Dear friends at Epiphany,
Back in the old days (the middle of March), it seemed we were looking at a two-week closure of our church building – a necessary inconvenience that would soon be behind us. More than four months later, we remain in the midst of a pandemic that has changed our lives, our church, our communities, and our world.
We do not yet know when we will be able to gather again in person for worship. We miss being with each other in the sanctuary, in Hadley Hall, in the church school classrooms, in the cloister garden! It is hard to live with uncertainty, with not knowing the answers to “When?” and “How long?”
Our situation brings to mind something St. Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Philippi. Paul had founded the church in Philippi several years before, and wrote a letter of encouragement to the Christians there. Paul composed the letter, by the way, while he was in prison – in the midst of trying and uncertain circumstances. Paul wrote to them, “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4.9). He wanted them to persevere in the faith he had taught them, knowing that such persistence was a channel for God’s presence and peace.
As I reflect on what our life as a parish has been like these past four months, I am filled with gratitude for how we have kept on doing the ministry we have received from Jesus, and for how we have kept the bonds of our common life strong. We have kept on praying and worshipping, teaching and learning, serving and caring, exploring and experimenting, struggling and growing, reading and reflecting, laughing and crying, discussing and discerning, giving and forgiving. And in doing so, God has been right there with us – it is impossible to be physically distant from God!
We have not stopped, even for a single day, being the church of Jesus Christ. And as the saying goes, we need to “keep on keeping on.” It is by no means easy. This time of being physically apart is spiritually and emotionally challenging, and requires sacrifice from each of us. Yet in the midst of this uncertain time, I’m certain that we will keep on doing our ministry. And I’m grateful for your companionship in these days.
Yours in Christ,