Take stock. Be intentional.
In three weeks time Simon and I will be taking off to spend two months with our kids. There will be kind people living in our house, caring for our dog; Amy will be leading Incarnation helped by all the team; Beth will continue to support and lead our musicians; Josie will shepherd all our kids; Amy, Katie, David and Quauhtli will preach and lead services; Katy will do a diaconal distribution of the elements every week. We will all continue to wear our masks and practice physical distancing. Zoom church will continue; garden churches will operate when it’s not toooo chilly. Much will be normal. There will be small groups and regular times of prayer. We’ve been careful to take stock and be intentional as we’ve worked out how to distribute tasks and make plans.
But around us things will change. A new President will be inaugurated. The vaccine will begin to be distributed around the country. Our culture, work habits and interactions will begin to subtly shift once more. So it’s time to consider before we get there. Where will you grow as 2021 gets going? New Year’s resolutions have never really worked for me. BUT taking stock on a regular basis of my personal discipleship, ways of service, engagement with society is always a healthy thing to do ahead of change. As a good friend told me yesterday, “Best not to wait for a crisis to force a change”.
Take stock. Be intentional.
Where and how do you worship? If you are on zoom how are you being intentional about our communal worship? Is what you currently do, helping you to engage? What could you tweak? Should you set an alarm to remind you to get ready in plenty of time? Might it help to pause to light a candle before worship, praying for the Holy Spirit to be with you? Might it help to wear different clothes? Sit in a different spot? Encourage yourself to focus in a different way. Perhaps it’s easier if you get a Chapel or Garden Church spot to be with others - and that is still an option week by week (dependent on the weather and infection rates in our neighborhood); but we are all on zoom at some point. Personally - I have actually come to love zoom - I love seeing each of your faces, in your own contexts. So delightful. In this season, that moment of connection each week gives me HUGE joy. But - take stock. Be intentional.
During the week:
What is your daily rhythm of prayer and worship like at the moment? Can I help you find tools to help? Our BCP2019 has a variety of ways if you like to hold a book vehicle you pray (check out family prayer p67 as well as the daily office p11), but there are audio and web alternatives too. During Advent I always add this daily email to my routine: the beauty of the sounds and images and poetry inviting me to worship our good, good Father. Most of our small groups are closed until January - but every Friday morning the men and women take turns to pray alternate weeks at 7am. Check it out. Enjoy the moment of community. Take stock. Be intentional.
Looking outward - consider your neighbor:
Literally - the people next door. How are they doing? Is there a way you could bless them in this season? Next time you see them, take a few minutes to chat on the stairs, or over the fence. Perhaps you could pick something up from the grocery for them, or pray for a sick family member. What a delightful privilege! Such an easy connection in a time when people are looking for connection.
On Sunday, the Bishop reminded us of the spiritual practice of gratitude through giving; perhaps you will give more of your resources this Advent. As a community we are inviting extra gifts for RILA this season. The needs of the world are huge - but they are met by cumulative, small contributions. What a gift to be able to give - take stock. Be intentional.
Last week, we joined together in our grief as we remembered Eric. First at a prayer vigil, then at his funeral and then we listened on Saturday as his friends and family remembered him with stories. Every time I was struck by the ways that Eric made intentional choices. Yours will be different to his, but his deliberate engagement with others, his and Erin’s open door policy to their home, his repeated invitations to his neighbors to consider God, were marked. I bumped into one of their neighbors on the street the other day - he told me that Eric had invited him to his home probably 16 times before he went. His story is not an isolated case. There were repeated stories on Saturday from people whom Eric had persistently invited to church/bike rides/games nights, who eventually went and were then enveloped into community. Eric was so intentional about being invitational. Where are you making intentional choices?
Let’s take stock and be intentional together.
So grateful to be your pastor,