Sermon May 17 2020
There has been a great deal of conversation in a host of circles in the last few weeks about when church will get back to normal. Many people are agitating for the government to loosen rules around the gathering of congregations. The argument in part is that as spiritual people we need the chance to gather together to. We are missing something vital to who we are.
I empathize with the argument. Not gathering in a sanctuary with a group of fellow worshipers; people of faith, is incredibly difficult. I miss it intensely.
However, the simple fact is to return to such gatherings at this time would be to risk the health of a great many people. It would be to risk exposing vulnerable people to a very dangerous virus. As much as I yearn for the day when we can gather in one place to sing and pray and reflect on God’s place; it is not worth such a risk. Gathering as we do this morning; to sing and to pray and to reflect on God’s incredible love is sufficient. It is not what we are accustomed to. But I am so grateful for the people who are here as I offer this reflection live and to the many people who will view this and join us in song and prayer later in the week.
In today’s reading Paul addresses a group of Athenians and discusses the nature of the God whom he worships. He acknowledges the religiosity of his audience; taking note of the great many shrines that pepper Athens; even a shrine to an unknown God. Athens and the Roman Empire made it a point to embrace the entire pantheons of Gods who came under the sway of the empire. People throughout the empire could hold on to their Gods and people would often explore the possibilities of these new Gods they would be introduced to.
Paul sees this as a sign of people seeking something. He notes they even establish a shrine to an unknown God. It is a shrine just in case they missed one. Paul uses this for a rhetorical trick; to introduce these people to the God they do not know. Who for Paul is the God who is creator of all?
But, as Paul also notes; God does not require these shrines. All the gold and silver in the world is not necessary to appease or please God. These shrines are not needed to come close to God. God is already there. God is all about us. In him we live and move and have our being.”We are the offering.”
We are truly blessed that we are able to gather s we do this morning. We can share our thoughts and concerns and reflect together over a social media that did not exist all that long ago.
We can look out for one another and we can know that God is with us. God is amidst us. God’s incredible love is not withheld, simply because we are not able to gather in one building.
This is a challenging and painful time in so many ways. Part of what makes it intensely difficult is that we cannot know when it will end. We are getting some indication parts of this time of distancing are beginning to loosen. But the time when we can all gather in our sanctuary is still unknown. I have assembled a committee that is going to begin discussing how we will eventually begin to gather again.
We have a great many things to discuss. How many people are safe in one place? How we will actually worship? What part does singing play in that worship? Who is able to attend the early worships?
What part does further live streamed worship play in the life of our congregation? Are there other questions we need to ask?
We are just beginning this conversation in the hope that we are prepared when the time comes. If you have questions or thoughts do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
But in the meantime we continue together in this way. And I am grateful for this. I am so happy to connect with all of you in this way. And for that I thank God. Because I know it is God with in whom we live and move and have our being. Even if we gather away from the church we know and love.
We are not alone,
we live in God’s world.
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.
A New Creed is a brief and well-loved affirmation of faith used widely in our worship (1968; rev. 1980, 1995).
The 20 Articles of Doctrine; A Statement of Faith, 1940; A New Creed; and A Song of Faith are recognized as standards subordinate to the primacy of scripture in the doctrine section of the Basis of Union. (See The Manual, pages 11-28).
Permission to podcast /stream the music in this service obtained from CCL I
streaming license number 20369698, Size A.