“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
Pride month arrives with the warmth and sunlight of June days beckoning us to the outdoors. I know many of us are appreciative of the arrival of summer after so many weeks cooped up in our homes. Hopefully, we will be able to appreciate the outdoors — while maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask — and connect with the life-giving energies of summer. Our pride-approved spiritual theme for community exploration this month is play. Theme-based ministry invites the entire congregation to reflect upon universal themes of religious life in creative ways each month. Play can be broadly defined as any activity we engage in solely for enjoyment. It is something many of us have fond memories of in our earlier lives but we may not make time or space for it in our all-too-serious and demanding adult lives. Yet, play is essential to our well-being and can rejuvenate our souls. We will explore play in multiple services this month and I hope you consider the themes of play and pride in your group meetings and other activities in the life of the church. A theme-based check-in question you might want to consider this month could be: “What would it look like to invite more play into your life?”
Our congregation is in the process of moving through three important stages as we celebrate the end of the church year, move into the summer, and prepare for the year to come. Right now, the first stage is working to tie up loose ends and conclude the church year. We have a few more services and our annual meeting — which is really a series of online events and processes through June this year — before I am able to take some much needed restorative time this summer. Our second stage will be the summer months of July and August when staff and leaders are able to take a break and restore ourselves for the autumn. I am encouraging everyone in the congregation to slow to a sustainable pace this summer so we have the energy and inspiration to respond to whatever the autumn brings. We will have a few weeks of extraordinary guest preachers and the exceptional worship leadership of the Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins over the summer. Our third stage will be to launch our church in more online and possibly hybrid (online and in person) spaces in the autumn. I am imagining a robust small group ministry program serving as the grassroots social fabric of church life as we co-create the church of the future.
Although our congregational focus has been pastoral the past two months, we hope the new church year will include expansive prophetic activities that respond to the injustices, violence, and oppression this pandemic is making evident to all. Apocalypse literally means an “unveiling” and that certainly feels like part of what we are experiencing. Systems of anti-black, anti-brown, and anti-indigenous violence are exposing themselves. The lack of healthcare, sick leave, and sustainable wages for our essential workers is becoming apparent to many people. We are learning how this pandemic is decimating our elders and people of color. I hope that we start heart/brainstorming now around the role we have to play as a beacon of liberal religion in ushering a more peaceful, compassionate, and just world into being.
Yours in ministry,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae