By Father Casey
Last Sunday was extraordinary. From the exhilaration of having so many people at worship to the joy of witnessing Sophia Artemis be baptized and nearly 40 people confirm their faith, it was a deeply moving Day of Pentecost. It’s fitting, when you think about it, that Pentecost would be such a transformative day in the life of our church – remember, last year it’s when we resumed sharing the Eucharist together (in 54 different zip codes!), and this year it’s when our worship services felt profoundly familiar again. Bishop Smith is right: if you’re open to it, “the Holy Spirit will mess with you,” and I am feeling a deep gratitude in my soul for the movement of that Spirit in our church.
Based on some things we learned last weekend when the Spirit messed a bit with us, it’s time to make a few changes in our life that I pray are for the good! So, this weekend will be the last time we require registration to attend a service! Both of our services this Trinity Sunday (9:00 and 11:15) will be inside the church, and I humbly ask this one final time that you to take a minute to register to attend Mass. The good news is that there is still plenty of room.
Then, next weekend (June 5), when we will resume The Table on Saturday, we will no longer require registration to attend a service! No more fiddling with Realm and figuring out who will attend with you. No wondering if you should skip a week to allow others a chance to attend. You can simply come to church.
In order to do this, we need to keep in place a couple of things. First, masks will continue to be required for everyone inside the building. This is an essential act of Christian love for those who do not yet have the protection of vaccination, especially children under the age of 12. We do not ask for proof of vaccination, so we can’t know who is and isn’t unmasked safely. So we all wear masks as a sign of respect for those who rely on their basic defense against infection. We’ve come so far together, so let’s bear this minor inconvenience together just a bit longer to keep everyone healthy.
Second, we will maintain an element of distancing in the church. We are no longer skipping pews, and instead now seat people in a “checkerboard” pattern. We want to make this simple and easy, so all you need to do is follow the signs in the pews that show where not to sit, or ask an usher for help.
Last week I shared a Bible study with the Vestry on the passage from Romans we heard on the Day of Pentecost (8:22-27), and for it we used the alternative translation of the Bible called The Message. One part stood out to all of us, like holy words from God for this very moment:
“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.
The waiting did not diminish us, friends, because even when we tired in the waiting, we had the power of the Spirit to sustain us. And now we are glimpsing the new days in greener pastures that we have longed for – gathering with our sisters and brothers in our church, singing full-throated praises, praying all-together as one body, stepping down the aisle to receive our taste of the heavenly banquet, looking up at that radiant face in the triptych and knowing the very real Jesus is even now beaming at us from his throne.