When I was in seminary school at Boston University my love for podcasts began. Living in a large city and relying on public transportation there are many hours of your day devoted to commuting. At first, I tried reading because there is a lot of reading to be done in seminary but that didn’t work out with the motion sickness one gets from riding the T (Boston train). So I switched to listening and was introduced to the world of podcasts. There is so much choice when it comes to podcasts from news to science to pop culture and even religion. I had recently attended a worship conference and had been inspired by one of the speakers and so I looked them up on the podcast app. I found that the church they serve has a podcast and began listening to their sermons on my commute. Throughout my time in seminary I became more connected with this particular church even though I had never set foot in one of their buildings or met any of their members in person. I had unexpectedly found a sacred space and faith community in a virtual space.
Over the past year, the Open Door Churches community has created a new virtual sacred space. Through worshiping and connecting online as one community we have been connected in a new and different way. Together across congregations we have worshiped, praised, prayed, and grown in our faith. We have also welcomed in people who have never set foot in one of our church buildings. We have also welcomed back people in our communities who have been unable to physically join us in one of our buildings. A new sacred space has been created and new relationships have been formed in a way that for many of us was unexpected.
This past week, I spoke with someone in the Salem Keizer community who was seeking assistance. They mentioned how it can be hard to find a faith community to lean on when churches are closed. This led us to a wonderful discussion about how the church is open even though at this time our physical sacred spaces are closed.
There have been many times this past year where I have longed for the familiarity of a life before this global pandemic. But at the same time if I take a minute to reflect I can see how many times God has shown up in ways I never expected before. As we continue to Reimagine Our Life Together, I look forward to where God is calling our community to be. I am excited about new possibilities and new ways of creating what for many of us may feel like unexpected sacred spaces.
~Pastor Alyssa Baker