Online and In-Person Worship

Gratitude in the Face of Frustration

October 14, 2020

“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
-From 1 Thessalonians:1-10

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a glass half full kind of person. It’s been annoying to some who’ve known me through the years, but I don’t know how you preach the gospel unless you have an underlying foundation of hope and optimism. That doesn’t mean I don’t get discouraged or frustrated like everyone else. And frankly in recent weeks this seems to be happening more easily as our reserves of patience wane, and we are tired of not knowing what’s next in so many aspects of our life, common and individual.

Into this space I have a new appreciation for St. Paul. He’s one who almost always, with a few notable exceptions, starts with a thanksgiving when he’s writing to his communities. Sometimes there are hard things to say. Sometimes there are genuine issues that are going to be spoken of. But he starts by reminding them that gratitude issues forth love and steadfastness. It is a labor. But it is work that is being asked of us to help us grow in Jesus Christ.

I’ve been amazed by the love and steadfastness of our community and our staff these past seven months. I’ve been overwhelmed by gratitude on countless occasions. I wish you could see behind the scenes; the countless hours that have been put forth in love and care as we’ve tried to facilitate worship that is meaningful and faithful. It has changed dramatically over these months as we’ve learned new technologies, explored different platforms, and continually moved forward with staying connected. It’s been remarkably free of major interruptions, all things considered. Does that mean it’s been perfect? Far from it. But a quotation often attributed to Voltaire reminds us that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”

This past Sunday (due to a number of technological forces beyond our control) we had some real technical difficulties watching our worship together. When Moses was told to follow a cloud for God’s presence, I’m very clear it had nothing to do with the internet or server capacity. We have worked diligently to address this for the coming Sunday. And, I hope, regardless, you will try again. You can try the website, Facebook, YouTube, or our app. And if you find yourself frustrated and wishing to throw your device through the window, know you are in good company. But then stop. Breathe deeply and say thank you. Be grateful for the many ways in which we continue to stay connected. Be grateful for the deepened awareness for how much we love this community and one another.

We have been and will continue to be faithful. Our hope is in Jesus Christ and he leads us through frustration to a deeper acknowledgement of love and our reliance on him. That doesn’t mean we won’t be frustrated, but if we can turn that to gratitude, I know we will find places of hope and respite.   

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