Beyond Our Four Walls

Dear friends,

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.”

Jesus. John 3:8

This seems to capture the essence of the last two years — an invisible force has ‘blown’ through the world. We cannot tell where it is coming from, nor can we say where it is going. But we hear its sound: fear, anxiety, stress, grief, restriction. And also love, care, hope, community, connection.

I keep hearing from people how frustrated they are at having made plans only to have to change them. Over and over and over again. Whether the plans are around holidays and travel, family commitments, work arrangements, or special events (weddings having to be deferred, birthday celebrations that haven’t been able to happen, graduations that have been cancelled… the list goes on), the last (nearly) two years have seen us all have to make adjustments on the run. Church life has been caught up in the same fluidity. With almost no warning we had to shut church doors for worship and mission and other activities. We had to learn to be creative with how we could safely engage with people and the communities in which we are called to serve with God. And we have seen amazing creativity from our ministers, lay and ordained.

Jimmy Dean, an American singer and TV personality, once said “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” While I am not a sailor, I have been told that a good sailor will be able to tell the direction of the wind by looking at the surface of the water. If they want to catch the wind so they can make it to wherever they are heading, they will adjust the sails to go to where the wind is showing up on the water.

Maybe this is a helpful reminder to more than myself: the Spirit, that ‘holy wind that blows where it chooses,’ has blown afresh through the world through this pandemic. Not for a moment do I believe that the Spirit brought the pandemic, but I do believe that the Spirit is leading a new movement of relationship, community, grace, compassion and love through it. I believe that we are being called to look beyond our “four walls” of church building to where God is active around us — amongst those who most need to know the love and care of God. I believe we are being invited, in fact urged, to rethink who are the vulnerable ones in our communities and to connect with them.

Jesus responds to Nicodemus with a conversation about destination: relationship and connection and life with God. If this is also our desired destination, we must constantly have our eyes, ears, and all senses open to observing where the wind of the Spirit is blowing, and we must allow ourselves to be carried by it to wherever God needs us to be.

Blessings and Peace,