1 Corinthians 13
Most winters, we get one or a few of these— Sundays when we have to cancel services. As long as it doesn’t happen too many times, you can look on the bright side of it:
† It can lead you to appreciate the times when we do get out to worship together
† It can be an opportunity to improvise a worship experience at home with whomever we’re “stuck with”
† It can remind us that we are Christ’s church when we meet together and also when we don’t get to meet together
† It can make us mindful of our neighbors, who either don’t usually get out to church anyway, or, like us, are missing the one they usually attend
Let us pray that the devil won’t get too much of a foothold with us, on account of our snowbound conditions.
Please pray for your church leaders, that this winter we will make decisions that strike the right balance between safety and our need to worship and study together.
Before all of this white stuff fell on us, I took in some “continuing education” at Eastern Mennonite Seminary last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It was their annual School for Leadership Training (“SLT”). This year’s program was called, “Oasis.”
The brochure, which I had looked up when I signed up for SLT back in November, explained the theme this way:
“What will it take for YOU and your congregation to survive and thrive?
“Peace, reconciliation and genuine joy – where do you find them? In the desert of church and cultural divisions and contentious discussions we envision an oasis for pastors and other church leaders – a place of rest, renewal and hope.”
So I went into Monday evening’s keynote address with some vague notion that the leaders would give us “ministers” a few pointers on how to handle the stress and turmoil that often goes along with our calling.
But that evening, and the two days that followed, turned out to be more about how all of us humans need to look up from whatever desert or “in-between place” we’re in, and look for the next place of rest and refreshment that God has provided along the way.
With the title being “Oasis,” naturally we examined some of the Bible stories in which someone is in the desert: Hagar and little Ishmael, in Genesis 21:9-21; Moses and the Hebrews when they had left Egypt, in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; and, of course, Jesus’ time in the desert, hungry and thirsty and tempted by the devil. We noticed that God always provides— but that humans can be awfully stiff-necked about noticing and appreciating God’s provision, and we often fail to accept the good gifts that God offers.
Our leaders in the SLT had a lot of “oasis” blessings to share with us: ways we can remind ourselves and our congregations of God’s abundant care for us. Stay tuned— I’ll share soon.
The main presenters for this year’s SLT were Rev. Liz Myer Boulton and her husband Rev. Matt Myer Boulton. They are members of a Christian Church – Disciples of Christ (a close sister denomination of the United Church of Christ) in Indiana. Matt is president of a Christian Church seminary; Liz creates Christian media for TV and online.
Here you can check out some of Liz’s work, where she provides some “oasis” for everybody:
Looking out the window this morning, I pictured the yard as a snow-desert, and the feeder as an oasis for birdies: