An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 9/12/20

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 Dear People and Friends of St. James,
Although the autumnal solstice is still ca. 9 days away (22 September), summer [is unofficially over]. I know this because this week, via emails, telephone conversations, zoom meetings, and pastoral letters succommunion stained glassh as my own, priestly colleagues have indicated the difficulties of resuming our typical fall parochial activities. We are all hindered by a pandemic [that] has lingered for over six month, such as almost to become the new normal. Lurking behind many of these conversations—and I intend with my own thoughts never to disparage or to denigrate my colleagues’ concerns—are our concerns for sustaining our parishes. I share with them all in their concerns, for their concerns are also my concerns. It has been exactly six months to the date—13 March – 13 September—that I was last privileged to celebrate Mass, Holy Eucharist, The Lord’s Supper with you: that act of centrality, that feast which binds us all, despite of and because of our differences, together. 

Dare I speak even more boldly!? Virtual worship is not the same as in-person gatherings. A major realization, an expectation even, that this pandemic has caused a loss in membership in our parishes. Some individuals will not return, whenever next we are permitted to reassemble. That is a disturbing, frightening thought. What these potential non-returners brought to our common life will be sorely missed. Our bishops have caused us to refrain from accusations of lack of faith. Actually, as I have thought about our current circumstance, I have come to the conclusion: Presuming that everyone who privileged our parish halls with their presence did return, we have, all of us, still a challenge before us. For, even in the past when we assembled, we did so not solely for ourselves. It is a challenge [that] has been always before us, namely how to get the promise of Christ out to a world that so desperately needs the message of our common humanity. 

To prepare for the task ahead, whether our sanctuaries are quarter full, a tenth full, or two-thirds full, or whether there are only two or three gathered together in HIS NAME, I would suggest that we listen again seriously to one of the petitions in Eucharistic Prayer C of Rite Two: “Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal.” (BCP p. 372) With firm belief in the message, the gospel of love, of God’s Messiah, hand[ed] down to us from our forefathers and foremothers, we shall set forth with a renewed energy that can cause a revolution of good will among us and on earth. We are not a people without HOPE.
I bid you pray:
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representative; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Chris our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with and remain with you and those whom you love this day and for ever. Amen
Your humble fellow in The Way