A Lent Conversation
What Is Our Tomorrow is an immersive Lenten journey built with the current moment in mind. It combines individual study, asynchronous common experience (in the form of videos and sermons), and various conversations that we make with our neighbors.
Unlike the Lenten programs of the late 20th Century which are built on the idea that we all have to be in the same place at the same time, we are trying to put the study and reflection first. This means we have to make our gathering with others as part of the work we all put into it.
Our main text is We Shall Be Changed: Questions for the Post-Pandemic Church, edited by Mark D. W. Edington. Reading along will deepen your experience.
So join us as we study and make conversation with those around us about what we have learned through the Pandemic and what we will take with us into our tomorrow.
You may also join us for our optional meet-ups on Zoom: March 23 and 30 at 7 pm EDT.
Click here at 7 pm to join!
“Distancing and Deepening”
In Week One, we explore the nature of that time back in March 2020 when we moved into the “virtual” gathering. Not just the awkwardness and naïveté, but the sense of wonder and opportunity. And when we begin to focus on this time as opportunity with an eye toward what could be, we discover there are many ideas on the horizon that we have yet to truly consider.
How shall we confront these opportunities with generous hearts?
“Liturgy and Longing”
In Week Two, we are reminded how much our sense of church is connected with a particular form of Sunday ritual—in-person, physical, and predictable—and how much our longing for those elements prevents us from seeing both the richness in our tradition and the wholeness of the Christian experience outside of Sunday mornings.
Most have us have heard the saying The church is not the building, but for many of us, this was the first time we truly experienced that.
What have you learned so far? In all of the gatherings: digital, in-person with protocols, and hybrid? What needs to come with us? And what do we need to make that happen?
“Hard Choices and Helping Hands”
In Week Three, we start to talk about money: both the financial impact of the Pandemic and the ongoing challenge of the decades-long decline of the wealthy/powerful church. We are also reminded of just how easy it is to pretend our mission is primarily to keep the church doors open for that Sunday worship we discussed in the previous conversation.
Our conversation partners are also inviting us to re-examine our expectations about how we are supposed to see ourselves in the moment. Particularly the idea that each of us must make our own choices and that our churches must do all of the work themselves.
What new options open up when we begin to work together?
“Inequality, Marginalization—and Renewal”
The fourth conversation pairs inequality and marginalization with renewal. In a pair of tight essays by Kelly Brown Douglas and Molly Baskette, we explore a pandemic that effects everybody and also effects some of us more. And the people most impacted by the pandemic have been the groups already diminished by inequality and marginalization.
Many others have learned an uncomfortable truth about the pandemic: that they have thrived in having to do things differently or because it shook up stale routines. Some have found new ways to engage with their community and many churches have found new ways to to engage with their people.
What if renewal is tide to our engagement with the mission and our mission is to serve the marginalized? What if this is the closest thing to a return to normal as we’re going to get?
“Leadership—Challenge and Change”
Our fifth and final conversation invites us to examine leadership: both through the pandemic and through our experience of the church. Each writer gives us a different glimpse of the stakes and the history—including what we should expect from one another.
So often, leadership is something we all feel comfortable evaluating in others and avoiding in ourselves. How often have I heard people say to me “somebody needs to _____” but when I respond with “sounds like something you could take up,” they stammer about being too busy.
I wonder what might be if we suggested less and did more. Or relatedly, spent less time criticizing up and more time reaching up. What happens when we strive to meet the challenge of the moment?