After the Sunday of Pentecost, (May 31st this year) the time in the church is sometimes referred to as “Ordinary Time.” This year seems to be a bit too extraordinary. How can we make sense of this season? Where can we hear God’s promises spoken and see Jesus showing up, and feel the Spirit of God with us? I believe that the church as the body of Christ in the world is where these questions get asked and answered. Our answers aren’t always adequate or satisfying. I am grateful for this time to dwell in God’s Word – a time to be still, to love each other and listen for where God is calling us to focus our lives and serve our neighbors best. While we may struggle during this season, we may even suffer, we are not alone.
Our worship has been vibrant. Our people have been generous. We are staying connected. While we miss being together in worship, we are able to share in online fellowship, hear good news, pray together, and reach new neighbors and friends. We will continue to adapt our online worship to changing needs and take advantage of opportunities to share God’s love. We’ve had special musical selections, special prayers, and this week will add more participation (via video) in our worship with guest readers. I want to invite you to share your story too – if you’d like to film a short video to share about staying faithful in our time apart, please do. I would like as many as are able to share a story, to help us all share our struggles and joys together as the community of faith. I will have a schedule prepared and plan on using these videos in worship in the coming weeks.
Our young people need to hear good news too. Marissa is checking in with our youth group. I’ve produced videos and sent home activities for our Sunday School students. You can find them on our YouTube channel. We are working on plans for online Vacation Bible School this summer – look for more information on this soon. Our confirmation students are learning at home, and will be confirmed before the new school year. We’ve been a bit delayed, but will be ready to welcome them as they affirm their faith this summer. Sadly, campformation has been officially cancelled for this year, but plans are underway for the 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering in Minneapolis, MN. I hope to attend along with 4-5 students from our congregation and will be working with Marissa to help organize this special trip next year.
Back in February, Reformation participated in the first Peer Ministry Review for the Grand Canyon Synod, with Pr. Ben Bergren from Community Lutheran and Pr. Scott Hovey from Good Samaritan Lutheran church, along with Pr. Miguel Gomez-Acosta from the synod office. We now have that report back from the group. In conversation with staff, council, members, and community partners, we heard affirmations of our ministry together, and looked at those things we can work on together to increase our effectiveness in managing the vibrant and vital work that happens here. Our strategic plan is a big part of that, as well as some continuing educational goals for this pastor. I hope that we will be able to move forward on those in the months to come.
We have received $3500 in grant money from the Grand Canyon Synod Daily Bread Hunger fund. This is to be used to support food ministries here, especially among the Latino and Native populations we serve. I am proposing the following: the purchase of food & toiletries gift bags for neighbors and friends, grocery gift cards, and gifts to Family Promise and LSSN, to support the ongoing Senior Meal program. We will invite the congregation to make gifts toward this effort as well.
We have lost some dear saints of this congregation in the past months, and as time allows, we will gather to grieve and remember the faithful witness of John & Gini Train, Simuel McGill, and Bob Stroup. I have been in contact with the families and they will communicate their plans as they are able. For now, we listen to God, to our church leaders, colleagues, and one another to discern and know where and how we are called to give our time and energy, love and serve and move. The church is not closed, but living and moving in the world. I am grateful to our staff and to all of you all for your support, attention, gifts, time, and prayers. I look forward to this time ahead, as we work creatively to live as the followers of Jesus, no matter what the world brings.