Dear People of the Kootenays,
As the pandemic drags on and we face a future of threat to our planet, I have been thinking about the spiritual resources needed to be people of hope and courage, people of resilience and endurance who have the capacity to adapt to changing needs; to be the Church God needs to serve the world now and into the future.
As I said in my September article for the Highway, preparing for possible evacuation last summer, at OAC, Okanagan Anglican Camp, and also packing a small suitcase to put at the front door of our house when we could see flames over the hill, I was pushed into prioritizing: what is replaceable and what is irreplaceable? What one piece of my mother’s jewelry could I take with me to hold her memories for me? I took pictures of precious things I needed to leave behind, knowing the memories I want to sustain me are captured in the snapshot, somewhere in the cloud.
This is the question for me about facing the changes and challenges of being Church in this time. What do we take with us and what do we need to leave behind in order to travel lightly, to move quickly, to not be so burdened with stuff that we can’t adapt to what God’s mission requires of us now.
The Diocesan Spiritual Development Committee has had an ongoing discussion about what spiritual resources we need in the pandemic. We already have these spiritual resources, we agreed. But we need to remind ourselves of what we have, and what we can carry with us into the new time.
Here’s a checklist:
- The Story: Scripture, stories of God’s encounter with humans and creation over the centuries. The Lectionary gives us a steady diet of a wide range of Bible texts. (Memorize your favourites that give you strength)
- Psalms: ancient prayers that name the fullness of honest human language addressed to God
- Prayers 1: collected over centuries, and fresh new ones that name our reality now
- Prayers 2: the habit of prayers for morning and evening, grace at meal, special occasions and seasons.
- The Eucharist: the presence of Jesus, portable, can be taken anywhere.
- The Church year: the ritual round of marking the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; participating in the great drama of God’s ongoing action to bring us to wholeness; reminders that God is working continuously to bring us into reconciliation with God.
- Hymns, the ones you can belt out from memory. Or for you perhaps it is Bach’s organ preludes. For me, it’s Mozart’s Clarinet concertos; Leonard Cohen singing Alleluia? What music feeds your soul?
- Silence: meditation/listening
- Enjoyment of Nature
- Sabbath rest
- Community: (The communion of Saints) over centuries and around the globe;
- community that surrounds us with strength.
- Acts of service; feeding the hungry, sheltering the vulnerable
- Justice-making; making our systems fair
What would you add to your own list of spiritual resources or practices that nurture your soul, and your relationship with God?
- A Bible
- A Prayer Book
What spiritual resources does the Church need for us to be Church?
When God called the Hebrew Slaves to leave their oppression and wander out into the uncertain wilderness to become the People of God (a process that took two generations) they were required to travel light and to trust God day by day for sustenance. Water from a rock… Manna just enough for today… Trust that God will provide what is needed for tomorrow.
What would you pack in your suitcase or backpack of spiritual resources to sustain your hope and courage?
What should the church pack in its backpack?
As I made this list, I realized we can easily carry these things with us. They are light! But I also realized that God goes ahead of us. The Holy Spirit will blow us into the future (remember that at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was “driven” into the Wilderness by the Spirit!) Thanks be to God!