One of the surprising gifts of this pandemic is my falling more and more in love with Faith Church. In these past months. I’ve seen who you are even more clearly, and who you are is beautiful. Crisis can either bring people together or drive them apart. Crisis can bring out the best or the worst in us. In these past few months, I’ve seen so much beauty, creativity, flexibility, patience, and generosity in response to our rapidly changing circumstances. The Love that is our cornerstone is abundantly clear. While I dearly miss being with you in person, I am deeply grateful for the many ways you express your love and faith while we are physically distanced. And I am inspired by the ways you continue to be the Body of Christ in our local and global communities.
Our service last Sunday was a great example of how those touched by Faith Church, near and far, show their love. What a special service that was, sending our beloved Pastor Liz off into retirement! And this Sunday we have another opportunity to show our love as we welcome Father Tom. We will celebrate his new ministry among us during our worship service and our Zoom coffee hour afterward. Having already been blessed with a bit of time with Father Tom, I can assure you that your leadership has made a Spirit-filled choice in calling him. I find him to be a deeply kind and thoughtful person who listens attentively for the wisdom of the Spirit. He smiles easily, and I have a feeling he may bring a bit of mischief! He is different in some ways than other priests who have served at Faith Church. That’s a good thing. He brings his own unique strengths and gifts, and I look forward to seeing how those are exercised in our midst. I am confident he is the priest leader God intends to help us understand how God wants to move in us and through us in this next season of our congregational life.
As you welcome Father Tom this Sunday, I encourage you to continue welcoming him over these next months and years as he leads us in ways that will undoubtedly sometimes be uncomfortable. Remember, as the saying goes, it is the job of a prophet to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” And it’s not just Father Tom who is called to speak and act as a prophet. It is all of us. Through our baptisms, we too are called to be prophetic leaders. If that stresses you out, then just take a moment to breathe. And then breathe again. And then breathe some more until you feel the peace of God that is in you and around you.
In our gospel lesson this Sunday, we will hear about Jesus multiplying the loaves of bread and fish to feed the multitude. Bread reminds me of Communion, which I dearly miss in the form of bread and wine. But it also reminds me of the Lord’s Prayer. In our service, we will pray together: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
In John 4:34, Jesus said, “My bread is to do the will of the One who sent me and to accomplish the work I have been given to do.” Faith Church, that is our daily bread, too. Together, with Father Tom as one of our spiritual guides, we will discern what is our work at this time and we will support each other in doing that work.
As our Psalm 145 for this Sunday says: “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion and of great kindness.” God is so very good to us. Our daily breath and our daily bread are evidence of God’s loving presence with us every moment of our lives. I join the psalmist in saying, “My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; let all flesh bless his holy Name for ever and ever.” Amen!
Reverend Sonya Reichel