Have you ever had one of those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night and find your mind active, your senses alert and your body unable to fall back to rest? My mom taught me that it is a time when God is calling for your attention or asking you to do something. She told me that if you find yourself in that situation, take time to be still and listen, to pray and receive. I had that happen to me recently, stirred awake at two in the morning unable to get back to sleep until four. I got out of bed, started to pray and listen as God was filling my mind and heart with words. I tried just thinking and meditating on them at first but could not move past them until I had written them down.
Later I wondered if this could be how some of the letter writers experienced their process of putting down the words inspired by God. Were the words of Joel, Micah, Haggai, Timothy, Peter or John the result of hours of reflection; days of study, or were they the stirring of the Spirit, speaking to them in the still quiet hours and places? We do not know the answers to those questions, and I do not even minutely want to compare my words to those of the inspired Biblical authors, but I do find some comfort in the comparison. Just to think that God spoke to them in ways that He can still speak to us now. Not to write a new Bible, not to add to what is perfectly revealed and preserved, but to contextualize how our Creator has been made known to us through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.
So in that light and in these uncertain times of global pandemic, I offer you this letter...
Dear friend (and/or neighbor),
I’m sorry that I've never invited you to church. I’m sorry if church is a trigger word for you. For me, it only partially means a physical place or a building because in reality, it is way more than that and I’m sorry society has let it be reduced to that in many cases. But in the midst of a global pandemic, we are faced with the new reality of social distancing and caring for each other from two meters apart. We are also being asked to act (or more importantly not to, in many ways), in order to be mindful and compassionate towards the vulnerable populations among us. And isn’t that what God has been asking us to do all along?
You may know a little about me, or have seen me around here and there, but I have not given enough energy and intention to get to know you. When we fail to get to know each other, we fall back on assumptions of what we see on the surface. Someone with a big house, a loud truck... two dogs, loving spouse... kids running crazy, always on the go... expensive vacations, dinners out... among other ways that I see you and you see me. This will not tell the whole story of the values you hold and the things that you care about for yourself and your loved ones. I wonder what is on your heart and mind at this time, what stresses are you facing and how is that affecting your connection to others?
I am imperfectly trying to follow the teaching of Jesus, to love my neighbors, to do it literally not metaphorically. I hope, knowing me the little bit that you do, that receiving this letter is not being too pushy. That is the beauty of a letter. You can read it; or not, you can delete it or even pass it on. Until this season of personal distancing is over; If you want, you can write back. Hopefully one day soon, we can get together in personal again and get to know each other better. My hope is that when we can all be connected to creation and each other again, we will be able to explore our connection to a spirituality that gives us life and restoration, future possibility of re-creation.
Rebirth and restoration await, I look forward to following a path that allows us to be in relationships that give life, hope and peace. Hard times can be reminders that we have to stick together, care for each other, trust in the promises of God and be “the church” our creator intended us to be.