Looking & Finding

The sanctuary sat empty. Our parking lot borders a busy street, and the fire trucks are frequently active on Sunday mornings. NCF has no cemetery of green space for distanced worship. And meeting in a park never seemed quite right to me.

Listening to professional recordings of our own music as I tramped through forest preserves, excited by the opportunities of online services to connect with family near and far, I felt no urgency to look for other options. But isolation has taken a toll. Our spiritual practice of corporate worship has been replaced with picking pieces and skipping songs… and it’s affecting us. 

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said, “Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?” John 1:38 (CEB)

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. Maybe John’s disciples didn’t know either; thus their strange response. Driving past Church of the Brethren a couple weeks ago, I noticed the sign “Church in the Garden 10:30”. Wait. That’s our garden. How did I forget that we support a community garden just up the street? The past two Octobers we’ve had a joint service there, followed by fall cleanup and planting. 

He replied, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. Andrew first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ). John 1:39,41

I found Dawn Blackman’s email. Come and see the garden. What are we looking for? A space in which we can safely see each other for the first time since March. Where we can hear the message and prayer together. Sing silently behind masks. To eat the bread and drink the cup communally, separately. Where our eyes can meet, but our breath won’t mingle. 

The next day Jesus wanted to go into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:43 (CEB)

Jesus is finding followers. They are finding each other. After so long apart, it feels like we are starting over. Coming together by ones and twos. Looking for the purpose that unites us. Is it safe to gather? Is this the time, the place, the people, the mission?

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.” Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” Philip said, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46 (CEB)

The forecast for Sunday is rainy and 50s. Every time I plan a weather-dependent service (every time? It seems like it!), something goes sideways. Meanwhile, I have been introducing folks in ones and twos to our new sanctuary setup. Continuous fans bringing in outside air, chairs spread six feet apart, signs and stickers and mask reminders. I am falling in love with our building all over again. 

Wondering what that could be like? Come and see. What are we looking for? Can we find each other again, in a new way, with a common purpose? It remains to be seen. 

Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” John 1:48 (CEB)

Wherever we are. Under whatever tree, in whatever town, Jesus sees us. Before we heard the call. Before we knew we were known. And Jesus says we will see greater things than these. 

May our eyes be open to look. May our ears be open to hear. And may we be found. 

Service 9/27: Is the Lord Among Us or Not?
Order of Service 9/27
Bulletin 9/27

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