Category Archives: covid-19

The parable of God tearing down barns and giving grain away

Luke 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, `What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, `Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

*Note: Sermons are posted in the manuscript draft that they were preached in, and may contain typos or other errors that were resolved in my delivery. See the Sherwood Park Lutheran Facebook Page for video

We have been hitting a highlight reel of the gospel of Luke lately. We have heard very well known and familiar stories like the story of the Geresene Demoniac and Jesus exorcizing the demon called legion. We have heard the parable of the Good Samaritan. We stopped in for dinner at Mary and Martha’s. We learned the Lord’s Prayer along with the disciples who wanted to know how to pray. 

But today, we step off the highlight reel to touch on a much more taboo topic. No, not sex. Not even politics. 

Today, Luke has laid upon us the issue of money and how we value it. The way we understand money and wealth in the Church has a varied history. Some have said that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing. Others would say wealth that is not used to help the poor is one of the greatest sins imaginable. Either way, money and its place in our lives and world elicits strong feelings for all of us. We know that money holds power over us, and we also know that putting money in its place is something we struggle with. 

Jesus is standing in a crowd teaching his disciples when two brothers come forward and ask Jesus the teacher to settle a dispute over inheritance. Inheritance was a complicated issue in the ancient world, like it is now. The eldest son of the family received a double portion of the wealth, compared to other sons. And the assets, the land, the buildings, the servants would belong more the clan or tribe than the particular  landowner.

But what passes us by quickly, is that most people wouldn’t be landowners in Jesus’ day. Most people were day labourers, or might have been lucky enough to have the skill to make something to sell. Landowners were wealthy, and often they were the economic drivers of a community. Their land produced food, jobs, provided places to live. They were responsible for their communities. 

So when these two brothers are seeking to divide their inheritance, it is possible that they will be dividing a whole community. The estate that they look after together might not be able to adequately provide for their community once divided. But the two brothers, aren’t thinking about that. They are probably thinking about controlling their wealth themselves. 

And so Jesus will have none of it. He refuses to arbitrate their dispute as a respected teacher. 

Instead, he offers a scathing parable about greed.

Often in Biblical parables, the rich are portrayed as having acquired their wealth in unethical, even illegal ways. But the farmer in today’s parable has done nothing wrong. He does not steal, or cheat, or break the law. He simply is the owner of land that produces abundantly. 

In fact, the farmer’s wealth is not at issue in the parable. It is what the farmer says that seems to be the problem. Listen to his words: “I do, I have, my crops, I will do, I will pull down, my barns, my grain, my goods, I will say, my soul, Soul you have ample”. In the short 3 sentences that this farmer speaks, he makes reference to himself 10 times. It is easy to see that this farmer is rather self-centred, and that he sees the land and grain as belonging to him. 

Yet, the land would truly belong to his family. His wealth would then belong to his community and all of his relatives that would be working the fields along with him. But our farmer only considers storing his grain — his wealth. He does not consider other options like providing for the poor, giving his workers a bonus or sharing with relatives whose land did not produce as well. 

The farmer in this parable is a caricature. He is the extreme version of our human instinct to create security for ourselves.

We know very well the thought process that is being outlined in this parable. In times where there is even a small amount of extra, saving it for when there is not enough is important. Today’s farmers could use some harvests with extra, some years when next year’s crop wasn’t already being used to pay this year’s. 

It isn’t the actions of the farmer in this parable that are brought into question. Rather, as God demands the life of this wealthy farmer today, the issue is about the proper place of money in the world. It isn’t just that those big grain barns won’t do this farmer any good once he is dead. But more importantly, that storing all this grain, all this wealth hasn’t done anyone any good. 

Who is remembered at a funeral for the size of their grain bins? Or house? Or wardrobe? Or bank account? Or car collection?

Jesus is making a point not just about the next life, but about this one. This absurd farmer and all his wealth has missed an opportunity to build something far more valuable than money and wealth. The farmer has missed what it means to build relationships with people. 

People are more valuable than any amount money. Full grain bins mean nothing when there are people starving next door. And yet our world routinely chooses wealth ahead of people. Our world is full of overflowing grain bins and starving people. 

These past two years  we have been regularly reminded of how easily it is forget to consider our neighbour. As people have railed against pandemic restrictions, economic insecurity, as nations have gone to war to satisfy the grandiose visions of man dictators… we have seen money and power being put before people. 

When Jesus scolds these two brothers for wanting to divide their inheritance, it is because when he looks arounds his world is full of people just like our new refugee family. People whom have been left behind by the world in our struggle to have more money and wealth. People who are forgotten by those with riches. People who could benefit from some of that extra and abundant grain. 

But it isn’t just that Jesus reminds these brothers and us that those with more than enough can afford to share with those with not enough. But Jesus reminds us that ultimately, on the night when our life is demanded of us, that we too are refugees with nothing. All the wealth and money and power and security in the world means nothing in the face of death. 

And how lucky are we, when we forget the proper place of money and the value of people, that God does not. That God places people above money, wealth, power and security. That God is willing to give up all those things for our sake. How lucky are we that God is into loving the neighbour and sponsoring refugees in a big way? That God welcomes and provides for us, for us with nothing to offer, with nothing of true value to our names. God gives us the most valuable name of all – beloved child. 

And if we were to retell the parable that Jesus tells today, but with God as the main character instead of an absurdly rich landowner, it would sound very different:

Then [Jesus] told them a parable: “The land of God produced abundantly. And God thought to Godself, `What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then God said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns and instead of building larger ones, I will give my grain and my goods to those who are hungry, to those who are in need. And [then] I will say to my soul, `Soul, you have ample goods to feed all who are hungry and all who are thirsty; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But then sinful humanity said to God, `You fool! This very night you will be betrayed’ And God said, “Then take my life, take my body broken for you. Take my blood shed for you.” 

And then Jesus explaining this new parable said, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God, for God does not store up treasures for Godself, but has been poured out for you, and is rich towards all.

Finally looking forward after 2 years of pandemic immediacy – Pastor Thoughts

At some point this winter, as we came out of the Omicron shutdown, I realized that I had been planning only from week to week for two years. For two years we had all been planning our lives only a few days, or a few weeks ahead. Last Christmas Eve was the harshest reminder of that, as we made plans that ended up being cancelled at the last minute.

When we began planning our family trip out west months ahead, I had to come to terms with imagining how something three months away might go. I had to force myself to be okay with looking into the future and believing that things wouldn’t be upended by a last minute pandemic development.

As it happens, planning for that trip was my gateway to thinking about the future again, both in my family life and at church.

Back in the “before times”(pre-pandemic), I had become a future planner. It took me a few years of ministry, but I eventually learned to plan for fall programs in late spring, to begin Christmas planning in September/October, to start thinking about Lent and Easter in Advent, to begin thinking about late spring and summer after Christmas.

But even more than that, our somewhat predictable “before times” world allowed us to plan years ahead. I have been writing my Council reports with my successor in ministry in mind, even as I began new calls in new congregations with no intention to going anywhere. When I was in the Interlake, the view of our future that we adopted for shared ministry was a one-year, two-year, five-year, 10-year and 25-year outlook. Our hope was to create a ministry that had long-term generational viability, not just extending the runway by a year or two.

This spring my one-year, two-year, five-year, 10-year, and 25-year thinking has resumed for the church. Even though most of my three-and-a-half years here have been focused on week-to-week decision making, I know that it is time to begin thinking about the longer term.

That doesn’t mean the pandemic is over or the next variant won’t send us into another season of adapting to restrictions. This doesn’t mean that unforeseen realities like the war in Ukraine, inflation and recession, the climate crisis or other things won’t sideswipe us.

But it does mean that we have a future to meet, and so it is time we start planning for it.

Our Congregational Council invited the Assistant to the Bishop from our Synod to come and meet with us, to help walk us through the first step of this future-planning conversation.

I have done these kinds of events before and I have led these kinds of events before. But the difference this time is that the world has changed and the challenges that we are facing have changed.

Over the next few weeks my hope is to reflect on some of the things that I took from that visioning session and to get us thinking about having the visioning conversation as a whole congregation.

We were reminded often that Assisstant to the Bishop wasn’t there to give us all the answers and that one conversation wouldn’t figure much out. But she did say that she hoped that, by the end of the day, we would know that our next step was to have more conversation about who we are as a community, about what and how we want to be together and about where God is calling us to go.

And in the end, that was what we needed more than any five-step, foolproof plan to make all of our problems go away.

I am ready to start planning for the future again. I hope you are, too. Because God is calling us to move into the next step, for us, for the Church and beyond.

Sermon – Jesus and the spirits of fear that possess us all

Luke 8:26-39
Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me” — for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

*Note: Sermons are posted in the manuscript draft that they were preached in, and may contain typos or other errors that were resolved in my delivery. See the Sherwood Park Lutheran Facebook Page for video.

The long season of green or Ordinary Time has begun, and for the next 25 weeks or so, we will be hearing the stories of Jesus ministry: his teachings, parables and miracles. In contrast to the stories and pacing of the the first half of the church year,  Ordinary Time or counting time has a way of meandering and lingering with the stories. There is no agenda or place to get to, simply hearing what Jesus is up to week after week is the point. And after a busy Advent through Easter, taking the time to slow down an re-orient ourselves in the Jesus story isn’t such a bad feeling. 

So today, we begin with an infamous and often quoted story from the gospel of Luke. Jesus and the disciples sail across the sea of Galilee to gentile territory and show up in the region of Geresa, a place where no self-respecting Jew would ever want to find themselves.

Geresa was a town on the other side of the sea of Galilee from Judea, it was a mixed territory, where Jews and Gentiles both lived. But Geresa more recently was also a Roman military outpost, where Roman soldiers were stationed. And because occupying soldiers need food and shelter, the towns people were forced to work in service of the army, raising pigs and hosting their oppressors. 

But Jesus doesn’t just show up in Geresa, the first person he meets there is a man possessed by unclean spirits. A man living in the town cemetery. An outsider. 

So when Jesus shows up in Geresa, he is showing up in a place that good jews would avoid at all costs because everything about this place is unclean. The town, the cemetery, the pigs, the possessed man. This isn’t just the discomfort we might feel visiting a poor, impoverished, rundown part of the city. This is about Jesus and the disciples coming into contact with the unholy, about Jesus becoming unholy himself. It isn’t just the possessed man who has an unclean spirit, but everything around this place seems to suffer from unclean spirits. 

And those who lived there, did as much as they could to protect themselves from the unclean spirits around them. The people shackled the possessed man in the cemetery in order to avoid his uncleanliness. The possessed man tries to escape the chains of the townspeople, so that he can avoid their shackles. The pigs are kept near the cemetery so that everyone can avoid the unclean spirits of the Roman occupiers. And by the time people figure out what Jesus is up to in their town, they even ask him to go away too, fearing what kind of unholy power he might possess. Of all the unclean spirits in this place, the greatest is not Legion or the Romans or the pigs. But fear. The unclean spirit of fear has gripped and paralyzed the people of Geresa. 

Certainly, if at any point in our lives we understand those poor folks in Geresa it is now. The unclean spirit of fear has been dwelling among us for a while now. We all remember when it first settled in… at least we think we do. Some might say it appeared the week that the NBA and NHL shut down, the week that the schools and churches and countless businesses closed their doors. 

But maybe it came about later when the protests erupted following the death of George Floyd. Or could it have been November 2020 as the world watched and waiting to see what would happen in the US Election… or then on January 6th on Capitol Hill. Maybe it was the lockdown of June last year, when we could not even meet with people outside our own households. Or this January as the trucker protests rolled towards Ottawa and to border crossings.

Or maybe it is right now as inflation and interest rates rise, making it harder to make ends meet. Maybe it is war going on in Ukraine, refugees arriving on our doorstep, continued calls for help. 

And yet the unclean spirits of fear didn’t just show up in 2020… We can see them all over the place going back in history. The presidential election of 2016, the 2008 financial crisis, 9/11. 

And just like the fearful people of Geresa, the spirits inhabit the world all around us. We know them on a large scale, we know them on the personal scale. We know them in world events, we know them on our streets, in our hospitals, in our community, in our neighbourhoods, in our homes. And as much as try to avoid coming into contact with the unclean spirits of our world, to avoid coming face to face with the things or people we fear the most. We end up possessed in some way or another. We end up ruled by the fears of the day. 

And in case we thought we could forget or pretend the unclean spirits of our fear don’t exist, we have been rocked by tragedy after tragedy these past weeks. Shootings in schools and churches. More unmarked graves discovered on the grounds of residential schools. More warnings of climate change, extreme heat after an extremely wet spring. 

The unclean spirits of fear push and pull at us. They demand that we protect ourselves from anyone or anything different. They make us feel like need to divide ourselves from the other, build walls to keep the other out, destroy the other in order stop feeling threatened. And thus fear begets more fear and violence begets more violence. 

But the most powerful thing that the unclean spirits of fear make us feel is stuck. They make us feel like we can never escape the other unclean spirits around us, like we can never make the dangers go away. 

And that is why Jesus’ presence in Geresa can seem like such a problem… he is too close to all the unclean spirits, too close for our fear’s liking. 

When Jesus shows up in Geresa, he does exactly what the unclean spirits of our fears keep us from doing. Jesus approaches unafraid. 

Jesus is not afraid of the unclean spirits. He doesn’t fear the town, or the cemetery, or the pigs, or the possessed man. And because Jesus is not afraid that the spirits will taint him, he is willing to meet and be with the community of Geresa. He is willing to meet the possessed man on the man’s turf, in the cemetery. When the possessed man begs for mercy, Jesus simply asks his name. 

And because Jesus is willing to brave the uncleanliness around him, Jesus does what we cannot. Jesus begins to reconcile and rebuild the people of Geresa. He sends the unclean spirit of Legion away. He sends the unclean spirits of oppression, division, intolerance and fear away. Jesus restores the man to community and the community to the man. 

Anyone else would have been afraid of becoming unclean in Geresa. Anyone else would have feared the unholy taint of unclean spirits. But when Jesus comes to this unholy place, God comes and meets the unclean and the unholy. And all of sudden, the fears that held everyone back don’t matter anymore. They don’t matter because the God of all creation, the Holy One of Israel, the Christ in whom we are God’s children makes the unclean clean. In Christ, God shows us how not fearing the unclean spirits, the unclean places, the unclean people allows God to see people instead of a condition. God sees beloved children instead of things to be feared and avoided. God shows us what it looks like to see beyond our fear, and how to see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. 

This past week as council gathered to vision and discern our future, we knew there was a lot of on our plate, and lot challenges to face ahead. But as we talked and unpacked, we began to see that things aren’t all challenges and struggles. We remembered all the things we have been doing during these past years. All the music we made over lockdowns, the small groups that we started, the sermon packages that have been delivered, the continued meeting of youth, confirmation and young adults, even if in new ways. We saw the important work we have done solidifying the foundation, of making ourselves ready and prepared for what comes next, for the exciting opportunities that will undoubtedly come our way.

Sure there is so much to be worried about, so many things to occupy our concerns and fears in this world. Yet, Jesus has habit of showing up right in the middle of our mess, right along side the things that we imagine are insurmountable, and Jesus begins facing and encountering what we cannot do on our own. And from there Jesus begins to show us hope, Jesus shows us all that he is leading us into a hope and future that we would never expect or imagine. 

When the unclean spirits of fear threaten to divide us beyond all hope, to keep us stuck and afraid… God shows up. God shows up despite the uncleanliness. God shows up despite the fear. God shows up to free us to see one another as God sees us. As beloved Children of God. 

Plan B, C, D or E for the Church

GOSPEL: John 17:20-26
Jesus prayed:] 20“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

It was three days before my 30th birthday, and after 3 and half years of being a pastor, I felt like I had preached too many times on mass shootings in my short time in ministry. But the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting felt different, the unspeakably tragic nature of that event seemed like it would finally change the gun culture of our neighbours to the south. 

Instead,10 years later, is both too easy and too hard to recount countless shootings in nightclubs, hotels, places of worship, high schools and again another elementary school. 

And so here we are this week reeling from another mass shooting of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas. 

Where will it end, O Lord?

Today, is the last Sunday in the season of Easter, but it hardly feels like a time to celebrate. And yet, in the midst of tragedy, we remember the horrific events to which the empty tomb is revealed as the good news. As the world has a way of laying death before our feet when we least expect, Easter has a way of turning even that reality upside down and revealing to us that new life that comes from the grave. As we ask when the violence will end, God reminds us that Easter is God’s answer for us in the midst suffering and death. 

And so… for these seven weeks we have been walking along with the disciples through their initial surprise encountering the risen Christ and then God’s calling these followers of Jesus as they are transformed into the Body of Christ – the Church. We have heard again how they were and we are being prepared to be the body of Christ in the world. And with all of it coming to a head on Pentecost next week, as we mark the birth of the church. 

But before we get there, we are left with two seemingly contrasting stories about where the early followers of Jesus were headed. 

In one, we are silent eavesdroppers on a conversation, a prayer between God the Father and Christ the Son. In it Jesus commends this little band of misfits, outsiders and the least likely leaders to his father. And what comes from this handing over is a promise that this community of Christ’s followers are not left alone, and that those who belong to Christ are brought into the life of the Trinity, into the mission and activity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

And then in the other story, we see the unfolding and surprising ministry of Paul and Silas as they go about the Greek world. As the two make their way to Phillipi with the intention of ministering to the fledging community there, they are interrupted by a slave girl who has been given the gift of divination. 

The slave girl and her interruptions soon become an annoyance to Paul… and so he decides to cast out the spirit possessing her. This gets Paul into trouble, and the slave girl’s owners set to Paul and Silas to beat them and have them thrown in prison because they have just lost their lucrative source of income. 

Once in prison Paul and Silas start another new ministry to the prisoners only to have that interrupted by an earthquake and then a fearful guard contemplating taking his own life, for whom Paul must again change course and do something about. 

While maybe not obvious at first, the contrast between the two stories is striking. In one Jesus promises divine providence for the community of his followers. In the other, every plan for ministry that Paul has goes off the rails because of interruptions rooted in tragedy and suffering. 

The promise that God will provide glory and providence for the community of faith and the reality of how ministry is experienced in practice seem to diverge quite a bit.

On some level we know what Paul and Silas were experiencing. We too tend to have certain visions for ministry. We bear expectations for what church, for what our community faith, should look like. And yet, we also know what it is like when those expectations and visions aren’t realized. We know what it is to have our visions for church interrupted by the wrong kind of people, to have suffering and tragedy interrupt our plans. 

Another mass shooting, ever increasing cases of pandemic-19, run away inflation, war in Ukraine all seem to make us feel as though God is far away from us. 

The struggles of work, family life, young children, aging parents, retirement planning, declining health, and figuring how to re-enter into an uncertain pandemic world get in way of taking time for faith. 

The realities of tight budgets, tired volunteers, and a past that seems better than the future, expenses that keep going up and dollars that didn’t go as far as they used to keep us from looking forward with hope and believing that God has good things in mind for us. 

Our visions and expectations for ministry are so easily interrupted these days, and along with brothers and sisters in faith here in the pews, across Winnipeg and Manitoba, across Canada and North America we don’t know what to do about it. 

Paul didn’t know what do either… and maybe that is the point. 

There is, of course, an interesting thing about the story of Paul and Silas: while they were being interrupted by the slave girl, she was telling everyone that these two men knew about salvation. And while Paul acted out of annoyance, he freed a suffering girl from possession. And while Paul was busy trying to minister to the other prisoners while in prison, it was the jailer who needed to hear the good news. 

Even in the midst of some of the worst things imaginable, some of the worst suffering – slavery, exploitation, violence and false imprisonment – the gospel finds a way through. Even though it was not what Paul was expecting, even though it wasn’t even according to plan B or C or D… the gospel broke into the world precisely in the midst of the interruptions of human suffering. 

It is not say that the good news only comes when there is bad stuff happening, but rather than in the midst of the mess and chaos of human life, the gospel has no problem breaking in. And the gospel doesn’t need our plans to be realized to be preached and to be heard. 

In fact, our plans seem to have relatively little to do with where the good news of Jesus who died and rose again for us is made known. 

Paul had one idea for Philippi, but God had another. 

And just maybe that is the promise that Jesus is talking about with the Father. Not a promise that our visions and expectations will be realized, but a promise that in the midst of the real messiness and chaos of the world, the gospel will break through and break in. 

The good news of this upside down, unexpected God found in Jesus wouldn’t make sense if it could only be preached when all the plans come together, when all the visions are realized, when all the expectations are met. The good news of this Jesus makes perfect sense preached in the midst of our plans gone wrong addressing the realty of our suffering world. 

Jesus’s promise that suffering and death are not the end makes sense when it comes to us in the midst of shootings, pandemic, inflation and war. 

God’s naming and claiming as God’s own in the waters of baptism reminds us of who we are as we navigate the struggles of daily life, of family, work, community, health, retirement and on and on. 

Christ’s presence among us in the Body of Christ remains the same even as congregations struggle to keep up with this shifting and changing world. 

The forgiveness and mercy of God help us to change and grow, even as we don’t always understand the people and things around us and how to adapt to them.  

The good news of this Jesus makes perfect sense preached in the midst of this community of misfits and outsiders called the body of Christ, it makes prefect sense that it comes to us in Word, Water, Bread and Wine shared here in our imperfect, messy, and chaotic community of faith. 

And so, on this last Sunday of Easter that doesn’t really feel Easter-y we hear two seemingly contradictory stories that fit perfectly together. That remind us that God always comes in our imperfections and plan Bs, Cs, Ds, and Es and struggling messy moments of suffering and surprise… because that is where we are. 

And where we are is where God in Christ breaks through to find us and tell us again of God’s promise of New life for us. 

The tension point of pandemic hybrid community – Pastor Thoughts

Last week I shared with you reports from our family trip out west to visit family and to attend the funeral for Courtenay’s aunt (who was like a second mother).

Along with all the much needed visits with family not seen for years, we managed to also pick up COVID-19.

It has been a powerful insight into how this pandemic has hit us right where some of our most important relationships and activities are. As human beings we need to have time for community. Family gatherings, Sunday morning worship, coffee with friends and neighbours, time at the gym, breakfast club, serving on that volunteer board, playing on sports teams… so many of the things that we do to keep sane, the the relationships that make us feel grounded and known, the keep us going day to day, week to week.

So many things that zoom or Facebook Live streams, or phone calls can only do so much to emulate.

Last week, I said that this new world we are living in is going to keep looking like this for quite a while. COVID-19 cases are surging everywhere (again). 2nd Booster shots are being recommended. And there always looms in the background the possibility of another variant that could make our lives more difficult.

Before our family trip, I would have said that we just need to accept these new ways of connecting with community. But now I recognize how important being with those that we love truly is.

So rather than accepting, I think we need to, are being called to, adapt. We are being called to change. The world has changed and so must we.

The thing is that we don’t really know what we are adapting to or changing to quite yet. But I do know that prioritizing the health and safety of our community while also making space and opportunity for that community to come together in a variety of ways is important.

And that is something we are not so used to doing, prioritizing so obviously competing and contradictory things: Being together is a risk and our need to be together.

Thankfully, we DO come from a tradition and community of faith that includes many examples of living in tension. We boldly declare that we are sinners and saints. We confess that Jesus is both Human and Divine. We receive bread that is body and wine that is blood. We proclaim that we are people who die to sin in the waters of baptism, only to be raised to new life.

And we will figure out how to be people for whom being together is a public health risk and who need to gather for our health and sanity. Something tells me that God is already way ahead of us on this and has been calling us into this place all along (more on that next week!).