Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
Lectionary Reading: Genesis 45:1-15 (NRSV)
|In most races, it seems there is always|
someone younger and more energetic
that is going to pass me by!
It may be that many of us have hit that initial wall. The majority of us knew rationally that COVID-19 could last into the fall. It was communicated quite a bit. But how many believed last March that we would be facing these kinds of issues with re-opening schools in the fall? Somewhere in the back of my head, I had convinced myself that things would be back to normal after the summer. And so, did I conserve enough mental or emotional energy to deal with the reality?
There are so many industries that are facing difficulties because of the changes. It is hard to fathom how deeply this has affected the economy. Of course, this impacts the church. We don’t think about the church as a business but it has utility bills and salaries as well as other ministry costs to operate. The mission behind our business is not to make profit but to make the world a better place by introducing people to the Way of Jesus Christ. Most of the churches that I know operate financially with very little margin for error.
For our church, we have grown and been able to offset the normal losses due to death and moving through new people finding us and eventually joining our church. For a healthy church, this should be normal in the life of the congregation. But what happens if we can’t worship without taking safety precautions? When we first re-opened worship in the Christian Activity Center, we wondered if we would have enough room to safely distance everyone who would come. We quickly realized that this would not be a problem!
Most of the congregation continues to engage online which is the safest option. The majority have stayed away because of health reasons. Others have remained absent while we insist on masks for worship because they choose not to wear them for likely a variety of reasons. But for the most part, visitors are not coming in person with the same frequency or percentage that they did before the change.
So church continues to adjust to the difficulties. We still believe in our mission. In fact, it may be more crucial with all of the turmoil going on. So how do we reach people today?
We are going to invite our church to continue to participate. Our church has done an outstanding job engaging with our online worship on social media. I mentioned that as people like, comment or share the video, this allows us to “see” who is joining us at church! And so, if you are a lurker (someone who merely observes but doesn’t engage through liking, commenting or sharing on our church’s worship post), this may be foreign or even uncomfortable for you. It may be something you are not willing to do. But your presence is important and this is the way we show up today. I would invite you to prayerfully consider responding in some way this week.
We are looking at spending a small amount of money (around $20) this week to “boost” our worship post to see if we might reach others in our community. If you find this distasteful, for comparison, many churches used to spend much more than this on weekly newspaper ads. But the best way for us to reach more people (and it’s free) is for people to “share” the post through your social media account. If you need help doing this, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have someone walk you through it! Evangelism looks different to each generation and we are not going to shy away from it just because it continues to evolve and we find the changes uncomfortable. Our mission is more important than our discomfort.
I like how Joseph saw his own sense of mission in today’s reading. He suffered. He went through a lot of difficulty – betrayal, slavery, accused falsely, imprisonment in a foreign land. And yet, he saw God’s hand in his life and it buoyed him through the turmoil. We are going through a lot as well. Maybe if we see how we are working with God to help others know the love of Christ, it will help us too.
We’ll continue to explore this scripture on Sunday in worship (online and in person). If you join us online, I hope to “see” you this week! May God bless you as you adjust to our marathon. We’re running this together!
Photo by Brian Cribb via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.