If you’ve been keeping up with my vlog on YouTube, then you have a pretty good idea of where my head space and “heart space” is right now. I’ve walked with many of you through the end of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. I’ve given my insights into Joining Jesus, which I’d continue to encourage you to read (and even re-read!), and especially to start implementing the 5 Missional Practices as you’re able. Remember, you become what you practice! As of late, I’ve been reading through a Bible reading plan zeroing in on Biblical Hospitality and making room for others in our hearts, homes, and lives. It connects very well with our Joining Jesus conversation. I’ve also started working through Andrew Peterson’s book on creativity, community, and artistry, Adorning the Dark, and offering up my thoughts each day, chapter by chapter. All that to say, if you’re looking for insight into the things God has been putting before me to wrestle with, noodle on, and put into practice, you can head over to YouTube and search for Immanuel Mokena.
In addition to those musings, there’s a great big conversation that I think we’re all trying to come to grips with in this new reality forced upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can be summed up in the following question: What does it mean to BE the church? The church, the saints, the community of God’s people has always been both gathered AND scattered. We gather around God’s gifts, His precious Word and Sacraments to be filled up, fueled up for the mission of God, His work of redeeming all creation back to Himself through us. Then we scatter to the places where we live, work, play, and go to school, carrying the gifts of God’s promises with us, embodying the coming Kingdom to those around us, a picture of the Good News that we know as Easter people: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” The church of all ages has constantly been in that pattern of being gathered and then scattered out. Right now, we are more scattered than gathered. While we wait for the restrictions to be lifted from our society so we can be fully present with one another, the only windows we may have into one another’s lives are through a computer or phone screen. But I don’t want you to miss this unshakeable fact in the midst of so many confusing changes: We are still the Church, the bride of Christ, the beloved ones He died to save, and the ones whose lives are bound to His resurrection promises.
So, can you do me a favor? Make a short bullet-point list right now of 3 things you’ve learned about being the church during this quarantine. If you’d like you can shoot them to me via email, but the more important thing is to actually engage in the process of reflecting on how this quarantine has changed your perception of the church, and how it may lead you personally and us all collectively to use our gathered AND scattered time in the most effective, meaningful ways possible. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of this saga, and I pray you are, too, because…
Adventure is out there! Pastor Aaron