Reimagining church in a COVID world

I know, I know, we’re all sick of COVID conversations. Yet as much as I’d like to bury my head in the sand and wait until it’s all over, from my reading of the situation COVID-19 is something we’re going to have to live with for months, and probably years, to come. Unless our government changes tack and aims for complete eradiction, the conditions of our lives will continue to be shaped by this highly infectious and dangerous disease. This leaves us with a choice. We can opt out, drugging ourselves with screens, alcohol and other distractions from our need of God and other people; or we can look squarely at the situation and wonder how to be church within the limitations of our historical moment.

The fundamental problem, as I see it, is this: The church is the gathering. What we call ‘church’ early disciples called ‘ekklesia’, meaning ‘assembly’; and so church is the space and time where we assemble as the united body of Christ to praise God, hear the Word proclaimed, love one another, build up faith, encourage discipleship, and lift our concerns to God’s tender care.

And while we profess faith in the mystical communion of saints, which through the power of the Holy Spirit unites us across time and space and thus even across Zoom, nevertheless gathering electronically is a strange new way to enter into this communion; and the last few months have shown us that it is particularly difficult for children.

So even as we worship on Zoom, we must continue to find other COVID safe ways to be the church. We’re already experimenting with:

1. Carboot Communion: A monthly movable feast which brings communion to an outdoor location near you.
2. Cartalk/Tabletalk: A weekly post on our website referring to the lectionary reading and facilitating faithtalk at home.
3. The Rattle Bag: Simple prayers and practices for everyday life.

But what else is God stirring up among us? How else are we called to be the church? To address these questions, we will spend the next four weeks remembering what it is to be the church and wondering if the Holy Spirit is calling us to new ways. We will ponder how best to love one another, gather together, make disciples and serve the world within the limitations set by COVID-19 and by who we are as a body.

Over four Tuesday nights, then, beginning this coming Tuesday 28 July at 7.45pm, you are invited to gather (safely) across two locations, Cudgee and Sanctuary. There, we will engage in prayerful slow reading of selected Biblical texts followed by communal pondering, storytelling, and imagining. If you would like to attend, you must RSVP by Sunday to me (Sanctuary) or Greg (Cudgee) so we can ensure numbers stay within current restrictions. Of course, if more people respond than we have places, we will look at running a third session.

The texts will also be emailed to the congregation each week for those who prefer to reflect at home. As you read, listen and pray, relax your body, open your heart, and ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to or through you. Send through any images, ideas, imaginings, spiritual nudges or key phrases which emerge in your prayer and which you would like to share. I will use these gleanings to guide us as we continue to discern Sanctuary’s shape in the weeks and months to come.

Peace,
Alison

Emailed to Sanctuary 22 July 2020 © Alison Sampson, 2020. Image credit: Eunice Lituañas on Unsplash.

Coffee

If this post stimulated your thinking or restored your equilibrium, why not share it on social media? And why not flick a double shot coffee our way, to support our ongoing thinking, writing and praying. We are a small young faith community seeking to revitalize tired faith. Your contribution helps keep us awake.

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