Reflecting on the past few weeks, I am so grateful to be a part of God’s story unfolding at CSMSG. I have found it heartening that so many of us have stepped up to make phone calls or run errands for the vulnerable in our parish, committed to pray for the life of the church, our community, and the world, and sought ways for us to carry on with whatever normalcy will be afforded to us. As Laurie Brown put it, “We have a hardy flock.” Indeed we do and I am proud to be among you.
In 426 AD, as the stones of Roman society crumbling due to incursions of Vandals and Goths, and due to its own decadence and complacency, St. Augustine of Hippo completed
The City of God
. He wrote it in part to assuage the anxiety of his fellow Christians, St. Jerome among them, who associated the fall of this great empire as the fall of the kingdom of God. + Augustine reminds his readers to not equate the City of Man with the City of God. The difference between these two cities is the difference between two loves. Those who are united in the City of God are united by the love of God and of one another in God. Of these two loves, + Augustine says, “The earthly city is made by the love of self unto the contempt of God, and the heavenly city by the love of God unto the contempt of self.” (Bk. 14, c.28) In the heavenly city, to which we belong, the more difficult the trial, the more glory will be given to God who sees us through, and the greater opportunity is given to us for proving that we can indeed trust him with all our concerns — that we can trust him even when we cannot see the end of this present trial. As the Rector reminded us last week, "Now, more than ever, God’s world needs the Church to be the Church."
A christian epidemiologist recently wrote, “The best way to show that you love your neighbor is to keep your distance.” As I have gone on my daily walks through the neighborhood or in the park, I’ve noticed a beautiful thing. Whereas a few weeks ago, if I approached another person walking, we would simply slip by each other attempting to not make eye contact. (I admit my guilt.) But recently, as I approach other walkers, we swing wide to give plenty of room between us, but instead of avoiding eye contact: we smile, we wave, we say hello. And I take heart knowing that God is with us and though the doors are shut, and the lights are off, the church is not closed. The body of Christ is still here, and our mission to love God and neighbor has not been cancelled or postponed. We might not be able to gather together, but we are still praying, we are still singing, we are still loving one another, and we are still worshiping. We are still the Church — The City of God.
The social distancing, the sickness, the frustration; it will all pass. None of these things last. The only things that will remain are faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.
Your servant in the Lord,