Dear New Philadelphia Moravian,
This Sunday is Pentecost. It marks the end of the Easter season. It was 49 days ago when we proclaimed that “The Lord is risen indeed!” We have had seven weeks to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, to claim the new and eternal life that we receive through his death and resurrection. As far as the church year goes, the end of Easter and the day of Pentecost signal that we are entering into “ordinary time.” This means that there are no big church seasons or festivals until Advent. But we know that the days in which we are living in 2020 are far from ordinary. There has been nothing ordinary about the last 49 days, or even the last 77 days since the global pandemic really began to hit home.
This Saturday will be the 77th day since we were required to begin worshipping from home, since we have been unable to come together, in person, as the body of Christ to live, love, and serve like Jesus. The number 77 is an interesting one. In Scripture, the number 7 and variations of it are often used to signify completeness or perfection. Think about the 7 days of creation, or the seven “I am” statements of Jesus, or how Jesus said that we are to forgive not seven times but seventy times seven times.
It has me wondering what kind of completion or perfection we should be looking for as we move from Easter to Pentecost and into ordinary time, into this extraordinary ordinary time. It seems to me as if God is using this time when we have been forced to learn new ways of being the church, new ways of living, loving and serving like Jesus, to bring about a new church; to show us that we need to let go of what we are used to doing and who we are used to being as the church, and to open ourselves to becoming something new, to doing things differently.
As we come to the 77th day of having our world, our lives, and our church turned upside down, maybe God is telling us that it is finished, that the old is complete and it is time to begin to live into the new. Maybe God is telling us that it is time for us to not keep on looking at what things used to be, and to start looking for what they are going to be.
It saddens me that I won’t be here with you to see what God has in store for this congregation. But I know that as long as you continue to seek to live like Jesus, to love like Jesus, and to serve like Jesus, whatever the “new” New Philadelphia will look like, whatever it will be, it will continue to be a witness for Jesus in South Fork, in Winston-Salem, and to the ends of the earth.