Beloved St. John’s community,
Last week I was speaking with our vestry about what church does that no other organization does. What is unique about who we are and what we do?
We began speaking about the sense of peace, magic, inspiration, and spiritual nourishment we feel when we gather together on Sunday mornings. How the sum of us as a community is greater than the parts; how we are sometimes moved to tears when a line from a song or a sermon or the scripture meets us exactly where we are in a way that is uncanny; how wonderful it is to be seen and loved by the community. We mourned that we cannot do this in the same way when we are not meeting physically. How are we supposed to be St. John’s without Sunday morning, given that we don’t know when that will be available to us again?
Our Bishop-Elect Craig Loya said recently in our clergy conference that we have the opportunity to see this time as a giant invitation, from the Holy Spirit, for transformation in the church. We have suddenly found ourselves without any of the usual trappings, and we now can ask ourselves: what about Sunday morning was it that met us so deeply?
For me personally, I became a priest because it literally felt nearly impossible not to. I felt caught up into the current of the presence of Christ who met me where I actually was and offered healing, identity, purpose, practice, and community. When the Episcopal Church in Minnesota created its profile for calling our next Bishop, we collectively said that we wanted to boldly embrace the change and innovation needed in the church—by returning to an expanded sense of our roots: to recover our identity as followers of Jesus’ Way of Love, and to express that identity through spiritual practice in community. Bishop-elect Loya said that he was profoundly moved by this statement; it thoroughly captured his imagination and heart.
Nothing could have prepared Bishop Loya or ECMN for the change and innovation that would shortly become mandatory whether it was wanted or not—the changed imposed on us by this pandemic. But Bishop Loya spoke the truth. God’s Spirit is active in all situations, and I truly believe God is asking us to welcome that change by discovering Christ’s presence in it. Everything, my friends, is pointing in the same direction: the current that is God’s Spirit is no longer a trickle but a flood, and we can be caught up into God’s loving, life-giving, liberating activity. Our job is to keep our heads above water, and cooperate.
Where have you been encountering the risen Christ lately?
Have you participated in any of St. John’s incredibly rich online offerings, both recorded and live?
Have you been able to face yourself as you actually are, in all your giftedness and struggle, during this time?
What are the new things that the Holy Spirit is inviting in you, and in us?
I have never been more grateful to be a follower of Jesus, and to be so in community with all of you. Let’s find out what innovation actually looks like, together.