Recovering Wonder

Recovering Wonder

It’s a season of wonder. And by wonder, I don’t mean the usual wonder of the fall—bright skies, crisp air, the changing colors of leaves. These will surely come and, I hope, refresh us. But there is also the more ominous wonder of this particular season. We are experiencing an uptick in COVID once again. We could wonder in a deep way about what this reality is saying to us and teaching us. Yet, we see signs of people listening to different interpretations of our reality and choosing different responses to it. Inevitably, this pattern of creating and choosing different sides brings us into incidents of conflict and heated emotions.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, “To mask, or not to mask, that is the question.” I have also had conversations about vaccination with those who are convinced that vaccination is not the step for them to take. This same dynamic of division and dualism infects every dimension of our culture, from politics to entertainment. We choose sides and go to battle with each other. Who or what is being served by this dynamic?

Our Session is engaged in prayerful discernment about our church life in this challenging moment. We are practicing holding our discernment in a spirit of trust and openness. We are preparing to make adjustments, as our efforts at ministry unfold this fall. You likely have seen our decisions for the fall. Andreea will return to the sanctuary. I will preach from the pulpit. We will have bulletins. Masks will be required for in-person worship and there will be no congregational singing. Zoom will give way to livestreaming of the service for those who choose to worship from home. Coffee hour will be outside when weather permits, and we will ask volunteers to buy coffee and light snacks.

Did we make the right decisions? Did we listen to God’s voice in decision-making? Did God deliver God’s answers to us? Or, does the whole process of discernment work differently than these questions of mine suggest?

In our relationship with God, even God is limited by the confines of our assumptions and structures of consciousness. We try to force God to speak to us within the logic of our dualistic mental structure. If we read Jesus carefully, we will find him trying to explode our dualistic assumptions over and over. He said things like, “Love your enemy. Rejoice when you are persecuted. Forgive. Serve one another. The first will be last and the last will be first.” Jesus simply cannot be made sense of by the usual structures of our minds. Jesus refused to give into our assumptions about who we are and what is possible for us, by demonstrating for us an entirely different way for us to be human. We think that only Jesus can be like Jesus. But this completely ignores what he actually said. He said that we would do the same works as he did and even greater.

How would Jesus live in our time? What would Jesus do? I think that Jesus would look beneath the surface of our situation, and, also, beneath the assumptions of our structures of consciousness, and point to another way. He always pointed to the possibility of transformation. And since resurrection follows death, he lived in hope. Maybe what Christ is asking from us in this challenging time is take with him the journey toward transformation. See you in church or virtually!

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