By Cathy Haig
This past Saturday, Julia and I joined the Zoom conversations “Surprised by the Spirit” in which we focused on how we, as individuals, and the church have managed and still are managing to cope with the Covid pandemic. This event was hosted by the Spiritual Development Committee and facilitated by Archbishop Lynne McNaughton.
The past 18 months have been a time of extraordinary upheaval in our lives and the life of our churches. It has also been a time of discovery. We discovered the pain of many losses – both personal, with the death of our grandson at age 18 in March, and communal in not being able to gather as a community. It felt like we were almost isolated from the world. We discovered that we are more resilient and more creative than we may have previously thought. We discovered God in our midst, and some of God’s healing of the world that began to take place and we were Surprised by the Spirit. Saturday, as we gathered in our Zoom rooms, we were invited to capture our “Sparks” of surprise.
After our opening prayer by the Archbishop, we listened to the reading from Acts1:6-8
So when the apostles had come together, they asked him, “Lord is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After a short time of silent reflection, we were dispersed into one of four rooms to answer/discuss two questions: 1. How do you imagine the apostles are feeling in this conversation with Jesus? 2. What emotions does the conversation with Jesus stir up for you?
Now it’s my contention that the apostles just weren’t getting it? Duh! But then I put myself in their place and would have likely been confused, perhaps fearful of the uncertainty of the future and the feeling of powerlessness. Did any of you have these feeling with Covid? I relied on my quiet time and prayer because I knew I was not alone, God’s Spirit was with me. I’ve always been eagerly involved in things I take on but this time, I had to have patience and wait. I spent a lot of time in our garden and staring into the field across from our house where I found I was once again open to ‘receive’ the Holy Spirit. I was called to the earth – to care for it. I enrolled in a three-month earth centered program called Laudato Si’ and become qualified as a Laudato Si’ Animator. To educate, advocate and work to protect our precious earth and all that is in it.
The second part of our morning focused on the same scripture with two more questions: 1. In what ways has our community of faith felt lost or struggled to see the Spirit? 2. What has surprised you over the past year? We had no form of worship at the beginning so short facebook prayer, scripture and praise was tried. There were a number of problems with the technology, getting on facebook and some content so it was discontinued. We were back in the desert again, but the Spirit was with us to try again so we went to Zoom, which invited us in to partake in worship, prayer and song again and continues to this day. I was surprised by the fact that we could all be together again electronically and have said that “We, you and I are the church.” The building at 3690 is just that – a building – made Holy in it’s Consecration, but it is the people who make the church. The Holy One is all around us!
It’s been a year and a half of the pandemic so “Are we there yet?” We are starting to talk about getting back to normal – I doubt that will truly happen but there is a strong feeling of something emerging – an intimacy of being called to “Listen!”, for the New normal that is starting to appear.
So the takeaway “Spark’s” from Saturdays conversations are:
Learning—change isn’t always bad, it’s just different as we discover new ways of engaging the world around us.During this time we have been moved out of our comfort zone and our faith has been made stronger. We now share the intimacy of Zoom.
Question—where do we go from here? Let’s dare to be different that we will not remain a status quo. It is my prayer that the church will continue to venture forward.
Worship—worship in different ways and continue to help our neighbours. Cry of the Poor, Cry of the Earth.