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“Not the Sermon” Message

This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, March 27, 2020

Dear Friends,
This week has proven particularly hard to keep track of time. I take comfort in hearing a similar refrain from family, friends, and church family, often wondering what day it is when each blurs into the next. Most if not all of us have lost our usual markers, our usual routines that help us to know our next steps. It can cause me great frustration sometimes, and so I was grateful for the laugh out loud moment in last night’s Council meeting (from the safety of our homes, by Zoom). I won’t do it justice, but imagine our Bruce saying that he and his beloved have always looked to Sunday gathering as their weekly reset, to mark and know time. Without that, he says, they’ve had to resort to garbage day. If you know Bruce at all, you’ll have to re-read the above with an extremely dry tone… until just after the punchline.
Thank God for moments of levity, and thank God for ongoing ways we can hear and see each other. Thank God for being able to offer weekly worship in a pre-recorded, quite foreign but still remarkably familiar way. I long, desperately, to pray and lead with your full presence before me, but I’m trying hard to set that aside for the sake of staying focused on what can be done, rather than what cannot.
That said, this past Wednesday I left the building feeling particularly sad. We had completed our recording for this Sunday (giving time for editing), but also learned that going forward the provincial closures mandated our inability to be in the building for any kind of work. Our national UCC offices at first interpreted that to mean even one person pre-recording a sermon from the sanctuary was not permitted. While our team immediately made plans to record segments from our homes, and to persist within compliance; and while that UCC ruling was reversed the following day (see the announcements for more details), the 24 hours in-between had moments of deep sadness. I know I shouldn’t have felt tipped by something related to bricks and mortar. I know there is nothing comparable to the sadness and fear felt by so many coping with life-threatening, financially-threatening notices, news, and diagnoses. I also know, or I think I know, that when there is so much I want to make better in your lives, and I feel powerless and removed, I hold tenaciously to the few spaces we can enter, together but apart.
So there I was, walking to my car on Wednesday midday, wondering what was next, with my eyes cast down. It was an unhealthy emotional posture, but at least it had my gaze to the ground right then, or I might have missed what bloomed, in spite of it all. Amid the winter brush, defiant and beautiful as anything might be, crocuses had not just poked through but burst wide. With all the glory that nature may not know it holds, God called me to hear the hope of my own sermon – and for a rare moment, I was all but lost for words, except to say aloud, a very heartfelt thank you.
This is my heartfelt thank you to all of you, for your words and your ways. Whether or not you fashion yourself a preacher or a prophetic voice in the wilderness, I see you and I hear you, proclaiming beauty, hope, and holy Love. I give praise and thanks for being part of this community of Jesus, and knowing that we take our next steps together. I give praise and thanks, and countless words of hope, for all that is still to come.
With abiding love to you all, this season and always,
“Morning has broken like the first morning, blackbird has spoken like the first bird. Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning! Praise for them, springing fresh from the Word!”
(Eleanor Farjeon, 1931, “Morning Has Broken”)

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