In the Hawaiian language there are two expressions that are used for the single English word “church”. The first is hale pule (literal translation: house of prayer). The second is ekklesia (the congregation). In my husband’s Anabaptist heritage, the congregation was called the church, and the building was called the meeting house. We are discovering in this time of COVID19, how very important the ekklesia is, that the church continues to function even when the people aren’t able to come together in the hale pule.
Given Governor Northam’s announcement Monday afternoon, it is very possible that Becky and I will be moving our essential equipment into our respective houses to continue our work to support each of you – the ministers of the church. For what you do, day and in a day out, is the ministry of the church. Whether you are at home trying hard to teach (and not throttle – just kidding) your children, working from home, risking your life serving in an essential business, serving food, delivering mail, providing front-line medical care to the ill, or praying for others, you are the church.
Take heart that the first ministers of the church had little idea what they were doing, and in the immediate days following the death of Jesus, locked themselves away in an upper room. We, too, are making this up (as best as we can) as we go along. There have been, and will continue to be bumps in the road for each of us. We will make mistakes, have short fuses, be anxious, miss our friends and family, and lose patience more than one. And along the way, we will find moments of joy, and no doubt grieve many losses.
I introduced holy seeing – visio divina – yesterday as a practice you might want to try this week. And I’ve been thinking about the photo of the owl picture I included. In Hawaiian, the pueo (owl) is mostly white. It is a symbol of divine guidance, and rarely seen. About 14 years ago, I was in the midst of making a significant decision, and one evening, I was driving from Hana to Pukelani along a spectacular portion of the Hana Road, with steep mountains on the left and a breathtakingly beautiful and treacherous cliff dropping straight off into the ocean on right. Suddenly, a pueo flew right in front of my car and literally led me along the road until I passed under a forest of bamboo where it flew away into the twilight. It was a holy moment for me, a sign that God was present and would guide me. I look at the picture of the pueoas the whole world struggles in the war against a virus, and I am reminded that God is present, that God guides and comforts us. I wonder what reminder you and I will see today
Give us eyes to see,