Hey, hey you! Yes YOU! Come a little closer (not closer than six feet though) — I need to keep my voice down.
Can I tell you a secret?
Honestly, it is a little embarrassing.
OK, so can you keep a secret?
Here we go: I have not planned much beyond this week’s worship. I do not have a plan for fall programming. I did a back-to-school blessing. I considered that Advent is coming quickly. But there is no plan.
Truly, I cannot believe I just said this on the internet. Dear readers, you need to understand, I am a planner through and through. I have a plan for everything. I have lists everywhere categorized into a neat little system. I have master lists for when I go camping, for holiday traditions at home, for planting season. I have a color-coded calendar for work and for home and they merge beautifully on a calendar app. I sent my spouse a picture of my lists yesterday, and he replied, “Separate them, they are being too fruitful in their multiplying.” What can I say, I thrive in an organized space — and that includes my headspace.
How is it that I, the proud planner, organizer and list maker, do not have a plan?
You see, when this pandemic first hit, I was up to the challenge. I had online content going out a few times a day. I offered up Zoom fellowship, online Bible studies, book groups and so forth. There were meetings and updates. Typically, once we are a week or so past Easter, I sit down and plan out the summer. Then late July hits, I jump into fall planning. This year I did not do this. Here is why:
- The church is reformed and always reforming according to the Word of God. John Calvin himself couldn’t have imagined the tiny overnight reformations the church faces in 2020! Things are changing so quickly. Every time I think we have a solid plan, something shifts. I planned an outdoor fellowship time, then it stormed.
- Rest is holy. We are still worshipping and holding most of our meetings virtually. As school starts, all the children in our area will be doing virtual school at least a few days each week. Folks are working remotely, and on calls or Zoom meetings all day. We are collectively worn out; we do not have the capacity for another video call.
- Leave room for the Holy Spirit. This could be a theological platitude about how we like to be in control of our own future and decisions. Seriously though, the Spirit is moving and breathing and inspiring with in the brokenness of life right now. Recently, I wrote about worship bags dropped on doorsteps. This month I wrote a virtual prayer vigil on the fly so that we could pray with a member during a day filled with uncertainty. I prefer my lists, schedules and plans, but the Holy Spirit has done her job well in these months. Let’s continue to trust her to guide us.
- Church never closed. While our worship moved online and our building has remained fairly empty, church never closed. Everyone has been working twice as hard to do the work of the church. Our feeding ministries are still happening with new precautions. Our deacons now regularly check on the entire congregation. Our children get messages from their Sunday school teachers. This fall looks different, but we are making it through one day at a time.
- We are focusing a lot of energy and resources into updating our equipment and improving our online worshipping experience. One of the joys of this horrible season of being apart has been that we’ve learned what an asset online worship is to our ministry. Our focus for now is doing this really well.
There you have it, my public confession of a lack of a plan. While it does make me uncomfortable to not have a plan, I think in the context where I serve, this is the best way forward. To all my fellow planners out there, it is OK to not have a plan and trust that God and the Spirit have got this.
Jesus already saved the world; we do not have to.
I pray we all know peace in this season of turmoil.
REBECCA GRESHAM-KESNER is pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Medford, New Jersey. Outside of church and family life, you can find her in nature, finding fun ways to be creative or asking awkwardly deep questions of people she just met.