March 19, 2020 Spiritual
the tradition of the Church, we have what is called “spiritual communion.” That
means that if we sincerely pray for and deeply desire to receive the sacrament,
but are unable to consume the consecrated bread and wine, God blesses us with
God’s grace as if we have received it. I’ve only ever in my ministry spoken of
spiritual communion when someone was near death, and wished to receive but was
not physically able to. In our current, unprecedented situation, most of us
will be having spiritual communion for quite some time, as we worship
virtually. It is a kind of fast, and also an opportunity. We are learning new ways
to be a church and school (some of which will serve us well in the future).
find myself thinking about spiritual communion when I think about our farewell.
None of my farewell is going according to plan. I was going to have several
wonderful celebrations with our day school and church this week, teaching
classes and leading the Kindergarten St. Patrick’s Day parade, preaching school
chapel and at all the weekday and weekend services, and finishing with a big
party Sunday afternoon. We’ve had to cancel all of that for understandable
health reasons (although I will celebrate the Eucharist and preach “virtually”
on Sunday). Even though I will still start my new position on April 1, my
consecration as Bishop of Oklahoma has been delayed to May 30th and scaled down
from thousands to just a handful of people. I’ll be honest: it stinks. But I
know many of you have had much more disruption than I have had in your
lives this past week.
for any of us, is going according to plan. And yet, God gives us, if not what
we want, then at least what we need. There are moments of blessing, even in a
pandemic. I was blessed to be able to celebrate the Eucharist at 9 and 11am
last Sunday with those who felt they could be there. I’m not one to show a lot
of emotion, but I was a blubbering mess! It meant so very much to worship with
you one last time in person, to hear our choristers, senior choir, and
organists, and to serve alongside my clergy colleagues, vergers and acolytes. I
was able to say goodbye to some of you on Sunday. But for the rest, it will
have to be a “spiritual farewell,” with the prayer and desire to do so, without
actually being together.
want to share with you that these past 10 and half years with you as your
Rector have been a blessing to me and to my family that I cannot fully
describe. You’ve invited me into some of the holiest moments in your lives
(pastoral conversations, confessions, funerals, baptisms, weddings, your
triumphs and tragedies). We’ve worked hard to make All Saints’ church and
school stronger, healthier, and better able to fulfill the mission God has
given us. I’m proud of what we have accomplished together, some of which we
captured in the annual report this year. You’ve seen me grow as a priest (in
ministry, waistline, and bald spot!) and my boys grow from babies into young
men. You’ve embraced Megan’s musical gifts.
you’ve been far more interested than I expected in my weekly column of Rector’s
Reflections, which I’ve written nearly every week for just about the whole time
I’ve been here (taking inspiration from our first Rector, Father Urbano). I’ve
enjoyed sharing my musings with you, what I called my “provisional wisdom,” and
hearing your responses. I always felt like my column was, in a small way, one
of the things that held us together in this big and diverse community. Now we
come to the last one. I’ve got so much to say to you, but I think it all comes
down to this: I love you. I really do. Believe me, that’s not always the case
with churches and rectors!
I have every confidence that All Saints’ will meet the challenges of this
pandemic with faith, hope, and love. I’ve been amazed, even just this week, to
see our church and school using technology in new ways, and reaching out to
those most affected by the virus and its medical, social, and economic impact.
God is calling us, even as we withdraw physically for a while, to engage more
closely than ever with our prayer practices, and with the most vulnerable. You
can do this, and you will. Be the Church!
as I’m excited to begin my new ministry in Oklahoma, my family and I will miss
you terribly. But we have so many happy memories to take with us, starting with
the very first one: when we rolled into the All Saints’ parking lot in August
2009, having driven from Denver. It was something like 108 degrees. We made our
way over to Manning Hall, one year old David in our arms, and found the church
staff and day school faculty there, having a training (it was just before the
start of school). You welcomed these sweaty, weary travelers with open arms.
And now, we say farewell, and thank you, with glad and thankful hearts.