I love you, even though I have yet to meet many of you. I am praying for you daily, bringing you before the Lord each time I think of you—which is often! In fact, I keep a notebook close to me so I can write questions and ideas that I want to share with you when my family and I arrive in June. I look forward to getting to know you, listening to your experiences, hopes, and ideas for our life together in the unique future God has for us.
Your current life together has its own unique gifts and challenges, doesn’t it? I have been so grateful for the leaders God has given you. Bishop John, Canon Mary, and Fr. Tim, Rich and the vestry and the staff have demonstrated such prudence, creativity, and faithfulness in the ways in which they are caring for you. It makes me think of the “wisdom from above” that James promises the Lord will give when we ask him (James 1.5, 2.17-18). I encourage you to remain faithful in praying for them and responding to them.
I have also been thinking about how well named you are for these times: “God With Us.” That is our true hope, regardless of how difficult things become. In Christ, you are never alone. I encourage you to read and re-read all of Romans 8, which culminates in these wonderful words:
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Jesus who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, (nor viruses nor quarantines, nor lack of buildings nor social distancing), nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.37-39).
A friend of mine commented on this passage, “A corollary to this, and a central reality of our faith, is that we cannot be separated from each other either—for we are all one in Christ, whatever may come.” I encourage you to express this reality by following Rich’s suggestions in his March 22nd email.
I want to share one more reflection that has been on my heart these days. We are living today as the Church has lived throughout the centuries. We’re aware of our vulnerability, yet deeply dependent on God. We’re unable to gather as a large assembly, yet still able to cultivate faithfulness in our homes. And we know that we are a part of something greater than any threat—the present and coming Kingdom of God—and we are called to invite others into His Kingdom.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore.”