Rector’s Note 07-30-20
“When Jesus heard this news he withdrew by boat to a lonely place on his own.” – Matthew 14:13, New Revised Jerusalem Bible
This little verse in between the stories of John the Baptist’s beheading (the news Jesus heard) and the feeding of the five thousand is one I return to again and again.
It speaks of the humanity of Jesus and of his need to absorb the reality of the world he was saving. Can you imagine how that would be for you? His cousin and mentor, forerunner and friend was murdered by the same powers that would soon turn toward him. And John was killed so callously, so wickedly, as a daughter’s prize for dancing.
The inhumanity of Herod and Salome is contrasted to Jesus’ compassion for the crowd who came out to the wilderness to find him. In his grief and need for solace, he was met with human need and had sympathy.
It is in crisis that we often discover what our core is made of. How do we respond to the human needs in front of us? How do we become able to have sympathy and how do we become the kind of people who actually respond in compassion? There are two steps there, becoming able to and getting to the point that is our natural response.
This year has been a trial, and people have responded in all kinds of ways. We have one family that is moving to the mountains and another that is asking for directions to the counselor’s office. We have women sewing masks and men showing up for classes they never considered before. And we have probably all swung from paranoid to peaceful during the last several months.
Recently two things have come back up.
Initially we all wavered between a short term response and the nagging thought that this might be a year or more. That not knowing is still with us, renewed by the response and failed responses of individuals and leaders and the possibility of lowered numbers and vaccines. We still don’t know what tomorrow holds.
But we also are back to discussing what liturgical responses might look like. The House of Bishops met this week by Zoom to talk about social justice and online communion variations. They renewed their support for racial justice and renewed their denial of digital Eucharist.
Stay the course. That message came through on both sides, and I support both. We will continue to seek to be a better beloved community here at Christ Church, and we will continue to offer regular worship in the form of the Daily Offices.
Our own Bishop Jennifer Reddall is allowing us to expand our plans to include an earlier outside Eucharist that we will explore in the coming weeks. I am excited about that possibility, so stay tuned.
Returning to Jesus, we also need to remember two key messages in the Gospel from this coming Sunday: retreat and serve.
Take time to get away, weekly in Sabbath and regularly in spiritual retreat. This is written into my covenant with you in ministry, and everybody needs it, even the Son of God! So give yourself some room to pull away. Like Jesus, I love the wilderness, but some days even the park will do.
Serve the children of God. Our regular ways of serving others are not always available right now, so find new ones. “You feed them.” That is what Jesus said to his disciples, and we will be talking about that on Sunday.
But how can you feed them? You can call. You can reach out to Shana in the office. We have a list of people available to help out if you are need, or maybe you have a service to offer. A ride or a pharmacy pickup or library books or just a phone call or prayer.
Now is the hour. This is the time. Shana is keeping the list for us if you can be help or need it. Be part of what Christ is doing at Christ Church.