I’ve talked with you a number of times about the metaphor for this time of being in a Blizzard–but no, it’s Winter–but no, it’s an Ice Age. I’ve found it to be a really helpful way to think about what this time in our collective lives will be like.

But this week, I’ve settled on a new metaphor: The Riptide.

Growing up in Kansas, I have been pretty unfamiliar with oceans and their ways. So when we moved to North Carolina, I was fascinated about/terrified of riptides. When we go to the beach, I’m hypervigilant and make sure to quiz my kids about what to do if they get caught in a riptide.

Just as a reminder: People die in riptides when they expend all their energy trying desperately to swim back to the place on the beach where they began. The way to survive a riptide is to take a moment to relax and get your bearings. Set your sight on a new patch of beach down current in the riptide, and deliberately swim diagonal to the currant until you swim out of it and land on that new section of beach.

And this, my friends, is where we are in relationship to church. Congregations that are desperately working to make things look and feel just like they did before the pandemic are exhausting themselves, and ultimately may not survive the pandemic.

But as the rector of St. Luke’s, I feel like we have been able to take a moment to breathe and re-orient ourselves. The vestry and I are working on setting our sights on a new and different beach. A place where we continue our main worship online, but also offer some small outdoor worship. A place where formation and connections continue to deepen through online offerings, collaboration, and some small outdoor gatherings. A place where we begin to understand anew what it means to Welcome Radically, Serve Gratefully, and Love Abundantly in this strange time. It is not where we’ll be forever, but it is an anchor…for a time…while we are in this strange and chaotic space.

May you be blessed this day.

Helen’s Riff on Riptides.

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