World Communion and More—30 SEP
This Sunday is World Communion Sunday despite the continuing COVID mess. We’ll be sharing in our building in safe ways, and streaming the service for those who would join World Communion at home (so be prepared), but it makes me wonder even more how to be the church with COVID still making things difficult?
Autumn has definitely fallen with cooler weather, changing leaves, and I’ve even seen frost of the roofs across the street a couple mornings already. Was it just yesterday, a few months, or a few years ago when we were sure COVID would be long gone, and everything “back to normal” by now? But it’s not gone, and we’re seeing signs for standard flu shots all over the place now to help prevent ordinary flu bugs (got my shot last week), and isn’t COVID a kind of flu too, that we can expect to see more of with the coming flu season?
Whether the pandemic is as bad as the Powers That Be describe it, or something less as some prefer to think, it’s undeniable the impact COVID continues to have on how we gather and live, more isolated than we would ever have imagined. We’re still wondering how to do church, how to do anything normal these days. It’s times like this when I find my love of history to be strangely encouraging.
While our human propensity to love big gatherings has probably been around forever, for most of human history, including every time the Church has seen periods of strong growth, large gatherings were a rarity. Sure, big sports events go all the way back to the stadiums and coliseum of Roman times, but even then, it was a rare treat to attend such event for most people (“season tickets” hadn’t been invented yet). Despite those limitations, communities thrived, people found ways to love God and love neighbor in such powerful ways that some communities criticized Jesus people for turning their world upside down (Acts 17: 1-9).
How did those early followers of Jesus manage to “cause trouble all over the world” as another version translated that text, when they either just met in peoples’ houses, or talked on the streets? No live streaming at the time, no big church gatherings or Christmas cantatas, just small groups building one another up in Christian love, with that love overflowing into communities dying for help and hope in their time of need. And isn’t that a lot like where we are now?
The church has ever been, and remains even in our COVID world, a beacon of hope. But the Church is not a big group meeting in special buildings on Sundays. The classic children’s song many of you likely learned reminds us “The Church is not a building, the Church is not a steeple, the Church is not a resting place, the Church is the people. I am the Church. You are the Church. We are the Church together…”
Which means we are the church in our neighborhoods, when walking our dogs, when going to the park, when eating on the restaurant patio (many of which are setting up outdoor heaters to stay open in our colder months…), when in our yards and homes. We’ve neighbors down the block who regularly have people over in their garage and yard, I’m often hearing cheers or groans from sports fans gathered around a fire pit, and I doubt people will give up walking the dog when it gets cold. So the question might be, how can each of us find ways to “do church” not just in a building, but outside the walls?
Keep being a blessing—Pastor Jim