The Virus Diary: Asking the right questions (A mediation)
Filling in at church where in a sanctuary that could hold two hundred or more. Six dedicated masked people (Sexton, Organist, Layreader, 3 tech people and me) live stream a service.
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
Good Morning. The last time I stood in this sanctuary and gave a meditation was February 23rd. Two weeks ago, July 19th was the first time I set foot in this sanctuary since then. Who would have thought when I spoke on that February morning that it would be 21 weeks before I would actually be in this space again? Who could have imagined this?
One of my points at on that cold February day was that Christianity is all about change. I stated: we need change in order to move forward in service to God. Because service requires change; it requires us to think and act in new ways in order to meet the need. I didn't know how prophetic my words were.
Look at how much we have changed in the past 6 months. How we have been required to think and act in completely new ways in order to meet the needs of our church family AND the community. We have been challenged; and we have risen to that challenge. In so many ways we have faced issues and problems that could have broken us, but instead have let God guide us and go forward with compassion and without fear.
A perfect example comes from today's scripture lesson. The disciples are faced with large crowds and only five loaves and two fish; they cannot feed them all. Yet Jesus take ACTION. He answers the unspoken question of what to do and how to do it. He takes the food, blesses it and somehow the crowd is not only satisfied, but there is food left over. In this church, we have the Sunday Supper program where once a month a home cooked hot meal is provided to those in need. But come April that was no longer viable. But faced with the issue and more people in need, Sunday suppers took what they had and made sure that no one went hungry. As Bev Winkler, who heads up the program said "the strength of our Lord has provided creativity to still make sure our 26 recipients receive food. Even with masks, gloves, social distancing and especially not our traditional cooked meal, there were happy faces today. Our recipients received some varied items depending on what our grocery stores had to offer. But all will have food to know we are thinking of them during these challenging times." As the months have passed, the number of people who need has grown and yet Sunday Suppers has continued to provide, perhaps not in the way that was originally envisioned but by taking up the challenge and pivoting to a new way of acting. As the disciples feared there was not enough food; so were we. But we took our blessings and made it work. Today, the Sunday Suppers crew will be delivering bags of food as they have since April. No one will go hungry. We changed; yet our mission stayed the same.
Our focus remained on action and we did so by asking the right questions. We did not waste time asking WHY this was happening. Instead we asked active questions; what can we do? How can we do it? And then we acted. When a loved one is sick and suffering, although we may want to know why, we should not and cannot focus on that. Instead we must ask active questions. What can we do for our loved one? How can we comfort her and her family? We do not focus on self or conformities of the world, but we ask and then serve as Christ would have us do. There will be time for whys later, but Christ calls us to be active and to ask the questions of service. How can I help? What can I do? We listen with our hearts and find answers that allow us to make faith filled decisions and act as Christ has guided us.
We don't just say the words "Thy will be done," we live them. As Christians our actions should not be guided by our own selfish wants or desires but by God's will to do what is right. Doing what is right and necessary is not always easy. In fact, it's usually NOT easy. We need to think on our feet, as Jesus did when feeding the crowds. He and his disciples did not have multiple meetings to decide how and what to do. The need was immediate. Just as our need with Sunday suppers was and is. Just as our need to support the community with the thrift shop is. Just as our need to worship and remain safe. We need to ask questions and move forward in faith. That's what we have done here and that's what we need to continue to do. We need to put aside what WE think is best and DO what God requires. As it says in the lyrics of a favorite anthem "Listen With Your Heart," "listen with your heart; God is speaking. Listen with your heart he is calling us to us to faith." As we ask active question, we are CALLED act.
Over these past 6 months we have all surely asked WHY is this happening. But that is not where we have spent the majority of our time. Instead as people of faith, Jesus' teachings have remained our cornerstone. We did not focus on WHY we could not worship together, but HOW we could. WHAT would we need to do to provide for our community. Then we acted. And that is why I am able to be here today. I am here today not just because of my own actions and faith, but through the actions and faith of others. I could not be here if it weren't for the selfless actions of Andy, Abigail , James Liz, Jack and Julia. They have asked the "what" question, listened to what God has spoken to them and acted; making it possible for this service to happen. As they and others within our congregation continue to ask HOW we will need act in ways that we might not have previously considered or even thought of, we will be able to continue to move forward in service to Christ.
Thanks be to God. Amen.