On Isolation & Holy Week

A weekly Rector’s Notes from March 16, 2020

We are truly living in a moment in time that will forever change our understanding of the world, forever alter our sense of community, forever shape how we treat one another whether friend or stranger, coworker or neighbor.

With the school closure for 6 weeks, the immediate shutting of bars, restaurants (dine-in, please do support local businesses as much as possible with to-go orders!), entertainment venues, my gym I joined just a month ago, and the CDC recommendation of no gatherings above 50 for 8 weeks, one thing is becoming clear: it will be a while before we are able to celebrate and worship in person with one another again.

I do not yet know what this means for Holy Week and Easter. I do not yet know how exactly we will offer services, what they will look and sound like, what elements we will focus on and encourage, but I’m brainstorming already on how we can be one family in the one Church of God while protecting each other and in particular the most vulnerable among us.

It’s somewhat amusing to me, in a grasping at all humor in this time as much as possible way, that the planned focus for this week’s Rector’s Notes was a passionate invitation to participate in our expression of Maundy Thursday.

Maundy Thursday for me is an invitation to engage in an intimate expression of our faith with one another, an expression that strips away whatever barriers we may put up, an expression that calls us to truly model all of Christ’s ministry in one simple, yet surprisingly challenging, act of ministry in the washing of the feet. It is also an expression of faith that is the least social distance from one another that we practice.

When we come to the table to eat and drink together we rub elbows and share in the common cup, but there is something so much more profound and arresting and challenging when we are asked to bend down and wash the feet of a friend, let alone an acquaintance or even a stranger. The question has been raised before, what if it was foot washing and not the meal that had been the expression of faith that the disciples held up?

I’m not sure that the movement would’ve gained much traction to be honest.

But, if it had taken hold, I think we would see each other in a different light. I think we would know each other in a different way. We would not be able to slip into a sense of faith as a primarily solo and isolating thing, because we would be so profoundly and deeply connected with one another in this act.

And, I think that this is the challenge that lies before us today in the age of coronavirus.

How can we come together as a community of friends, family, neighbors, strangers, to seek and find that deeper connection with one another, to know each other in a different way, to feel the power of God’s love and the Spirit moving among us, even as we isolate in our homes and avoid contact with the outside world?

That is the work of the Church that lies before us for the foreseeable future.

That is the work of the Church that I hope to connect with you all in, as our community of St. Stephen’s continues to “come together” in worship and prayer and singing and fellowship, even if it can only be done in a virtual way.

If you would like to be part of our ongoing planning and/or to participate as part of the small worship team in the worship opportunities we offer, please let me know.

In God’s peace and love,
Nic+

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