A Note from the Rector – 3/22/20

None of us intended to give up other people for Lent, but here we are.  It has been an interesting and difficult week. Between the total upheaval of our daily routines and the general chaos of the world, it has been incredibly overwhelming, to say the least.   But there are so many hidden blessings everywhere. One enormous hidden blessing that I would have never expected has been praying the service of Compline every night with about twenty of you.  We’re praying and checking in with each other using a great online application called Zoom. The great thing about Zoom is that you can simply follow a link (you’ll find the info here).  You don’t have to download and install anything. Or, if you don’t have the internet or you don’t have a computer or phone that will work with the video option, you can simply call into the meeting with a toll-free number.  I want to encourage every member of the parish to try to connect to Zoom Compline, at least once in a while. It is a great way to let everyone know how you are doing, to ask for anything you might need, and just to see some friendly faces and hear some friendly voices.  If you need help figuring Zoom out, please call me, and I will work to get you set up!

This feels like a time of exile, even of wilderness.  While it is true that the Body of Christ is and must stay connected to each other, our tradition also has a lot of resources about the spirituality of solitude (which is not the same as isolation), and the spirituality of journeying through desert places, and finding their hidden strength and sustenance.  Think about the Children of Israel who were in the desert for 40 years, learning to trust God above all else before entering the Promised Land. Think of the early monastics we call the Desert Fathers and Mothers. These were folks who left their entire lives and moved out to the deserts of Egypt and Palestine to be alone and to pray.  Some of them eventually formed communities but many lived the lives of hermits, spending most of their time alone in deep and intentional prayer. This is a golden opportunity to explore intentional ways of praying—like Compline, like Morning Prayer, like the Jesus prayer, and the Rosary.    

So, my encouragement here is a bit paradoxical.  On the one hand, we need to stay connected and be a lifeline for each other.  We need to call each other and pray with and for each other virtually. I will continue to call and be available for calls and continue to utilize other technologies to keep us from being isolated from each other.  This is really important. Thank God for the technology to live-stream services and hold online and phone gatherings. On the other hand, this may be time to explore the spiritual discipline of solitude. This may be a time to simplify our lives and discover what matters most.  This time has the potential to reveal a lot about ourselves to ourselves. God is speaking to us even in the midst of chaos, fear, and confusion. The spiritual practice of solitude is about taking time to be quiet and listen to what God is saying. 

I know one thing—in quiet and solitude as in the laughter and warmth of community, God is present with us wherever we are.  God has not abandoned us to our own devices, and nothing can separate us from God’s love for us.  

May God richly bless you in this time.  May God’s protection be on you and those you love.  And may God’s infinite love and mercy be revealed to you in the smallest strangest ways in this coming week.  

PS – Don’t forget to pray the Parish Intercessions. If you need a copy you can find it here.
My cute puppy ate my print copy.

Author: jstambaugh

Rector of Church of the Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne, an Episcopal Church in Wynnewood, PA.

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