By Father Casey
I am tremendously excited about this weekend. On Sunday, we are going to celebrate a great big, socially-distanced, tailgate Fig Fest. Come to Transfiguration anytime between 11 and 1, park in a designated spot, listen to some great live music, enjoy an ice cream, and see some of your friends whom you may not have seen in person in seven months! As you pull on campus, I hope you’ll drive through the carport to drop off your pledge of support for 2021, and pick up a packet of communion for Sunday evening’s Zoom conclusion to the Eucharist.
We thought long and hard about whether to even have Fig Fest this year. How can we have a celebration in the midst of a pandemic? We won’t be able to do all the things that we normally enjoy, including the recent tradition of gathering around an extra, extra long table.
Eventually we realized that this is precisely this year for Fig Fest. Even if it’s a different experience, even if it’s a socially-distanced tailgate instead of sitting around a long table, we need the experience of being together as a church. Virtual church is keeping us going, and proving that we can be the church even when we can’t go to church, but there really is no replacement for being together. There is something intangibly joy-giving, that is possible only when you’re in the presence of others.
We’ve felt it in the first few weeks of outdoor, in-person worship on the lawn. It’s hard to describe the feeling of standing in the midst of your community to sing and pray and worship God. Hearing their voices; seeing their faces; sharing communion as a community. Yes, there’s just something special about being together.
And it’s not merely the togetherness that we need right now. We need to be together in a spirit of thanksgiving. It’s times like this when we need the spiritual tonic of gratitude to calm our troubled souls. So many of us feel a deep uneasiness about so many things, and the best aid I know for this affliction is gratitude. I’ve heard gratitude referred to as “spiritual angioplasty,” because it unclogs our hardened hearts. It breaks down cynicism and despair and replaces them with renewed awareness of all that is good and just and hopeful. It helps us remember that the things that keep us awake at night are not the sum total of our lives. And, in fact, most of our lives, when we pay attention, is soaked with God’s blessing.
Which is why we need to come together as a church and be thankful. To take time to show God our gratitude for what we have and who we are, as individuals and as a community. I promise, it will do your heart some good.
See you Sunday.