Inspiration and reflection
Worship through and after the pandemic
- Always trust in God
- Journeying into the unknown, tasting goodness now
- A lunch break in the presence of God
- Reading lessons in creation
From the editor
“When the music fades, all is stripped away,…” Those opening words to “Heart of Worship,” a popular 1997 worship song by Matt Redman from the UK resonate with pandemic experiences. We experienced a stripping away of rituals, spaces and/or people who seemed key to worship. Due to restrictions, prudence or incapacity, all of us had to examine what is the heart of our worship. What is integral to our meeting with God as a community?
This was a sort of kairos moment: an unplanned, unforeseen disruption; an opportunity to ask new questions and discover unanticipated answers; a time to examine and shift or reaffirm our values; a moment to equip us with fresh perspectives and new ways for new days.
Despite the challenges, as Anabaptist-Mennonites around the world, we did not stop worshipping. “The strength of our relationships is not found in the order of worship, nor in the time spent. The strength that sustains the life of a church and its relationship comes from the blessed presence of the Spirit of God, which has been poured into our hearts,” writes José Rafael Escobar Rosal.
We found ways to meet as a community in worship even without physical presence. We affirmed the prophetic nature of worship, speaking to our moment and reminding us of our solidarity with one another. “The force that gives life and depth to the relationships is indeed the grace and love of the Spirit of God, which produces the communion that transcends time, distance and place,” he writes.
In this issue of Courier, in addition to teaching on the nature of worship from “Brother Rafita” (see page 3-5), we hear stories from Guatemala, Canada, France, DR Congo and South Korea. Our churches share how their communities innovated to meet each other and meet God in spite of and/or because of pandemic challenges.
With the crisis of the pandemic mostly behind us, our rhythms of work and of gathering establish themselves again. Yet we find we are not the same as we were before. Our worship has and continues to change along with a rapidly changing world, even as we continue to follow our ageless Lord Jesus.
This issue also marks a shift in the Courier schedule. In the spirit of new ways for new days, we will publish four issues of Courier this year – two in your mailbox as you are accustomed, with two online only, taking advantage of our newfound comfort with virtual spaces, to meet in text across the barriers of time and geography. Please forward this to members of your church family who may not be signed up for the electronic mailing yet.
Karla Braun is editor of Courier and writer for Mennonite World Conference. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada.