Greg was recently invited by the Church Leadership Team and pastors to serve in a consultative role with the team and congregation.
That's how I've been feeling for 5 months.
On January 22 my wife and I left China for a 2-week vacation. We haven't been back since. A storm the size and shape of the coronavirus tore us from our moorings, has blocked our return, and even reshaped the coastline of our life there. If we're able to get back it won't be the same.
I suspect most of you feel something similar, personally and in the community of Messiah. The coronavirus storm has torn you from familiar moorings in the life of Messiah, in worship and work, community and communication, learning and loving.
But there has been a second storm as well, one that has torn away the scales hiding much of the sin of racism from many of our eyes. Things we really didn't want to see and know have become clear beyond our ability to ignore them.
These two storms have reshaped – and will continue to reshape – the coastlines of our common life. It's not that everything will be different, but some things will be completely different, and most things will be at least a little bit so. For example, when Messiah can safely return to in-person worship it will be different. There will be cameras mounted to include the wider community God has been attracting. There will be empty spaces in the pews the size of some friends who choose on occasion to worship from home. There will be other changes not yet clear.
The storm that has exposed so much racism will change the shape of Messiah as well, even more deeply if the congregation dares. The congregation and members must explore their own place in this sin, then repent, and restore. This is hard and holy work.
These storms have reshaped the coastline. The leaders of Messiah know this, and they have invited the congregation into this time of discernment, to seek the winds of the Holy Spirit to fill Messiah's sails and direct her course as we sketch new maps.
Please pray with the leaders, grateful that there has been vibrant and faithful ministry at Messiah in the past, that there continues to be in the present, and for the promise that there will be in the future. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct the journey, and for the courage to stay the course. We know the coastline of the future won't look quite the same as the past, but we also know we travel with the one who has been through the storm before, and who holds power over the wind and the waves.