‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young people will see visions, and your elders will dream dreams. (Acts 2:17)
June is often a time to celebrate – graduations, convocations, music and dance recitals. So I’d like to take a moment to celebrate all that we have accomplished this “program” year (2021-2022) as a Shared Ministry. First of all, we took a huge step together as a shared in ministry, becoming a two-point parish, and adopting the name Spirit of Life Ministry! This required thoughtful and intentional conversation about the values, visions, and goals that we share as two congregations, and what a shared sense of identity might look like. A huge thank you to our Shared Ministry Committee (now our Parish Council) for leading us in this process, and to everyone who participated in the conversations!
We also were able to navigate an incredibly challenging year together. We started in late summer, gathering our lawn chairs on the grass in all kinds of weather (windy, hot, cold, even smoky) to worship outdoors. We then began worshiping indoors, navigating all of the COVID precautions that were necessary at the time, including screening at the door and social distancing. We were all looking forward to lighting the candles and singing Silent Night together on Christmas Eve, but instead our province was walloped by the Omicron wave, and we ended up livestreaming our Christmas Eve service with only a handful of worship leaders.
We continued to “roll with the punches” as 2022 began, still worshiping online only until we were finally ready to open for in-person services on Holy Week (even digging ourselves out of a blizzard to get to Good Friday service!). As government restrictions were lifted, we continued to have conversations about what precautions we wanted to take as a faith community, to ensure the safety and comfort of those coming to worship. Finally, we began celebrating communion again in May, for the first time in a very long time.
Through it all, we’ve continued to encounter Jesus in the Word, in the Sacraments, and in community. We’ve done our best to remain connected, continuing our livestream services while also worshiping in-person. We’ve supported and encouraged one another. We’ve prayed together. We’ve laughed and cried together. We’ve continued to witness God’s Spirit – the Spirit of Life – moving amongst us, stirring up faith, hope and love within us.
I am grateful to each and every one of you who has played a part in this journey – all of our staff, our leaders, our volunteers, and everyone who participates in our community of faith in ways big and small.
Summer is often a time to “take our foot off the gas” so to speak. It’s a time to rest, to rejuvenate, and to seek renewal in nature. We’ll continue to be church together, but we’ll do it at a bit more of a slower pace. We’ll be moving back to alternating services for July and August (one Sunday at Abundant Life, the next at Prince of Peace), and instead of livestreaming every week, we’ll post a sermon from the ELCIC Summer Sermon Series online for weekly devotion.
I hope this summer is an opportunity to “recharge our batteries.” But I also hope it’s an opportunity to dream about the future. To imagine new possibilities, and to imagine what the Spirit might be up to in our communities. How might we seek new ways of being community together? How might we rediscover the joy of being together, while also continuing to stay connected online? How might we deepen our relationships with our neighbours?
In a recent sermon, I asked people what words (from a Word Cloud) spoke to their hopes for our Shared Ministry. Here were some of the words that stood out for people:
Hope Renew Rebirth Presence Advocate
Resurrection Love Joy Abundance
May we experience all these, and much more, through God’s Spirit living and moving within us, as we continue to journey together as a community of faith.