Something New // M-Note 3.19.2021

“We aren’t returning to something old, we are beginning something new”
On April 11th (the Sunday after Easter), The Gathering will be launching in-person worship at each of our three physical sites. For all of us that grew to love the rhythm of weekly worship with other people, this is significant. We will have the opportunity to see other people, worship with live music, pray in the sanctuary, participate in communion, and catch up with friends. It is a big deal, and I cannot wait to see so many of you that I haven’t seen in a year.
With the increased distribution of the vaccine, life is slowly, carefully moving forward. There is a certain cautious hope in the air, as more and more people are resuming parts of life that have been on hold for much longer than anyone anticipated. It is a good thing, a promising thing, and a reminder that no matter what season we find ourselves in, there is a new season around the bend.
But lately, I have been careful about the language that I use to describe what is happening. My default language has been, “soon we are returning to in-person worship”. But, this isn’t really accurate. To say “returning” implies that after 13 months of a life-altering and world-shifting pandemic, we just get to stroll right back to our old way of living. I don’t think this is true, and I don’t want it to be.
Instead of returning to something old, we are beginning into something new. This is always true in life. We are always moving ahead, carrying with us the experiences, trials, pains, and learnings from yesterday. We never get to go backwards, though we often trick ourselves into believing we can. We don’t get to bring back what used to be. Our only option is to discover and step into something new. This is true in all aspects of life, including the church. For example, I suspect many of us will become hybrid worshipers – coming physically to church on certain Sundays and connecting digitally on others. The Gathering will never again have only three sites. We now have thousands of sites, as worship happens in homes, offices, and dorm rooms all over the world. I hope that CoreGroups proliferate and grow as many of us realize the value of not just “coming to church” but actually growing and connecting with other human beings. In all these ways, church will never be the same.
Some of my colleagues are saddened by this, but not me. I am excited, hopeful about what this new era might mean for our church and for my own spiritual life. Truthfully, I needed a jolt to my relationship with God. My spiritual life may have been a little bit on autopilot after growing up as a lifelong Christian. After 43 years of “going to church” in pretty much the same way, I think I grew a bit complacent. I need to revive and reconnect to the power of what church means in my life. The Gathering has always believed that the best days are ahead, that God has greater things in store for us as individuals and for our church. I tangibly sense that now, and I am excited to see what happens.
I hope you are, too. Beginning on April 11th, we won’t be returning to something old, we will begin something new. I want you to be a part of it. I hope you will pray that God uses this time to reveal something new for all of us and for our church.
P.S. Easter Sunday is April 4th, and we will have a powerful online worship experience. The more I work on it, the more excited I am. The music will be incredible, the message memorable, a testimony that will inspire you, and there may even be dancing involved. Because geography doesn’t matter, I hope you will invite your friends and family to experience Easter at The Gathering, whether they live in St. Louis or around the world. You can find all the details for Easter here, including worship times (starting early at 7am and going all day). Share it on social media--you will also be receiving an email invitation that you can forward to others.
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