Pastor’s Reflections —“Re-thinking Church” The seminar for ministers caught my eye with pertinent questions. “Are you ready to ask new questions? Are you ready to rethink church rather than getting people to the building?” Much to my surprise the program was for 2017. Reality struck. The same questions have been asked for decades. Yet, recent earth shattering events have forced us to really consider what is important. We have been forced to define church not by the building, learn how to connect not by habit but by need for relationships. Granted many of you are longing to open the doors and see each other face to face.
And, that Sunday will come. Session has the power to determine when and how we will gather for worship. The Presbyterian Church (USA) and NY State have cautioned us to be safe and healthy. The staff has developed a protocol for church and community use of the church. Keep contact lists, make reservations, limit numbers, clean up, wipe down and stay home if you are ill are just a few measures.
Some will want to continue seeing the sermon and/or virtual worship on the website. Having the interactive Zoom gatherings and YouTube sermons connect those who are unable to attend worship because they are restricted, live out of town, or on vacation. Statistics show that the number of people who attended worship services by Zoom increased during this period. Those numbers do not include YouTube sermons and music videos which can be viewed anytime.
We need to wake up to the reality that there is a “Re-Formation” of the church. And, our Presbyterian motto is Reformed and always reforming. We take the principles of the past and consider what it means for us today. During the Protestant reformation, Jean Calvin explained the Bible daily, verse by verse. A method is “lectio continua”, verse by verse Bible study. From Sunday to Sunday, Christian preachers follow the Common Lectionary which gives us four scripture readings, Psalm, Old Testament, Gospel and Epistle. If we chose only one or two passages each Sunday, it may feel like we are jumping from one subject to another. This summer for continuity, I am sticking with the Romans and Matthew selections. It gives us an opportunity for deeper understanding and constituency. Join me and Rev. John Milne as we reflect on the past, present and future church.
God bless this period of transition and time to question, “Who are we called to be?” May your worries be lifted and your spirit be revived. God will provide. “Come all who are heavily burdened”, Jesus said, “and I will give you rest.”