Lent is the season in which we are called to reflect. We often reflect on our individual lives and how we are or are not living according to our Christian faith. I wonder what it might look like, this year, to reflect on how we are living our collective life as the body of Christ.
For me, that kind of reflection requires stepping back, getting out of my own head and circumstances and seeing myself as part of a much larger whole. Our collective life in the Synod of New York is a trickier thing to get my mind around sometimes. We exist in so many different contexts, in varied circumstances and with different understandings of what it means to live and serve in the name of Christ. And yet, we are also one body called to live and serve as Christ’s body. What might we reflect upon as we choose the perspective of the collective whole rather than our individual views?
As a body, we might reflect upon what God is calling us to do and be as the Reformed Church in America in lower New York. We might consider our history and our struggles, our unity in the midst of diversity and our long-held value of grace in the midst of disagreement.
We might reflect upon the rich history of the RCA that began here, the changes our country has gone through over the centuries and how so many of our churches have endured in hard times and in good times to continue to minister even today, almost 400 years later. We might consider all the challenges we have come through as a body (civil war, slavery, economic depression and recession, a civil rights movement, world wars, industrial booms and decline, political upheavals, assassinations, terrorism, the list goes on and on…) and yet we continue to proclaim the Gospel and serve God’s beloved. God’s faithfulness endures!
We might reflect on the shift in our country from the “church culture” of Christendom to a far more secular, diverse culture that offers so many more options than traditional church. We might consider all the ways our churches have adapted (or not) and how our life as a body has shifted as the culture has shifted
We might also reflect on how we, as the body of Christ in this place, have responded, either with words and actions, or with silence and avoidance, to the changes in our culture. We might consider how we have responded to the continual call of God to meet the needs of those in our midst and to share God’s love in everything we do. Have we, as a body, experienced the love and grace of Christ and have we offered that to our neighbors as we would ourselves?
We in NY continue to be blessed and privileged to serve God in so many different ways. Each of our churches serves uniquely and beautifully. God’s grace is evident every day. As we move into this season of Lent, I pray you will experience God in new and meaningful ways in your unique settings and as the wider body of Christ in our Synod.