Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently St. Martin's has felt the sting of COVID in ways that are both painful and sad. With active cases in nursing homes where we have parishioners, we have families living with very real anxiety. We also have had parishioners who have tested positive (thankfully they are doing well), but because of those positive tests, they have had to live with real health concerns while also navigating a culture of unfair judgment and community shame.
Also, with half a year of "lockdown" under our belts, we have now experienced firsthand the various forms of restrictions
placed on worship beyond Sunday services
. Families have had to make some really hard decisions. Decisions that truly hurt. Hosting a funeral with only 20 to 25 in attendance is not how any of us want to be remembered. Holding a wedding where only 15 to 20 people can come is not how many people envision their "big" day, and services of baptism with only parents and Godparents present, grandparents watching via ZOOM, is clearly not the communal celebration that our theology of baptism warrants. These things, however, are a part of our current reality. It is hard for everyone involved.
Weddings used to be small affairs -- in fact until the 1980s and the invention of modern weddings with Princess Diana's wedding televised out for the world to see -- most Episcopal weddings were done in chapels and/or in partially filled church sanctuaries. The large wedding was the exception, not the rule. Perhaps the current time is calling us back to that? Perhaps we are called back to something small in other places as well. Our culture has thrived on a "bigger is better" culture for too long. But Jesus never did this! Sure, he preached to the tens of thousands, but he also reminded us that where two or more are gathered in His name, he will be there. In God's eyes, the size of gathering was never as important as the gathering's intention. Instead of longing for the crowds of yesterday, perhaps one of our current spiritual practices could be embracing the intimacy of the smaller groups of today.