Sing a New Song
This week a friend who serves a presbyterian congregation in Indiana shared the story of a former member who had left the congregation and moved prior to the pandemic. Over the past year, this former member has reconnected with the congregation for a variety of pastoral and personal reasons.
While the person has not been physically with the congregation they have been supported through the connections and pastoral care provided virtually over the past year. This person now regularly participates in fellowship, learning and worship events from their home in another state.
It is a wonderful story, but the amazing thing is that this story is not unique to this one congregation. Similar stories are occurring in our presbytery and across the nation.
Individuals are connecting and reconnecting with congregations in new and meaningful ways. The excitement is not because someone is counted in a congregation’s ministry contacts for the past week, but because someone has been able to connect with God and God’s children in a new and meaningful way.
While the pandemic has meant changing how we interact with each other, it has not meant that we are not connected. It has just meant that we are connecting and reconnecting in alternative ways.
I am saying “alternative” intentionally because while the ways we are connecting may be new to us, they may be remarkably familiar to those of previous generations. While there are congregations who are worshipping virtually using technology platforms that I had never heard of, there are also congregations who are worshipping through pastoral letters like those used by the early church.
Scripture calls us to “O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:1 NRSV). Sometimes the new song is completely new, like when we experiment with virtual connections. And sometimes the new song is modifying existing ways, like visiting with family members through the two sides of a window instead of sitting together in the living room.
Both are approaches of lifting a new song because both are ways to connect in meaningful ways. Even as we begin returning to some in person activities it is vital that we do not leave behind those who have been able to connect because of the new song we have sung this past year. It is important that we remain connected with those who gather in person and those we connect with us remotely.
What alternative ways have you found to connect in meaningful ways during the pandemic? And how will you keep singing these new songs in the weeks and months ahead?
Grace and peace, Bill Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II Presbyter for Congregational Care Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois