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Resurrection Is Happening In Our Midst
CCW Weekly Brief for Sunday, April 20th, 2022
I have heard more than one ministry colleague say to me over the years that all of our collective anxiety and hand-wringing abut the decline and imminent death of the Church reveals the limitations of our faith. We are an Easter people who don’t really believe in resurrection. We are followers of the Living Christ who are afraid that he is going to die again at any moment.
The maps of our religious lives are changing before our very eyes. For many of us, we have viewed these changes solely as a practice of releasing and letting go—a grief that we carry each time we enter into the mostly empty sanctuary or walk past the long abandoned Sunday School rooms. We haven’t learned to embrace this cultural shift as opportunities to practice awe and wonder or the way of creativity and generativity—much less the way of transformation and justice.
I recently listened to a podcast featuring Casper ter Kuile, the co-founder of the Sacred Design Lab speak about the transformations that are occurring in the way we experience religion. He argues that people are still forming “religious” communities, they are just doing it outside of churches. People gather together and create meaning in exercise classes, book groups, online forums, dinner parties, support groups, and parenting networks. Most of these types of gatherings were intertwined with and embedded within church communities fifty years ago. For a number of good reasons—the loss of volunteers when women entered the workforce, increased access to different views and perspectives through mass media and the internet, and increased mobility and travel—the organizing of these activities moved out of churches and into secular clubs, groups, and businesses.
Perhaps another way of saying this is how CCW member Judy Smith describes it: “The spirit of Christ has been loosed into the world.”
The Christianity we have known is dying and our beloved community is a part of that cultural movement. Christian faith, though, continues to be resurrected each and every day. Resurrection is happening in our midst. As Jesus said to his followers: “Let he who has eyes see and let she who has ears hear.” Open your eyes and ears to the beauty and the wonder of Christ loosed in the world; spirituality and divine connection released from the strangling grip of orthodoxy, hierarchy, and habit.
Open your eyes and ears! Bear witness to this astonishing moment in history.
In the Gospel narratives, Mary Magdalene did not recognize the risen Christ. I think this is true as well for the resurrected faith we are being called to discover and perhaps even to midwife. The ways in which Christian faith will be lived out and experienced will likely be completely unrecognizable to many of us.
I am done mourning and grieving this loss, though. I am done trying to carry the past on my back.
Sell the buildings and gather together in new and different spaces! Let the denominations shut down shop or merge and let’s develop more sustainable and egalitarian organizing structures! Open the canon and hears God’s voice in new texts and writings that are equally sacred! Create new songs and new liturgies that speak to our current understandings of who we are and how the Divine is at work in this world.
Let us Marie Kondo our faith! Let us ask: Does this tradition spark joy! Is this belief or practice life-giving?
As I prepare to step away from my role as pastor in this community, I encourage you to embrace this moment in your lives and in the life of the community. You are taking good and necessary steps towards reformulating how you live into the ongoing call to live and serve together. My prayer is that this can be done with joy-filled creativity, choosing awe and wonder rather than grief and anger. I believe that this congregation can continue to nurture and support one another as well as care for the larger community for many years to come. It will likely look and feel different than it used to, but it will still be beautiful and meaningful.
The Living Christ isn’t found in the past and isn’t locked away in our empty buildings. The Living Christ has gone ahead of us.
Grace and peace,
This will be my last weekly newsletter. I look forward to celebrating Easter Sunday with you in a few days and then returning on Sunday, May 1st, for my service of leave-taking. I will hand off the account information for CCW Weekly Brief so that your new interim pastor can decide how they want to communicate updates and information about upcoming events.
Join Us For Worship on Easter Sunday
Join us in person or online this Sunday morning as we celebrate Easter Sunday and acclaim Christ’s ongoing resurrection in our lives and in the world around us. Music will be led by CCW Music Director Winifred Brown, Sam Krausz, Adelaide Leonard, Saori Chiba, and guest musician Janis Sakai. This week’s worship leader is John Jacobs.
After worship, everyone is welcome to join us in the CCW Lounge for Easter celebration coffee hour, coordinated by Jeanne Winter and Deb Sayles.
To participate in the worship online via Zoom, please click on the button below.