I do care about what I look like – maybe too much if I’m honest. I think about what I wear, I like to look the right level of appropriately ‘nice’ for all things. I don’t think I’m vain but I think because I’ve always felt like I was never much to look at, I’ve tried to compensate by dressing, what I have, up as much as I can – to make it seem like I look good even when I know the materials I’m working with are very average.
I’ve been asking myself the question: “What does our church look like now?” – a lot lately. I know we’re not the biggest or best church on the Gold Coast but I’ve always been pretty proud of how we looked.
This time of year we would be planning our church’s ‘Patronal Festival’. A Patronal Festival is basically a celebration of who your church is named after so in my last church we would celebrate on the feast day of St John. Our church (even though we are publicly known as ‘Anglican Church Robina’) is officially called Trinity Anglican Mission so Trinity Sunday is our special day.
Since I’ve been with you we’ve had a special birthday cake for the birthday of the whole church on Pentecost (last Sunday) and then we have another big cake for Trinity Sunday to celebrate our ‘naming day’. Later in the year in mid August we’d get another big cake to celebrate the date our church building opened but at this time of year it would be 2 big Sundays and 2 big cakes to share!
This year is different, our church won’t look the same – no cakes to share, no more than 20 people on site on Sunday and lots of people watching and worshipping in their own homes at different times on Sunday and other days of the week.
If you were to ask me what does our church look like at the moment, I have to honestly answer: I really have no idea… I have some guesses and I have some encouraging feedback and analytics but exactly how it looks, well – God only knows!
The mirrors that we usually look for when we are asking ourselves what does our church look like is Sunday worship, weekday worship, groups and activities… those mirrors have all been taken down due to COVID-19… but we are still the church.
Our buildings might be where we usually set up our mirrors but they were never the church. The people have always been the church and the people alone.
Since last Sunday our conservative estimates tell us that 797 people have joined us for Pentecost online worship. Since the Sunday before (24th of May) 936 people have watched and worshiped with us. Those statistics blow my mind but how that turns into real connections, real relationships – basically how it turns into Church I’m still trying to get my head around.
We know that people are not ready to regather as we used to – even if we were allowed, we know that we’ve tried really hard to keep connected with each other, we know it has been an incredibly hard season for many in our church family, many have been busier than they ever have been while others have felt a deep sense of isolation.
Be assured that we will continue to ‘be the church’ even if it is hard to see what we really look like. At the end of the day, the only statistic that matters is your relationship with God and how you are living that out in relationship with others. No virus can ever corrupt that statistic!
I am hoping, praying and believing that new mirrors will emerge that allow us to see who we are and what God is calling us to be. I desperately miss seeing your faces on Sundays and through the week but I do know that God is still at work.
Each night, before I go to bed I pray a simple prayer: “God is still at work, you can be at peace and rest.” This simple prayer settles my spirit from its hectic day and reminds me that my best efforts are nothing compared to what God can do and my best efforts have already been magnified and multiplied by God at work in me and particularly, God at work in others.
God is an historical expert in making the average look extraordinary – just look at the ‘heroes’ in the bible! We will continue to try ways of putting mirrors up to see what we look like, they won’t all work but we will keep trying. We will be challenged to stretch further and reach deeper in our relationships with each other and with God and because of that I have no doubt that what we look like now, in God’s eyes, is extraordinarily beautiful.
So this Trinity Sunday – stay beautiful. And let’s never stop being the church.