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  • Writer's pictureAlice J Stewart

Happy Pentecost, 2020

I’m exhausted. I’m tired of cheerful tidbits I see telling me how to have faith, be church, and generally buck up. Maybe you are too. So I’m not going to tell you any of those things right now. I’m just going to sit here and be exhausted with you for a moment.   

That’s what we do as a church. We sit with each other in the shifting, sometimes unpleasant periods of our lives. We don’t tell each other to feel or be something different. That’s not good pastoral care. That’s not what we do. 

I miss all my dearest loves sitting with me in the Narthex loving me when I shared how I was feeling, and letting me love them right back. We don’t have that in the flesh right now, and that’s fine. It is. We have other adaptations to that particular problem, and this blog post is one of them. Is it better? No way. But it’s something. It’s what we’ve got right now. 

It’s a solution, not an answer. That’s the thing about what we’re going through right now. I think most of us realize that. We realize that any decision we make right now is a solution. It’s a temporary fix. And we know good and well things will change in the next couple of weeks or a couple of months that will make all of our solutions moot. 

Solutions aren’t answers, although we might stumble upon one. Right now, I have several solutions, and I’ll be glad to be rid of many of them. I know I’m going to have to come up with yet new solutions any day now. But I don’t have answers. Or rather, if I do, they are the same answers I’ve had for some time: 

Love. Listen. Share. Rest. Repeat. 

At this very moment, my exhaustion doesn’t want to hear answers. Not even the ones I know, the ones I tell myself. I’m too tired of finding solutions right now. 

You may have already gone through this stage. Or you may be approaching it. Shoot, maybe we’re on a merry-go-round, and we come back to this point of exhaustion from time to time. 

But I know it’s temporary. I know, eventually, things will settle down into what we like to call “normal.” We don’t have to be social scientists to know that. We just need to glance at scripture. 

The Old Testament is full of prophets reminding people that their current “normal” is not what God had in mind. That “normal” needed to be changed. That God’s Kingdom is something different. 

I think I’ll be reading the prophets differently now. I’m not saying the pandemic is a prophet. I’m saying that we now know what prophets were implying in terms of change and why no one wanted to up-end their “normal” lives. 

It’s a mess! Of course we resist! Who would do this voluntarily? 

And yet, God asks us to return to him in every way. He’s asked us to do this for centuries. Now we have another chance. Thanks be to God, who gives us so many opportunities to return to him!

Everything is already a mess. Our lives are already up-ended. Even our churches have been shaken up like a snow globe.

As we return, let's consider how we may return - recommit - not only to church, but to our triune God. 

As the next few months unfold, I want to hear how we mainline Christians have rediscovered faith, community, and purpose without physically gathering.

I want to hear about our solutions. Yes. But I also want to hear what answers we may have discovered. I want to hear shrinking mainline churches stand up and laugh in the face of the fear they once face. I want to hear, "No way we're going to stop being the church. Just watch us."

We have done, and are doing, something amazing. Can you feel the Holy Spirit at work?  

Happy Pentecost, everyone. May the peace of the Lord be always with you. 


Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

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