(a May/June Pastoral message from Pastor Kari)
During this Easter season we hear stories of the disciples celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the death-dealing forces of the world and trying to make sense of what that means for their life and their community. Jesus often appeared to comfort, inspire and break bread with them and then just as quickly disappeared. Jesus appeared to the disciples to share peace and the Holy Spirit and then apparently disappeared for a week. Jesus appeared to comfort Thomas and allow him to touch his wounds and then disappeared. Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus sharing stories and breaking bread and then disappeared. On the one, the disciples, the new community on the Way, could clearly see, taste and even feel that life had conquered death, peace had conquered violence, and community had conquered all the forces that separate and divide. On the other hand, the disciples had to figure out how to move forward as a community with this amazing, overwhelming news on their own because Jesus’ bodily presence was not consistently available, and the death-dealing forces continued to move all around them.
This reality is not unlike the reality facing All Saints and the broader church today. We have clearly seen, tasted, and felt the power of God in our own lives, in the gospel story, and through the gifts of baptism and communion and yet we have to figure out how to move forward as a community with this amazing, overwhelming news because God’s bodily presence is not consistently available, and the death-dealing forces continue to move all around us.
The new community on the Way in the first century found gathering together to share stories, break bread, and share resources empowered and enabled them to become the body of Christ in the world, incarnating loving God and neighbor in their everyday lives. The new community on the Way in the first century found gathering together to share stories, break bread, and share resources empowered and enabled them to become the body of Christ in the world, incarnating loving God and neighbor in their everyday lives. In fact this regular gathering in people’s homes and around the community, emboldened their public witness and in Acts 2 and 4, thousands of people wanted to be a part of this community on the Way.
The leadership of All Saints is looking to this ancient pattern of gathering, sharing stories, breaking bread, and being sent back into the world anew as we explore a 6- month congregation experiment of closing the nave one Sunday a month and worshipping at 4 different locations in the community. Who will we encounter that is looking for the way of abundant life amidst the death-dealing powers of the world that sow brokenness and despair? How will the Spirit move among and through us? Will our public witness be emboldened? Only time, God’s will, and our willingness to trust the Spirit moving will offer these answers and more but I am comforted by the reality that this place of unknowing, this place of discerning the best path forward as a community who has tasted and seen the goodness of God, is not a new place for God’s people. In fact, in every time and place, the people of God have looked to this ancient pattern to discern the best ways and places to meet to be empowered and enabled to become the body of Christ in and for the sake of the world. We, like those who have gone before us, are simply walking together on the Way.
May God’s peace comfort, sustain and inspire us on the Way!