Food Pantry.
Clean up and cultivate the area around our sign on Hoadly Road.
Invite neighbors, friends, and family both near and far to attend our online services.
Make masks to donate to schools and medical facilities.
Develop relationships with PWC board supervisors and community influencers.
Invite neighbors to share a meal in driveways or meet for take-out in a parking lot (when it’s cooler!).
What ideas begin to emerge for you? Ways we can engage in meaningful work together?
On Monday your Vestry and I will meet together to decide on a few steps of forward movement that I’ve mentioned previously—worshiping together outdoors, and choosing a new space for meeting indoors in the fall. I’ll report on that next week. Also, I have a welcome change to our announcement about the “Institution of a Rector” service and the Drive-by Welcome that will follow: Since you’ll be in your cars, and the Bishop, my family, and I will be at safe distances, no need for masks. We get to see one another’s smiles!
Until then, continue praying with us, “Abba, Father, I belong to you,” confident of our Father’s presence and provision in our places of fear, and holding onto Hope in our places of suffering.
Your Pastor in Christ,