It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting alone in the sanctuary. It’s neither unusual for me to be here this early, nor to be alone for a while. Preparing space for worship is my life-blood. I love the tension in the potential of the room just before the lights come on and the volunteers come zipping through—testing mics and adjusting sound, rehearsing music and staging bulletins. This precious time before things jump to action feels holy. God is here; the Spirit anticipates our gathering—our worship.
Sunday mornings are my favorite part of this work. Perhaps because as a small child it was my introduction to big-family life. It was the place where I had more mothers and grandmothers, siblings and silly uncles than I could count. It was the weekly event where I felt I belonged the most. And now, as a pastor, I see that it is the place of some of our most vibrant interaction of both celebration and challenge. It holds our grief and our peace; our longing and greatest joy.
This morning, surrounded by the stunning depths of blue windows, I grieve that we cannot start our life together in this familiar way on Sunday. Of course, we will have worship, and certainly it will be precious and holy to be gathered in the ways we are able, but without seeing your faces, greeting you with a handshake, hearing your voices (and trying desperately to remember every shared name), it will not be the beginning for which I (and maybe you) had hoped.
These have been trying months for us all. We are weary from isolation and the disruption of all things familiar. We are tired of battling an invisible adversary. We might be tired of the ways the chaos of quarantine exacerbates already complicated or trying life circumstances—insecurity, grief, injustice, transition. It feels like this watery deep—this unstable churning—that is depicted in the walls surrounding this sanctuary; the depths over which the Spirit hovered when God spoke order into the chaos. And I, for one, am certainly ready for the order to come.
But, if creation (resurrection?) is what comes from the depths of our uncertainty—from metamorphosis, from disruption, from surrender—then I also don’t want to miss what God is working in us right now. I don’t want to miss the ways God is preparing us for the order to come because we were unwilling to withstand the discomfort of trusting in a wisdom higher than our own.
Pastor Jeri taught me a new phrase or image this week about trusting God and allowing ourselves to be guided by the Spirit: “Roll over and float.”
In this season when so much is unknown, when so much is new or changing, when our relationships shift and our rituals take a different shape, and we feel tempted to battle the current—to grasp for the shoreline—I pray we can remind one another to roll over and float. I pray we might encourage one another in the assurance that God will carry us if we are willing to let go. I pray that we might encounter the uncertainties and even fears as opportunities to train our hearts and minds in faith; that while the direction may not yet be known, and the ground not yet secure under our feet, God is yet working good within us and will guide us out of even this wilderness.
It is with immense gratitude that I join you in ministry here at St. Mark’s. Journeying with you through this season and into many yet to come will be my great joy and privilege as your Lead Pastor. I cannot wait to meet you, and know you, and share in this life together.