I have a confession to make: This year has been hard. I know that sounds obvious, but as a pastor of a small congregation, it has been difficult to lead my church through this pandemic. From the challenges of adapting congregational care, to the creative and technological challenges, to these last couple of months preparing and implementing a plan for re-entry. I’ve found myself caught in the tension and anxiety of creating a safe and sanitized sanctuary, while also trying to keep our space sacred and focused in worship. These things have not been easy.
But God has been faithful, and the Holy Spirit has been speaking and leading through times of prayer and through His people. To be honest, that has really been the saving grace in all of this for me, what I find myself falling back on time and time again – – the prayerful and discerning practices of God’s people.
Every plan and decision, every concern or hesitation, all of it has been passed through, shared with, and lifted up by the people of God, by the congregation, my community of faith. That’s why I know, as we move ahead, as we continue to discern and discover God’s new or renewed mission for us in our town, across this country and around the world, I know God will speak and He will lead, because He has created and called us to listen and to follow together.
I think when we talk about discerning a way forward, and engaging with God’s mission (or missions), we need to remember to root these things in the very nature of the Trinity. This is why a book like, Discovering the Other: Asset-Based Approaches for Building Community Together, by Cameron Harder, has become increasingly important to me. He writes:
“What if we imagined God surrounding and among, rather than above the people? What if we were to begin not with God’s unity but God’s community, God’s diversity?
That’s where the early church began – with the experience of threeness…the experience of God that the disciples had in the life and ministry of Jesus was diverse. They sensed the Divine in Jesus himself. They heard Jesus’ promise of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit who would empower them for witness in the world, stand by them in times of distress, and lead them into the truth. And they heard Jesus talk to the Father as “Abba” – [and] what was the relationship between the three? That was the puzzle that occupied the early church. It’s never been solved in some simple, analytic way. But out of the early Christians’ reflection has come an understanding of God as deeply integrated community…as we listen to God and speak with God through each other, the Trinity knits us into the kind of community that Father, Son, and Spirit share among themselves.”
Nothing could be more important for us to know or be reminded of this year, because we are all a part of Trinitarian communities. God speaks and God leads all of our congregations, our communities, through His divine community, so that we might bear witness and participate in His mission in our towns, across this country and around the world. Just as my congregation is discerning and discovering God’s mission where we are, the IET is here to help your congregation do the same.
If your congregation, your missions committee or your church board would like some help starting the conversation or continuing the process of discernment and discovery, then please reach out. You can also go to the website (fmcic.ca/missions) and see some of the opportunities we have to offer, and then let us know how we can help your community share in the mission of the divine community, both near and far.