Exactly a year ago I sat down to write what felt like an impossible message to you all. I can still remember sitting here at my desk at home staring at the blank screen with a knot in my stomach not knowing what for the life of me I was going to say and how I would say it. Today I pulled up that message and read it again. And perhaps, like someone who has lived through a traumatic event, I don’t even remember writing some of what I said. Here are some of the things I said:
I write to you on a day and in a time of great uncertainty in so many respects. It remains unclear how the spread of the COVID-19 virus will move in the days to come, and with that uncertainty coupled with the recent closing of many schools and public events and gatherings, I believe it is time for us to make some faith-based decisions. Our mission, our “why,“ our reason for being, our raison d’être, is simply and prophetically to ALWAYS be about sharing LOVE in the world. Today I am calling on all of us to adopt a new mantra: Feed the people; starve the virus.
And so now 360 days later, I am so humbled to reflect back on all the many ways we have, together, done just that. Week after week we have gathered in our now, not-so-new digital space of Trinity@Home to sing and pray and learn and serve; each month volunteers are gathering safely to feed hungry neighbors who are becoming our friends at Toledo Streets; classes and events and meetings in our community are taking place and being led by new leaders and friends in our community; we are singing and reading, studying scripture and increasing our awareness and commitment to dismantling racism; we have completed a major “sanctuary facelift update,” we are staying focused on efforts to plan and discern our future through the Feasibility Study and continued work on the 2030 vision; we are gathering in small groups through Sacred Ground and the Faith & Race Film Series and exploring new art forms; and we are playing our ukuleles!
It has also, to be sure, still been a year filled with grief and unbelievable distress, anxiety, isolation and fear- and nothing should ever detract from acknowledging that pain. What I think about today is how we have indeed lived into being a BOTH/AND people. Many have heard me use the phrase “broken and blessed” as a way to try to describe what I believe is the reality of all our God-given lives at any given moment- we are all deeply complicated through the holy landscape of lived experience and we are called by a God of unending love to live from that center humbly and courageously. And my dear ones, you have done just that for an entire year.
My heart breaks to not be with you each week even as we still gather for worship and meetings, coffee-hour gatherings and classes. I want to hear our children running around sneaking extra cookies after the service and I want to walk up to any number of you as you are welcoming someone new or checking in with a sacred friend. I want to walk by the sacristy and shout, “thank you” over my shoulder as some of you are always faithfully there “doing the dishes” and attending to those holy tasks following every service. I want to hear music wafting out of the choir room as they rehearse for the next service or concert. The list goes and on- you have your version as well I am sure. AND I am absolutely certain (along with the vestry leadership) that we have made the right choice for now.
As you may have heard, our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr. has sent out a communication allowing parishes in our diocese to make the decision of whether or not to return to in-person worship (adhering to protocols) beginning Lent 5 (March 21st). We had already decided to stay suspended through the end of May and will make another decision closer to that time. As a growing downtown parish, we take very seriously our responsibility to love our neighbors as ourselves and we believe our current format does that best. AND oh, how we yearn to be together again to serve, to sing, to pray and break bread with each other when the time is right. Until then, stay safe and connected. And thank you for all you do and are day after day after day.
May you never forget that you are loved,