Worship and Preaching: It’s summertime, and contrary to the Gershwin song, the livin’ is very far from easy for most folks these days. But it’s at least a time to do things a little differently. In my first Texas summer I am learning the value of conserving effort! If you’ve been with us on the Sunday livestream, you may have noticed that we’ve removed a few optional elements from the liturgy for a simpler, shorter worship service. I’m also holding myself to sermons that are very brief by my standards. Starting last month and going through July, we’re talking about the Ten Commandments and the Small Catechism. This is a way for all of us to return and ponder some basic elements of our faith. Outdoor Holy Communion is set to start June 21 and will hopefully continue without incident on Sundays at 10:45 a.m. Stay tuned as we adapt to circumstances and do our best to extend God’s saving grace to our worshipers and community!
Simple and Dignified: Many thanks to Cheryl Kowalczik for securing new communion ware to replace our battered vessels. We’ve shared some photos of it on Facebook. Unpacking them was a strange joy for me, partly because it reminded me of my desire for the Sacrament which I have not received since Easter. But also because, even though communion vessels are not the most important part of the liturgy by any means, they express something important. The vessels we found are simple—not gaudy, ornate, or attention-seeking—but they are beautiful. They made me think about what I strive for in worship, that everything we do should point to Christ and not to ourselves. It should be clear and simple, rather than elaborate or showy, but it should be worthy and dignified, too.
Whose lives matter? Important and difficult conversations are happening right now in churches (and everywhere else) about our relationship to racial injustice. An editor recently asked me to write about the claim that the recent anti-police brutality protests had become “religious” in nature, even a new religion of its own. So I did my best. My short answer is that this not a new religion but it has some religious dimensions that we need to pay attention to. One of them is the “confessional” quality of certain phrases, especially “Black Lives Matter.” I’ve had friends and colleagues get hate mail or vandalism for putting these words on a church sign or website, which probably explains why people are so adamant about the importance of saying them. What we say often has a meaning beyond the literal sense of the words. This is a conversation we’ll be having, inside and outside of church, for some time to come—especially as the process of re-opening during a viral outbreak leads to greater and greater risks for more people whose lives matter but are at risk of being discounted.
Staying in touch: It’s been wonderful to hear from our community, whether you’re here in Dallas or sitting tight somewhere far away. Thank you for the emails, texts, phone calls, and messages. Please be in touch any time, and remember to keep in touch with each other!
Grace and peace,
God's Work. Our hands.