E a S t e r S e a s o n April 20, 2020
During this Lenten/Easter season I am experiencing a time-warp and have to check the phone, computer and calendar more often to see what date it is! This pandemic has allowed me to experience a bit of the confusion my ninety-seven-year-old Mother faces each morning she gets up and waits to check the Bangor Daily to see what day it is. Daughter Katherine has never had an understanding of time and never knows what the next event in her life will be or when it will happen.
Faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Do you suppose we are experiencing a rich and fertile time of faith engagement on this leg of our journey?
This is what I suspect. As many of the “props” in our lives have been temporarily removed, a new time slot has opened up: a precious fleeting moment to take stock of who we are. What is important and essential in our styles of living? Will we take the time to ask God, “What does this talk about all things being made new in resurrection perspective, mean for me?”
“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:
Everything old has passed away;
See, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Could this be where Jesus is leading us to be anyway, through the suffering of Holy Week, out of the confusing tomb, into a new way of being?
Julia McCray-Goldsmith wrote The Trouble with Easter:
But …I want the tomb full, like temple or tent —
With the Holy enshrouded in fabric un-rent.
Yes, I want death preserved in sweet-smelling spice;
Not my neighbor perspiring the aroma of Christ.
I remember the days of working in the alcohol and drug treatment program at EMMC, prior to Acadia Hospital. Some spouses and partners of the patient being treated resisted the changes and new behaviors of their rehabbed husband or wife, because they preferred the old unhealthy, but familiar habits they had learned in accommodating the addictive life style in the family system.
Our little experiment of moving the pews around in the nave is nothing compared to how we have changed our worship during the past couple of months. For the time being, we have no pews; we have no building. We have no Eucharist. Who are we as fifty-odd members of Christ’s larger Body?
I am asking the same question of myself. Who am I as a priest and who may the Spirit be calling me to be in the new order? I extend this invitation to you in your walk with Jesus, recently killed and disappeared? I guess the tradition is for us to huddle in an upper room somewhere, in fear and trembling, and wait for a new Spirit to breathe on us. (unmasked of course!)
Some people and some churches will return to the familiar forms and ways of doing things, satisfied with the old wineskins. May God bless them; there’s nothing wrong with good old wine. But I for one, will not be in that category. My sense is that the St. Patrick’s community of faith is being called to another way.
We have always had a little false self-pride in being a bit on the fringe of traditional Episcopal life. But that is not what I mean. The Spirit has been working in quiet ways for a long time in bringing together the wonderful and diverse family of unique and gifted individuals that comprise our community. There is an openness to change and growth and new life that is in the St. Pat’s DNA. “Liberal” is not really an accurate, yet tempting descriptor. Generous in spirit is better. No nonsense, salt of the Earth works. Jesus followers we are, with welcome embellishments from other faith traditions.
Just as we used a new model of prayerful discernment to nominate our present leadership, I will suggest to the Vestry that later this year we adapt that model of prayer and discernment to ask how God is calling us to be moving forward in the days ahead. A parallel track will offer personal discernment to individuals who choose to seek renewal in their spiritual lives.
I have a hunch that the Holy Spirit has some exciting and life-changing times for us as we seize this unique opportunity to ask, pray, listen, and look around for some new wineskins.