1 Thessalonians 2:17 (NRSV) “As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face.”
Oh how we long to see one another…and we wait for that day when we can once again join TOGETHER in worship, meal and celebration!
Knowing that our community needed to “keep our spirits up” until that time, Bill (the Mayor) and I (the Minister) came up with the idea for a “positivity” campaign. With the help of Junction7 we have been able to plaster our “Together we can do this!” signs all over Red Lodge and those signs are now finding their way across the country. (Please note that this was a personal endeavor and we are funding it through our own donations and those from the community, not the city or the church.)
While this campaign came out of a sense of relationship and community, I can’t help but see the spiritual connections that are celebrated as well. First, we followed a nudge to talk about this as a possibility (ok, so we talk for hours on end every day…so that’s not a stretch), but when this idea “clicked” it was at the very same moment. The nudge had done her work yet again.
We are all longing for a return to our “place” of worship and celebration. We are yearning to be reunited with friends and family, a “yearn to return,” if you will, to what we once knew. “Longing with great eagerness” as Paul put it, to see each other face to face. In the meantime, we are blessed with the technology of Facebook, FaceTime and other social media platforms to “see” each other as best we can.
Some of the conveniences of those technologies will continue long after the “Stay at Home” orders are lifted. Some of the discoveries about quiet reflection time, long walks and home cooked meals will become our new normal. Some of the delightful things that we’ve discovered under the guise of being sequestered for long afternoons we will then yearn for when our doors are once again open to the public.
Separation creates a yearning of the heart that brings us together in a way that is challenging, especially when we do not have an end date. So as we continue this time apart, we know that “Together we can do this!” Together in thought, prayer and technology. Together in our yearning and in our new discoveries. Together in our hearts, minds and souls.
Together with you in every way,
“One protection we desire: that we not stumble in this life.”
From the Prayer of Thanksgiving
Every time that I approach my truck from the berm side to clean off the windshield, I am aware of the unstable-ness of my left knee. I can’t tell how deep the snow is before I hit ground and I’m not sure of what is under the snow…ice, stone, water…so I take a deep breath and very carefully plant my foot and make sure I’m stable before taking a good long reach across the windshield to clear the snow and pray under my breath, “Oh Lord don’t let me stumble.”
In this time of uncertainty, that has become my regular prayer. “Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble.” I want to get my sense of running through life with a certain feel of reckless abandon back. Like that of my granddaughter Kora in this picture, I want to just pick up my feet, spread out my arms and run like there’s nothing that is going to send me sprawling flat on my face. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want my pace to be uninhibited by a fear of making a mistake that will hurt someone. I find myself measuring my words before they leave my usually unfiltered mouth. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want my steps to take me places without having to look down and watch each one. I find myself hesitating before answering a question or giving an opinion. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want to have un-checked conversations about the future that go late into the night without fearing I’m being misunderstood. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want to pour out my praise to God without checking it to see if it’s praising God for something that I have that has brought pain to someone who lost it. “Lord, do not let me stumble.”
I have been trained and educated for disasters, including pandemics, for over a decade. And yet, here we are and all I can think is, “Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble.”
For me, the key to not stumbling is to be stabilized in my trust. Trust of God, trust of myself, and trust of the other. Trust that the ground beneath me may move, shift and be altered…and that God will lift me back up when I fall. I will be lifted by not only my strength, but by the strength of the one who discovers that I have stumbled along the way.
“Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble…and when I do, thank you for giving me someone to lift me back up.”
Red Lodge Community Church - A place where Spirit and so much more happens!
308 S. Broadway
Red Lodge, Montana