Post date: Jun 26, 2020 5:31:20 PM
Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,
Grace and peace to you!
I hope you are continuing to stay safe and healthy during these challenging times.
Challenging times. Uncertain times. Difficult times.
These are just a few of the phrases we have read and heard so often in 2020. And here we are in June, halfway through the year and these words still hold true for us, especially as we are witnessing the out-of-control spread of coronavirus in other parts of our country due to the hasty reopening of businesses. As we begin to reopen more places here in New Jersey and New York, perhaps we are wondering what will happen as a result of this move. We wait; we watch; and we listen to our medical and scientific community, even as we continue to physically distance and wear our masks, while tentatively going to outside dining or the hair salon. But still, the wondering and uncertainty lingers . . .
And yet, even through these challenging, uncertain, and difficult times, I’m sensing a movement from the Holy Spirit calling us to be the church in a new and profound way. I’m discerning that these are also holy times. I was encouraged and inspired by the words of Tracy Keenan, Missional Presbyter, New Castle Presbytery who wrote, We have spent the past two and a half months learning new ways of being church without having the church building be the central focus . . . Instead of jonesing to get back to the way it was, how about asking God what’s next? This is our time to let the Holy Spirit have its [Her] way with us. We are being changed. What’s the rush? There’s no deadline. There’s only the very real danger that we may hurry past this holy invitation in order to crawl back into a past that will not offer the comfort we dream it will. Something new is emerging. Give it time.
I’m not sure that we will ever be able to go back to what we were, and I think that might be the point of what the Holy Spirit is doing. Keenan adds, . . . [R]ead the signs of new life nibbling at the edges of your newfound virtual gatherings. Pray together. Let yourselves do some holy imagining. Stop trying to force the past to return. \
So come this Sunday for some “holy imagining” when we will gather online at 10:15 AM to check in with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM. Our anthem was recorded in the Sanctuary, featuring Nancy Coffin singing “When a Poor One.” And Nancy will also sing our Sermon-Prayer-Reflection “Help Us Accept Each Other.” I am preaching from Matthew 10.40-42 and my sermon title is A Holy Welcome.
Indeed, something new is emerging within this pandemic and global movement for racial equity and justice. It is a holy invitation and one in which I am hoping we are willing to answer yes.
Challenging times. Uncertain times. Difficult times. And also, Holy times. Let us "holy imagine” together as we eagerly wait to see what the Holy Spirit is up to next.
In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,