Dear beloved St. Philippians,
Months ago, when we decided to use Wilderness as our theme for the season of Lent, we had no idea what would transpire over the past few weeks. Indeed, this present time feels like we are entering into an unfamiliar wilderness filled with rapidly evolving updates and recommendations for social interactions. We chose the theme of Wilderness for our Lenten journey together because throughout scripture, God’s people and even Jesus spent time in the wilderness. While these wilderness journeys were never easy, God was present in the midst of it. The rapid changes of this present wilderness can make us feel overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, and lonely. While all of those feeling are valid, we nevertheless lean into the goodness of God. The faithful One who walks with us in the Wilderness. Today seems like one of those times for the spiritual practice (very Lenten) of reciting verse 10 of Psalm 46 while inhaling and exhaling. Breathe in “be still”. Breathe out “and know that I am God”. Breathe in, breathe out. Be still. Know that God is God. God is with us and God will see us through this wilderness.
We will indeed continue to be the community of St. Philip during this time, but rather than announcing further plans or trying to set a date for a return to normal, we, your pastors, want to encourage us all to take a deep breath. To pray. To give yourself the space and grace you need in this overwhelming time. God’s promise in Jesus is as much the gift of grace today as it was a week ago. Remember nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). You are a beloved child of God.
We care about you. We value the community we are at St. Philip. And now more than ever are listening for God’s call for us all to Live Like That (like Jesus) to love, and feed and serve. God’s mission still has a church and we, pastors and congregation together, will live into that mission fully even now. The ways that we love, feed, and serve our neighbors now may look a bit different, but the calling is no less legitimate. We are listening! Help us to serve you and to lead with faith and hope.
Please do know that we are constantly trying to be creative in ways we might be community with one another while also still engaging with our neighbors. Continue to practice disciplines of faith during this season of Lent:
- Pray – Pray without ceasing lifting one another and the world in a time of crisis.
- Give alms – Share what you can, where you can.
- Practice generosity – Give grace to everyone (including yourself) as we get through this time.
- Fast – Maybe not in terms of not eating but refrain from hoarding so that everyone might have food to eat.
We very much need each other and encourage you to connect with one another! Through letters, emails, texts, calls – isolation can be incredibly difficult, so check in with your neighbors. Remember always, that even as we walk through this time of wilderness, we do not walk alone. We walk with one another as a church family and we walk with the love of God in Christ, know always that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
In God’s promise,
Pastor Laura and Pastor David