I missed a meeting last week. Completely forgot, even though it was on my calendar, which I’d checked an hour before. Just didn’t show up to the Zoom room where people expected me, and didn’t even realize it for another couple hours. Some of it was an unexpected phone call from someone in distress, but if I’m honest it’s also that I’m still not sleeping well, and so many plans are getting rearranged on a daily basis, and I’m having a hard time keeping up.
So when two of our three congregational leaders just didn’t show up to our monthly Zoom call last night, and I learned later that their days had been absolutely nuts and the push and pull of everything scrambled their sense of time, believe me, I felt only empathy and relief (that they were ok, and that I’m not the only one messing up with scheduled plans).
If you’ve missed something lately, completely forgotten about a commitment you intended to keep, first of all, take a breath. You’re not alone.
Secondly, if you did not lose your job because of it, if no one died, lost their job, or health coverage, or their home or family, take another breath.
Some people I know haven’t been given grace for missing a deadline for being scattered or behind or struggling with something else lately. They’re missing out on financial aid for school or a much-needed surgery, getting eviction notices, or losing a job opportunity because they missed the bus to an interview because their childcare provider opened a little late.
I’m not saying this to guilt us if our being scattered or forgetful or appearing “unreliable” isn’t landing us in desperate situations, but merely to say that practicing GRACE right now – with ourselves and with others – as often as possible, as radically as possible, just may be what liberates us from the trap of crushing expectations that undermine our collective ability to care and live together through the mess of life right now.
In our congregation, we’re focusing on continuing to learn how to become a beloved community in Christ, embracing the varied languages, cultures, and gifts that people in our multi-ethnic congregation and neighborhood bring. It’s messy, but also beautiful, and the Holy Spirit of God is sweeping over us as we commit to each other in bilingual worship and fellowship. We’re also embarking on a period of intense discernment and community engagement about how the land our church building sits on could be used to amplify God’s mission through affordable housing and ecological conservation.
This is definitely not a time of sitting back and doing nothing, but I also see how driving ourselves, and each other, toward endless activity and productivity make burnout more likely. Burnout, and missing out on the people and relationships God is calling us into. Love, and care, and grace, and the well-being of the actual people and the actual neighborhood where this congregation was planted, these are what matter.
I’m not going to reschedule our wardens meeting. We’ll catch each other when we catch each other. And as a church community we’ll keep focusing on Christ’s gift and promise of life abundant for all God’s people, and how we can seek and celebrate that among everyone we meet both in and outside our church gatherings.
God’s Spirit of life offers grace, showers grace, multiplies grace – I’m focusing on that and praying this reality over you and your own community.
May grace be our practice, and our guide, as we move through this particular moment and respond in faith, hope, and love to the joys, concerns and challenges that our neighbors, our friends, and we ourselves, are going through.