*Due to COVID-19, the Church has been deployed. Please join us on our digital platforms for worship.*
Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Ascension Sunday Worship- May 24, 2020
Light a candle, if you have one. Take a deep breath. Remember though we gather separately today, we are gathered together, with all the saints, in prayer and praise this day. God is with us. We are not alone. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed!
Acts 1: 1-11 Luke 24:44-53
An Easter Reflection
Things have been so weird lately. Many of us have started to release some of the tension we had been holding in the early weeks of this pandemic. But now, we are left confused, uncertain, standing on shifting ground- unable to see what’s next. The most challenging part of this is feeling like we are the only one who feels like this. I can assure you; you are not alone. Many of us are going back and forth between feeling despondent and peaceful, between joyous and grieving. In these times when we feel all the feels and when we feel nothing at all, I have found creating something to be helpful. For me, it doesn’t seem to matter if its painting or beading or knitting or baking, the process of making something- regardless of the outcome, has been grounding. This is part of the reason I asked you to intentionally craft a prayer space in your homes this last week. I want to thank everyone who has sent me photos of your home prayer spaces. They are beautiful and I hope that this exercise helped you to thinking about God’s presence with you, especially at home. That’s the second part of this. God is with us and we are a people at worship, no matter where we are physically. We are the people of God engaged in ministries of service and justice and compassion, even when we are not physically together in our building.
Many of you received an email from me earlier this week offering some early information on our building re-entry process. In that email, I used the word “re-opening” and upon reflection, I misspoke. We do not need to “re-open” the Church, because the Church was never closed. The Church had simply been deployed. The Church is not a building, The Church is not a steeple, The Church is not a resting place, The Church is the People. We, like the disciples, have been sent out into the world to live into our calling. And so, we bring the good news of great joy to Jerusalem, to Samaria and Judea, and to the ends of the earth. Harbor is currently in the process of establishing, not a “re-opening” team but a “re-entry” team. Our re-entry team will engage with federal, state, local, and Conference standards and guidelines to create plans for congregational worship and mission in our building. Please note that each step will be part of a longer on-going process to make our building a safe place for our community. As Methodists, we will be leaning on Wesley’s 3 Simple Rules to guide our process theologically. First, Do No Harm. Second, Do Good. Third, Stay in love with God. Please be patient with our team as they discern how God is calling us forward. For the time being, our Church events will remain digitally managed in an effort to Do No Harm.
But even in this space, God is calling us. God is calling us to new expressions of ministry. God is calling us to share our faith in new ways. God is calling us to expand our definition of church. God is calling us to the ends of the earth. I know that our worship now extends far beyond our building, reaching places on the Canadian border and Tennessee. Put a comment, either on our YouTube channel or on our Facebook link, letting us know where you are as you join us for worship! Like the gospel reading said, we are being called to share the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth. But we cannot do that if we stand still looking up into the clouds. If we stand looking to the heavens, we miss what God is doing all around us. We miss what God is calling us to do all around us. We miss who God is putting in front of us, who God is calling us to share the good news with, who God is calling us forward to be.
I imagine that after the Ascension, when Jesus was taken up into glory, the disciples went away singing glad songs, filled with great joy…for about a minute. Because we see at Pentecost, just a few days later, these same disciples locked inside that upper room. How quickly did their joy turn to uneasiness and fear? How quickly did their proclamations of Jesus’ act grow silent? How long did it take for them to feel like they were all alone again…another Holy Saturday…another grief…another trauma separating them from Jesus? There have been some memes circling around the clergy groups this week saying that Ascension Day was the day Jesus started working from home. It kind of funny in light of everything going on, but I do wonder how the disciples were feeling by Sunday. COVID-19 has been an experience of collective trauma, but in that, some of the past traumas that we have carried as individuals have come bubbling to the surface. Even those of us who have been in therapy for many years are surprised at how fresh old wounds seem to be. Things that had been long buried, or we thought had been healed have creeped into our consciousness again. We may be surprised that old, unhealthy coping mechanisms have invaded our mental space, tempting us with destructive habits we have set aside…or wrestle with every day. If you are struggling with your mental health now, I ask you to please reach out for help. As we face the mystery of death all around us, we must look at the face of our own mortality. And that is NOT something we enjoy doing. We are vulnerable, no matter how much we pretend to be invincible. But there are unexpected gifts that come from sitting with our vulnerability, that come from sitting with our mortality. It is not an easy process, but we may acknowledge spiritual gifts for such a time as this. Gifts to lift up, to bring comfort to others, to extend compassion, to call for justice. We are learning that we cannot return to how things were before, just as the disciples could not go back to a time before the crucifixion. We are being called forward, into new things, to proclaim the good news in new ways. We are being called to be the church, not of the past, but the church of the here and now- and the church of the future. We are being called out of our building and into our community, to build relationships, to offer hope, to be God’s grace. We are being called into the world to make disciples for Jesus Christ, to share the peace and love of God, to extend comfort and compassion. We are called to be disciples who make disciples that this world may be changed, that all the world might know the mighty and powerful love of God, and to also know that no matter what, they are not alone. You are not alone. We are not alone. Even in this world. Amen.
*The ministries of our church continue, even as we are not gathering to worship in person. Please send your tithes and offerings to Harbor United Methodist Church 55 First Parish Road Scituate, MA 02066. Your continued financial support allows us to meet the needs of our congregation and community in the absence of our worship. Thank you, as always, for your prayers and support.
Thank you for visiting Harbor United Methodist Church, located in scenic Scituate, Massachusetts. We are glad you are here.
*Our Sunday morning worship services are currently being suspended due to COVID-19.
Join us in offering a beacon of hope to this world. You are welcome here.
Harbor United Methodist Church
55 First Parish Road
Scituate, MA 02066Like us on Facebook!