Greetings church family! As Bishop Elaine reminded us on Easter Sunday, though we are apart, we are very much together. The church is a people, not a building. The church is you and me together. In the midst of sheltering in place, the Holy Spirit is leading us into new territory. We are invited into a profound depth of growth and relationship. With moving worship online, we have so many new people watching and participating with us. With that, we have easy, simple ways to share our message, all with the click of a button. This is my joy and silver lining to all of this.
I recognize some of you do not have much internet access. I will attempt to write updates weekly. I encourage us all to continue to reach out via telephone for those without internet access. Here’s a couple of questions: 1.) Do any of you have extra internet devices lying around that you’d be willing to loan out or part with? 2.) Would any of you without computer devices like to give it a go? If there is interest, I can set up some phone tutorials with folks. Let us know!
My priority is in line with Bishop Elaine’s priority: the health and well-being of our people. I don’t know when our building will open. I will listen to the scientists, doctors, and experts on this as well as respect the law of the land. Bishop Elaine is doing the same and as soon as she knows something, she’ll give us a word about it. In the meantime, linger and relish the opportunity God is giving you right now.
I’m thrilled to report that I am taking a class online from my seminary, The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. If I’m taking a class, I’m taking you all with me! You will help me engage this in our community. The class, taught by my practical theology professor Dr. Dwight Friesen, is titled: “Spirituality of Contextual Listening Amidst COVID19.” Deep Listening is a Holy practice. On Sundays, I’ve been inviting us all in to pay attention to wounds and scars, give space for grief, and attend to the seed of Easter. Where is the Holy Spirit leading our church? This requires listening: both to God and to the stories in our community.
Will you help me do my homework? I need your eyes and ears.
*For one week, don’t pay attention to national or international news. (This will be hard for me, and this will be the only time I ask you to do this.) Only pay attention to media from our community. The more hyperlocal, the better.
*Listen as holistically as possible to the stories being told. Listen with your ears, see with your eyes, use all your senses, and feel with your heart. Be curious. What do you notice right now that is different from when we began physical distancing?
*How to listen: Pray for God to open your senses and recognize “what is”…don’t try to fix it or glamorize it. If you are low-risk, take a walk around the block to notice. If you are high risk: Look out your window. No one else has that window and no one else has that view but you. What do you notice? Also, what is being said in the Chronicle or other local publications? What stories are being told online?
*What to listen for: My professor gives this list of people and stories to heed. Choose one or more. What would you add to this list?
Listen to: your place, it’s people, hope and/or grief, historic systemic oppression, potential collaborators already present and doing stuff, chances coming in the wake of Covid 19, what’s already happening in your neighborhood, land, creation, nature, the built environment, neighbors most underrepresented, ignored, or marginalized.
*Why? Because we love people! It is holy and good to bear witness to the wounds and joys of our community. This will help us to know where the Holy Spirit is leading.
Give this practice one week. Gather your data. I will create an opportunity for you to share with myself and each other via an evening Zoom call sometime the first week of May. Though we are physically distant, God is drawing us in deep. Continue to pray for those participating in our services online whom we do not yet know. Pray that they will have the courage to join us in person after the pandemic.
Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.
Centralia First United Methodist Church 506 S Washington Ave 98531 360-736-7311