The Pastor’s Study – August 2020

This article will be the fourth one I’ve written for The Beacon since closing the church building for worship. The past three of them reflect many of my frustrations and anxieties in dealing with the realities of trying to be the church in the middle of a pandemic. This month, I want to share with you a moment of excitement, hope, and encouragement that is helping me to see how God is at work in the midst of all of this in the hope that it will help you see the same in your life.

It all started with Outdoor Worship. The weather was like a sauna, the tech wasn’t working like it should, and yet I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to be physically together – it was the first time that worship felt like church for me since March. Sure, it was a lot of work and required a lot of setup, but to me it was mostly worth it because it seemed like the first positive step we have been able to make in a long time.

I started to wonder: how could we do this more often? What would it take to cut down on the setup/takedown time and make it the most comfortable for those who choose to join us? As I thumbed through a Menards outdoor furniture catalog, I had a moment of inspiration – there ARE affordable solutions that could enable us to worship safely outdoors on more Sundays as long as the weather was good enough to do so. All of the sudden, ideas start coming into my head about how to make outdoor worship happen. I refer to this as ‘inspiration’ because I have enough experience discerning the Holy Spirit to recognize its hallmarks: new and life-giving possibilities emerge and come together like LEGOs. Joy and hope gush up out of nowhere. Other people get excited and take action when they hear about it. You’re changed for the better by the experience and life around you takes a different vector as a result.

The best example of this, of course, is Pentecost. The people have such a clear revelation of the Holy Spirit in their midst that strangers who observe the church so full of joy immediately think that the members have been drinking too much. Peter tells them no; this is the work of the Holy Spirit, the comforter Jesus promised which would attend to us in his absence. The Holy Spirit has been at work within and without the Church ever since – bringing life and hope to people who are locked up and afraid.

I’ve spoken with a few of our leaders and expect to work out more details with our Deacons this week. While the pandemic situation remains volatile and could change, I am hopeful that we will soon have gathered outdoor worship as a possibility for all Sundays but the first of the month (when we wouldn’t be able to serve Communion in person, anyway). We’re planning to provide additional shade and storage for those who’d like to leave their lawn chairs (or anything else reasonably sized) locked in the garage and ready for those who don’t want to haul them back and forth. Be sure to watch for upcoming announcements for more details.

The point of sharing this isn’t just to share some hopeful news about the future of worship at CPC, but more to share about this encounter where I’ve felt God at work among us this week and ask you to be alert for ways that God is trying to get your attention. Have you perceived the Spirit bringing some unexpected, life-giving good into your life in a way that surprised and delighted you? If you haven’t, in what ways have you been trying to discern? Jesus promised us the Spirit as guardian and guide. Let’s stay open to the ways that God can and will work through us, even in a pandemic.