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. See details and get links further down on this website homepage.
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Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.” I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” John 17:1-11
Some times you choose, and in retrospect, you choose poorly. If this was Easter 7 in 2017 or 2014 I would have looked at the offerings of the day and made the same choice as I did in 2020. I would have chosen because I always make the choice of the shorter of the two passages for the epistle, (that is the first reading of the day.)
You see I picked 1Peter, yet in light of what is happening in the world I should have taken the Acts reading. I also do not take acts because it is Jesus saying goodbye, which he is I am pretty convinced that Jesus was a Southerner, cuz he has been saying good-bye forever. And this is what the reading of Acts says….” When the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.”
Which is essentially the apostles are in the back seat of the station wagon say, are we there yet. They have been saying it for a good long time and Jesus is saying no, not yet.
The reason I think this is timely is that Jesus is saying not yet and no to the disciples a lot. I feel like our Mayor and a lot of Governors are saying not yet, too. We want to be open, some denominations, some leaders, some officials are saying, ‘is it time to re-open the churches?” And Jesus has a couple of things to say about that.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35
This is what we are asked to do every day. We are called to care for one another, step out passed our own desires. We are not called to be the kids in the backseat calling for what we want NOW. If we want to help others and we have the capacity we need to reach out with financial aid, there are ways in which we can be of service, there are mutual ways to be of help.
So there was this little church in England, they had heard of a Village in Africa that had to walk 15 miles to a town to get anything that they might need out of what they could, grow or fashion themselves. The church leadership reached out to the village and in a letter said that they would like to buy them some bicycles and then the village could share these 10 bikes and more easily get back and forth to the town.
The village elder wrote back, that would be wonderful and what could the village give this church in return?
The church leadership wrote back, oh no there is nothing that they need and where should they send the bicycles.
The elders of the village wrote, back that they could not accept the bicycles.
We as mature humans need to help and to accept help.
We are called to help and be helped. Not to demand what we want.
(also a total aside~ we never closed: We are the church, us the people out in the world, gathered around screens, helping one another, we will not re-open, we will re-gather)
We are not re-gathering because we are still trying to take care of the most vulnerable. We are caring for folks who cannot come to church and want to come. In my home state of Minnesota Church leaders are defying the stay close order and my fear is that the elders of those mainline churches still live in the doctrine of you have to come to church. I am afraid that the clergy of those places will become super spreaders even if there are precautions in place.
I know because I know when St. Mark opens up I will want to hug some of you, touch your arms. I know that many of you want to step up close and tell me something, part of it is confidentially and the other is hearing loss. I do not trust myself to stay away from you.
In Ephesians 4:14 ( I think it is my televangelist’s hair, I have started quoting scripture by verse) We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.
We are called people, by Christ, by our high mindedness, a good orderly direction. We are called to not be tossed about, yelling at people to take off their masks demanding that we are allowed to not wear them. There have been almost 100,000 deaths in this country. We are closing into 100,000, and these protests are a calculated behavior and we need not fall into it. We need instead to meet this moment in love, to find a way to be of service, to be helpful, and for some of us, this is to stay home.
Do not be the kid in the back seat be the person who can receive so that you can give. Amen.