Last Sunday I had the opportunity to be present for 3 worship services. Each sermon encouraged me to deepen what I do as I engage in my spiritual practices. Most days I pray without ceasing. I pray for and about a variety of things. Some days I begin prayer with a psalm which captures how I’m feeling. There are other times when I turn to one of my favorite Scriptural passages and meditate on how God is present in the narrative and in my life as well.
I pray for people I know as well as strangers, naming how they may be troubled or what joy they are experiencing. Usually, I open a conversation with God, voicing my latest observation, insight, or affirmation of how the Lord lives in us and works through us. And if I can work it into my day, I try to be still to experience God’s embrace.
As I watched one service, the message was about a familiar passage. The preacher gave new meaning to familiar words. The message helped affirm how complex our relationship with God is. A chance meeting and a casual conversation between Jesus and a woman help to illustrate how God is with us, enlightening our path toward salvation and redemption. Whether I am preparing a sermon or listening to one, I am always amazed at how God continues to bring new life to the passages written two millennia ago.
Another service brought me, and others who attended, back to Epiphany, reminding us of the realization that God is with us is not a one-time event. People in our lives and people we have yet to meet show us what it means to be a child of God and an instrument of our Lord.
The pandemic has created a time of unintentional rest and a time of preparation. Some of the ways we were present in our communities are not possible for now. We can reexamine what was working along with what wasn’t. One day soon we will be able to be present with one another, seeking to make a difference and carry out the Great Commission.
We have time to reflect on who we will serve and how we will be a vibrant and vital part of our neighborhoods. Some of us are already looking ahead to that time and working on a plan of action. This time of isolation and mask-wearing may inspire us to continue such things as online worship, home meal deliveries, and connecting with members through written notes and cards.
I hope we aren’t looking too far ahead. I invite each of us to consider who may be in need now and how we can help. One of my favorite passages is Matthew 25: 31-46. These verses remind me to continue to ask who else can I help? And more importantly, how? I believe that we have more to do than ever before. People are still hungry and thirsty. Some are in need of shelter, clothing, and knowing they matter. Others are sick or captives, prisoners of disease, or the crimes they committed. These sisters and brothers are our mission field, the ones we are called to serve. May we be blessed as we continue to share God’s presence with all of God’s children. And Amen.