OWL Scripture Reflection – Summer 2021

Where Two or Three Are Gathered….

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.” – Matthew 18:20, The Inclusive Bible

Where two or three are gathered in these times, there are questions. Are all who are gathered vaccinated? Are they wearing masks? Are they gathered indoors or outdoors? When we gather in groups, even small groups, during the unfolding of this pandemic, there is a certain amount of uncertainty and risk.

As Christians, we remember that when we gather, Christ is in our midst. This doesn’t mean that there is no risk because Christ is there. It means that we are not alone in our uncertainty, in our suffering, in our anxiety, in our frustration, in our humanity. Christ–Emmanuel–God with us—is just that. With us.

Recently, the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer wrote an eloquent Witness for Justice. You can read it here. In it, he talks about getting vaccinated and wearing a mask as a way of living out Matthew 22:39, to love your neighbor as yourself. Recognizing there is a small percentage of folks who cannot safely be vaccinated or who cannot wear a mask for health reasons, he implores the rest of us to care for our neighbors, especially those the most vulnerable among us, by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask. By doing so, we create a safer community. We acknowledge Christ and Christ’s love in our midst.

What does this have to do with Our Whole Lives?

The OWL national staff in both the UCC and the UUA are receiving messages constantly from those who think we are under concerned and those who think we are overly concerned about Our Whole Lives programs and trainings. There are those of you who are upset that there are not more training options currently available, and those of you who are appalled there are any in-person trainings and programs happening at all. Some of you had discerned that providing programming in person was safe and have subsequently changed your plans due to changing information and circumstances.

We understand. We, too, are weighing options, and shifting our plans as we have new information. We don’t have all the answers, but we are looking to our sacred texts and our faith to guide us. We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and encourage you to do the same. We ask that you consider deeply who your neighbors are, and act by holding those who are most vulnerable as being more important than a schedule or desire to “get back to normal.”

We encourage you to embody the Our Whole Lives value of responsibility, and to discern and practice enthusiastic consent from all parties when it comes to offering OWL. And we hope that when you are uncertain, you can slow down, take a deep breath, and feel Christ in your midst—even with all of the uncertainty that shows no sign of ending soon.

In the meantime, please know that we are working diligently to provide you support. One of the ways we do that is through our monthly webinars. Our July webinar focused on slowing down and considering all that is involved in beginning or re-starting OWL programs considering our current realities, adolescent development, and more. Our September webinar will include information about why we do things the way we do in Our Whole Lives, and our October webinar will include a sneak peek at the online trainings we will be offering in 2022.

Please care kindly and lovingly for yourselves and those among you. Gather safely, take a moment to be still, breathe, and feel the presence of Christ in our midst.