A few weeks into the pandemic, the Rev. John Newton, a colleague in Austin, Texas, wrote that much of the considerable unease we were feeling then and still do, came from the intersection of two conflicting basic human needs: the need for safety, and the need for community. Both are essential to our nature. Both drive our great joys and our worst fears. And as much as we want our own Christian community to be safe, the most fundamental thing we Christians do – gather together to share a meal, and to experience the love of God through the presence of each other – is the very thing that jeopardizes our physical health and safety in a pandemic.
As if you don’t have enough to deal with. You’re between rectors. You’re between bishops. You’re going somewhere, but you’re not there yet, and the destination is not clear. Our shared life as Americans is fractured like never before in our lifetimes, and members of some families don’t speak to each other at all because of their political differences. Twenty years after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93, our life together involves more walls and barriers, and less physical, emotional, and spiritual safety. More online connection, and less engagement of our souls. Twenty years later, the horror felt on that September 11 hurt as much now as then.
My own brief time with you begins during a period of understandable anxiety. I’m honored to be with you in the coming months to help St. Paul’s find where God would have you go, to listen to you, and to know you. You’re in my prayers, and I hope to see you Sunday. I know also that for some, the pandemic presents problems for gathering in churches or elsewhere, and I’m eager to hear from those of you who can’t be at St. Paul’s on Sunday. Staying connected while we’re apart will be a priority for me.
Blessings and joy to you all. God has more for us that we can ask for or imagine.