Some of you saw our camp set up in my backyard on facebook this week. It was great to hangout by the fire, sleep outside, and try to pretend we were not within the same 1700 square ft of living that we have shared for the last 6 weeks of shelter-in-place.
Not going to kid you, it was a great to escape from the messy house, to not worry about my messy overgrown hair, enjoy the pretty amazing weather we are having this spring in Texas, the family bike ride, hike, and Phantom of the Opera from the backyard. The kids said it reminded them of our drive in movie experience two years ago.
There is no way to fully express all the emotions that cycle through in a single day and for sure over the course of a week. The highs and lows, the joy and the sadness, the energizing and the disappointments.
There has been a lot happening in both my personal life and life of the church.
The sadness and uncertainty that came with the announcement for school to remain online the rest of the year. The empathy I feel for my teacher friends missing their students’ physical presence. The Seniors grieving, angry, and uncertain of what graduation will really be like. The dread of another 6 weeks of online school with three kids at home and both of us trying to work.
I found some joy that Annual Conference has been postponed, but it was almost equaled with the feelings of uncertainty about summer, the continued state of no rhythm or preplanning that helps make me feel more in control.
Then the plethora of emotions that bubbled up inside as we found out this week that some states are planning on opening back up and loosening the shelter in place decrees. My heart breaks and empathizes with my sister, brother-in-law, and other medical professions whose lives are at risk everyday as they treat patients. I feel the uncertainty of those who are unemployed right now. I feel the itch, frustration, and desire for the freedom to move about and wanting to get back to some kind of what was before. The fear of those who are most vulnerable and at risk in dying from COVID-19.
Life is messy. My house is a mess, My hair is a mess, and my emotions are a mess. How about you?
But as true to God’s faithfulness, God showed up in a couple of ways to meet me where I was, in my mess. Both came through online community.
First, I saw this video this week (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhU5JEd-XRo). And then I read these words from Pope Francis.
I needed to be reminded that my empathy, my messy emotions connected me to you, my neighbors, our community, and even strangers is part of God’s design.
As messy as things are right now. I need you and we need each other. We are better together. God is literally using you and I and our church to help others.
If you are a mess. Don’t hide, Don’t escape to the backyard, but lean into our connection, engage. Remember, when you join us for worship and you comment online or you join the Disciples class on Sunday morning, or Tuesday morning, or Thursday evening bible study or our new Hope and Happy Hour on Monday nights, you might be doing it for you, but God is also going to use you to help someone else through that connection.
I can’t wait to see you online again this week and I am praying for you and I hope you will keep praying for me. I pray God will use us all in our messiness to be blessings to others. Amen?
Rev. Rodney Whitfield