It’s Easy to Get Lost
Some years ago, I entered into a ministry setting that was unlike anything I had previously encountered. I knew that it was vitally important that I pay attention to the rhythms and norms of a new culture. While I felt like I was invested in this important work, I realized later that in my effort to be invested, I was engaged in an unbalanced approach. After a period of time, I realized that I lost my sense of self. By trying to fit in, I forgot who I was and how I came to be where I was. It was a very difficult and painful episode. If I couldn’t be authentic to myself, neither could I truly be present with the community. Being authentic to self is not a strategy to avoid the changes that are thrust upon us, contrary to what you might think. As we consider what it means to be a disciple today, in a dramatically different world, it is essentially that we build from where we have been…the next faithful step.
Remember Who You Are
In past writing, I’ve spoken of the importance of the spiritual work of remembering. As we consider what our life together will look like after stay at home is lifted there are two important things to consider. First, we reclaim the path of faith we have travelled. We give thanks for the people and the experiences that shaped our belief, our trust and our relationships. Each one of these gifts is a vital part of our identity. In a world that has been turned upside down, there is much in our life that has been shaken. Furthermore, removed from our normal routines, the loss of familiar patterns can change our sense of self. It can very well leave us with a sense of being fractured. To remember in the spiritual context is to do the work of reassembling the experiences that have gone into who we are. Doing this work today can very well give us a much-needed stable place to stand right now. It becomes a place where we can pause and take a deep breath.
Lessons of the Past Shape Our Future
The second thing to consider is the importance of balancing the important work of remembering with casting our eyes to the horizon, that we might engage whatever comes next. Prior to the pandemic I’d come to understand that I was not trained in seminary to pastor the church today. On March 12, when we made the decision to suspend in person worship, that reality to on a dramatically new dimension. As the ground stopped shaking, I realized that while none of us has the training to be disciples in a time like this it doesn’t mean we are wholly unprepared. If we look closely at where we have been, we will realize that there are important lessons that can be applied to what lies before us. Faith has sustained us through difficult times. The community transcends a building. Opportunities to live the love of God in people’s lives is always around us. We will take the next faithful step, as always, together.