Dear Beloved People of St. John’s,
Where to begin?
Last Sunday marked the beginning of Advent…really?? Already?? We have entered into an Advent and Christmas season like none we have ever known, significantly reshaped and reimagined in the midst of the challenges of the ongoing pandemic.
I suspect for most of us this will be the hardest season we have faced yet since COVID hit. Everything is different and the dire disease predictions are all around us. Yet even in the midst of all that, we can still tap into the crucial core of God’s love as our firm foundation.
To be sure, there is much from our traditional Advent/Christmas observances that we will miss. We can realize that, and grieve it. But, if we are able to ‘keep awake’ to new possibilities and new shapes of things, there is so much to dig into and many places to find hope and love for others. For a case in point, last Sunday night’s ‘candle’ in the columbarium life-sized Advent wreath was “HOPE”. See the slide show in this weekly e-news to pray with some of the beautiful hopes attendees offered us.
If you haven’t already registered for the Advent Quiet Day on Saturday (Dec. 5th), I highly recommend it. Taking time to be apart from the stress and franticness around us is a good way to dig into our Advent season of preparation. The Rev. Martin Smith, who will lead it, is formerly the superior of SSJE (an order of Episcopal monks in Boston), and he is a truly gifted spiritual director and leader.
On Dec. 13th we will gather online after our 9:00 am worship for an unofficial Annual Parish ‘Non-Meeting’! By canon law, we can’t vote on anything, but we can sure get together to celebrate all the incredible ministry that has occurred in and through St. John’s during 2020.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in what we are missing. This is a great opportunity to enjoy and celebrate where we have been and where we are. It’s really pretty amazing. Zoom may not give us the obvious warm fuzzy feelings we enjoy when we gather in person, but it sure has allowed some of our connectedness to deepen, and for God’s love to guide our hands and feet to love and serve others both inside and outside St. John’s.
Finally, this is my last commentary as your Sr. Warden, as my vestry term ends later this month. It has been my honor and privilege to love and serve you as best I can for the last three years. I think I could write a whole book about all that has happened in those three years! Suffice to say, it started with the water leak in the parish hall ceiling on day 6 of my first year on the vestry (and as Jr. Warden), and never let up clear through the present challenges of the pandemic. At times it has felt like I needed to invoke the shout from the children’s game of tag….UNCLE!!!! Most of the time, though, it has been three years of deepening prayer with God and putting one foot in front of the other to try and be part of fixing facilities and strengthening this beloved part of the Body of Christ here at St. John’s.
I hope you will share with me in drawing strength from these bits of Isaiah 43 (shortened to save space): “I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;…For I am your God…you are precious in my sight and honored and I love you.”
May God’s love always carry us forward and be with us, no matter what life brings. Amen.
I love you all.