|What is your favorite time of day to be in our chapel or sanctuary? It’s hard for me to choose. I love early morning light hitting the old windows in the sacristy. I love our chapel on a winter evening when the wood enfolds us in warmth. I love that the late afternoon light makes a range of blues sing out from two narrow stained glass windows. I’m sure that you all would name countless more memories from time in our sanctuary and chapel – memories that are even more dear to you now that we’re not there together (for a time).|
It’s often said that a church is more than its building and that is true. What enlivens our sanctuary and gives us an identity is each of you. And yet, what is also true, is that Trinity’s holy architecture is rather extraordinary. I know that we miss being there together. The familiar creak of a pew. The movement of a processional cross. The gleam of gold on a saint that encircles our altar.
An important part of making it through a difficult time like this one is to name what we are missing, to name what is hard about our experience. It’s part of how we pray to God, with honesty, about our experience. It’s part of how we give our whole self to God. It’s part of how we learn, from God, what is worth our attention. After you’ve named, in prayer, what is hard about this experience, listen for God’s word of comfort. Sense where God is bringing you consolation. Notice where you see Christ out in our everyday world – even when you can’t be within the walls of our beloved Trinity.
A simple way of practicing this – maybe it’s something you practiced as a child, or when you were raising children – is to name a rose and a thorn of your day. The rose is something from your day that brought you comfort or joy or was life-giving. The thorn is something from your day that was hurtful or a challenge. I’ve found it helpful to write these down each day or week – over time they help me understand where I experience God, and Christ’s consolation and challenge, as I grow and mature in my faith.
Above all, I pray that the peace of Christ rules in your hearts during this difficult time. One of the great gifts of our faith is that the Holy Spirit is connecting us and drawing us back together even as we cannot be physically together. We continue to trust in the Holy Spirit. We continue to seek the peace of Christ – while we are apart and until we are together again.
In God’s Peace,
There are lots of other places that we could be on a Sunday other than in church. Places that might be more fun – like brunch, or a soccer game, or the dog park. Places that would make more sense to those who are not people of faith – like sleeping in or enjoying a leisurely morning with The New York Times. Why do we gather with fellow Christians, fellow Episcopalians, to pray and worship God? There are a number of ways to respond to this question. Most responses depend on where or how you see God at work in this world, or if you were raised in the faith, or what you believe about God in Christ.
Your response to this question is important because it helps you know how you might be sharing the faith with others. Even if you aren’t aware that you’re ever sharing your faith with others – simply by being a person of faith, you’re sharing some of who you are with others. (That’s how the Holy Spirit works). I hope you’ll join us Wednesday evenings during Lent to think more about this.
The Lord has blessed us with the beauty and ability of Trinity Church so that we might be a blessing to others.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.
“What are you giving up for Lent?” goes the old question. Most of us remember, from childhood, “giving up something” during the season of Lent because Lent is when faithful people are invited to “self-examination and repentance through prayer, fasting, and self-denial” (Book of Common Prayer, page 264-265). As a kid, I often gave up chocolate, soda, or sweets. More recently, as adults, we learn that instead of giving up something, we can instead take on a holy practice. We might commit to having daily prayer time, reading the Bible each day, or participating in Holy Eucharist every Sunday.
Whether you decide to give something up or take something on, our goal is the same. We’re creating space in our lives for the God of all mercy to create and make in us new and contrite hearts (as we’ll pray together on Ash Wednesday).
To borrow the phrase popularized by minimalism in the 1940s, you could say that “Less is more” during Lent.
We take a bit less into our lives trusting that we will receive more of God.
Our God, through Christ, is more generous than we can imagine. God is always wanting to offer us more and more of the heart of Christ, as we have room to take it in.