I pray that you are safe and whole, and that you have the endurance you need for this day.
Even though we don’t know exactly what life will be like in the next months, a vision is emerging for a way for us to be a faith community when we can’t gather like we’re used to. It started with a question: “What do I want for our people?” The answer: “I want you to have faith as strong as solid rock.”
Jesus throws out this parable in Matthew 7:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise [person] who built [their] house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
What if we’re not supposed to merely get through this pandemic? What if the Holy Spirit of the risen Christ is working powerful things in and through us so that we emerge stronger, and with faith founded on rock? What if we find new ways of leaning on and learning from one another? What if the love of Jesus overflows in bold ways for the sake of neighbors in need? I have high expectations of the Holy Spirit in these times.
What might that look like for our life together?
First, I think we need to come to terms with the reality that we will be affected by the pandemic for at least 18 months, or until there is a widely available vaccine. There may be times when we stay home; other times when it’s safe to gather in small groups using social distancing; and other times when larger groups can gather. Here’s how I picture it:
What’s next? We get to figure out flexible ways to practice our faith together. Grace will have many front doors for people.
At Home Church
Online gatherings will continue and evolve. Many people are finding this meaningful as we stay at home, and we have no plans to discontinue them. Ever.
Distributed Church +
In-person gatherings in small groups will be created to practice faith and gain strength when it’s safe to do so. I imagine groups of about 10 in driveways, cul de sacs, back yards, living rooms, around fire pits, at the park, at the beach…who knows? We’re taking concrete steps toward making this a reality, and need to work fast. If you’d like to be part of building a network of smaller gatherings, please contact me.
Gathered Church +
Large gatherings. We long for the day we can all be together. Our hearts need to be ready for the reality that when we do come together in large gatherings, our practices will be quite different in order to keep people safe.
The world has changed. We are being changed.
This won’t be easy, but I am filled with a sense of joy and hope. I have high expectations of the Holy Spirit, and I have high expectations of the people of Grace Lutheran Church.
Why? Because Jesus is the rock.
Pastor Deb Stehlin