This Sunday is zoom#9 - somehow it all feels almost natural these days to go to church in my dining-room!
The Governor and the Bishop are both pondering next steps for churches, and so indeed are the Incarnation vestry and staff. We are praying and thinking and anticipating what we can and what we can’t do in the next season, as well as what we would like to do! In addition, I wrote this article that was published on Anglican Compass, which has helped me to think through the questions we need to ponder. So ….
One of the first things we have done as a staff is to revisit our vision statement:
A vibrant worshipping community in the Anglican tradition that is faithfully welcoming its neighbors with the love of Jesus.
We still think it is accurate and expresses who we are as a part of the body of Christ. And we still love the emphasis of our three words: worship, welcome and wonder. None of these things have changed. God is still in charge and our mission is still shaped by the message of Scripture:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20
But our context has certainly changed over the last 2 months!
There are some aspects of the ‘old’ normal that will be unchanged as we imagine what’s next: we will still love to gather, we will still love to have common tables, we will still love to laugh and pray and do life together. And these and many other things will continue … virtually for now.
However, some of the ‘hows’ will change when we do begin to meet in person again. They simply have to. We can’t all fit in the chapel together if we are going to be appropriately socially distant; we can’t yet hug and shake hands when we share the peace; we can’t crowd into the corridor to snackluck in a delightful, squishy way; we can't cram six to a pew … and so it goes on.
So what will we do?
Eventually, we will start to gather - just differently. We will feast - just differently. We will take communion - just differently. We will sing, and confess and pray and do acts of justice and mercy - just differently. We will tell our friends and neighbours about Jesus - just differently.
For the foreseeable future (perhaps into 2021?), some of our community will still need to gather ‘on-line’ - for a host of reasons, and so we are working on adding a camera and livestream capacity to the chapel. At some point (perhaps the Summer? Perhaps the Fall?) others in our community will begin to meet, and when they do we will always strive to be most aware of the most vulnerable. We will always ensure we are following all necessary protocols and guidelines.
How will things begin to change?
Well, once the Governor deems it legal, and when we also all feel it is appropriate and safe, we are imagining that some of our community could start to gather in small ‘house groups’ or ‘bubbles’ (perhaps 3 or 4 or 10 or more people dictated by the size of home!), these 'bubbles' may begin to gather to join zoom church together on a Sunday evening - providing a little more community context for worship. Perhaps this will happen over the summer? Perhaps the Fall...…..
Perhaps these groups may then feel comfortable gathering outside to play or hike one Saturday (if it ever stops raining). Perhaps we will begin to join others for conversations in parks and on decks as the weather allows. Perhaps we will head out in small groups to prayer walk and look for ways to pray God’s blessing on our neighbors. At some point some of the musicians and service leader/preacher will begin to zoom from the chapel. Perhaps then they may be joined by some of the ‘bubbles’ of people. Slowly, new systems and habits will form. Slowly, we will find our new ways of relating. Slowly.
There is no road back to where we were, but there is a clear call from God to move forward down a new path. One which we’ve not been down before. New paths are exciting - sometimes scary - sometimes bumpy… but we can be confident that we are being led down this new path by our Good Shepherd and He will lead us with care.
So grateful for our community, and so curious as to how these next months will look! Do you have ideas or questions? Send them to me!
Your pastor and friend,
One more thing: what shall we call the little ‘house groups’ or ‘bubbles’? So far suggestions have included: house groups, cell groups, hub groups, bubbles, common tables, chubbles (ummmm, no?),… can you come up with a good name for them? Or do you have a favourite from that list? Let me know! Maybe there’ll be a prize…..