A few weeks ago I was talking with my therapist online about how useless I was feeling being so far away from Oregon at a time like this. I really can’t travel home in the foreseeable future unless there was some sort of emergency, and from over here I was watching the protests and my clergy friends and colleagues burning the candle at both ends. Over here in Germany things were opening up and continue to do so, the numbers stay fairly manageable and equal parts of me were glad to be here and out of the US mess and feeling as though I should be there to also be aiding in whatever way possible. I lamented that I didn’t know what I could from over here but continue to watch, pray, learn, donate, etc.
She looked at me and said, “You are a creative and resourceful person. If I know you, and I do, I know that you will figure out so many ways to help and resource others.”
She commented that once I was done lamenting and feeling the feels I would know how to employ my gifts from afar and even locally.
I smiled and thanked her for her confidence, secretly thinking, “Oh yeah right. Thanks.”
I sat with it for a few days, listening to my exhausted friends tell me about what they were up to and how they were thinking just how they weren’t sure what to preach for the following Sunday online – recorded or live.
That’s when it hit me…I can DO that! via Zoom, Skype, pre recorded or zooming in…I can preach from afar and offer Sunday’s off for the preachers in my life to rest for a Sunday, take a breath or make space for the thing they were passionate to do. I put out a note on Facebook. Tired preachers, let me help. I can’t show up in person but I CAN show up online. I am just some hours ahead but that doesn’t matter over zoom. I can pre record or hop online. I can send an mp3 recording or even offer up whatever reading you may need. I can build bulletins or write liturgy. These are things I can do.
So far I have had eight colleagues sign me up. So far I have shown up in a variety of ways for six out of eight. I have two more recordings to make this week for the next two weeks so far. I am guessing we are in this for the long haul and I will keep offering..when you get tired, I have that kind of capacity. Let me. Use me. It is something I can actually offer and I think I am kinda good at it too.
Last night I zoomed live into two worship services. At 6:30pm my time I joined members of New Meadows UMC in New Meadows Idaho, a small town in Idaho that I have never been to and no one knew me (but the pastor who asked me). And then at 8pm I logged into the zoom worship of Trinity UMC in Toledo, Oregon on the coast. I know some people in this sweet community but the surroundings and church group couldn’t be more different than the little mountain Idaho town. I used similar sermons tailored to each community and beamed across nine timezones, answered questions and hung out for the “coffee hour” times even though it was way beyond my coffee hour. I preached it up and sang with them and listened in as they discussed and we prayed. It was lovely and so awesome to be in both places on a Sunday night.
But afterward, I was exhausted! In my many years of ministry I have usually had more than one service and it takes all day to recover while Monday morning becomes a slow morning of readjusting. For some reason I forgot this until about 9:30pm last night as I was chatting with my nieces on Facetime and could barely keep my head up while we giggled about our days. Two worship services is still two worship services, zoom or live. Sure, it is from the comfort of my own home but it is still being “on” and present with people gathered. It is still intention and work and understanding. It is still a whole lot of energy.
For that I am so grateful.
At the second service, in the introduction the worship leader said, “God has many rooms and here we see more of them.”
What a wonderful way to say where we are right now as the community of God’s kingdom. Sure, we aren’t in the Sanctuary but we are even more personal, right in each other’s living rooms, offices, bedrooms, studies, on our couches, at our desks, with our books or blank walls behind us and a pup nearby.
For that I am so grateful. Amen.