by Stephen Kriss, Executive Minister
We recently passed the 100th day of quarantine restrictions where I live. By tomorrow, almost all of Pennsylvania will be in the “green phase” of reopening, lifting many of our restrictions. It is the new normal for the foreseeable future. For those of us in southeastern Pennsylvania, this 100 day-plus quarantine has been a refining experience.
On Pentecost, about three-quarters of the way through the quarantine, our conference took on a new name: Mosaic. Simultaneously, unrest emerged in urban areas across our country in response to the death of George Floyd. We were under curfew in Philadelphia where I live for a week. We have taken on a new name in an interesting time.
In the midst of this, many of our congregations have been meeting primarily online in various formats. Pastors and congregations have learned much about editing, producing, and proclaiming thorough Facebook, Zoom, and YouTube. Our conference raised over $135,000 through a mutual aid fund that continues to support diverse actions of response.
We’ve been creative. We’ve been generous. We’ve stayed still. We’ve missed handshakes and hugs. We’ve missed singing together.
We’ve also been disturbed.
The social fabric of our country has frayed further during this quarantine time. Our political divisions have become more evident, even as we’ve remained physically distanced. Our racial divides have surfaced with ferocity. Social media, which has served to connect us during this time, also divides us further. Technology helps to record incidents of violence that some of us have found hard to process.
We are re-emerging into a new time. I hope that we will not rush back too readily to what was before. We have the opportunity to continue to change and live into our new name which emphasizes the value of each piece, each person, each community, created in the image of God. We are living into our new name. We are still becoming Mosaic. We are still becoming.
Congregations and leaders continue to respond to disruptions in the economy. Some of us are emerging with energy to get back into doing things: haircuts, going to the gym, shopping, dining out. Others of us are entering more hesitantly. We will each take these steps differently. And there is grace enough for each of us.
We are in a context where our consciousness has been raised about the value of human connection. Embraces and greetings raise our awareness. Our smiles sometimes are hidden behind face coverings. There are going to be continuing challenges in front of us. We are going to have opportunities to continue to become whom we have heard the Spirit name us to be as Mosaic communities.
We will continue in these days ahead to find ways to speak grace and truth, to extend generosity, to listen, learn, and change as we hear the experiences of Black and Brown people in our conference and communities. God’s work is still unfolding.
A new thing is becoming in front of and within us. I pray we will continue to be aware of it, empowered by the Spirit to be part of God’s making us and all things new.