Looking ahead at the August lectionary reading, I see that one of the gospel texts is the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite Woman. This is a fun text because it starts out with everyone playing the role society handed out. The Canaanite Woman plays the role of the unworthy foreign female, and Jesus plays the role of the Israelite male. That is, until the point of the twist in the story when both the woman and Jesus set aside those roles and create new roles which embody healing and reconciliation with one another.
Currently we remain in many conversations: reopening facilities, concerns for continuation of ministry developed around in-person presence, and pressure to produce a worship experience for both those in the sanctuary and those out in the viral world, among many other issues. Just like Jesus and the Canaanite Woman, we come to this encounter between old ways and new ways, bringing with us inbuilt habits of how the church should act and what it should look and feel like. Indeed, we would not be the people of our time without the whole complex of church memories, experiences and expectations that we bring with us.
I wonder, could we mirror the action of Jesus and the woman by letting go of our hard-held concepts of church? Can we open ourselves to the work of the Spirit to create within us a sense of church for a new era? I humbly suggest that at your next church council or church board meeting instead of asking “What do we need to do to return to normal?” that you ask, “How can we build upon what we are learning and leverage these new things we are doing?”