The word migration has deep meaning for me. In a sense, I have been migrating my entire life. I was born in Minnesota, then moved to Nebraska, then moved to Illinois, and then onto Massachusetts. I migrated throughout my childhood years. During my adult life, I have lived in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, California, and finally Idaho. I have been on the move a lot of times to a lot of different places.
I learned a lot from all of these migrations. I learned that pop is called soda in parts of the east. I learned that chowder (and other words that end in a) is pronounced chowdaa in the Boston area. I learned that I preferred the dry heat of the West over the humidity of the Midwest and East. I learned a lot of things about my faith as well. I was nurtured by several different communities of faith, places that supported me as I matured and asked questions and learned to recognize and use my gifts.
We are in a huge migration of sorts now as we continue to live in the pandemic. We have migrated from in person worship in a building to worship and fellowship and education in our homes, on a screen using technology we may not have been acquainted with before the pandemic. This is a huge and important step. Research into faith formation has shown (long before the pandemic) that faith is formed through primary relationships, and often happens outside of a church building. Our faith practices at home are a dynamic, moving, living reality that can build faith in ways that don’t happen in a church building.
This may be one of the gifts of the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, I long to be in a church building again, but I’ve learned to enjoy faith practices at home. There is a creativity now to my home practices that has grown during the pandemic. I’ve moved from a church in a particular building to church at home. And the movement of the church is also being lived out in many different places as we care for the most vulnerable among us. Brian McLaren’s words can inspire us to not confine our faith practices to a specific building at a specific time on a Sunday morning.
Lord, we long to be together in our church buildings again, and we ask for your strength to fill us as we continue to worship at home. Guide us to opportunities to move and migrate our faith from known settings to unknown adventures. We know you are with us always and in every place, no matter where we worship or learn or serve. With your help, we can practice contemplation and share compassion wherever we are. Help us to be a church on the move, spreading your gospel and building up the body of Christ. Amen.