A Running Reflection: Pandemic Pastoring Edition

In this season of social distancing I’ve been teaching a bible study on the Gospel according to Mark. The Zoom experience has provided much needed community and an opportunity to learn more and feel connected as a congregation.

Any time I go back and dig into the gospels I am reminded why I call myself a follower of Jesus. It also reminds how deeply my sense of meaning has been shaped by the Christian story — not the Christendom story and not even the Christianity story — the transcendent exists, its primary character is wholeness (shalom) expressed in loving-kindness, it became incarnate to show us what the divine looked like and that it was obvious that God’s image lives in all humanity, shalom though loving-kindness was once again rejected by our bent to want to be god, the divine showing solidarity with all those who die everyday due to humanity’s bent, as it turns out death could not, is not, and will not have the last say, resurrection becoming an act of revolution against the forces of sin and death.

The divine made flesh leaves us in community, grafted, branched, kinned, as we surrender to having our hearts and life changed, restored, healed, converted.

This meaning making myth, this encounter with the divine life, this experience of the sacredness of community continues to speak, shape, inspire, and move me.

As I was taking my run today I found myself in the front of our sanctuary. It’s structure massive, beautiful, and empty. At the same time a helpful reminder of our rootedness in this community, of our belonging to it.

I passed by the sanctuary campus but I also ran around our neighborhood. I saw people working on their yards, young people exercising, folks in their porches, dads and children playing basketball, and friends taking a walk together. The houses around us a variety of colors, styles, but also in a variety of conditions, the neighborhood quickly changing from manicured lawns to cluttered patches of grass, from tidy decorations to scattered pieces of life.

The Spirit all around, the human needs the same, the meaning making myth still needed, and the need for encounter, belonging, and community as raw and real as ever.

I am unsure of what the future will bring but post pandemic I have a hunch that we will have an opportunity to tell the great story in ways that speak to the loneliness, disconnection, and disenchantment that we all feel. We’ll tell it mostly by our lives, but also by the arts — music, painting, graphics, stories — and by the ways we practice being healers in the world.

I am still running. I am still thinking, reflecting, wondering. I am still passionate about what it means to follow Jesus, to be grafted to his body called the church, and to be an agent of wholeness through loving-kindness in this place where I live, work, and play.

Oh . . . And I’m glad to continue living life pastoring . . .

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