It is impossible to deny that we have entered the season of Spring. The sun is shining more often, the flowers are breaking through the brown earth, the birds are singing their melodious psalms and all of the animals are running around with a renewed sense of life. It is contagious and I praise God that God has seen us through such a tough winter. As more and more people are vaccinated and COVID-19 infections decrease, we can see the sun shining on the possibility of returning to our church buildings. I am excited to see people again and work shoulder to shoulder as the Body of Christ.
Much like the flowers, the grass, the birds and the animals, we have the opportunity for new beginnings this Spring season. New beginnings in our church buildings, new beginnings in our congregations and new beginnings in our communities. What does it take to begin again? What does it take to embrace the new possibilities this new season brings?
The Hispanic ministries in our diocese have continued working hard throughout this last year during the pandemic. Our focus has been supporting each other and nurturing the congregations spiritually throughout the pandemic. A big part of that has been the three Hispanic congregations in our diocese, the Cathedral, St. Paul’s, Holyoke and San Marcos, Worcester, coming together and uniting through Zoom for congregational events. When we can all connect virtually through Zoom, why would we do things separately?
We held Advent and Lent spiritual retreats; we have offered a weekly prayer gathering, a weekly Bible study and weekly videos from clergy and lay folk offering Biblical reflections. For Lent, we have also offered a weekly Stations of the Cross. All of this has been through Zoom.
The pandemic didn’t stop us from offering support to our communities either. Joining together with the English-speaking congregation at St. Mark’s, Worcester, we have distributed all of the clothes and household items in our Thrift Shop to people in our neighborhoods and beyond. We were also able to connect with an orphanage in the Dominican Republic and send several boxes of clothing.
As we look forward to Easter, the warm weather and the reopening of our buildings, we are excited to celebrate the opening of our new Community Center at St. Mark’s, Worcester and all of the opportunities for new ministries. We are also thrilled to connect with Holy Trinity, Southbridge and St. Mark’s, Leominster where possibilities for new ministries are emerging.
With all of the amazing opportunities, how do we embrace the new possibilities this new season brings? I believe it is important to recognize it is in fact a new season. The Church has permanently changed. We can try to go back to the “way things were.” However, we have all been changed by the events of the last year. There has been incredible loss. It is important to take time to recognize and lift this up to God. Yet, the mission of the Church remains the same. We continue to be called to share the Good News of Jesus’s mercy, compassion and love with all the world. We are invited to move forward in new ways and explore the opportunities to do new things.
In the next year, the Hispanic ministries in our diocese will look to connect and be in relationship with the communities in our neighborhoods in new ways. The pandemic pushed us out of our buildings, and we have learned to continue being the Body of Christ without the physical walls where we gather to worship. Therefore, we will explore new ways to continue to be the Body of Christ, not just in the church building, but outside as well. When it is safe again, we plan to walk our neighborhoods and meet people in the streets, we will host community events and create new ministries to support and uplift those in our cities. Finally, we will work together with other churches and organizations. Why would we do things separately every again?
Happy Easter and may you be filled with new life in God this Spring season.