JR. Forasteros - November 15, 2020

Discipleship in COVID

Catalyst in the Time of COVID

One of the ongoing realities of the COVID pandemic is how thoroughly our routines have been upended. God created us to be creatures of rhythm, so how can we recover some routine as we live out this extended 'in-between' time?

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It’s been a little over four years since we moved into Rowlett. When we first moved to the area, we spent the first couple of years in Mesquite. Between our lease being up in Mesquite and our house being ready in Rowlett, we had a 6 week period where we were between homes. We packed all our stuff in storage and lived out of suitcases for those 6 weeks, crashing in our friends’ spare bedroom.

Our friends were consummate hosts, and went above and beyond to make us feel at home. But that feeling of being between homes was almost worse than the packing and unpacking. Even though I honestly had everything I needed – and more! – I still felt unsettled, largely because I was between.

We don’t like to be between, do we?

Today, it’s been exactly nine months since we’ve been worshipping virtually as a congregation. So in honor of that occasion, I’d love to invite you to take a deep breath with me and on the count of three, let out a primal scream of rage.

1… 2… 3… RAGE!

Remember early in the pandemic when we all talked about things getting back to ‘normal’, and then all the pundits warned us that we needed to brace ourselves for the ‘new normal’.

But the last few months, as schools have opened, shut down, half-opened, reopened, as restaurants get more and more creative, as work-from-home has become semi-permanent for many and our celebration of brave essential workers has faded, we’ve recognized:

We’re a long way from any sort of normal. We’re in this extended between space. A transition period that seems like it will never end.

One of the big reasons between spaces are so painful is because they’re disorienting. We’re creatures of habit, of routine. And being in transition means new routines. Or no routines. A lot of us just want to get to the new normal because at least then we can figure out what the new routines are going to be. We can start to settle down.

But we’ve got some time yet before that’s going to be a reality.

So let’s explore how we live in this between time and specifically how we can find rhythms and routines that help us continue to be a people of faith even in the midst of our disruption.

Join us Sunday as we learn how facing the pain of grief begins the process of healing.

JR. Forasteros - October 29, 2017

Sitting with Grief

Good Grief

Grief is uncomfortable. In the face of tragedy, no words are sufficient to salve our pain. Yet in the face of others’ pain, we find ourselves offering platitudes and speaking for God so we can avoid their pain. But Lamentations 1 is a funeral dirge. We hear the woman’s honest, unflinching cries of pain and see the prophet join her, offering nothing but his presence. How can we learn to be honest about pain so we can begin the process of reorientation?

From Series: "Good Grief"

We avoid pain and grief as much as possible. When faced with someone else's grief, we avoid or offer platitudes. But the book of Lamentations invites us to sit with grief, to enter into the prophetic process of Lament. In this series, we'll explore how to grieve and how to be a friend to the grieving. Ultimately, we'll see how the process of lament invites us to be agents of healing in the larger world.

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You’ll never hear more bad theology than at a funeral.

One of the most difficult experiences in my pastoral career was in Ohio. A seventeen year old member of our church was killed in a car accident with her friends one night. The whole community was rocked, and as a result, several hundred came to her funeral. As one of the pastors, I stood with her parents in the receiving line, offering handshakes and hugs to mourners before they offered condolences to her parents.

If you’ve ever stood in those lines, you know that’s where people say some truly awful things. Things like, “God needed another angel in heaven.”

Really? God’s so needy he takes children? God can’t just make more angels?

Or, “Everything happens for a reason.” As though any reason is adequate to bring comfort in the midst of grief.

We say those things because we’re not good at grieving.

Other people’s grief makes us very uncomfortable. We feel an anxiety that makes us want to push all that away, to fix it, to do SOMETHING to make everything feel less awkward.

So we offer a cheap platitude because then we DID something and we can LEAVE and not feel like we’re abandoning someone.

Times like right now, when we’re not in the middle of the ickyness of grief, it’s obviously the wrong way to respond.

But what DO we do? How DO we respond to pain (and not just individual pain, but the pain in our culture, in our world)? What is a good, helpful, appropriate response to grief?

We’re going to talk about how to be WITH each other in our grief. To be honest about the pain, to bear witness with each other.

When we can be honest about our grief, we enter into the process of lamenting, which is how God invites us to heal, to grow and to become agents of healing in the world.

Join us Sunday as we learn how facing the pain of grief begins the process of healing.

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