Hi all! I was inspired to make this post because many Christians, used to corporate worship, are struggling in this time of isolation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I thought, as a Christian with a long history of solo worship, that I should some of the lessons I have learned in the hopes that they’ll help others get through.
A Brief Background
Growing up, my family were not church-goers and not religious. Consequently, corporate worship wasn’t something I was exposed to except on rare occasions. In high school, a craving for spirituality that wasn’t tied to organized religion led me to find Wicca and I found great comfort in this practice. Given that I’m from cottage country in Ontario, and that this was back before I had a cell phone and we were still on dial-up Internet, the odds of finding a coven were very much against me. However, I learned about eclectic Wicca and began practicing that–which was likely a good thing, as a lot of the supplies needed for coven work were outside my budget or ability to find.
In university, I felt called to Christianity–yet rather than it being a conversion from Wicca to Christianity, it was to me much more the next necessary step, where I found that Christianity was big enough for me to carry those parts of Wicca forward with me into the next phase of my faith journey. Indeed, at least one friend told me that she had expected I would end up a Christian one day.
It took me many years to wrestle with how to identify myself. For a long-time, I insisted on calling myself a follower of God, then I wondered whether Christian/Wiccan was more accurate–finally, I settle on simply Christian as I continued to learn how much wider and more inclusive Christianity was than I had ever thought.
I only recently committed to a church community, and it’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve attended church regularly. Before that, a lot of my faith was practiced alone. As such, I have been less discombobulated than many others in terms of what to do with my faith life during this time.
Some Lessons I’ve Learned
The Holy Spirit Is Not Limited By Human-Made Barriers
One of the reasons so many struggle with the Holy Spirit is because it’s the unpredictable, wild, untamed aspect of the Trinity. The Spirit breaks all the rules, and is constantly challenging our prejudices, widening our circles and bringing barriers and boundaries crashing down. This is a great threat to the status quo, but a wonderful thing for those who are trying to figure out their faith lives in times such as these.
The Holy Spirit is everywhere and ties all of creation together. It is not contained by four walls, so we can rest assured we are not alone. No matter where we go, the Holy Spirit goes with us, tying us to the other aspects of the Trinity and providing a source of guidance and strength to draw upon when we need it most.
Our Steps Are Guided By The Spirit
There are lessons we can only learn by being out in the world, with those who don’t believe as we do. There are lessons that can only be learned by walking some paths alone, that can’t be taught in four walls by a preacher at the pulpit. We may wander in the wilderness for a time, even a long time, but the Spirit walks with us, and I have found more often than not, the lessons we learn there are ones we needed to learn.
God Shows Up In Myriad Ways
You may think that the only knowledge you can get of God is from Scripture and from sermons, but this is not the case. John Wesley, of Methodist Church fame, is known for identifying reason and creation as two other ways to know God. I would also say that the Spirit has guided me to books, movies, TV show, and music when I’ve needed them most–often ones I’ve read before but needed reminders from.
Orthopraxis Is Key
The institutional church has long stressed orthodoxy, or right belief, especially in recent years. Yet the early church, especially at the lay level was much more concerned with orthopraxis, or right practice. Many of the tests and dicates Jesus and Paul both gave were centered on practice, not belief. And while church doctrine is harder to get in times such as these, right practice, manifested through love and compassion and generosity and self-control to name a few, is something we can do anywhere, anytime. As long as we practice rightly, we will remain followers of Christ indeed.
Peace and blessings to you all! May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, help you learn the lessons you need to learn, and lead you through this time in the wilderness. Amen.