Preparing for worship via Zoom on Lent III.
Much as I would have preferred a “normal” Holy Week this year, it was nevertheless a great blessing to have all of you accompanying me as we figured out – in record time! – how to transition to online church. And I deeply appreciate how many of you have not only participated (including getting on a very steep technological learning curve to figure out how!), but expressed your thanks and support to me (and Peter!), by email, phone, and “in person” during our Zoom coffee hour times after worship.
I confess, though, that especially on Sunday I actually got a little uncomfortable with the number of times people praised and thanked me specifically. Not that I’m not glad and grateful that my work was effective and appreciated! But I couldn’t help a fleeting thought of “shouldn’t we, on Easter, be talking more about the risen Jesus and less about me?”
I am deeply thankful to have been called to a congregation with so many faithful, generous, loving people who are serious about living the gospel but who do so with a smile. And after almost a dozen years of ordained ministry, I am confident enough in my own gifts and experience to know when I am doing my job well. I am proud of the way I have served you all over the past 20+ months, as well as in the weeks since the pandemic started; and knowing that my efforts are seen and valued creates a virtuous cycle whereby I am more motivated to continue giving you my best and inviting you more deeply into the life of faith.
But the animating force behind all of this is not anything originating with me; it is the Spirit of God. God has given me particular gifts, which it is my joy and privilege to share with you, and which happen to come along with the title of “Reverend” and some rather uncomfortable shirts. But God’s spirit and gifts are just as present in all the rest of you, and are just as much at work in our parish life in general and in this bizarre time in particular. Without the musicians, the tech folks, the prayer warriors, the people who spend hours every day on the phone, those staying in touch with our outreach ministries, those creating online church specifically for kids, those monitoring the building, those posting pictures to Facebook, and all the other myriad ways in which we are continuing to be the church in isolation – we would not be nearly as connected; and I wouldn’t look nearly as good. (Not that my looking good is ever the point, in any case!)
Perhaps your calling from God in this pandemic time is to figure out how to keep doing what you were doing before, but differently; perhaps it is to learn to do something entirely new. Either way, I hope that you discover your own gifts in a new and deeper way, and I look forward to the wonderful conversations we will have when we are able to look each other in the eyes again!
May the blessings of the risen Jesus be with you all.
In God’s peace,