As I write this I am beginning a week of vacation. While the first part of the week will be focused on some cleaning and decluttering at home, especially as all three of the kids are getting ready to move out again, we’re planning a family road trip later this week to the northeast corner of Iowa. I’ve heard it’s beautiful there! Waterfall, cliffs, rivers and streams – an area perfect for hiking, canoeing and enjoying nature! It seems that being outdoors and getting back to nature has become one of the safest ways to navigate this viral pandemic, next to wearing face coverings.
As we are rediscovering God’s gift of creation and the beauty of nature, I encourage you to consider other ways God may be calling us out-of-doors… We’ve already discovered the ability to gather at a distance to worship together outdoors. Small groups have met for social and spiritual support outdoors. The youth hosted an outdoor church work night recently and are planning for another outdoor meeting soon (which I hear will include snow cones!). But what else?
Reading through the gospel stories about Jesus this summer reminds me that many times his teaching, his healing, and his miraculous acts also occurred outdoors – or at least outside of the tabernacles and outside of the temple.
Jesus went to where the people were – he went to their towns and villages; he met them at the local watering holes, and on the road, and in the homes of friends as well as strangers.
This may be a time for us as a congregation to begin dreaming of the ways God can empower us to be the church outside – outside the church building, outside of our comfort zones, outside of our social groups and cliques, outside of our preferences for tradition, or the way “we’ve always done things,” and even outside of our long-held perspectives and opinions. How might God use this time of disorientation to reorient us toward new ways of planting and growing the Kingdom?
Because of all that God has done, we now have a new perspective. We used to show regard for people based on worldly standards and interests. No longer. We used to think of Christ the same way. No longer. Therefore, if anyone is united with Christ, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone—and see—a new life has begun! (1 Corinthians 5:16-17)