Dear friends in Christ,
Many are craving a call to “regular” life, and some are calling for it. I am a little more reserved on the subject, sensing, as I think many of you do, that we are a long way off. And then when it comes, as it most surely will, it will be a different life, not just a return to our old life. For us Christians, we know this. Life lived in the Spirit, in awareness of a God who made, loves, and saves us, is a life that arrives at a different place than it started. Tragedy changes you. Crisis remakes us. And, if you let it, times such as the ones we are in can bring you closer to God than you ever dared to think possible.
In the meantime, I have some ways to restore the “regular” to our new, strange days. You know I’ve been calling for yard work here at the church (!) We are blessed by some beautiful Spring rain, which prospers our weeds and our garden alike, and we have been blessed by beautiful warm weather to tend it. I promise you, there is nothing “virtual” about the weeds here, and Spring has not been cancelled. It is coming into bloom! In a time when exercise is tricky to get and outdoor time more important than ever, why not come spend an hour on our grounds? I promise not to bother you. Plus, no one will know if you leave off your green thumb work and find a sunny spot just to sit and pray.
Prayer. I’ve been asked by several members of the congregation if the church is open for private prayer. Never more open. If I could take the front doors off I would. Please do come to our most comforting and sacred of places we have as a community, our beautiful sanctuary. If you do not have a church key, please call or text to make sure I am there. It is a space I enjoy as a “company benefit,” and I highly commend its stillness and beauty to ease a troubled spirit, calm your fears, dissolve your worries and cares, so that God our Father can fill your heart with His love and sense of abiding care.
Also available now through Easter: our own visual Stations of the Cross. These are hand-painted beautiful depictions of the 13 Stations of the Cross, representing the last week of Jesus’ life on the sanctuary walls, just below our beautiful windows. Think about whether coming in daylight, or at night when the glass windows are black will influence your spiritual engagement more. We are all different that way. If at night, after hours, maybe text me or alert another where you are, and take care to lock the doors while you are there as well as when you leave. Station guidebooks are in the narthex.
Also available to you right now: a daily prayer time that Episcopalians have been praying for centuries all over the world. It has united us as Christians, strengthened the Body and offered personal comfort for centuries. For centuries, prayer has been a regular ordering of one’s day. You don’t have to be a monk to pray regularly. You could be, say, a modern person going through a global pandemic separated from loved ones.
In your Prayer Book on page 6 (the page is actually unmarked), is the Table of Contents. From here you can pray a wide range of prayers and services, in part or in whole, including the entire Psalter (Pg. 585-808). If you don’t have a BCP at home, come and get one from the Church, or you can go to the Online BCP here, https://www.bcponline.org/
In the back of the BCP the lessons for the day are listed. We are in Year 2 of the Daily Lectionary and right now, Tuesday March 31st, the lessons are listed on page 957 “Week of 5 Lent.” You can see there are a lot of scriptures. Read them throughout the day, or in groups. Combine them with the service for “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families”, found on page 136ff.
The Venerable Nikon of Optina (Orthodox Saint 1888-1931) reminds us,
“There never was and never will be a place on earth free
from sorrow. The only sorrow-less place possible
is in the heart, when the Lord is present there.”
These times may see trouble and be unsure, but through prayers and devotion, we find these times acceptable as all times are acceptable as the Lord is present.
Dear Creator family,
I was cheered and heartened by the attendance of so many at our online Morning Prayer. We were a gathered body of 35, with perhaps several others with us in prayer as their attempts to join the service were frustrated. I have already been in contact with several of our family to help smooth the access to our MP service this coming Sunday. Please call me or send an email if you were not able to get into the service, it is a primary concern that everyone be able to join us. Our service together is always so important, so much the more during this strange and unprecedented time. I need your help to make sure we are all gathered as we all want to be.
As much success as we experience in online “platforms” to provide worship, music, Bible study, and what other innovations we dream up, we know that now there will be technological shut-ins. People whose isolation and aloneness is emphasized by others’ high speed internet abilities to be fed and nurtured by the best technology can offer. And there may be those whose “love language,” if I may, isn’t a video chat or a Zoom meeting or even an email. As we are starting to notice lately, an old-fashioned phone call still communicates all that it ever has: love, care, and connection. No Wifi needed. No failure possible.
I want to reach our Creator family as a whole, especially those without online capabilities or the desire to employ them. And you can help. There is no reason to rely on our Vestry or myself to call the parish on the phone to check-in. God has connected us once and for all in Christ. You are the parish, and our brothers and sisters in Christ are connected by a bond that is indissoluable. It is the responsibility of each of us who are part of the Body to stay connected, by whatever means possible, and by whatever means communicate. A phone call. A note card. A text or email. Reach out, Creator.
As a non-participant of Facebook (something I am trying to change) and other social media, I now see fully its value to bring people together. But a true connection is neither video nor voice, it is the authentic one-on-one exchange of care, and concern, for the individual. Please help establish and strengthen that human technology in Christ that never fails. Technology aside, I want to assure you the God is in control. I know it. God is the spirit of love and perseverance behind our community and so many others, and he will make good on this day. On the phone, in ZOOM, Facebook, text, tweet, or email, in person…we gather in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Love to you in Christ Jesus,