April 16, 2024

From the Rector…

Several years ago, I was fortunate to spend a week in Taizé, France. Taizé is an ecumenical community whose mission is the work of reconciliation amongst the peoples of the world. The brothers who run the primary portion of the community come from a variety of faith backgrounds—Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Evangelical, etc. Every night after the last service of the evening, several of the brothers would remain in the chapel to offer spiritual direction and/or confession. 

On several nights, I took advantage of this opportunity for spiritual direction and found myself speaking with an American, Catholic priest. I asked him what drew him to this place and kept him here. His response was that in this place he knew he was supported by the other brothers, even and especially on the days when he really didn’t want to worship or work or even be in community. When he came to worship and didn’t want to pray, he knew that all the other brothers would lift him and his prayers up in that moment and that he didn’t have to feel guilty or encumbered—he could simply be himself. And conversely, when others could not pray, he would do the same for them. For him, the purpose of the community was in the holding of one another up in their times of frustration and angst—giving one another space and opportunity to make mistakes, to figure out their needs and desires, to allow one another to discover who God has called them to be and not mold or shape them into something they desire. It was a beautiful description of community and one I have held on to in the many years hence.

The pandemic caused a significant loss in our understanding of community. It could easily be argued that we are the most globally connected humans in the course of history—in seconds we can know what is happening In Beijing or Birmingham. But being connected has not translated to being less isolated or more a part of a community. In some ways, I believe it causes us to be less so. We’ve become more focused on information gathering rather than relationship building. We’ve weaponized our connectivity to make a claim on the world—typically cast in judgment or fear—that disempowers those who we perceive as threat. The pandemic didn’t cause the disconnection, it only highlighted it. But being forced to distance from one another did cause us to enter into a period of distrust of individuals, of gatherings, even of the very air we breathe. Though we may be beyond the Covid 19 pandemic, those lessons have been absorbed into our psyche and it will take time and intentionality to dislodge them. But that won’t happen on social media or in some other information source. The only way that we can reclaim community is by living in it.

Come to church—not because the devil will get you if you don’t, but because that is the place where the deepest and richest of all communities exist. The church is the place of fellowship, and its focus is on the Good News. Coming to church exposes you to a community that wants to hear and be a part of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Good News that love is more powerful than fear; that acceptance frees us from restraint; that there really is a peace beyond all understanding. You won’t find that message out in the world. And on those days when you just don’t know how you could ever keep going, you know, in your heart of hearts, that there are all those other people who are lifting you up in prayer and in hope and strengthening you for the days ahead. Just like you do for them on their bad days. Because that is what it really means to be church.

Go to church so you can be Good News.

Light and Life,