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KEEPING THE FAITH | Thoughts on 'the Church deployed'

We must not limit God or His Church to the confines of a building or structure; rather we should carry the teachings within our hearts to act in a very public way.
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

Pentecost is celebrated in several faith expressions. Houses of Worship are attempting to navigate around the threats of the coronavirus with new safety protocols while honoring old traditions of the faith. 

Yet, the re-emergence and resumption of public gatherings to worship should not get lost in the timing that this is occurring during the observation of significant importance for many people of faith.

For the Jewish community, the holiday of Shavuot is celebrated 50 days from the Passover. While it was associated with the harvest, it now commemorates the giving of the Torah by God to Moses. In the Christian community, Pentecost Sunday represents the birth of the Church as the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.

A colleague recently referred to the modification of church activities during the pandemic as “the church deployed.” Indeed, just as the Church was birthed among tension, we must not limit God or His Church to the confines of a building or structure; rather we should carry the teachings within our hearts to act in a very public way.
This pandemic season has caused me to be even more determined in the pursuits of pleasing God, disciplined in prayer and deliberate in the practice of ministering to others.

As a self-professed Type A personality, I have struggled, often unsuccessfully, with being too busy. Life, pre-pandemic, had put me in a routine where I was constantly racing to and from services, meetings and appointments nonstop. I accomplished multiple tasks daily, often at the expense of my own need for rest, reflection and replenishment.
I sense that many can relate to what it's like to be busy and overwhelmed with responsibility. Let’s be honest, our work obligations, family needs and our personal lives have a way of consuming us. Ask yourself: Am I making a living or am I making a life?

As we run at a fast pace to complete everything, our spirits become exhausted in the journey. If not careful, it can become very easy to lose sight of our purpose in the pursuit. The joy and love held within our hearts end up as fatigue and frustration.
I am convinced that in the midst of our business, God will interrupt the routine of our lives for a reset. God has a way of rearranging our schedules and forcing us to spend time in His presence just when we need it most. I have heard it said often: If you want to make God laugh show him your calendar.
If this is the case, imagine His robust laughter as He is thumbing through our 2020 planners! 

I want to encourage you to seek time in the presence of God. It will help you gain a better understanding of who God is. It also leads to a better understanding of who you are. Knowing who you are and who God is can help you to overcome the stress and anxiety in your life. 

Pandemic aside, I must be honest and acknowledge the painful tension that currently exists in our country. Lest you think I see life through rose colored lens, I am deeply troubled by the tense climate of racism and intolerance that seems to increase daily. 

Yes, I intend to share my thoughts in this space sometime within the immediate future. I am guided by the principle “let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight.” Hence, He’s still working on me!

As I have been processing things, I offer three suggestions that will help you experience God’s presence in your life. These practices have kept me from becoming infected by toxic energy.  

First, spend time with God in His Word and in prayer. Even if it’s a short time, get up early enough to meet with God before you start your day. I consider this devotional time as the pacesetter for the day ahead. There are some wonderful devotional journals available at little or no cost such as the Daily Bread quarterly magazine. 

Second, take time to enjoy God in His creation. This year I enjoyed watching trees bud and flowers bloom. Each day I watched nature unfolding itself with anticipation. What a visible example that God is in control. The stay-at-home directive has been an opportunity to watch the majestic nature of God to reveal Himself in season. A leisure drive to the lake to observe the calming water has been a source of peace. 

Third, consider everything in your day as God’s providence. Nothing happens by accident or chance, even trying to reconcile conflicting emotions and fears. Recognize His lasting imprint on everything within your life has a purpose beyond the here and now.

In God's presence, you'll be able to release every burden, break free from the busyness, and move from a good life to a great one. As we recognize the Power of Pentecost, may you emerge and embrace the experience with a sense of hopefulness while keeping the faith.