By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan
My husband Kyson is a fantastic photographer. He loves to capture the vastness of the ocean at sunrise, the intensity of colour in a flower petal, and the diversity of culture and personality in our community. During Lent, he took weekly prayer-photo-walks around the neighbourhood. For two of those weeks, he set his camera to only shoot in a 1:1 square ratio, in black and white, with a 35mm prime lens. No zoom. No colour. No cropping.
These creative restraints forced Kyson to see the street that we’ve lived on for 6 years in a whole new light.
He found beauty, symmetry and life in places that had seemed barren at first glance. And the bright, shiny characters that usually drew his attention lost some of their luster when seen through the equalizing glass of the black and white viewfinder. By narrowing his field of view, he broadened his perspective.
My hope for each of us—and for each of our churches—is that the creative restraint of a social-distancing world will help us broaden our vision of what church is meant to be, and what that means explicitly for me and you and the Body of Christ right now in our specific ministry contexts.
What is God inviting your congregation into, in this very moment, in your tiny piece of the planet?
This is a question we should consistently be asking, whether we are gathered face-to-face in our communities or making eye contact with our webcams as we practice discipleship over Zoom.
A few weeks ago in a commentary in my city’s newspaper, a Bishop from the U.K was reflecting upon his hope that this time in our world of needing to stay home and socially distance from one another is a good time to rediscover things in our lives that we’ve ignored or disregarded due to the pace of life and expectations of that pace. As best as I can recall he said we can all reflect on “being who we’re really meant to be because the other things that have captured our attention aren’t available to us right now.“
I wonder how often, as followers of Jesus, we take the time to examine if we are living, acting, demonstrating and communicating who we’re really meant to be in every arena we are present in. We are so conditioned by the culture around us that has shaped our worldview, that we often reflect the same biases, judgments, and perspectives as all those other things that capture our attention–at the great cost of looking more like ourselves and less like those who love God with everything we are and love others likewise.
Perhaps this is a just the time to reflect on our own motivations and desires. Do they align with the teaching of Jesus that announces the kingdom of God is among us and which we are to embody?
As we reflect, can we rethink? Can we reframe this resurrection life we’ve been raised into with Christ, and honestly assess areas where we can imagine remissioning ourselves to be the collective light of the world Jesus call us to? This is who we were always meant to be, his witnesses, in both the demonstrating and the telling of the grand story of God’s love for us all.
Cailey and Shannon
Over the coming weeks we will be hearing from several sources around the idea of expanding our perspectives. This may mean remissioning in an existing church, clarifying direction of a new church plant, or introspecting about the example of mission we are setting through our lives and leadership, in the midst and aftermath of this pandemic as well as in our future patterns.
We hope you’ll join us on the journey!