This edition of our newsletter contains a very meaningful offering from the young people of St. Stephen’s. They are sharing with us how living in the midst of our current stay-at-home order has shaped, and continues to shape, their journeys of faith. Thank you sincerely, to our youth. Our prayers continue to surround them and the children who are such an important part of the household of God we call the Church.
Sunday, May 3, 2020, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, marks the eighth (8th) Sunday since we’ve gathered to hear the word of God proclaimed and to break bread, praying together in the same space. Our last in-person Lenten supper and program was March 11th. It continues to feel surreal. The good news is, I will testify that the essence of who we each are continues to permeate our spaces at St. Stephen’s.
When I’m in Oxford to record our Sunday services, I often find myself feeling wistful. I turn into the parking lot, visually scan the church and grounds, and pull into a familiar parking spot. If it’s sunny, I enjoy gathering my computer and things and feeling the warmth on my face. If it’s raining, I’m more likely to quicken my pace! The office is more quiet than usual since we are still in the ‘essential personnel only’ phase of our Diocesan guidelines. Furnishings are in their familiar places, electronics hum quietly, and the details of life-in-the-church continue to unfold – all while adhering to physical-distancing and taking care to clean doorknobs and light switches and such.
On some of my days in Oxford, I still make my lunch at the rectory and keep company with that large, lovely, old home. I often feel as though the house misses me and appreciates my footsteps tracing my ‘usual’ patterns of walking between rooms and even up the stairs sometimes just to walk from room to room. It’s been a beautiful spring and the rectory’s yard has embodied and shared the outward and visible signs of renewed life Mother Earth provides us year after year. Grass that is lush and green appears much like a carpet, begging someone to run around barefooted! Flowering trees, azaleas, the tulips, and the irises have waved their welcome to me and to passers-by. Now the deciduous trees are ‘leafed-out,’ as they say, providing shade. The tall lanky pine trees continue to get my attention by dropping many, many pinecones on the sidewalk and driveway! I do give thanks for the presence of our rectory.
The Church herself continues to embody our prayers, also preserving the prayers of the generations who have come before us. When recording services, I can ‘see’ in my mind’s eye where you sit most often when we’re in the church building together. I’ve said on more than one occasion that I’m grateful we have thus far had two and a half months of in-person worship and Sunday School and lunches and suppers and meetings. Among my prayers is the hope we’ll do so again – though we will continue to give one another ‘virtual hugs’ whenever we begin our re-entry process.
My faith is sustained knowing you are faith-full people. In our own unique ways we each embody our faith in the love and compassion of our Creator God. Whatever our age or length of time as part of St. Stephen’s, we bring together ourselves, our souls, and our bodies to form this important community of faith. Your prayers uphold me when my wistful feelings loom large. Your witness and service as people who care about our sisters and brothers surrounding us on every side encourages me. Each of us embodies the Spirit of the Risen Christ, and for that I continue to give sincere thanks. You remain always in my prayers.
Peace and love in Christ, Rev. Lorraine+