(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
April 26, 2020

“I have plans for you, for good and not evil, for a future and hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“For I am confident that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ…having produced a harvest of righteousness.” (Philippians 1:3, 11)

Imagine that! Today, in the middle of a pandemic, God is doing a good work in you. God is at work in your life, planting seeds of hope and love, seeds of mission and creativity, and inviting you to be God’s partner in bringing them to harvest.

God is at work in your life. Take time to pause and notice, and then open to what is emerging in your life – not the voices of fear (although we should not deny these) but the voices of love, service, and mission.

It is not a normal time. Congregations, just like everyone else, are faced with unprecedented challenges. Covid-19 has upended our lives. The way we live is overturned and everything is changing. Congregations and families, communities and countries are brought face to face with the sobering prospects of real threats to health and existence.

The Presbyterian Church in Canada and our local Presbytery (30 congregations in Waterloo Region, Wellington County and Guelph) are having all meetings via zoom (or other virtual methods of meeting).

At all levels of congregational governance there are unprecedented concerns for personal safety and financial viability. Some are expressing anxiety and a spiritual crisis. Fear is normal.

These are days that give vivid colour to a concept in economics called an “external shock.” An external shock in economics is an influential event or change that significantly affects the economy – but it isn’t part of the existing model; it’s outside the scope of what had been previously considered. In other words, we are in new territory and looking for guidance.

Resilient communities embrace new ways of being community. We at Knox Waterloo are truly blessed to have made investments in livestreaming, starting in 2013. In 2015 we expanded with a $20,000 investment in new cameras and a control system. Three families gave $5,000 each and $5,000 came from the church memorial fund authorised by session. Again in 2018, we took advantage of a dramatic drop in the price of a digital sound board, to make our entire Audio-Visual system digital. (This was possible with special gifts.)

Now that we rely on livestreaming to worship together, we are thankful for the foresight, wisdom, courage and faith that allows us to seamlessly continue in Sunday worship. It is not just worship that continues. I am unable to keep track of the incredible community-building that continues in new formats. Facebook, Instagram, multiple zoom accounts making meetings not just possible, but fun! When Hugh chairs a meeting on Zoom, he is the moderator of the meeting. That means Hugh can “mute” any voice he wants to! But he doesn’t because all meetings are filled with wise words and caring people.  😇

LOGOS, choir, Sunday school, bible study groups, fun and fitness, and many, many other groupings at Knox continue with staff support and with incredible technical knowledge from our host of experts. This is a high-tech town. It is no accident that we were one of the first churches to have a website in 1996, and ‘Food for Thought’ communicating has been exclusively via email since 1994. The church has been computerized since the first IBM XT in 1983. We are early adopters (at least for a church we are).

Resilient communities are more about relationships than about technology. We use the tool that technology provides to communicate the gospel of Jesus, just like always.

I know stories of real hardship in our congregation. Jobs lost. Income reduced; not able to purchase that home that was planned. Separated from loved ones by distance and time zones. Worry for aged parents and loved ones in care facilities where COVID-19 is present and growing. We all have a lot to worry about.

We also have moments of gratitude.

Much to our delight and surprise, we are welcoming new people to worship each week. This is a privilege and an honour to share worship with people new to Knox. It is a great time to connect in new ways. I am humbled by the generosity of all who worship with us.

I am grateful for the resilience of the people in this church. We are making connections. We are helping one another. We are amazingly creative and innovative in ways that would not have seemed possible just two months ago.

We are blessed to support one another.

Of course, there is always more we could do. But for today, for tomorrow, I want to celebrate what we are already doing.

I am proud of the staff and the community and the leadership of Knox Waterloo Presbyterian Church. We are reaching out. In Hope. And in Love.

Thank you.