Explore spiritual practices
From the Pastor's Desk
August 1, 2020
How has your life changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began? What have you had to give up? What have you gained?
Sudden change thrust on us is tricky and seldom welcome. There is loss. For the past four months many have struggled with lost income; disrupted jobs and education; limited social visits and gatherings; and downscaled celebrations. Some people have suffered loneliness, illness and death. It can be hard to find the silver lining in such circumstances. Don't get me wrong, the pandemic is a horrific thing, but our attitudes can help or make it worse.
People barely hanging on often find comfort in Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change; courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." At times in my life I have repeated this prayer multiple times within a single day. In tough times, outside support from counselors and clergy may be needed to help us cope. If our head is above water and we are surviving, we may take a step toward actual thriving by finding ways to adapt to the challenges we've been dealt.
I am encouraged by creative ideas I see all around me. Friends have figured out ways to pull off virtual celebrations. Restaurants have found ways to serve take-out and even outdoor seating options that weren't considered previously. My church is meeting in parks allowing fun skits and awareness of God in nature all around us. Surely God's presence abounds and perhaps this jolt and pause allows our hearts and minds to consider what things matter most.
I have enjoyed working from home and having my spouse around. We eat many more meals together these days. We've also been able to listen to recorded books on race and racism. We've begun a 21-Day Equity Challenge and look forward to discussing it with others who are giving it a try. We've been able to participate online with sacred conversations on race. The pandemic pause is making these things more possible.
Song lyrics written by Stephen Stills and sung by Buffalo Springfield have been running through my mind: "There's something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear...I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound, everybody look what's going down..."
Pausing will help my church to explore spiritual practices to deepen our sense of the Divine. In August, I will be teaching the ancient art of Lectio Divina "sacred reading." Lectio Divina has its roots in the Jewish spiritual practice of haggadah used during the time of Jesus. Early Christian desert monks developed this practice further and it is still used today. Lectio Divina is a style of reading, meditating and contemplating that can be used with any sacred text as well as "reading" nature for God's revelatory word.
When the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome, Jews had to adapt to survive. They could no longer worship in their beloved building. Worship had to be adapted to thrive in the diaspora. Some sects were able to do this. Unfortunately, it's rather sad you see that the Sadducees could not.
I am grateful that people have been brave to experiment and try new things. I look forward to seeing how the Spirit will show up in new ways. Seek help and support that you may need, but support yourself as well by welcoming whatever is in your control to change. May God be with you.
About Tehachapi Community Church, UCC:
No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!
The Tehachapi Community Church, UCC is an open and welcoming community of faith that believes that each person, created in the image of God, holds a piece of the truth. Therefore we respect each person's unique spiritual journey. We invite you to experience the difference that religious freedom in a caring community can make in that journey.
We are located at 100 East E St., in Tehachapi. During the current pandemic things are a bit different. In July and August Worship will be outdoors, starting at 10:30 a.m. For the first three Sundays of the month we will meet at Philip Marx Central Park, and on the fourth Sunday, in Bear Valley Springs at Four Island lake (pass required if you are not a resident of Bear Valley Springs). Please bring a chair and wear your mask. Please call us at (661) 822-4443 to confirm as services may change. Feel free to visit us online http://www.tcccucc.org.