Epiphany tells the story of Christ being revealed to the world. This is a season of revelation and discovery. When I was a child, we lived in a small mining town in Peru and our home had a view west, across the Pacific Ocean.
Every night we could watch the sun set on that horizon. About once a week a large ship would come over that horizon to be filled with iron-ore bound for Japan or some other distant port. If you watched carefully on a clear day, you might see a dot appear on the horizon, and then, slowly that dot would become the top of a ship, and slowly, slowly, the rest of the ship would rise above the horizon, the super-structures, the deck, and finally the hull would come into view.
When I look at our congregation today, it reminds me of that story. What began as a dot on the far horizon, is coming into view, and there is so much more to be revealed.
In 2018 we set out to rebuild and renew our church from the inside out. We renewed our worship space, creating a fully reconfigurable space with live-streaming capabilities that impressed our bishop so much he invited us to host the Diocesan Convention Eucharist. We installed the wonderful Ortloff Opus 2 organ, built new facilities for our feeding program, and upgraded the doors and entries to fully secure, fully automatic systems. Our vision includes new paved pathways and a paved parking lot.
Around that same time, we started exploring ways to grow our congregation through intentional projects to invite, welcome and connect with new people. This past holiday season we joined an experiment being conducted by Trytank.org, a group formed by General Theological Seminary and Virginia Theological Seminary, to experiment with new ways to build relationships outside the walls of our church.
The pandemic, which we expected to last weeks, then maybe months, continues now after two years. We are learning to do God’s work in this world, with our new space, with the new challenges of live-streaming and online community, and with the changing restrictions of the pandemic. We have been exploring story sharing as a way to heal the wounds of this time and of Building Beloved Community.
God is doing something new with us. Like one of those ships coming over the horizon, we are starting to see the shape of it, and it is strange, and beautiful, and different, and new, and ancient all at once.