So [the prodigal child] set off and went to [their parent]. But while they were still far off, [their parent] saw [them] and was filled with compassion; [they] ran and put [their] arms around [them] and kissed [them]. (Luke 15:20b, NRSV)
If you drive north on U.S. 41 going from downtown and look east, you will see a flashing electronic sign that informs you that there is construction taking place on Ohio Street, and that if you intend to turn onto that street, you need to find an alternative route. In full disclosure, I am aware of at least one church member that lives on Ohio Street, but I have never intended nor needed to turn onto the street since the construction began.
But each time I pass the sign, I am always struck by the verbiage that encourages drivers to “find an alternative route.” I think that it catches my attention because the year 2020 feels like one long “alternative route!” It is nothing like what I expected, nor frankly wanted, for our world, nation, or community. And I grieve the separation from you, my beloved congregation. Trust me, I did not go to seminary to work remotely or preach to a camera.
However, 2020 has provided some unique opportunities for us as a congregation. We have experienced that the church is more than a building. We have experienced generosity beyond measure. It has empowered our lay leadership and clergy team to partner in asking questions like: “what will the church need to look like in 5, 10, 20 years?” “What does a vibrant and growing church do when everything is literally upside down?” “What does it mean to remain grounded in who we have been since 1973, and yet agile and responsive to the needs around us?”
I could not be more grateful, humbled and truly proud of our Board of Mission, Bylaw Task Force, Long Range Planning Committee, Executive Committee, Church Council, staff, each board, committee, and task force, and each member and friend of our congregation, for how they have risen to these challenges and responded to these questions finding “alternative routes” through this year of unprecedented challenges and opportunities.
I am eager to see each of you safely soon. I am eager to get back on the “main road” and off of the “alternative route.” And I know you are too. But what I am most grateful for is a God who meets us no matter where we find ourselves.
Prayer Focus: Single parents struggling to find further balance
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for meeting us like a loving parent. Amen.