28 April 2020
Granny was unapologetically Charlestonian. She loved her hominy (grits); she handled live crab with her bare hands; she rolled her eyes when anyone insinuated that Savannah was the Holy City’s equal. (I roll my eyes too.) In public, Granny was gregarious and commanding, gifted with the ability to silence and then direct a crowd by deploying her trademark, “Now listen here…!” In private, Granny’s authentic love for us came through; she always made time to hear each of our stories, offer advice, and remind us that God would help us endure all things. Granny was my “mother confessor.” Granny’s intellect dwarfed my own. Granny shared the newspaper with me many mornings, quizzing me to see if I was fully abreast of the happenings in the world. One Saturday, in front of a 13-inch black-and-white TV, Granny clandestinely introduced me to Notre Dame football while the rest of the family kept shouting “Roll Tide!” at their own screens.
As the weeks of our collective captivity become months, I find myself leaning on the lessons of the saints like Granny. And you? Maybe you’re finding old recipes for breads and casseroles, making your kitchen the epicenter of family life. Maybe you’re seeking dusty photo albums to revisit and retell great stories from the analog days before our histories were only memorialized on Facebook. I suspect many of you are taking the time to pass on the wisdom and encouragement that were shared with you.
We are, as scripture reminds us, “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” May the witnesses who surround us—the saints—inspire us to encircle our beloved ones with love that heals, teaches, and encourages.
I’ll keep the hominy on simmer and keep pullin’ for the Irish, Granny.
Reading for Today: Hebrews 12:1-12
20 April 2020
There’s a definite shift in the tenor of my morning radio shows. For the past six weeks or so, most of the programs I frequent have focused on the deepening crisis of Covid-19 and how governments, hospitals, businesses, organizations, and families were reacting to the crisis. In many ways the programs had a wartime tone, with constant reports from the “fronts” of medical and economic intervention keeping listeners abreast of the small victories and the emerging challenges. Today? Everyone seems to be talking about recovery.
While I think it’s premature to declare victory over the virus—please stay vigilant in maintaining all those mitigation recommendations—I do think it is important to begin a conversation about what we’ve learned about ourselves during this pandemic and what needs to change in our lives moving forward. I, for one, realize that maintaining some of the meaningful shifts I’ve made in my daily schedule (more sleep, more time in the yard) will keep me happier and healthier over the long term. When I think about Messiah, I’m wondering how we can leverage technology to connect to more folks while bringing heightened efficiencies to the “business” of the church. I also recognize that the lasting impacts of the pandemic will require congregations like ours to deepen outreach to families working through grief, unemployment, displacement, and a host of emerging challenges. Indeed, the world six weeks from now will look quite different than the world of six weeks ago.
I point your attention to the tail end of Acts chapter two today, a favorite of mine and the scriptural basis for Messiah’s strategic plan & Let Your Light Shine campaign. The text describes the workings of the early Church at a time when the people of God are discerning what to do next after the Holy Spirit rouses them from their slumber. While it will take generations for the Church to refine the details of its mission, the first Christians recognized that worship, connection, and service would be essential pieces of the Church’s identity.
Recovery? It may be a bit premature to claim we are in a state of recovery on April 20, but it’s never too soon to envision how we want to emerge from this trouble—and thrive beyond it—when the season of recovery does arrive.
Reading for Today: Acts 2:43-47