“Forget the former things;
Do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
And streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
During the last two years, the world has changed, and how we individually and as a community response is a challenge before us. There is no going back to the way things were. That world and way of doing have passed. My congregation and I talk about this frequently. We may look to the past to inform us, but we must not allow the past to control us. Not our strategies or ways of being.
What does this mean? I wish I knew. There is a wonderful book called Canoeing the Mountain.” The idea of using old maps to travel new territories. Not only does it not work in guiding us where we want to go but probably becomes a barrier to achieving any measure of success. A new paradigm demands new thoughts and new ways of acting. What is most effective. What connects us a deeper level is still being revealed. Primarily we must be willing to try things that seem strange and uncomfortable.
How many of us had heard of or regularly used Zoom or other online video conference sites prior to the pandemic? Even if we were familiar many in our congregation probably struggled at first. Yet, I would say many are know quite comfortable participating in online worship, classes, meditation, and spiritual practices.
Churches quickly had to figure out how to broadcast their services. Learning to hybrid service is more than simply turning on the camera on the phone. The online community has different needs and desires that need to be addressed. For example, one minister told me yesterday having good sound in service does not mean you have a good sound online. Long deep silent meditations are the staple in many of our Unity centers and yet long times of silence online. For many, is disconnecting and feels like empty space.
Deciding what are the best and most effective restrictions for our centers to ensure the safety of our members is another concern. There is no one way. The cookie-cutter approach to life’s challenges is a thing of the past. Each of us must decide for ourselves and collectively what our best course of action is. The maps we have followed are obsolete and in creating a new map there may be wrong turns, dead ends, detours, and yes, some nice winding roads filled with awe and wonder. We must be willing to try new things, and in the process fail at times. Let it go and try again.
I don’t know about you but failing is not something that comes easy to me. My natural tendency is to want to play it safe and stay with what I know. The times demand we get out of our comfort zone and stretch into new ways of doing and being. I often tell those I council that being uncomfortable is not a bad thing. It just means you are entering uncharted territories. I should learn to listen to my own council.
We can assist each other through networking and sharing both our successes and our failures. Our Regional Representative Greg Coles has a Resource sharing group for ministers. Chase, our Youth Education consultant shares online resources and training not just for the church but for families in general. The Regional board is planning an education Hub to offer timely classes and workshops to assist our members development. Finally with the world online we can freely move about the Region drawing upon a variety of resources and classes from of the comfort and safety of our homes.
Let’s stay connected with each other. Trusting in Spirit/God we know and affirm that our communities and leaders have all that is needed to move us boldly into a new world.