Dear parishioners and friends of St. Dunstan’s:
At this time of deep division and pain in our national life, when every day seems to bring yet more occasions for sorrow, anger, and grief, I find myself turning again to these words from St. Paul:
Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…If one member suffers, all suffer together with it;
if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it
(1 Corinthians 12:12, 26-27).
If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.
The suffering of our country, our community, and in many cases our own families these days is excruciating, and every of us is impacted by this collective dis-ease (albeit to differing degrees). As a whole we are a people in mourning. We mourn the incalculable losses of COVID-19. We mourn the ongoing ravages of systemic racism and flagrant injustice. We mourn the effects of the violence that results. We mourn the destruction caused by natural disaster. We mourn our own agency and ability to effect change. We mourn a sense of hope for the future. The catalog of grief goes on and on and on.
As this recent article from the Religion News Service suggests, six months into the pandemic we are likely in the “disillusionment phase” of our response to this disaster, a time marked by increased incidents of depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. Many of us may be fighting a very real (and altogether understandable) temptation to hunker down into our own little burrows right now. At times it all just feels like too much, and the impulse may be to withdraw for the sake of self-preservation.
But we must not lose heart. As Christians, we worship Immanuel, “God with us”: Jesus promises to be present with us just as much in our moments of disillusionment as in our moments of joy…perhaps even more so. What’s more, as members of the Body of Christ, we are blessed to be part of something far bigger than ourselves. We need not bear our pain alone or in isolation, even now. We belong to one another, and nothing – not this pandemic, not racial strife, not divisive political rhetoric – can take that sacred gift away from us. For this we give our thanks and praise.
Holding our common identity before us, I am writing today to ask that you please consider joining your sisters and brothers in Christ here at St. Dunstan’s (either in person or online) for Holy Eucharist this Sunday, September 27. While every celebration of Communion is powerful and transformative in its own right, this service, in particular, will be particularly meaningful. As we lift our hearts and voices together in prayer, whether gathered on the church grounds or watching from home, we will reaffirm our unity and ask God to empower us as instruments of healing and grace.
More specific information about this Sunday’s service follows, below. The weather should be good, the music most definitely will be uplifting, and the Holy Spirit will, unquestionably, refresh and fortify our souls.
Come and see!