Dearest St. Mark’s Family,
I hope this letter finds you all healthy and feeling somewhat connected to the life of our church family. This weekend, on Sunday, we will celebrate another holy day from the weirdness that is online worship. I hope by now you have realized that I use the word weirdness as a term of endearment, and I’m actually quite grateful to be able to connect spiritually through the magic of the Internet. It helps me to remember that the original Pentecost day that we celebrate in the Acts story for Sunday was by its’ very nature… weird.
Let’s break it down… the people who followed Jesus (and some that didn’t, I’d imagine) were all in the same place when a mighty rushing wind (or at least that’s how we describe it) busts in and turns their whole world upside down. People were able to understand things they’d never understood before, and the divisions that separated were ripped away. Outsiders thought the people of God were drunk (at best) or losing their minds (at worst)! What we call “the church” emerged out of that topsy-turvy mess and began it’s centuries long journey to right here and right now. People who were separated by language and culture were united in Love and Spirit.
I think what I’m saying here is that the Holiness of Pentecost is not all that different than the holiness of “these unusual circumstances” where we find ourselves. As we begin to move into our next phase of existence together, we will need to keep listening to the language of others and pray that God’s Holy Spirit will transform messiness into faithfulness.
I’m not naïve about how difficult these transitions are. As we begin to shift and change in the midst of the realities of Pentecost 2020, which sometimes sounds like rushing wind and languages we don’t understand, we are called to be prayerful and faithful, just like the disciples we already are. Like the earliest followers of Jesus, we will need to have our ears open and our hearts ready to be blown away by the Holy Spirit, especially when it comes unexpectedly.
People may think we’ve lost our minds, but I’m sure that if we focus on the love of God and the love of neighbor we will be okay. More than okay, really. We will be blessed by the gift of connection that helps us hear new languages, speak bravely, and embrace the wild winds of transformation in our own lives and in the life of our beloved Church. Weird, right? Thanks be to God!
I wish I had an update on next steps that gave you some more concrete timelines. I don’t. I do know that the vestry has begun to discern carefully the guidelines and covenant that we will follow as part of the diocese of West Texas. You can find that information on the diocesan website (dwtx.org) and I would encourage you to read the good work the Bishop’s office has done. Over the next few weeks, we will begin asking for volunteers to help with the tasks that will be required of us in moving forward in creating hybrid Sunday worship with appropriate boundaries for those that choose to be physically present and live online streaming for those that choose to be spiritually present from their own sacred space.
Let me be clear on one thing… we don’t have a date for this yet, and we promise to give you updates through as many channels as possible when that changes
We are still praying, planning, and being transformed by the Spirit and I’m grateful to have a vestry that is patient, deliberate, and faithful in these tasks. I’m also grateful to have partners in ministry like Patty, Gloria, Julius, Graham, Kris, and Jenny who make this kind of work meaningful, and, of course, what a joy to do this with my favorite associate, Fr. Mike!
For now, everything remains the same (in the rapidly shifting, who-knows-what-tomorrow-will-bring, kind of way to which we are growing accustomed).
Online worship will take place on Sunday at 8 and 11.
We will practice spiritual communion and we will pray for God to keep blowing in like a mighty rushing wind that changes everything. We will trust God to do God’s thing, and we will allow the weirdness of Pentecost to wash over us with transforming LOVE. Spirit, help us to hear the many languages of Grace, Mercy, and Kindness in the world around us!
On Sunday, if you’ve got something red to wear… don’t be shy. Wear something crazy to Facebook church this Sunday. Because - Why not? Nobody can see you… and, besides, if people thought the disciples had lost their minds, maybe it can be a badge of honor for us in these unusual times.
And while you’re at it, remember that you are loved, okay?