This six-part series and additional resources are provided through the work of Iowa Conference Parish Development.
“…but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NRSV
In Wesley’s Explanatory Notes concerning Isaiah 40:31, John Wesley reminds us of two things:
We have been for far too long, for many brothers and sisters much longer than eighteen months, waiting, but have we been waiting on the LORD, or simply for things to feel “normal” again? Regardless of our waiting practices, the length of our waiting time, or even if we feel we have not been waiting, there is never a time the opportunity to re-realize, and re-affirm our reliance on the LORD is not available. Perhaps these words from Walter Brueggeman will remind us of God’s faithfulness, even when we have had times of feeling afloat, with our tether torn from our faithful mooring.
Against your absence
All power, honor, glory be to you!
You ... sometimes hidden, silent, absent, unresponsive.
We are so privileged that we seldom sense you hidden, silent, absent, unresponsive.
But we know people who do, we think of places where you do not appear.
We imagine you defeated, weak, held captive.
And we wait a day, two days, until the third day.
And then, most often then, quite reliably then, you appear then in your full glory.
This day we pray against your absence, silence, and hiddenness.
Come with full power into deathly places, and we will praise you deep and full.
Amen. On reading 1 Samuel 5/February 22, 2001
“Come with full power…,” leads us forward to re-affirmed connectedness and re-commitment to placing ourselves in a position to become “stronger and stronger,” in the words of Wesley. Might this powerful realization of God in our midst, strengthen our conversations with God, Christ and Holy Spirit, moving us with purpose, or holding us still, both in strengthened faith.
In the early days following March 2020 we may have said with great pride that we were worshiping with several different churches each week, our prayer life had never been stronger, and we were all calling, emailing, or sending notes to each other to stay near in our distance. How long did that last? Honesty will be the best policy!
In the renewal and strengthening of our faith, times of worship will likely not be relegated only to Saturday nights or Sunday mornings, and that’s quite appropriate. The LORD is worthy of our worship and praise each moment of every day. When do you feel most completely in the midst of worship? Worship then! Who do you know that might want to worship with you in that time? Bring them with you! Is it online? Great! Is it with another faith community? Fabulous! Rely on the LORD to guide your worship, just as you rely on the LORD to answer questions, give peace, offer grace and provision.
As time moved forward it may have been easier to not be quite so consistently connected to God in prayer or to God’s children. Whether clergy or faith community member, as time marched on it may have become easier to be embroiled in the events and information of the day, instead of digging into our faith and worshiping, praising and petitioning God. Our prayers may have become more outbursts of frustration, anger and angst, than conversation. Our relationships with other believers may have become strained or awkward. In both of those cases, it may have become harder to listen instead of speak.
You are encouraged to find time alone, time set aside for actively listening for the responses from the LORD which were possibly missed in the melee of the times. Find a quiet space. Perhaps it is best for you to have softly playing music for centering, or perhaps silence is your best background. Put a sign on the door with a time frame you expect to be available again, silence your phone and shut your computer. Hear these words from retired Iowa Conference clergy Dwight Grosvenor.
Quiet in the Presence.
Quiet … In the presence
of God, stillness dances.
Quiet … in the presence
of God, stillness dances
across the vast cosmos.
Quiet … in the presence
of God, stillness dances
across the vast cosmos
and the thunderous voice of God, whispers “Be still & know that I Am God.”
© 2005, Dwight F. Grosvenor
Title: 5-1-05 \ Quiet in the Presence. \ Quiet ; Presence
Before we lapse into winter, take time to reconnect with members of the family of God who you feel you’ve become distanced from over the last months. Meet on your deck, at the park, or take a walk together. Again, spend time actively listening to each other. Maybe spend a bit of time discussing how to multiply that activity, so that as many as possible feel connected once again as the family of God.
In this time when getting back to everything at once can seem overwhelming, taking time for reconnection with God through worship, prayer and the family of God will indeed help you to grow stronger and stronger! The time spent in this endeavor is indeed a gift!
As we share what we hope are some helpful tools or resources, know that we are very aware that we are all at different places at different times in whatever process we are moving through. This includes times of healing, moving forward or sitting just a bit longer in the sacred space you are currently experiencing. Know we are here to assist you and your faith community as you move through phases of reconnection, however or whenever that may occur.
In the next two weeks, you will find reflections on reconnecting with Self and Others. We welcome the sharing of your reflections and experiences concerning relationships of every kind in this unique time in our lives. Also welcomed, would be your suggestions concerning how Iowa Conference Parish Development, or other resources, might be able to help you through this time of Reconnecting Our Relationships.
Read previous On the Way Back Together messages here.
 Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (Kindle Locations 319-323). Kindle Edition.