"Yet I am always with you (O God),
you hold me by my right hand."
Nothing is more certain than change.
Perhaps you’ve realized that, over the course of our nearly two years together, this quote, attributable to a number of folks throughout history, is a mantra I repeat often. However, this has never been more real to me than during the events of this past year.
One year ago, I wrote to you announcing the suspension of all in-person worship and activities for a period of two weeks. None of us could have imagined the weeks and months that were to come, even as none of us can yet envision the changed reality that will emerge from the experiences of the past twelve months.
Today, on this anniversary of our new reality, I am struck by the resiliency of the Christian community at large, and of this parish in particular. Our common life has not been idle, nor has our witness to the resurrected life of Christ diminished. We have been changed, to be sure, but we have not been overcome by the realities at hand.
Now we arrive at a different time, a moment of great optimism and hope for our common future – many in this congregation are fully vaccinated and many more will be in the coming weeks; public health leaders offer us reason to believe a sense of normalcy is within reach in the weeks ahead; in-person worship has resumed.
Yet, there is still more to do – we need to continue wearing masks for the protection of those around us; we need to continue keeping safe space from those with whom we do not share a household; we need to continue our prayers for those who are sick and suffering; we need to continue our support those ministering to the needs of the hurting and the vulnerable.
In his summer 2020 book, God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and its aftermath, N.T. Wright reminds us that this tension, between what we see and what we hope for, is inherent in the Christian life. He writes, “Perhaps that is how we are bound to live: glimpsing what ought to be, then struggling with the way things actually are.”
He continues, “the only way to live with that is to pray with that; to hold the vision and the reality side by side as we groan with the groaning of all creation, and as the Spirit groans within us so that the new creation may come to birth.”
Our journey together in this changed and ever-changing reality continues, rooted in prayer that draws us deeper into the presence of our faithful God.