In times of turmoil and chaos, it can be all too easy to get lost in the dark. One of the things that I have gratefully gleaned from a lifetime of biblical focus, however, is that more often than not these times of darkness in our lives can both help us shake off habitual patterns and help us more readily identify the points of light that have been there for us all along. As the Pandemic forced us suddenly to abandon our normal patterns of life and work, I imagine that most of us simply yearned for a return to those old patterns as soon as possible. But, as things have gone on, it has become somewhat more evident that we have also been provided an opportunity for reflecting on what is of genuine importance for our future. Some of the patterns that we have taken for granted will be joyfully restored to us at some point (we hope). Patterns of relationships and friendships that have been sorely missed may come back to us and be welcomed with tremendous enthusiasm, for example. But not every pattern in our common life has been universally life-giving, and some of the well-established habits in any organization eventually prevent forward movement, they may even encourage attrition to the extent that they prevent new perspectives from taking hold.
I raise this because it is a familiar narrative in scripture. God’s people becoming settled in their ways, happy in their habits, meanwhile a profound cultural shift goes ignored for too long. A disaster brings people up short and reminds them that as the world changes God’s people are called to adjust and adapt and become God’s people in new and creative ways. The People of God, the Church, in this case, are often well behind the curve because of the comfort that our habits provide.
In our current situation, we have finally, if suddenly, recognized the value of creating a solid digital presence for our church community. We’ve been talking about for years. We’ve recognized a level of value in that digital presence, but only now have we prioritized it, out of necessity. Now, you might imagine that in the midst of all that is going on our community members might prefer to roll up like a bunch of frightened armadillos but that is not at all what has happened.
I absolutely marvel at the many and creative ways you all have pitched in to help us explore and design and manage this new digital church life. So many of you have thrown yourselves into this, participated in so many ways, brought forth such creative and imaginative ideas, used your gifts and skills to enhance our entry into this new world. I have been regularly made so proud of our community and the capacity we have for crafting wonderful things. Everywhere I turn you are engaged in the conversation, have phenomenal insights to offer, incredibly creative ideas, and so many of you are even examining the rest of your digital interactions for things that could be useful to your church.
You are meeting this time of chaos and darkness with a genuine spirit of creativity and light. You are using it as a time to prepare your church for a new future, and I see so many of you doing this with commitment and joy. I am often stunned by your courage and desire to help birth a new thing. There is so much trust expressed in this and so much hope for our FCCSJ community. I am thoroughly impressed and deeply grateful. If I didn’t know any better, I would suspect that the Holy Spirit had been turned loose in our midst.