Walking with Jesus Post-Covid
As more and more people are vaccinated, we are able to gather in person with friends and families. I look forward to seeing my family in August! And as wonderful as that may be, I don’t expect this transition in our country and world to be easy. It may be helpful to learn from experts in anxiety, depression and trauma for healing next steps forward. Here is a short list – what would you add?
Tell your story to someone in your faith community.
Set up a post-Covid listening event. Listen to one another deeply.
Give and receive from your faith community. Step up for one another, ask people how they are doing and answer honestly when asked.
Worship together regularly.
Make a list of stories from the Bible that resonate with what we’ve gone through and use those in worship or at meetings and other gatherings.
Encourage one another, bringing grace and humor in conversations.
Take things off your calendar.
Spend more time doing what nurtures you – being in nature, doing hobbies, cuddling your pet…
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – and encourage others to do the same.
Eat your vegetables, even if you are eating comfort foods.
Focus on who God is, not what God does or doesn’t do.
Love yourself, forgive yourself, trust the process of walking through life with Christ as your Lord.
Isaiah 41:10. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
send the gift of your Spirit
to fill this place
and the world.
that burns like fire,
that moves me like the wind;
and set me free, Lord,
free to try new ways of living;
free to forgive myself and others;
free to love and laugh and sing;
free to lay aside my burden of security;
free to join the battle of justice and peace;
free to see and listen and wonder again
at the gracious mystery of things and persons;
free to be,
to rejoice as a child of your Spirit.
teach me how to dance,
to turn around
and come down where I want to be,
in the arms and heart of your people
and in you.
that I may praise and enjoy you forever.
Prayers For The Battle by Ted Loder
Drawings by Ed Kerns
Group completes: “TESTIMONY: VOCABULARY OF FAITH”
What they said about Testimony:
“Initially I thought it was something I would dread having to do… but as the group progressed it became apparent that my gain from “Testimony” would be a closer bond with my fellow Christians and becoming more attuned to my own faith and beliefs. Ultimately, “Testimony” gave me strength and power to make a decision I had been wrestling with: leaving a group that had chosen to serve themselves rather than the poor and needy.”
“Testimony” put a lot of key concepts of our Christian faith together for me and gave me opportunities to share my faith with longtime friends at a deeper lever than I had ever expected. I am grateful for our time together studying and sharing thoughts and experiences about living our lives knowing the leadership of the Holy Spirit—and not being embarrassed to share them.”
“Testimony” helped me connect with members of our church in a deeper way. It also gave me the tools to help a friend who is exploring their faith. It was wonderful that the group prayed for others that needed prayers.”
“Testimony” helped me to refresh my Biblical knowledge and also allowed me to share very honest conversations about Christianity and other issues with four women who I love and trust wholeheartedly. I definitely felt the Holy Spirit at work within our group.”
“I didn’t really know what we were getting into. Despite zoom it was a very intimate group which surprised me. It was refreshing to have faith-based discussions with other people. “Testimony” got me thinking about where I can share my faith in the future.”
”Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!”
– 1 chronicles 16:8
An Update from Family Promise
During worship on Sunday, June 6 Family Promise Board Member Steve Introcaso gave us more news about Family Promise’s exciting new alliance. Below is the latest impact report.
Earth Care Congregation Update
- A Summer Virtual Sunday School: You are invited to join in a free 4-part virtual Sunday School program on the Climate Crisis. This program is taught by the southern Indiana group Presbyterian Climate Advocates, made up of the Rev. Dr. Trisha Tull and Carol Dunn of Scottsburg (Indiana) Presbyterian Church, Beth Snyder of Jeffersonville (Indiana) First Prez, and Kristina Lindborg, an Indiana Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteer. It will be offered on four consecutive Sundays, July 11, 18, 25, and August 1, 4-5:15 pm EDT as a Zoom meeting. We encourage several members of the same congregation to register together. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. A brief Zoom tutorial will be available for anyone expressing the need. To register and receive your Zoom invitation, please go to our website: https://www.presbyclimateadvocates.org/upcoming-classes/
- You all will know much of the information I share here starting around minute 23 but I was recently asked to answer a question about where churches that are concerned about Earth Care start on A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast: https://amatteroffaith.buzzsprout.com/1648090/8452572-episode-10-church-dress-code-left-wing-pcusa-congregations-and-climate-change. You might find it a helpful resource to share with other churches interested in getting started.
- We were recently able to share the story of two ECC’s via Presbyterian News Service. You can read those stories about Village Presbyterian Church https://www.presbyterianmission.org/story/small-group-leads-big-solar-projects-at-kansas-church/ and Woods Memorial Church https://www.presbyterianmission.org/story/maryland-church-protecting-the-earth-with-native-plants. I love being able to share your stories on our blog and with PNS when possible so keep them coming my direction. Some of you have shared information that I’m crafting into upcoming blog posts.
- Some of you may have had the chance to participate in EAD last month. Valery Nodem and I were able to host two of our international partners as well as Blessed Tomorrow to present a great webinar on Climate Change and Disaster. Hear from our International partners in Haiti and South Sudan as they share about these realities in their context, and consider the relationship between creation stewardship, adapting to possible changes, and disaster response. Blessed Tomorrow helps us consider how our churches can serve as places of refuge, helping to plan for the impacts of climate change: https://vimeo.com/542257590
- If you haven’t seen it yet, the Spring Issue of the PHP Post is online: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/php-post-spring-2021/. This issue looks at how PHP’s work fits into the Matthew 25 initiative. It also lifts up a story from Peace Presbyterian Church, an ECC in Florida.
Presbyterians for Earth Care, a national eco-justice network, is looking for a paid, part-time coordinator. Learn more at https://presbyearthcare.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/HELP-WANTED-04.18.21.pdf
Just a reminder that I’m here and happy to answer any questions that you may have. Thank you as always for all the ways you care for creation. —
BIBLICAL AUTHORITY AND INTERPRETATION
Not all denominations approach the Bible the same way. The following is a resource describing the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s outlook. For more reading, see the link below.
A Resource Paper of The United Presbyterian Church of America, 1982, p. 34-35
Interpretations of Scripture are never once and for all but must be continually renewed in the context of changing circumstances. The dynamic nature of faith thus requires a regular and continuing study of the written word and an openness to finding in that word new meanings in response to the new questions that life presents.
Such a dynamic process is not without pain, however. One grows accustomed to viewing the meaning of the word in one way, becoming familiar with its content and its demands. Faithfulness to God is bound up with an individual’s faithfulness to what is understood to be God’s word. When presented with evidence contrary to one’s view, one may tend to ignore it or accommodate it as much as possible. At some point, however, one may discover that one’s understanding is seriously deficient, and faithfulness demands the difficult process of coming to a renewed understanding of what God is saying.
In times such as these, when revolutionary changes are occurring in both the theological and practical life of the church, there is need for an abiding trust in the biblical God who sovereignly acts through individual lives as well as through historical events. Only when such trust permeates the church and its members can one be released from the fear that paralyzes dynamic interactions and from the despair that makes one give up the attempt to work toward a fresh unity in the Spirit. There is need to hear from God as well as from each other and from the world at large. Personally and corporately, there is the need to allow God to confront and correct distortions and incomplete views of the Scripture, the church, and its mission.
One cannot expect to use the Bible in a positive way for guidance and direction in the midst of controversy if one is not accustomed to using it for guidance and direction in daily lives, both individually and corporately. In fact, a more faithful and constant reading of Scripture might provoke more and not less controversy. Nor should this be something to be afraid of. Controversy is a part of life and growth; it may give us the experience of struggling together with Scripture in an authentic and helpful way.
For more on this topic, see the whole position paper that came out of General Assembly in 1982. Here is the URL. https://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/_resolutions/scripture-use.pdf
Your Post-COVID Spiritual Renewal
Practice: Study and reflect over Scriptures. The written word is central to our lives. Do this on your own as well as with your faith community.
Scripture: “But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” Proverbs 1:33.
Your Post-COVID Spiritual Renewal
Practice: Pray. Choose or adjust your daily time, place and method of prayer.
Scripture: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23.
Your Post-COVID Spiritual Renewal
Practice: Reflect. What did you experience during the past 15 months and how were you changed from it?
Scripture: “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” Psalm 91:4-6