Gratitude Day 428
Wed., Mar. 25, 2020
Acts 16:5: The churches became stronger in their faith, and each day more people put their faith in the Lord.
We are in a time called Lent – the 40 days before Easter when we are called to draw closer to God. It’s the time of year when people are encouraged to set aside time and intentionally explore ways that they can journey closer with God.
It is not lost on me … and many others … that during one of the most important times of the church year, churches are shuttered and closed right now. Pastors are trying to figure out how to host online worship and connect with people through different and sometimes unfamiliar platforms. Churches contemplate having enough funds to cover expenses while offering plates remain safely sheltered on pulpit shelves; completely abiding by the now common “stay in place” orders that have been issued.
For decades, many churches have remained much the same with Sunday morning worship as their main event of the week. Yes, churches have experimented with alternative worship times and styles. Many churches have additional offerings like Wednesday night programming and small group ministry. Visitation teams strive to keep those unable to worship regularly connected to the church. The list goes on and on about various ways churches encourage people to find ways to deepen their faith and develop a personal relationship with God.
While not always, most ministries happen within a brick and mortar church building. Yes, there are exceptions. But by and large, most ministry events supported by local churches happen at their main facility.
It’s a common struggle right now: how does the church continue to operate when business as usual has been completely disrupted?
For years, we, meaning “church” people, have said the church isn’t a building. It’s a people. The folks who walk in and out of the building are far more important than the physical building. While we have said this, it’s hard not to underestimate the importance of a central location.
In times of challenge and even chaos, maybe, it’s an opportunity for us to rethink many things. Including church.
I’m not ready to throw the church building out with the bath water. But, if ever there was an opportunity for us to reflect, ponder and rethink about what church means, now IS that time.
What is church? It’s hearts and souls who long to find meaning in their lives by drawing upon strength from Someone – God – who is bigger than us all. It’s living two simple commandments as given to us by the incarnate version of God, known as Jesus, to love God and neighbor. It’s falling in love with knowing there is something beyond this earth that awaits us. It’s having hope that we don’t have to know it all, be it all and live it all because God has it all together; especially when we don’t.
Like right now.
And when life feels ridiculously out of control and filled with chaos, it’s a place for us to turn and find peace. Quiet. Hope. Love.
For the last two years, my role as a “pastor” has not included leading weekly worship. My “church” has included multiple sites and worship styles. Hubby Rick and I have struggled in knowing exactly what church building we call “home.”
We have also discovered that church isn’t really about a physical building. It’s about being with other folks who yearn to make sense of their everyday lives on a deeper spiritual level. Even while we may not be in the same physical building each week, we still see ourselves as part of God’s church.
People also turn to the church to give them hope and encouragement when their lives feel turned upside down. Recently, someone suggested that I should consider hosting an online devotion for folks who are looking for this. I took a couple of days to think about this and decided to offer a weekly online short devotional time. I hope people worship with an actual faith community on the weekends and so offer this devotional time as an alternative to regular worship.
Tonight, at 8 PM central, will be my initial Wednesday Night Devo with Dianne on Facebook Live. I would love for you and a friend to join me. I anticipate it to be 15 minutes long or so. I would love for you to share a prayer request that you have. I don’t expect this to be ridiculously profound or professional. This will be the first Facebook Live I have ever done.
What it will be is an opportunity for us to be church together: to come before God and find guidance and inspiration from the One who is greater and bigger than all of us. To know that God is still speaking, even if God feels rather quiet right now. To gather as folks who love God and yearn to know God more.
Please join me tonight. I’ll see you there.
For new ways to experience church, I am grateful.
Lord God – what an amazing time to explore new and creative things in our lives, including what church means to us. I pray we find wonderful ways to connect with You and each other in these days often cloaked with stay in place encouragements. Amen.
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