Beloved St. John’s community,
It’s hard to know what metaphor to use about where we are at these days. Are we at a crossroads, or just plain bushwacking in the wilderness without a map? Are we in a temporary hiatus until things can “get back to normal,” or are we experiencing the first months in a truly new era in which much will cease to be, change, or be born?
During this extraordinary time, there are several major tools we are using to discern where God’s Spirit is leading us. Amid the noise and anxiety, I would like to invite you to pay attention to several things:
But more deeply than this, our endless tool is simply listening to God’s Spirit through scripture, prayer, and each other. Today during noonday prayer, someone said that they had been deeply moved by how much hope, solace and inspiration he had been finding in our communal scriptural conversations during the six months of this pandemic. We can’t do any of the other things—expressing God’s love through dismantling racism, having great children’s and adult programs, conduct a faithful stewardship campaign, or have meaningful worship – without being grounded in the reality of God’s presence and leading. In today’s gospel reading from the daily office, Jesus resists temptation by insisting that even when he was famished, he knew that “we do not live by bread alone.” This was a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3, which says, “God humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
During this time of hunger in the wilderness, let’s discover—perhaps as if for the first time—how much nurture, strength and inspiration we can receive from expansively exploring the Great Stories of our tradition, and encountering the living God at the heart of them.