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A National Day of Mourning

Dear Friends in Christ,

I think it would be an understatement to say that the last week has been one of the most challenging in recent memory. The United States passed the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths due to the coronavirus in just two months. We witnessed the gruesome lynching of a black man by a police officer. We have seen the anger and pain and trauma of our black siblings pour out into the streets, the culmination of centuries of systemic oppression and inhumane treatment.

It is exhausting to bear witness to this pain. It is exhausting to be engulfed in grief. It is exhausting to keep searching for signs of hope.

Yesterday we celebrated Pentecost, we celebrated the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. The Spirit came into the world as wind and fire ready to transform a broken world. It feels like just the reminder we all need that we are not responsible for changing the world on our own. Yes, we must participate and work to change what we can, but ultimately it is God, working through each of us, who enacts lasting change.

But before we can truly make lasting changes, we must grieve. If you haven’t yet watched Denise Bennett’s powerful sermon from yesterday, I encourage you to do so. She reminds us that our tears, that God’s tears, can be a powerful expression of the Holy Spirit.

Today, June 1, is being marked as a Day of Mourning by faith communities across our country. We mourn the lives lost in this pandemic. We mourn the livelihoods and economic security that has been lost in the pandemic. We mourn the countless lives lost to systemic racism. We mourn the pain and fear that our siblings of color experience on a daily basis. We mourn that our world does not yet more closely resemble God’s dream for us.

At 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, the bell at St. Andrew’s will toll for ten minutes to express our grief. Wherever you are, I invite you to pause as you are able at 3:00, or at another point in the day. Acknowledge our collective grief. Pray that God might heal our world and help us create true justice for all.

I am hear to listen if you need to talk. I’m here to pray with you and for you. I’m here to share your grief and your pain.

I pray that we all feel the presence of the Holy Spirit today and in the coming days. May you know God’s strength and peace. May we all feel stirred to bear witness to God’s love and transform our broken world.

Grace & Peace,


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Joy in the time of Coronavirus

What brought you joy this week?
It’s a question I’ve been trying to ask myself every day, where did I find joy today?  There’s been a lot of frustration in the midst of all of this…technology challenges, things that aren’t stocked at the grocery store, hours upon hours of working from home (and homeschooling at the same time for many of you).  So every day I try to remind myself of where the joy has been.  Many days it’s been reconnecting with friends and family, some of whom I haven’t talked with in a long time.  Some days it’s been revisiting TV shows that make me laugh or getting lost in a good book.  Last night it was a glorious lobster roll that I was able to (safely) pick up from a neighborhood restaurant.
So where are you finding joy?  I’d love to hear about it.  Comment on today’s Facebook post or send me an email with your stories of joy.  We’ll find a way to share them with one another.
As we progress through this pandemic, things are necessarily changing all the time.  This week Bishop Susan Goff shared with the clergy of the diocese that all public worship will be suspended through May 8, at the earliest.  As I said last week, it breaks my heart to think that we will not be celebrating Easter in person but I know that this is the right, responsible move.  We’re hard at work planning meaningful Holy Week experiences for you at home and designing what we will share online as well.  I’ve been so very grateful for the creativity and flexibility of so many of you in helping think through what this will look like.  And as I mentioned, we will have a great big joyous celebration on the first Sunday when we are allowed back in church.  (In my mind I’ve already dubbed that Hootenanny Sunday!)
Britton and I are mostly working from home, but you can always reach us via email or on my cell phone, 804-251-0363.  We’ll also be checking our office voicemails as much as possible.  Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns that you have.  Let me know about any pastoral concerns.  Or call if you just want to chat!
I miss being with you all.  Know that I am praying for you all, and ask that you hold Barbara and myself in your prayers as well.  Keep reaching out to one another, the care that this community demonstrates on a daily basis has been a real bright spot for me.  Amidst all the uncertainty of the world today, the one thing about which I have no doubt, is that God is with us now more than ever, offering us strength, peace, and love.  May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, be with you and those you love, now and always.
Grace & Peace,

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