Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
August 4, 2020
What’s new this month? We’re baaaack! In a cautious soft re-opening, 14 of us re-gathered together (Melissa played that Thanksgiving hymn as prelude) on Sunday, August 2nd at 9:30 am in the Sanctuary, masked and 6-10 feet apart. Lee Ann helped us set up by taping off every 2 pews and I collected pencils, cards and placed ½ sheet bulletins and signs where we wanted people to sit safely. Pedro’s team deep cleaned pews and floors, while Debbie and Dot cleaned railings and doorknobs before and after. David cleaned microphones and hearing sets with alcohol earlier in the week and again after the service. It looked different but not too much; there was an anxiety in the air at first, not knowing what to expect, but our faithful “more than expected” loosened up as we went along and worshipped while respecting the CDC guidelines. If you do email and wish to get the bulletin and sermon, let the office know. Hopefully, we’ll be recording later in the month. Pray for that please!
Our study passages were from Nehemiah 8:9b-10 GNT and James 1:1-8, 12 NIV. Both deal with change, adaptation and resilience of a people dispersed and living apart from their faith community. Sound familiar? Most of us have experienced disruption, confusion, lament, grief, health or income anxiety while still having moments of joy, celebration, new hobbies and Sabbath rest. How do we grow from these experiences, or as James calls them “trials” or “struggles”? We have many congregants you can talk to about overcoming adversity.
We must remind ourselves not to blame God! He does not cause trials or use them to judge us. Humans have free will, choice and accountability. Sometimes our decisions are made without discernment. In our arrogance, we don’t ask God for input. His word and prayer support can influence choices, but solutions are not magic! James reminds us to seek God’s wisdom on our knees through prayer and Scripture; yes, in our frailty, we sometimes doubt the power of the Holy Spirit. A friend keeps asking me to make the virus go away, as if any minister could!
We have an important role of
prayer and responsible distancing and mask wearing. Can we find joy during this
trial? Ask Debbie about her pink flamingo mask! If we love God and one another
here on earth, we are assured a “crown of life.” That crown is a spiritual
maturity to persevere in any situation. It is available now, if we are united
in spirit and service. What new ways have you been or observed others being
Christ to one another? I’d love to hear about it. Your neighbors could use the
encouragement; unbelieving adult children or grandkids need to hear your
stories and legacy of faith through struggle. Amen? See you Sunday! Amen!
July 7, 2020
I hope you had a safe, socially distanced (and fun) 4th of July celebration with family or friends. For some this year, it does not feel like Independence Day. Either they have been sick, lost someone close to them, feel isolated and lonely or the protesters reminded us not all ancestors were free. Watching an old favorite, 1776 (the musical), reminded me that our country compromised on the “slavery” issue in our Declaration. I read the July 5, 1852 speech [https://freemaninstitute.com/douglass.htm] given by former slave and abolitionist orator Frederick Douglass to the citizens of Rochester, NY, where he explains in horrid detail why Independence (from Great Britain) Day was not a holiday for slaves. Can we learn?
Traditionally, it is a holiday of grilling, eating, playing games outdoors and fireworks. This year things were very different on the National Mall, so our neighborhood put on a sight and sound display until midnight! That created anxiety for pets and people, not to mention many injuries. The elephant in the room is still COVID-19. People have turned mask wearing into a political issue or are rationalizing not wearing one. Are you washing your hands often, sanitizing and using wipes on everything? We must if we hope to beat this thing. We must also stay at home if we fall into the high risk categories.
Despite those who choose not to comply, we are a very creative human race. Parents have found ways to home school. UBC, other churches and businesses have improvised how they serve. Impressive how various schools held safe graduations with car parades, signs, cap and gowns, balloons and individual photo shoots. Those seniors did not get a typical graduation experience, but some got more recognition from neighbors than ever before! Love thy neighbor, we are taught. So, what other silver linings have you discovered? What gratitude have you acknowledged to God, self and others? “. . . those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 9:10 NRSV).” Hang in there.
Perhaps you are the one who was in need of service recently; isn’t it difficult to receive when we are so accustomed to giving to others? Generosity is a fruit of the Spirit, and it must be for self as well as for others. Not all people are “out for themselves” in spite of drivers I see breaking the law. I am learning forgiveness, kindness and patience during this time. Thanks to my house mate and horticulturalist, we have been gardening at home and at church: pruning, weeding, planting, feeding and watering. Sounds like a pastor’s spiritual duties with people! We are being pruned, fed and watered now; soon it will be a time for planting, growing and blooming. God is preparing us all for new life.
June 2, 2020
Yes, it is June already and very hard to process this half year of post-Christmas letdown, birthdays, anniversaries, congregant re-engagement and high hopes, a light winter, then a tense season of COVID-19 full of uncertainty, illness, quarantine, grief, deaths, unemployment, business losses and closures. And now we are confronted by the inhumanity of mankind, power over one, exploited until George Floyd had no more breath of life in him. City violence erupted throughout our country, with people of peace (Luke 10:1-12) and clergy seeking justice (Micah 6:8), yet infiltrated by agitators and looters.
Sunday I tried to balance news reports, social media and Scripture to stay focused on Christ and the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, but it was difficult, as you probably found as well. Two of the images on the cover are interpretations of Pentecost for your meditation. Last night’s clearing of Lafayette Park and promotional photo op at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C. has erupted a non-partisan outrage and dialogue among clergy. In this incendiary climate, an inspirational article is elusive. As your minister, I am saddened, burdened and lamenting the years of incremental work and progress toward equality.
It was just February when our two congregations, New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church and The United Baptist Church recognized Black History leaders and our common beliefs through Jesus. If you were there, I hope you recall Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last sermon, “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” A relevant March 31, 1968 excerpt for today:
We do not have to look very far to see signs of the present revolution that is taking place in our world today. There is a revolution in the social and political structure of our world on the question of the equality of man. The great masses of people are determined to end the exploitation of their lives, and share in their own future and destiny. They are moving toward their goal like a tidal wave. They are saying in no uncertain terms that colonialism and racism must go.
Really, 52 years!? Perhaps we have allowed our love for others to be overshadowed by hate, greed, luxury, envy and other distractions. We are sustained and strengthened by the Holy Spirit the Father sent in Jesus’ name (John 14:26-27). Only through him may we be transformed, or as my friends at Convergence recently shared online, fermented. The new ferments into nothing like the old. I have been changed by recent events. What about you? Are you a pickle changed forever never to be a cucumber again? Call me to learn more about what I mean - loving Christian transformation. Peace . . .
May 5, 2020
Usually the spiritual discipline of Solitude lasts only
through Lent, but we have “enjoyed” solitude longer than 40 days! We are in a
period of “liminal time and space,” which can be either frustrating or
nurturing. We can see this as a pause or interval between one point and the
next. You know what I mean, in terms of COVID-19. A time between having
closed/cancelled activities (creating a stay-at-home reflective solitude) and
reopening/reset/reboot (the goal of congregating and gathering together again).
There are many opinions out there about how and when to reconvene, and all are
valid for those persons.
Yesterday, however, our Virginia Governor set out his 3 phase re-opening plan for the state. Although the numbers of Coronavirus cases are increasing, we will examine his guidelines and the Church Leadership Council Executive Board will issue a cautious decision soon. Many within our church and Mission Center community fall into the “high risk” category, and require a longer time to social distance and stay protected. This gives us the time needed to prepare the building and ourselves. Phase I remains “safer-at-home” with no more than 10 people. Phase II goes up to 50, with social distance and mask/glove protection and telework. Phase III requires evidence of no rebound cases for a period of time. More information will be revealed soon. Pray still!
Have your children or grandchildren been keeping you both informed and “grounded” at home? Not as a punishment of course, but as a protection, so they’ve likely said, “Mom, Dad, don’t you DARE go out there! Stay at home, please! We’ll get your groceries, etc.” They love you and want to protect you. When I first heard this, it reminded me of Harry Chapin’s song, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” where the son just wants to play ball with a busy dad who has no time. Then the child grows up, and the retired dad wants more time with his busy son: “He said, I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time / You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kids have the flu / But it's sure nice talking to you, dad . . .” Ouch; now we have too much time and cannot get together. Or you’re a busy mom/teacher/employee trying to supervise online school with no sleep. Have you heard your own voice as a younger parent coming from your children or grandchildren during this stressful time? What can we learn about relationships or priorities from this time?
I learned how much I need all of you! Thank you for your faithful notes and calls. “Our bodies have many parts, but the many parts make up only one body when they are all put together. So it is with the ‘body’ of Christ (1 Cor 12:12TLB).” We are separated but not separate. We will unite again in body and faith. Have Hope!