UPDATE 5/4/2020: Read the most recent statement by Bishop Mariann Budde, outlining a 4-phase plan, as developed by the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. This plan goes as far as possible at present to answer the frequently asked question, “When will we be able to regather?”
Please note that many St. Mark’s gatherings, including Sunday worship, are now taking place online.
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It has been a week, the kind of week that feels like a year. I’ve seen this called the “lentest lent of all lents,” and I wonder what am I called to do. I have bounced from fear to anger, to resolve and even some joy.
I have no answers for why this is all happening, but I know I have to respond. We are all attempting to respond and, in that, we are living into some of the deeper parts of our faith story.
St Mark’s lay folks are doing Morning Prayer six days a week. There are 15 or so people on it any given day and it models our Thursday noon Eucharist with a side of sermon seminar.
Elin and Chris figured that out and are making it work. If you have a laptop or a landline, you can wrestle down some ideas, talk theology, and spend time with your friends. And it is a gift.
The same is true of Compline. Joe, Caitlyn, and Caleb are doing it Monday through Saturday on Facebook Live at 8:30 p.m. And you are more than welcome to join and be present to that community.
We are trying to do a service here that makes sense and allows us to rejoice in who we are as a community. Is it good enough? Can you connect with people through a screen? What makes a community? These are attempts to do so, along with Morning Prayer and our evening Compline on Facebook.
You see that on an old normal Sunday, we’d be breaking one loaf of bread and breaking it into smaller and smaller pieces so that we all become part of something larger. We bless bread and wine, we hand it out and we hope that the real presence of Jesus gets carried out by us into the world making us more. More like Jesus, with something new called from us.
And now we have a new normal, so we meet around a screen.
We, as people of faith, people of a good orderly direction, as followers of the way, as people of a higher mindedness, we are called to seek a new word and we might be surprised by it.
For instance, Compline online. All three of them do it differently and we are blessed by their ministry; to lead worship in front of a screen is not easy. When Caleb leads, at the end he says, “Okay friends, remember that God loves you and that the people of St. Marks love you too.”
I got a Facebook message from my friend Stacy in Minnesota who joined us online and she told me as the service concluded, the Alexa on her desk said, “You want me to note that God loves you, and the people of St. Mark’s love you, right?”
Nobody likes change, and now we cannot choose away from it, we must change. Something new is being called from us.
So last week’s gospel was the Outsider “woman at the well” ~ a story that we like; an outsider, a fallen woman who now is being brought inside. That works well for us. We like that kind of story.
Today we hear the story of this blind man who is an insider who has a fall from grace, and the people all thought they knew what that was about. They felt they could judge it.
And here comes Jesus, that guy setting everything on its head, turning up into down and down into up. That guy, Jesus heals him in a messy way, smearing dirt and spit Mud into his eyes. And the mess is going to continue because we liked the old normal of this guy on the corner who we knew had sinned. And now this Jesus, this interrupter guy, has made a mess again, and the authorities have to make old normal sense of what has happened.
Yet nobody likes change, and the authorities cannot choose away from it, something changed, something new is being called.
This former blind man, who is now healed and blessed and forgiven.
The Authorities want someone to blame: the man, his family. Perhaps the healer.
Not interested in the how, they are interested in the who, perhaps he can be blamed.
They cannot see past their tradition, their way of doing it.
Yet nobody likes change, and now they cannot choose away from it, we must change. Something new is being called from us.
I would rather be here with all of you, I would rather see your faces; be able to check in with you, and now I am left staring into this lens hoping that you are all well, that you are not scared and that this change that none of us want will not destroy too much.
None of us want this change, and perhaps something good can come of it. And we can not do it alone.
So please reach out to one another, if you are watching this, sign up for our e-gospel. No matter where you are or how you do it, call one another, reach out to me or Caleb or any of the clergy and get involved.
We need each other and we need to live into this new normal. We make the insiders and the outsiders the authorities, the disciples, the former blind man, his parents, the woman at the well, all her husbands, we need to live into God’s word and be more and stop the insider outsiderness. That is the call. That is the work.