The sanctuary at the church looks pretty much the same as it always has. The sun through the stained-glass windows wash the room with splashes of color. The wood has a lustrous glow. The white marble of altar, pulpit and font all stand out proclaiming the purpose of the space. The room is waiting. Waiting for the gathering of those bound in the power of the Spirit to come. Since late March, this beautiful space has been waiting to once again be sanctuary to the people. It will be waiting a little longer, it seems.
This week’s GraceNotes is from Asta Twedt, a member of the congregation with deep roots in her faith and the cause of justice. She testifies that we can, no matter our age or experience, grow in our understanding of others in the midst of unrest and struggle. Resurrection happens when struggle is embraced. – Pastor Tim
After months of social distancing and refraining from “normal” levels of social interaction and activity, I have grown restless. I have been tempted, more than once, to throw caution to the wind and begin to restart some of the activities that had been common parts of my life before the COVID-19 pandemic. A side effect of this restlessness (and my attempts to avoid giving into temptation) is that my ability to focus, something that usually comes quite naturally, has all but disappeared. A couple of nights ago, for example, I watched several episodes of a Netflix show before realizing that I couldn’t recall a single thing that had happened. Upon further reflection, the show had effectively been nothing more than background noise while my mind raced from thought to thought, covering a wide range of topics simple and complex.
Sorry for the inconvenience. I really can get annoyed at inconveniences. A road detour that takes me three blocks out of my way is annoying. But worse than physical annoyances of inconvenience are the thoughts of inconveniencing others. I hate it as much as the next person. Other people have enough going on in their lives that they don’t need me asking for their time. I don’t want to be an inconvenience and that’s what I feel like!
The violent death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis followed closely on the heels of the deaths, under similar circumstances, of Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. That’s just three of the legion of names that could be added to the lynchings of our past and present. The outrage, anger, frustration, and just plain exhaustion felt by people of color and those who stand with them have resulted in protests.
This weekend in worship, we will celebrate the Day of Pentecost, a major festival Sunday in the church year. Frequently celebrated as the birthday of the church, Pentecost recalls the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the first disciples, who, empowered by tongues of fire and guided by the rush of violent wind, began to speak in foreign tongues allowing the gospel message beyond Judaea.
A story; perhaps a parable.
Mike had been thinking about a thick, juicy steak at his favorite steak house ever since he heard that the governor was allowing restaurants to open again after all this coronavirus nonsense. Rib-eye. Medium rare. Onions, no mushrooms. Who made the governor God anyway? It was his right – his God-given right - to eat wherever and whenever he desired. He was unafraid of getting a bug, even if it really existed. If others were worried, that was their problem.
Right now, there is a lot of discussion about “reopening” the economy. The nation, states, counties, and cities are wondering what should and what should not be safe, vital, necessary. The discussion is important. There is also lots of talk about “reopening” the church. If I may parrot Bishop Michael Burk a bit, the church has never closed in this time.
Over and over, during Jesus’ public ministry, ministry happens and community is built around the breaking of bread. From the Wedding at Cana to the Feeding of the 5000 and, of course, the Last Supper, one thing seems abundantly clear: when Jesus wanted to convey a particularly important or meaningful lesson, it was often done surrounded by food and in the context of sharing a meal. In fact, after the resurrection, one of the most notable “aha!” moments, in which the disciples recognized the Risen Lord, occurs when Jesus breaks bread at the table.