Greetings in Christ’s name!
A few weeks ago I had two strange experiences—one day after another. The first day I took a box to the post office so I could put postage on it and return it to the sender. I walked in to the post office and noticed that everyone was wearing a mask…and that I had forgotten one. Embarrassed, I held the box in front of my face while I waited. It was strange to be the only one of the probably 30 people I saw, without a mask. The next day I was in another local business and about 30 people were in and out while I was there. This time, I was the only one wearing a mask and again I felt embarrassed and strange. Thus, I felt odd in one place for wearing a mask and odd in another place for not wearing one. My guess is that you’ve had similar experiences as we are learning to “dance” with those we encounter, learning about their boundaries and communicating our own.
Those kinds of changes have created anxiety about even simple interactions with others, and have increased stress for all of us—even if it has just been in small amounts. There’s an old song I love called “Breathe Deep” by the Lost Dogs. The chorus says, “breathe deep, breathe deep the breath of God.” In the biblical languages, the words “breath” and “spirit” are the same word. And that breath/spirit of God is what animates life. For instance, Genesis 2:7 tells us that God “blew life’s breath” into the nostrils of humankind. So the song by the Lost Dogs is meant both literally and figuratively. It instructs us to physically breathe in the spirit or breath of God so that our lungs are filled with life-giving breath, and our lives are filled by God’s Spirit. I hope as you breathe deep the breath of God, your stress will decrease and you’ll be invigorated for faithful living.
A week from tonight (June 23rd), we’ll begin a video study on the book by Jemar Tisby, The Color of Compromise. The study explores the history of the American church’s role in the oppression of Black people and ends by calling us to anti-racist work. There is room for up to 30 people in the Coffee Café to participate, and others of you can participate through a live Zoom feed that we hope will make it easy to interact with those who are at the church. We’ll accept the first 30 people who want to participate in person, and we’re asking everyone to register for the class—whether you want to attend in person or receive the Zoom link—by filling out the simple form at this link: https://form.jotform.com/201673889150158. The study will begin at 7pm and end by 8:15pm. If you come to the event in person, we’ll be properly distancing from one another and wearing appropriate face coverings.
Josiah Brown has initiated a few student gatherings in the past week and parents or students who want to receive information about these events should email him at Josiah@friendswoodfriends.org. We’re also thrilled to anticipate the birth of Josiah and Courtney’s first child around the first of the year!
Last Sunday Cindy Dawson taught us about some of the issues that the Jewish people had to resolve upon their return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. This coming Sunday, I want to point to a text that was probably written while those same people were still in Babylon or perhaps right as some of them began to return. The words offer instruction and inspiration to a people who had experienced all kinds of loss and change. I hope they’ll offer the same to you.
Stay safe. Love your neighbors. Keep the faith.