Those who find their life will lose it, and those
who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10: 39)
There is a lot going on in the world these days – COVID 19, Race Riots, and for much of North America in June – Pride Celebrations. All of these events effect how the church functions and more importantly, begs the question: What does is mean to be a follower of Jesus in these turbulent times?
I believe that for many of us the answer to this question is twofold. On the one hand these events increase our stress and anxiety levels. They coalesce to produce what we call “unprecedented times” and we don’t know how to react since there is nothing in our past experience to draw upon. This is new, uncharted territory for most of us. Much of what we do like Virtual Worship, pastoral care by phone and governance and administration by Zoom is an attempt to bring the familiar into a time which is anything but familiar. And that is a good thing – it reminds us that we are not alone in these times and the institution of the church will prevail even in difficult and unknown times. This reduces some of our anxiety – but still we wait to return to the way thing’s were.
However, the second aspect is underlying the anxiety for me, is something more profound than a wish to return to how it used to be. I believe we are entering a time unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before and, in many cases, we will not be returning to the old ways.
Presently, I’m doing an online course about Trauma and COVID. The Vagus nerve connects the part of the brain where we experience anxiety to the stomach and other parts of the body. The expression about a “gut feeling” is one of the ways we monitor our levels of anxiety and often it reflects our inner truth because the brain and the gut are connected. And my “gut feeling” tells me we are never going back. I believe the way that society and the church socially interact, our relationship with visible minorities, and how we are in community with LGBTQ members is changing and that means the church has a chance to go through a profound transition.
Jesus calls us to a radical reorientation of how we view the world and this is an unprecedented opportunity for the church to live into the Kingdom. We don’t have to go back to a time when the human community was stratified by colour, creed, gender identification or sexual orientation. We will now have a chance for people to look towards building a new humanity (Kingdom of God) and the church has the ethical leadership skills and vision of that new humanity to bring it about, with God as our partner.
The scary, anxiety producing truth is, if we are to embark on this journey to the Kingdom, we must be willing to let go of the “way it was.” Crossing over to something new means that we have to move out of the past and focus on the future, for the world is about to turn! Hallelujah and amen! Wayne