As I write this, we are looking forward to a Pentecost celebration on Sunday, May 28. We invite worshippers in the sanctuary and on Zoom to wear red. Our children in Sunday School have prepared a surprise for worshippers that day. (Hint: it’s an accessory you’ll be offered to wear. See Acts 2:1-4).
We often think of Pentecost as the birthday of the church, which can make it an occasion for looking back and remembering with fondness all the special moments that made church “feel like church.” I hear this every now and then, especially when a pre-pandemic activity is revived and the attendance is encouraging: “It felt like church again!”
This summer I hope that we might have several “it felt like church again” moments. One opportunity for some wonderful fellowship will be on Sunday, June 25. Most of you know that Covenant hosts the Community for Christ Church of Palo Alto, which worships in our sanctuary every Sunday at 1 p.m. On Sunday, June 25 CFCCPA plans to host us for a lunchtime meal in Fellowship Hall at 11:45 a.m. The only thing we need to bring is ourselves. They have offered to provide all the food. Also on that Sunday, our two churches will have a pulpit swap with Pastor Steve Cheng preaching at Covenant’s 10:30 a.m. worship service, and I will be the guest preacher at CFCCPA’s 1 p.m. service.
As of this writing, I am also hoping that we can revive some of our outdoor worship traditions, such as worshipping with other churches in Mitchell Park. Stay tuned for news about a possible August event.
Even with all the fondness for those moments that made church feel like church, Pentecost is really more about looking forward than looking back. I remember one writer talking about the wind of Pentecost and describing the church as one in which “nothing is tacked down.” As we continue to navigate the post-COVID landscape, it’s imperative that we be open to the new thing(s) that the Spirit is doing, even if it feels like we are being blown around in the wind.
In the last few years, particularly with the pandemic and its aftermath, I’ve been having to learn all kinds of things that “they didn’t teach me in seminary,” and I imagine most of us feel similar.
I believe that hybrid worship is one area where the Spirit of God has led us. I don’t believe that it was just an emergency contingency response to the shutdown, but it really is a new way of worshipping together. And I’m very grateful for all the hard work that our tech team has been putting into improving the audio quality of our livestream on Zoom and in working out all the other kinks. I’ve written previously about our goal to expand our livestream to additional platforms, such as YouTube, to increase the visibility of our church. As we sort through all the logistics, we are getting closer to that goal.
What are some other examples you can think of? Where do you see the Spirit of God blowing us next? Above all, Pentecost means that we are on a never-ending journey as we follow the promptings of God’s spirit.
I hope to see you in worship, online or in the sanctuary.
Grace and Peace,