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January 26, 2022

January 26, 2022
 
Dear Friends,
 
It’s surreal to be sitting at my desk, hitting the refresh button on the Health Department’s website, waiting for the daily Covid numbers to update. This is not something I ever imagined would be a part of my ministry. Alas, welcome to our time. Or, this small piece of our time. We are entering a third year of constantly pivoting our plans for worship, outreach, pastoral care, formation, and fellowship in order to keep people safe. The constant call to be flexible and adaptable is taxing, and our resilience begins to wane. The varying degrees of isolation are demoralizing because connection with one another is often our most potent way to perceive God’s love for us. Personal and spiritual losses just seem to keep piling up. I am eager to stem the tide of loss that we have known. Unfortunately, what looked like a promising decline in Covid numbers has not been maintained. Numbers have largely flattened over the past week, and while those numbers are still declining, they are declining too slowly for me to invite an in-person gathering as part of worship. We’ll say our prayers for Sunday, February 6th.
 
While entering a third Covid Lent can feel like such an odd and impossibly long period of time, it’s really not. I keep finding photo albums and boxes of pictures. I see faces I remember, but I can’t quite remember the names. I read names on the backs of those photographs and remember folks whom I had forgotten. I see people wearing clown paint. I see younger versions of some of you. I see saints who have been ushered home to glory. I see Christmas Pageants and plays and Brunswick Stew. I see my mom as a young mother and then see her in her last days. I read through the Parish Directory and see so many names that I don’t know. And, I remember that St. Bartholomew’s has been, is, and will continue to be a place where and a people in whom God is present.
 
We sacramental Christians have a particular way in which we remember when we celebrate the Eucharist. The Greek word is anamnesis. The prayers of anamnesis in the various eucharistic prayers emphasize and make present the saving events of Jesus' death and resurrection. “And make present.” We remember in such a way that the past is made present to us. We remember in such a way that our future hope is made present to us. We drag the Last Supper from the past and that Peaceable Kingdom from our promised future and for a prayerful moment stand in the midst of them. We have just these moments away from altar too. Remembering who we’ve been, who we are, and who God is making us all at the same time can make our whole lives sacramental.
 
We will emerge from this pandemic, and it will probably feel like climbing a sand dune. But we will emerge, and we won’t be as we were on the Second Sunday of Lent 2020. Restrictions will ease. Transmission of the virus will abate. Masks and social distancing will end. The Common Cup will return at Communion. We’ll hug at the Peace again. And we will be something new – not entirely new, but certainly not as we were. So, I’m asking you to do your own version of anamnesis. Remember as to make present who St. Bart’s has been and the future God has in store for us. Drag our past and our future into your memory, so that we can joyfully participate in what God is doing to and for us in this time. This is how we begin again.
 
Your brother,
 
 
Michael