I wanted to write a statement about what it means to be a person of faith when everything feels uncertain for the service I wrote for the Longest Night in 2020. I did it partially for myself.
I needed words to speak to what I believe right now, but I also wanted to provide some words for the confusion that is coronatide. I was super surprised to find that a friend had made this statement into a graphic when I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. It’s the image below.
There are — of course — the classic statements of faith that remind us who we are and what we believe. I shared my favorite affirmations here last year. It can be grounding to go back to those words and repeat that faith that has been shared again and again by Christians across the centuries, but there are times when we need words that speak to this particular moment. We need words that remind us what it means to be a person of faith right now.
I thought about writing a series of affirmations for Lent following the Lectionary. Then, I thought maybe I would wait until Easter. I might still but I wanted to offer something else that might carry us all into the resurrection season. I’m thinking particularly about things that don’t require clergy to lead and thought that it might be amazing to have a collection of affirmations from the church gathered together in one place. It would be an amazing things for the church archives but it would also be a simple way to support each other in the days ahead.
I’ve created a simple free printable on Pandemic Easter Affirmations that can be shared with one and all within your congregation. This is something that you could send out in the church email in the beginning of Lent and ask for submissions to be emailed to a designated email before Holy Week begins. Offer lots of reminders and offer samples in worship to inspire creativity.
All of the submissions can be collected into a Word document or you can get fancy and use Canva that could then be emailed or printed for distribution throughout the community. There are 50 days of Easter. Set that goal so that there is a affirmation for each day to share in the Easter season. Share the progress as submissions arrive in your inbox with teasers on social media: “We got two more submissions for our Easter Affirmations today. They are stunning. Have you written yours yet?” Or something like that.
Or you might lead a Zoom workshop to write these affirmations. Here is a sample outline for how that 60-minute workshop might look. I’m assuming you have talkers. It could be shorter.
Practice together some lectio divina as a group with one of your favorite affirmations.
Invite people to briefly speak about what speaks to them in the affirmation. If you’d like to offer more than one example, you could read another affirmation after sharing in group lectio divina. You might even provide a brief overview on common traits of such statements.
Use a whiteboard to brainstorm things that feel true in this pandemic season.
Pose that question first and if there is no movement then use the questions on the downloadable PDF.
Find a beautiful video of a favorite hymn of the congregation on YouTube (you know, the one that is always requested and no one ever grows tired of it).
Before playing the video, invite people to listen for what this hymn says about our shared faith. Encourage them to listen closely for scripture references.
Invite them to then to search for the lyrics of their favorite hymn and note what it says about their personal faith.
Create breakout rooms so that those in attendance can share what connections they’ve made between their truths and their faith.
Offer questions to encourage conversation, such as: What surprised you in the lyrics of your favorite hymn? Where do you find hope? What challenges you?What matters most about your faith in this pandemic?
In this particular format, the affirmations wouldn’t actually be written. You would bless them after the small group conversation and invite them to write on their own after sharing in rich conversation with trusted souls.
I imagine that there are several other ways that this could be used. I hope so. I hope it’s something that is easily passed on to a deacon or elder or someone who loves to lead adult faith formation kinda things with the encouragement, “Wouldn’t this be wonderful? Let’s try it.”
I hope it feels worth trying. I hope it’s a blessing for you, dear pastors.