Thus says the Lord:
“ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you that have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price”
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
August 1, 2020
Greetings of God’s abundance and peace, brothers and sisters.
It’s my first day back from a few weeks off, and it is so good to be back in touch with you and to celebrate the presence and Word of God in Christ.
I have deepest gratitude and appreciation for Reverend Karen and the work she has done while I was gone. Among many other things, she coordinated the service and servants necessary for us to worship in-person on Saturday, August 1 on the courtyard; this service was available to all who registered for it. If you were unable to make a reservation, please check back here later tonight for pics and a short story about our gathering. Blessings in abundance, Rev. Karen, as you now take some well-deserved, much needed time away.
If you wish to attend our in-person worship service next Saturday, August, 8, the reservation button will go live Sunday, August 2 at 9 a.m. on our website’s homepage: www.stjohnsrsm.org. Space is limited, so sign up early.
Plans for my time off were hijacked by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the monastery I intended visiting all but closed down. I was invited to stay nonetheless, but could only eat alone in my room, pray alone outside, have no contact with any of the monks, celebrate no Eucharist, and could not enter the chapel. Recognizing that I could do all that at home, I decided to make it so.
While away from work, I continued feeling a stirring in my soul that is related to you, to me, and to how we see ourselves and operate as church. This feeling has been with me since March of this year and grows stronger each day. A people’s time in ‘exile’ naturally causes them to think about the things that uniquely define who they are. Since March, we have not been able to gather in person unmasked, with freedom to socialize, nor to be in our worship space. It forces us to consider the value of our connection to each other and to God, our beliefs, and our purpose when we cannot be as community.
Admittedly, this quarantine and isolation will end; we will be permitted again to worship and work as we had in the past. The stirring in my soul, however, is asking, “Can we?” Can we go back to ‘things as before?’ To assume so may require us to deny the impact that many months of being separated has had.
One area of consideration is worship. When we are able to gather again, will we abandon the beauty and gift of our praying with each other every day online? I hope not! I consider whether we might want to gather on occasion, when it is safe to do so, in small groups at people’s home for worship; strengthening our bonds with those who live close to us and making worship more accessible to our neighbors. We would and could never abandon the beauty of our worship on Sunday morning at St. John’s. Our exile, however, is asking me to consider that not all people are free to come together regularly and that meeting in small groups would allow us to see each other more, to build on the relationships that are budding through our common prayer, and to become more of a force in our cities.
I have no answers yet, only questions. It is an exciting time to be church and to perhaps refine what it means to be a community of worship, prayer, and of ethic. Our Bishops and the Diocese of Los Angeles are undertaking this holy task as well and, like good Anglicans, discussing all options, all stirrings, all ideas.
I welcome your thoughts and encourage you to explore such issues personally in these exilic days. Write me. Come to my virtual office on Tuesday mornings — log on info is just below. Call me and share your thoughts. It is not mine alone to determine how St. John’s will proceed from here, but it is our baptismal calling to be in dialogue with each other as we discover more ways — perhaps different ways — to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and to strive for justice and peace among all people.
While we observe the shelter-in-place guidelines, St. John’s is worshiping online via ZOOM:
• Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we pray Morning Prayer at 9 a.m. Here’s the worship bulletin for Sunday, August 2.
• Nighttime Prayer is prayed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
• Bible Fellowship (open to all) continues on Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m.
To ensure participants’ online security, we don’t publish the Zoom link; if you did not receive the church-wide email from me with the links, and would like to attend services, please email me and I’ll add you to the e-blast, and send you the links: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve posted all Zoom services since mid-March under the “Miss a Service?” button on the website’s home page. Search for a service you missed and get caught up. Go have a look: https://www.stjohnsrsm.org
Since Morning and Evening Prayers are designed and intended to be led by all members of the congregation (most especially by non-ordained members), please sign up to lead one of these services by emailing me.
My Zoom office hours: Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Here’s my Zoom link.
May God continue to bless us, lead us, and guide us as we move through our exile in hope of our imminent return.