Rev. Scott's Letter, March 21
Delivered By
Rev. Tom Scott
Delivered On
March 21, 2020
Attached Document
march_21.pdf
Description

 

MARCH 21

Dear friends,

A status report: the wardens and others have been checking in with some of our less mobile people and those in restricted living situations, running errands and just being neighborly. So far we all seem to be carrying on. That is wonderful.

We’ve really shut down the church complex now, heat lowered, etc. The truth is, we’re not going to be back together for a while, sometime after Easter at the very earliest. So, let me tell you what we are still doing. We’re caring for one another, paying the bills, processing pledge payments, and keeping things together during this turbulent time.

This is all disturbing and sad, but I woke up today saying to myself that I remembered this feeling:

It was 1981; I was a priest in Pgh. The long, slow, agonizing death of the Steel industry was stealing the life from our families and communities. National sentiment and government fiscal policy were not encouraging. Parishes and people and priests were just overwhelmed. People moved away, churches were emptied, some even closed. Family and friends were facing economic destruction. Their middle-class life gone forever, it seemed. The cathedral dean was a vibrant new guy with a thick New York accent and a set to his chin that made him look like a prize fighter. The diocesan clergy were gathering in a meeting and some commiserating was going on. Dean George Werner strode in and simply said, “We’re here to talk about the most important thing I was taught in seminary: the church is what’s left when the building burns down, and there’s a lot of ministry to be done right here and now” .

The “moaning” stopped and the gathering took a collective breath, and we got to work. Churches couldn’t fix the economics of that time and place, but they made safe haven and gave real hope to thousands and thousands of people in their communities. They did what Christ formed to be: beacons of hope and sources of help. Yes, things were changed, some forever, but values and truth continued then and now.

My friend was right then and St. Giles is showing it now: we are more than, more important than, our buildings. As Christians we are living stones and together we form the cathedral of community in Christ. So we are sad but not dismayed. Prayer and care never become unnecessary or obsolete, and we are in this for the whole journey. So, friends, let’s carry on, carefully, safely, but also hopefully and compassionately.

But what shall we do? First thing is to learn to see what’s to be done. And that calls to mind another story.

I like to have a brief reading from a diarist or journal keeper to read each day. My current book is Called “Circle of the Seasons” (a journal of a naturalist’s year) by Edwin Way Teale, published in 1953. He was a very popular writer “back in the day”, as we say now. The entry for March 18th impressed me and seems right for today. It is titled, “A Discovery”.

“A boy called this afternoon excited by the discovery of a rare, beautiful, exotic bird in his backyard. It shone in the sunlight with brilliant metallic sheens. It seemed iridescent. He thought it must have escaped from zoo as he had never seen a bird like it before. The bird was a purple grackle in full breeding plumage. It is relatively common. But the boy HAD made an important discovery. He had—for the first time in his life—really seen a grackle.”

Perhaps we can use this story now for our present circumstances.

A putting together of two prayers from the New Zealand Prayer Book (pp 638-9)

God, you have given us a lodging in this world,

but not an abiding city.

Help us, as a pilgrim people, to endure hardness,

knowing that at the end of our journey

Christ has prepared a place for us;

help us to see:

to see what is eternally good and true,

and having seen, to go on searching

until we come to the joys of heaven.

 

 
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