Dear Friends, Sometimes in this life we are given the luxury of choosing a path of transformation. Sometimes the path is chosen for us. Sometimes we have the privilege of plotting a measured, deliberate route of gradual change, one that allows us to grow accustomed to our changing environment as we move into what comes next. Sometimes transformation is dropped suddenly into our lap and we respond as best as we are able, learning as we go. We succeed. We fail. We try again. The new emerges from the tried and true, and something unexpected takes its place.
In this last year, of course, everything has changed. No aspect of our lives has escaped the radically transformational power of COVID-19. We have learned to do everything differently – from our work to our play, from how we shop to how we learn, from how we gather together (or do not), to how we worship... When I wrote to you eight weeks ago I said that this Lenten journey would be “unlike any we had walked before” – in retrospect it was not a particularly bold statement. But what surprised me is how similar this Lent has been to previous journeys – because who we are and how we act as the Church has adapted to this new reality.
But we will not remain here. Soon – though exactly when that will be we do not yet know – soon we will be able to gather together again as the Church, the ecclesia, in the building. Soon we will be able to return to our sanctuary, to gather once again with families of birth and families of choice, with friends old and new, to hear anew and share again the stories of our lives and of our life together. But when we do, we will not be returning to the same old place and the same old pew, because we will return to a place and a people that have been transformed. Every one of us. Because transformation is the essence of our faith.
I do not wish to minimize the pain and hardship many of us have endured this past year. This time of separation – of physical and social distancing – has been deeply challenging. We have been hyper-vigilant, masking and sanitizing, anxious about infection and vaccination. We have been exiled form our usual social networks, and from even the most routine visits with family and friends. We have been unable to recognize properly the loss of friends and loved ones. This past year is one from which we will be healing for a long time to come.
But we will re-gather. And we will heal. We will mourn what we have lost and celebrate the new thing God is doing in our midst. Because no matter the trials and tribulations we meet, God has promised us that the last word is Life! This Easter, that is the message for us of the empty tomb. And that is the message that we must take with us – when we are working to renew our church, to share a word of hope with a friend, or to reach out into the world with new promise and new possibility. Our God will have the last word... and that Word is ours to share!
As always, please reach out to me if there are ways I and your church can serve you and our communities better.