On one of our first Sundays of online worship back in March 2020, Rich Goldhor preached, and from the pulpit he looked out over the empty pews and he saw us. He pointed to where we usually sat and called out to many of us by name. We were, Rich said, “a veritable cloud of witnesses.”
What he saw was a combination of memory and hope; and it was one of my most poignant and holy pandemic worship experiences as I sat listening, surrounded by Legos, on my living room floor.
It has remained Rich’s way of seeing, that first Sunday, which has given me “hope sight” through the shutdown. It was a long year (and then some) while the staff and I worked here in our nearly-empty church building – photocopying mailings, writing emails, making recordings, or packing faith-at-home boxes. We knew the privilege of being onsite and were always grateful, but it was also lonely and often sad here in this big, dark, unoccupied church. It wasn’t the same place without you all.
But like Paul in Romans 8, we hoped for what we did not see but waited for it patiently. I often envisioned us back together again, reunited and growing stronger as a community. I’ve seen you in pews and around tables, in classrooms and walking down hallways. And now! We can truly see again. We can be together, pass the peace, and share coffee as we talk face to face. Grab this joy with me, friends!
While we celebrate our homecoming, this summer is also a period of vigorous planning here at Epiphany. Your vestry, staff, committee members and leaders are all holding these past months prayerfully before us while looking, with hope, into our future together. Over these next weeks of summer as new ideas and plans are shared, you will be asked to join in, to try new things, to help, and to lead with us as we plan for days full of hope. I look forward to walking these new roads together.