As I write this on the morning of the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I am struck by how the memory of that terrible day has shifted and evolved. For some, especially those who lost loved ones, who were living in New York or Washington, or whose health has been permanently impacted by the devastation wrought that day, the memories are likely still powerful and keenly felt. For others of us, including me, the remembrance of that day was only awakened when I typed in the date for this letter. And today, we are living in yet another time in which we will be asked, “where were you during the pandemic of 2020? What was your experience?”
Given that we are still living in the midst of pandemic-tide, we only have a few chapters of the story to tell and the ending is yet unknown. But my fervent hope is that each of us at All Saints’ will have a chapter of our pandemic story that tells the story of this amazing, creative, and caring community. Over these past six months, our time physically present to one another has shifted to a virtual presence with Sunday services on Facebook; Youth Group, Atrium, and adult formation of all kinds via Zoom; pastoral care on the phone; and a search committee that convinced more than 230 of you to complete the CAT survey. And this only scratches the surface of all that has been happening.
Last week, Bishop Lee, in a letter published in the Diocesan e-news, quoted renowned scripture scholar Walter Bruggeman, who wrote in an article you can find here, that the vocation of the church in these times, is to be a community that ‘resists denial and tells the truth, refuses despair and tells the hope.”
With the start of the school year and the beginning of fall come a host to opportunities to deepen engagement with each other, to tell the truth, and to tell the hope. All Saints’ Youth Group and the Atrium resume gathering this weekend via Zoom. Weekly adult formation opportunities continue on Wednesdays at 7:30. And our annual Backpack Blessing will be next Sunday. Will Nifong will be our preacher at all services. Our altar and lectern will be constructed from the ton of paper we are collecting for our school partners. Backpacks, laptops, workplaces, iPads, educators, students, parents – pretty much everything and everyone will be blessed!
The change of season also brings a change in our worship services. Our service music is different, and includes the addition of the familiar “Santo, Santo” during the Sanctus. Our Eucharistic prayer comes from Enriching Our Worship and the final blessing seems especially apt for this time.
I am sustained every day knowing that All Saints’ is a community that strives to live out the words of Bruggeman, words that are the bedrock of our faith. In a world desperately in need of hope, may we all be witnesses to the truth and hope we find in our God.