This week, I would like to ask two favors from you. First, I want you to take some time to reflect on where you are and what you are going through. I want you to identify your spiritual needs and how they have changed in the light of our shifting reality. Second, I want you to help me imagine how our church could creatively meet some of those needs. Because of our present restrictions, we aren’t operating ‘business as usual’, but I trust that God has a plan to reach and provide for his people if we have open minds and open hearts.
Before all this craziness, most of us had a handle on what was going on in our minds and hearts and souls. We anticipated the common stressors and temptations, and we knew how to respond. But as we have experienced this disruption, we are discovering new pressure points and conflicts. This crisis has made our needs harder to identify. It’s cut us off from our access points to understand who we are, how we are feeling, and how we need to react.
That’s why I want to ask you to work to establish a daily habit of prayer and reflection. If you grew up in evangelical culture, you may have accidentally understood that ‘quiet times’ are performances—you pray and you read the Bible and God watches and applauds. But in the same way that God created the Sabbath not as a ritual we perform but as a moment for us to be restored, our personal devotional time should center on receiving far more than doing.
As you pray this week, take time to be still and quiet (perhaps with a journal or perhaps not) and look at the state of your soul. What new burdens are weighing on you? What are you trying to hide? What is leading you to feel frustrated or confused or guilty right now? Take a few minutes to consider where your new routines have begun to rub blisters on your soul. Ask God to reveal the places in your life in which you most need to feel his presence.
Then, if you are willing, I would like for you to consider what needs you have from the church. I know for so many of you, the people and ministries of Restoration are an invaluable source of strength in sustaining your life as a disciple of Jesus. What are you missing most right now from Restoration? Which specific aspects of our common life together do you most need right now?
I’d like to open up a space to talk about this with you. The truth is, one of my biggest needs right now is to feel like I am present in your lives as your pastor. This time has revealed just how much of my personal calling is dependent on being with you and walking alongside you. So, starting next week, I will be holding virtual office hours. I want to be available for folks who just want to check in and say hi. I want to be available for people who need pastoral care or prayer. I want to be available for people to be honest about their needs. Really, I just want to be available.
I also hope this might be a space where we can begin brainstorming creative ways that Restoration can continue to live out its mission in this time. We’ve been called to join with God in the restoration of all things—life, church, and city—and I want us to prayerfully discern and plan for what that might look like in the weeks, months, and even years ahead.
But it starts with understanding where we are and what we need. And beyond all else, this time has reminded me just how much I need Jesus—the hope of his resurrection and the power of his Holy Spirit.