The first week in February, Kristin Hicks, APC’s Director of Children’s Ministry, Rev. Erin Noh, and I attended the annual Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators conference. The event’s title was “Anything But Ordinary Time.” We zoomed in each day for worship, workshops, plenaries, a bookstore, a spirituality center that was very cool, and for social hours. At the end of the first day, I texted Kristin and Erin that I wished we could walk somewhere to go out to dinner together like we would if we had traveled together to a conference…like the old days… like it used to be… like it “should” be.
Much I heard at this conference pushed back against that feeling that things are not as they should be. To be clear, NO ONE said that this virus and pandemic are good or are God’s will or “should be” happening. What I heard over and over again is that when we trust God through this virus and pandemic, maybe we can see how God is doing a new thing even now. Maybe we need to let go of hoping for what was and start paying attention to what wonderful new thing we are becoming right now.
Our Presbytery’s own Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle preached an amazing sermon. Her refrain was something like this… the new thing is the "now" thing. When we read this text from Isaiah we tend to look into the future for the new thing springing forth. We read this as a prediction that we think we can prepare for. What if we are living right in the midst of the new thing God is doing?
This changes our perspective on our life together at APC. If God is in the middle of doing something new in worship, how can we faithfully follow God’s lead? Going back to the way we used to do it is usually not the faithful answer. Completely throwing out all of our traditions isn’t either. How do we continue to live into virtual worship and return to in-person worship (at a future date) so that everyone in attendance feels like they have worshipped God in a faithful community? If God is in the middle of doing something new in community life, how do we faithfully follow God’s lead? Will we become a body that is less rooted in connections that happen in a physical building and more able to affirm connections that happen in the virtual world? How do we honor both of these ways of being God’s body at work in this world?
The church of Jesus Christ is an exciting place to be in 2021! We have our work cut out for us as we hold on tight to the winds of the Holy Spirit that are blowing through and among us, leading us to perceive the new things God is doing.