Scott's Weekly Greeting ...
On several occasions, I have mentioned that I have been coming to this part of Maine since I was ten years old. It began when I attended Seaside Camp at Oceanwood in Ocean Park. About that same time, my mother was actively involved in the youth conference that also took place at Oceanwood. My siblings and I would tag along and be a part of the "staff brat" crew during the two-week conference. Not a bad place to spend two weeks in August!
When I was old enough (high school), I enrolled in the youth conference as a camper. Over the years, I have been involved with the conference in a number of ways. I was a senior counselor, assistant director of Camp Judson (the men's camp), member of the faculty, and I had the privilege of serving as the chaplain twice. Many of the people that I met along the way are my closest and dearest friends to this day.
As many other summer camps and conferences have done, the youth conference (CYC) has had to find a new way during this COVID-19 pandemic. Like we have done here at First Parish, CYC is offering a virtual conference this year. Obviously, a virtual youth conference will not come close to approximating the sense of community that the youth and staff would experience gathering together for two weeks. There will be a tremendous sense of loss, but they will also create community in new ways.
The leadership of the conference asked me to record a video for one of their virtual chapel services. I am sure that they will be very disappointed that Bat-Pastor did not make an appearance. Hopefully, they will get over that disappointment soon enough and be able to meditate upon the message that I shared. I focussed upon Isaiah 43:19: "I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a new way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
As we have wandered through the wilderness of this pandemic for the last four months, we have discovered new ways to be the church. We have never stopped being the church, but we have had to serve and minister in new and different ways. Unfortunately, it appears as though our wilderness sojourn is going to continue for some time. Our challenge is to seek new and meaningful ways to manifest the church. The danger is that we may grow so weary of this time of distancing that we stop trying. We must not let that happen. Our communities ... the world ... need us now more than ever.
The good news is that we do not go it alone. God is with us. God is always with us. This is yet another time when God is speaking and saying, "I am about to do a new thing!" God is with us and God is doing a new thing through us! What an exciting time to be the church!
This Sunday, our worship service will focus upon Jacob's wonderful dream about the Presence of God (Genesis 28:10-19a). What does that dream mean for us during this wilderness time?
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072