Pastor Dave has office hours on Wednesday mornings, and is available Fridays by appointment. He preaches and presides one Sunday each month.
“The Church Building is Closed – A Theological Examination”
For over 70 days now the building of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church has been closed. Please note, that I say the “building” has been closed. By no means is our church closed or “shut down.” The work of our church has continued during this most challenging time. Worship has continued. Study has continued. Fellowship has continued. All of the hallmarks of a faith community have continued. However, we are still physically separated from each other and from the physical place that we call our church home.
This is not the first time that the people of God have physically been separated from their land. If we look at the pages of the Old Testament, there are several times that the people of God have been separated from their land or placed into exile.
A word that comes to mind when thinking of this time apart in Biblical terms is “Diaspora.” The term diaspora comes from the Greek verb διασπορά - diaspeirō meaning “to scatter” or “to spread about.” As first used in Ancient Greece, diaspora referred to people of dominant countries who voluntarily emigrated from their homelands to colonize conquered countries. Today, scholars recognize two kinds of diaspora: forced and voluntary.
In the New Testament, the term “Diaspora” occurs only three times in John 7:35, James 1:1, and 1 Peter 1:1. I encourage you to take a look at these texts and to examine them further. The verb “Diasperio” appears three times in the New Testament in Acts 8:1b, 4:11, and 4:19. What is interesting about the three latter New Testament texts is the understanding that the “scattering” had purpose. The “scattering” promoted the expansion of early Christianity and/or the missional efforts of the early church.
This begs the question in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the missional opportunities that are unveiling themselves to us as modern Christians? We have already uncovered new mission tools in ZOOM and Facebook Live, among other social media and electronic tools that we have employed and will continue to use to spread the Gospel of Christ to others while reinforcing the Gospel message for ourselves.
We also can ask the question as to how are we joining with the creativity of the Spirit? As we are “scattered” can we realize we are never truly absent from one another? Now more than ever we are invited to realize the church is in us. The church is US.
Sure, it will be wonderful when we are able to reunite physically as the body of Christ, but this time invites us to ask ourselves how do we continue to be the presence of Christ in new ways? The challenging time that we are living through invites us to ask, “how we are demonstrating care for our neighbor and even those we do not know?”
Does the wearing of a face mask and taking a few steps backward become a new language of love? A new demonstration of Agape?
Things to ponder in our time of exile. This to wonder about. Things to pray about.
I leave you to ponder in solitude and to reflect my friends,
Best and Blessings,
Click to see more about Pentecost
click to see more about our 150th and Pastor Dave's ordination
Pastor Dave preached this past Pentecost Sunday, May 31st. I hope that you caught his opening remarks on Zoom as he explained the symbolism being employed on the altar in the chapel. Pastor Dave feels that Pentecost is one of the most important days of the church year. The beginning of evangelism in the church.
The altar he explained was arranged to symbolize tongues of fire (the red candles) descending from the holy spirit (white candles and drape on cross).
This is meant to celebrate the presence of God at work in our lives wherever we find ourselves in this uncertain time.
A reminder God is always with us in our daily lives. God came that day in three forms: wind, fire and language (communication).
Designed by our own Dave Riethmiller