One thing you can always count on from Lisa Yebuah is incisive inquiry. This is a key method she employs in her work as the Spiritual Director and Advisor for Inclusion and Equity in the NCC Cabinet. Recently, in a centering exercise during a cabinet meeting, Lisa asked a penetrating question: How do you view this time of pandemic – is it a holding pattern or an incubator for new life? Lisa credits the language to Rev. Gail Song Bantum, lead pastor at Seattle Quest Church, whom she interviewed during a Southeast Raleigh Table worship service.
How do you view this time of pandemic – is it a holding pattern or an incubator for new life? The question is worthy of our consideration. How we respond not only reflects our state of mind, but affects our future practice.
In aviation, a holding pattern is done to remain close to a fixed spot. If this is our perspective, then the primary goal is to return to what was done in the past. Our work is one of reestablishing what currently has been lost. This is the work of recovery. However, an incubator is a place where new life is nurtured and developed. If this is our mindset, then our work is to perceive the newness that God is creating in the midst of messiness of the pandemic. Our task is to be like a midwife and help bring into existence that which God is creating.
Of course, the question presents us with a false dichotomy. The truth is that whenever we enter a “post-pandemic” time, there will be good practices that we need to preserve and recover. However, if we believe that God “has created and is creating,” then there should be new ways of being and doing that emerge.
It has been a blessing during the clergy consultation conversations to hear how many clergy persons have discovered new routines and churches have found new ways of doing missions. But the question Lisa posed leads us to consider what in our life and ministry is an adaptation to a particular situation and will be discarded or is a transformation that will endure once things have changed.
Here are some specific questions that come to mind. What do we do with the movement (however large or small) towards more direct confrontation with racism? Are the book studies, hard conversations, and sermon content merely time fillers for a largely empty summer and fall, or do they point us to a new direction of involvement of affirm the imago dei in all persons? Is the creativity in worship – content and participants – something that was “fun while it lasted,” or a new movement to bring liturgical involvement to the laity (it is “the work of the people” after all)? Are new spiritual practices for soul-care temporary, only to be replaced if we once again embrace the tyranny of the urgent? Do the connections we’ve made for mutual support and communal wisdom remain, or do we return to a more isolated way of doing ministry?
How do you view this time of pandemic – is it a holding pattern or an incubator for new life? This is a question that I carry with me. I hope it will be a part of your reflections as well. May God grant you a heart of wisdom.
If you would like to view past editions of Moments with Mike, follow this link: https://corridordistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/