Updated: Jan 18
By Dr. RB McFee
Some of you might be thinking, “Ready for Saturday? What’s to be ready for? Like sleeping in! It’s the start of the weekend. Trust me, Robin, by Friday afternoon we are all more than ready for Saturday!”
Fair enough. But I’m talking about our spiritual Saturday. And if ever we are living in a spiritual Saturday it is right now. Consider 2020, especially the changes we as people of faith are facing here and abroad, not the least of which COVID-19 is having on our communities, and our faith family.
I can’t take credit for the “Saturday” insights. Flipping channels the other evening I came across a televised ministry. Some of the thoughts shared were profound. No coincidences in God’s kingdom! During the sermon the pastor, Levi Lusko, made an interesting, and timely statement. “Saturday – it is the space between promise and fulfillment.” But he wasn’t talking about just any Saturday; Pastor Lusko was referencing the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But I think this can also apply to us now.
Let’s think about that Saturday. Jesus was in the tomb. The Disciples, Jesus’s family and friends were facing a life without Him. No more campfire moments, or times of intimacy, laughter, shared experiences. No more hugs. For those left behind it must have felt like their world had been pulled from under them.
Right now it feels like that Saturday moment during the pandemic. It is our time of challenge. There is fear, death, uncertainty, isolation. We rest in faith, but still wonder, will things get better? We are indeed caught between the time of promise and the time of fulfillment. And just as Good Friday was the time of promise, and Easter the fulfillment, we, too, will have our resurrection moment.
It is in the Saturdays of our lives that we remember His promise. We go to God, seeking His guidance, His sustaining power; having faith we will also experience His fulfillment. And it is the time we love as Jesus would more than ever. And we have!
Consider the many ways throughout this pandemic that our faith family has exemplified the Power that comes from living in the Holy Spirit.
CCUMC has continued our participation in the Interfaith Ministry for the homeless (Worcester Fellowship), often when others were no longer able to do so. Their needs don’t go away, even during pandemics, but we remain stalwarts, a “go to” team, in our commitment to helping those less fortunate. We are blessed being a church that heeds the call when asked to volunteer, contribute food, socks, and financial support. Our help to those living on the streets not only allows them to hear the Word of God at weekly services, but to feel the Love of God. Christ reminds us to serve the least among us and COVID-19 has not stopped us from doing that!
For many people of faith who tuned into our face book® and You Tube® online services during the spring, or drove by our church on many Sundays, they saw CCUMC stayed in community. We utilized technology in ways that inspired other congregations to try online services. We utilized outdoor space to bring our faith family together, again being role models for others. And we worshipped indoors when it was prudent to do so.
In early autumn, using our Fellowship Hall, masked and spaced apart, for six weeks we held Bible Study Fellowship. We were able to share a level of spiritual intimacy some might have thought improbable if not impossible under the circumstances. Yet we did it! COVID-19 did not stop the powerful transformations that occurred during our sessions, as we learned how to walk on water in Christ’s Power. And, as many of you experienced on Laity Sunday, several of the Fellowship Group got out of their boat, walking on spiritual water, participating in this important Sabbath event.
We have, and continue to be a resource for those who need us. Nothing will keep us from sharing the love of Christ – neither rain, nor sleet, nor politics, nor pandemics.
Speaking of which, the second surge of COVID-19 sweeping the state poses a great risk to all. And we know preventing even one illness or death is selfless and reflects our walk in the Light of Christ’s Love. That said, we must still validate the sense of frustration many among us are feeling because of the temporary suspension of indoor worship. Although the right decision, and from a place of love rather than fear, we still feel a sense of loss. As Christians we know the church isn’t a building, it is us, our homes, and our sense of the sacred that we share with others. Nevertheless, we are in a Saturday moment; can we sustain each other as we wait for the fulfillment of His promise?
Some people will feel more isolated than before the closure; having a place to go where one could be part of the church community is important. We must find a way to replace that, and do it safely. We need spiritual intimacy, and miss the physical presence of each other, even if it was in masks and from 2 meters away.
It is in that spirit that I truly believe God has given us a Divine Challenge in these Saturday times. We are charged with finding ways to continue our spiritual intimacy, to make sure no one feels left out, unloved, forgotten.
“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Psalm 27:13-14 KJV
Faced with difficulties, God’s people pray, seek discernment, draw on faith, trust Him, and then rise to the challenge. That does not mean we don’t feel or share in the pain that comes with difficult times, but it means we band together to find solutions as a family, a faith family. And no matter what, CCUMC will continue to reflect God’s love to a weary world, even when we, too, are often more weary than others will ever know. By sharing our love in the face of disappointment we will make a difference especially for those who feel more vulnerable and isolated.
Together we can continue to be empowered by the Holy Spirit with new ideas of how to keep our sense of community, and live out our Christian mission in ways we might have never thought of before the pandemic. This may be our opportunity as a church community and as individuals to grow, to become stronger in faith, to find our new voice and new ways to reflect God’s love to those who very much need it.
Thinking back to the Apostle Paul, he must have faced many Saturday moments where it took faith to bridge the day of promise with the day of fulfillment, while he and his followers were imprisoned, isolated, and persecuted. Yet he was able to promote a sense of community and spiritual intimacy within the newly started churches across Asia Minor. I think about Christians across the various continents, many worshipping in threatening situations, even facing death to practice their faith, often separated by danger, yet still living in spiritual intimacy, tending the needs of their community. And then I think about our CCUMC family. We are more than up to this Divine challenge.
How? That is where we all play a part.
Maybe by using technology in new ways that go beyond Sunday services. Maybe inviting someone for worship walks – many of the paths near church are wide enough to promote physical distancing, yet the settings foster a sense of togetherness. Consider phone call or zoom visits, small group fellowship in heated porches, bringing food to those without transportation or?
Together we can come up with new ideas that address the needs of our faith family. Together we will continue to be the answered prayers for others.
We are ready for the spiritual Saturdays that have come upon us. Jesus prepared us well. And together we will experience fulfillment in the promise of God.
Please email me your thoughts at email@example.com
Wishing you God’s Peace,
(cover picture from Fr. Anthony Messeh)