Musings: WiFi On WiFi Off, On Being Done and Keeping Faith, February 7, 2022
Yesterday was so frustrating. As I’d lent the computer out to one of the youth to work on their climate justice project I went in extra early to set up the system and make sure that everything was ready to go. I was sure I had everything set up correctly. And then I was drawn into a pastoral conversation that had me absent from the Seekers Group… well, you know where this is going…
Mid way through the live-stream, during the sermon, I noticed that Jennie was recording the sermon with her phone. It was all I could do to finish the sermon… but I did, and then she told be the feed was all choppy. I went to investigate… I’d forgotten to turn the WiFi off and as a result the connection from laptop to the desktop was sketchy and as a result, the feed going to Facebook was choppy. It was my fault. I’d overlooked one critical thing. One small toggle switch – and this on a Sunday when the sermon sought to lift up the value of online gatherings and the liturgy as a whole was seeking to support the idea that we are called to community, to the creation of life-giving community in creative and unconventional ways.
I was so discouraged. I did manage to send out an email with the text of the sermon and Jennie stopped me from deleting the whole video and edited it to include the parts that could be listened to…
I went home and took my frustrations out on the snowbank – using the snowblower to carve out space around the fire hydrant as we’ve been directed to do by the Fire Department – between three and four feet of snow - almost ice at the bottom – hoping and praying that they never need to access it!
Exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally I opened my email and found a sermon that Nadia Bolz-Weber had preached that morning at Montview Presbyterian in Denver Colorado that seemed as if it was directed to me personally. Watch it here. The sermon begins at the 20 minute mark.
Here are some of the words that spoke to me:
You see, if, as the text says, he was cleaning his nets, he was done. He had practically already gotten home for the night and put on his sweatpants and poured himself a drink. He was DONE.
And - I imagine, he was exhausted. Exhausted by prolonged effort met only with failure. We’ve been fishing all night and caught nothing, he says to Jesus.
I’ve always focused on the abundant catch of fish part of this text, but this week I couldn't stop thinking about this part of the text. A part I never really noticed, but maybe that’s because I never preached this story as the world entered into the third year of a global pandemic.
See, I don't know about you, but I also am exhausted.
I’ve gone through all the same stages of this thing that you have. The initial creativity of lock down in March 2 years ago, the fun ZOOM happy hours with friends, the newfound love of baking. The comfort of wearing yoga pants all day. The inordinate amount of TV.
Then the growing social isolation. The malaise.
Then the hope of vaccines. The competitive scrambling to find Vaccine appointments, the joy of ripping those masks off and traveling again, that lasted about 45 minutes before DELTA. The effort we’ve all had to make to balance staying safe but also staying mentally healthy, the endless masking and testing and anxiety, the endless disappointments, the endless Covid symptoms
And she ends the sermon with these words,
In closing, there was a surprising depiction recently of faith being what’s left when everything else has failed us in the Netflix movie Don't Look Up. In which a meteor is moments away from destroying the earth. The characters are in the deepest part of the deep. And when putting faith in political solutions and big tech has failed them, they face their last moments by gathering for a thanksgiving style meal, a net-straining feast of gladness and gratitude. But they know something else is needed. And that something is prayer. In the midst of the world quite literally ending, no one was practicing self-improvement, or attempting to “manifest” some kind of excellence, they were praying.
The Timothée Chalamet character, a skateboard punk, proceeds to pray a prayer – the words of which have not left me since the first day I saw the film.
The world was about to be destroyed AND YET he prayed.
“Dearest Father and Almighty Creator, we ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride, your forgiveness, despite our doubt. Most of all, Lord, we ask for your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance.”
We haven’t been on the shore for quite a while. We are exhausted. AND YET despite our pride, there is grace in the deep. Despite our doubt, there is forgiveness in the deep (not to mention, yes, a whole lot of fish). The protective love of God is soothing us here in this dark time allowing us to face whatever is to come with courage and open hearts of acceptance.
So with the simple, AND YET faith of Peter we can say: AMEN.
PS: There is now a Post-It Note on the laptop near the soundboard. It is green and has Turn Off Wifi written boldly on it!
Today I am working from home. I have two meetings schedule and will fill the rest of the day with phone calls and reading as I begin planning for Lent.
On Tuesday I will gather with the Preacher's Help Group at 10:30AM via Zoom and together we'll ponder the readings for February 13th. You can check them out here. If you have a sermon idea drop me a note!
I am taking a mental health day on Wednesday. I'll meet with Al Wallace, former volunteer at Springhill Institution and long-time riding buddy for coffee in the morning, have lunch with my son Justin in Halifax, and then pick up my daughter Grace and bring her home for a visit - perhaps my driving and reflecting will lead me to have something meaningful to say when I stand before you on Sunday on 'a level place' behind the pulpit.
As of this moment there are three meetings scheduled for Thursday and one pastoral call. The balance of the day will be devoted to writing the liturgy and sermon for Sunday.
Friday and Saturday will be days off and on Sunday we'll gather again via Facebook Live at 11AM for our Sunday Gathering followed by Conversation and Community at 12PM via Zoom.