BY THE REV. DAVID MERRITT |
Several years ago I watched the ending of a marathon in which a seasoned runner could not make it across the finish line. He had spent his last ounce of energy on the final leg of the race and fell in a heap a few yards short of the tape. Just at that moment, another runner came alongside the runner, pulled him up, and helped him to the finish line. Although the other runner did not finish in the top tier, they both learned a valuable lesson about life when we are tested. We all need companions in the race of life.
The issues facing the church, our church are numerous: theological diversity, understanding of biblical authority, increasing uncertainty about our viability, social justice and racism, declining populations, and a renewed understanding of “what is a church?” In the midst of these issues comes a systemic biological threat that has affected every area of our Moravian Unity, COVID 19. Many of our traditions and elements of worship have changed overnight. The marathon is certainly underway and we are all runners in this race of faith.
The other runner in this race has been our focus over the last few weeks, the Holy Spirit. It is the Season of Pentecost, the third person of the Trinity. Bishop Weingarth, my ordaining Bishop, often referred to it as the “Divine Parakeet.” He felt as though the language in our Ordination Liturgy (Hymnal 1969) made the Holy Spirit seem more like a bird than a part of the Trinity (Paraclete). So he changed the liturgy to accommodate a better understanding of the Spirit. But the word, as we know, imparts a meaning that is needed in our race of faith. The Spirit literally races beside us, advocates, supports us and is around us to keep us engaged in the important work of cultivating the work of spreading the good news.
So, in this Marathon 2020, what are your concerns, runner’s wall, your fears, your goals, and even your challenges? Like the runner who had “hit the wall” you may be thinking that the finish line is impossible to reach. But be assured the Spirit is with us in our marathon, brothers and sisters. And along the way, other runners are cheering us on, giving us strength, showing us the way- in fact, they have been all along…They are the Communion of Saints, Our Forebears.
To be sure, this current marathon will force us to discover new directions. It may even ask us some difficult, revelatory, life-changing questions. But through all of these miles that we are running, we will become more of the church that our Chief Elder would wish us to be. I have served in a variety of church positions over the years but one thing has remained constant: God still is at work in our world and we are still called to run the race.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…-Hebrews 12:1 NIV
About the Author
The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grandkids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.