A New Wilderness
February 04, 2022
I’ve heard many people talk about getting back to normal after this pandemic. I wonder if we are really looking for that or if we are just grasping at anything that will lessen the amount of change that we have faced. Whether it’s hymnals or sign-in books or offering plates or coffee hour or the doxology or organs or drums … all of those details are comforting things for church people. They don’t make disciples.
Luther Smith talks about the tyranny of the familiar in a lecture at the Academy for Spiritual Formation. You can hear that lecture here. https://academy.upperroom.org/podcasts/meeting-god-in-our-justice-seeking/?fbclid=IwAR1aKE6QG-4J6yhPpjEm_hXVmHqzFW3COyP-xi_CToqMUcZGJui7oxT0E0g
He claims that sometimes our human nature is to hold onto what is familiar. We grasp the familiar instead of doing the work of change that we know is necessary. We want to return to Egypt. Remember that story from Exodus 16? The Israelites had left Egypt and began to grumble when faced with the unknowns of the wilderness ahead of them. They told Moses the slavery of Egypt was better than the unknowns.
We think this is crazy, yet I believe this is what we face today. The pandemic has led us into the wilderness. We are in a new place we have never been before. The post-Christian era we’ve been told about has been accelerated and it’s here. The mass exodus of people from churches has been accelerated. We are faced with the unknowns of a wilderness before us.
Friends, we are facing choices. We have a chance to let go of the things that didn’t help to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to spend our energy on those things that do. Or we can try to go back.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go back. I want to reach new people for Jesus Christ. I want to see kingdom work happening at St. Mark’s. I want to see love for Jesus in the eyes of a new believer. I want to make a difference in our community in such a way that the world around us sees us and knows about Jesus. I want the Holy Spirit to move within each of us, that we are excited for church and for community and for what the Spirit will do next in our midst.
We have a vast wilderness ahead of us. If we go back to Egypt, we won’t participate in what the Spirit is doing ahead of us. The road ahead might include organs and drums and coffee hour and offering plates. But what if it doesn’t? I’m willing to get a little uncomfortable as we explore life together in this wilderness. Will you join me in listening for God’s voice as we discern where we are going?
See you soon.
(Please note, masks are required during all services as well as inside all St. Mark’s buildings.)
Join us for worship:
- 8:30 a.m. Traditional service with choirs in Sanctuary and child care in Rm 15
- 10 a.m. Modern worship service with Praise Team in Fellowship Hall
- 10 a.m. Traditional service with choirs in Sanctuary
- 10 a.m. Youth and children’s Sunday School and child care
- 10 a.m. Livestream premieres on YouTube and Website
To access our livestream service:
- From the main menu on our website click “Worship.” -OR-
- Go to YouTube and search for UMC St. Mark’s Oro Valley or use this link.