this is hard, and that’s ok

A weekly Rector’s Notes article, April 20, 2020

This past Sunday was a powerful reminder to me of the joy I have in being the Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. From online virtual worship from my home with all who were able tuning in and leaving comments throughout the service, to our first virtual coffee hour experience (with bugs to work out for sure!), and ending my day working with our Vestry to continue thinking about what it means to be the church now, for the immediate future, and beginning to think about how our long term future will forever be changed by the events of this time.

And, through all of that, I was reminded especially of one reality during this time that I think bears repeating often in an effort to name and care for one another: this is hard.

Working from home full time while also homeschooling your children is hard.

Losing your job because of the economic ramifications of this pandemic is hard.

Connecting to your church family solely through virtual means (especially when you are a novice with technology) is hard.

Producing virtual church is (rewarding but…) hard.

Maintaining calm and poise and level-headedness when others are flaunting the suggested guidelines, or even openly defying them in an ill-advised and dangerous type of protest, is hard.

Not allowing the stress and anxiety and fear of this time to weigh you down, deepening depression, eliminating your patience, removing your ability to speak with kindness and understanding to your family member, your partner, your friends, is hard.

And, through all of this, through all of the challenges, through all of the stress, through all of the instant shame when we let that overpower us and dominate our reaction to the isolated world around us (and most importantly those in it with us), we still have one another.

We still have friends and family and church to turn to and be reminded that we are not in this alone, that we are not stranded on an island, that we are not the only one in the world who is following the guidelines and self-isolating during this time.

We still have one another because we are a family of faithful believers who come together to worship the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

We still have one another because we have known and loved one another for decades or years or even just a month or two.

Eventually we will come together as one community to worship and fellowship as the gathered physical body of Christ. This will not be in a few weeks, this will not be in a few months (at least, not without a number of restrictions and guidelines), but it will happen, at some point. And, when we reach that point, when we reach that day, we will have all grown together through this time, we will have experienced this period of great trial together, we will have known how hard it was for us individually, and we will understand (unlike any way we have ever been able to understand before) when others share how hard it was for them.

We will be ok, even though this time is hard, even though each day may feel like a week, each week a year, we will persevere and come out the other side, united as one body of Christ, united as one church that is St. Stephen’s, united in one understanding that we are ok, that together we united to help each other through an unimaginable time and through that we know that nothing can ever place a wedge in our community again, for in overcoming this, we know that we can overcome anything together.

I am moved again and again by the love and care and compassion the people of St. Stephen’s shares with one another (even when it is not a global pandemic!) and I look forward to when we are able to worship and celebrate with each other in person again in the future.

In God’s Peace & Love,

Fr. Nic

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