Three years ago I preached a summer sermon series utilizing lessons from Dr. Seuss stories. One of those sermons was inspired by the book “On Beyond Zebra!”
For those who are not familiar with this book, Seuss ponders what it would be like to push out past the standard 26 letters of the alphabet. In other words, an ABC book that goes “On Beyond Zebra!”
In that sermon, I challenged people to go out beyond the boundaries of what we have placed around their faith which we have become comfortable with, into new experiences that God might be calling us to. People were invited to step out into the unknown with God because he is still active in the world, and let him change our vocabulary of faith.
Twelve months ago, we began the 2020 like we always did. New Year’s parties, Super Bowl Sunday, and Valentines Day. We even began the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday. But by March 15th (in the Northeastern United States where I live) everything shut down; including in person worship.
For the first time in our history, we could only broadcast worship to our congregation. We were taught a new vocabulary on how to do worship when not physically present with one another. It was very strange as the Worship Ministry Team was in the building, and the 200 regular attendees were on the other side of the camera.
By the beginning of April, I was faced with celebrating communion when only eight people were in the room, and everyone else was at home. Talk about On Beyond Zebra! But then it occurred to me that we were gathered as a community. Unlike some other traditions where our brothers and sisters in Christ believe the elements literally become the body and blood of Christ, we believe in the real presence. And if the church, the Body of Christ, is gathered around their TVs, computers, phones, and tablets participating in worship, is not the Holy Spirit of God with them? So I officiated at the table and invited people to assemble whatever elements they had because our Lord is not contained by four walls. After all, he is God!
We have worshiped outside for weeks, still providing the live stream. We moved inside in October with limited numbers, and two Sunday’s ago I had to lead worship solo. The hits just keep on coming! Now off to a meeting on how to do a congregational meeting in the middle of a pandemic!
Our vocabulary of faith continues to increase. What letter is next?
On Beyond Zebra!