Dear Christ Church Family,
It is with some sadness that Rob and I announce the suspension of our Daily Devotionals as of the beginning of this next week. We have loved doing them. And it has meant a lot to both of us to know from your wonderful comments that they have been greatly appreciated by you. So, we do not do this lightly. Here’s why this is necessary.
As most of you are hearing now, Christ Church has developed a plan to move us into Phase Two of reopening our facilities for in-person worship and gatherings. This is being done in complete accordance with our Diocesan and District health and safety guidelines. The Plan is now in the hands of the Diocese for approval, and we will announce that approval as soon as we hear it. In order to implement that plan, the entire staff and lay leadership of the congregation will be devoting a large percentage of our time to making it happen. The good news is that letting go of the Daily Devotionals will allow us to move our reopening further at a much faster rate. We, like you, have missed seeing everyone in-person, and we want to spend whatever energies we can to make our re-gatherings happen soon.
With joyous anticipation,
Rick+ and Rob+
Good morning, Christ Church!
How goes your Sabbath-keeping in these tumultuous times? I must confess that I have found it very difficult. Even though we are spending more time alone, in our homes without the blessing of friends and neighbors visiting and a multitude of errands to run and people to see, I have discovered that the tyranny of space, dominated by all manner of technology, continues to be a major obstacle. One day just seems to slip into another. The phone keeps ringing. Email is always waiting to be read. There are Zoom conferences to attend. The constant cycle of daily news, now more readily available than ever before, is a major distraction. Without schools and camps to attend, those of us with children at home are constantly working on ways to keep them constructively engaged and occupied. And the “to do” list of projects that I never seem to get around to when life is “normal” just continues to grow!
However, the Fourth Commandment remains: “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”
In his classic book about the Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel warns us, “To gain control of the world of space is certainly one of our tasks. The danger begins when in gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time. There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, become our sole concern.”
With that in mind, I am going to try a new approach this coming Sunday. I am going to turn off all technology, except for, of course, our 11:00am worship service! I will not pay any attention to the news. I will not whack weeds or mow the lawn. I will instead try to focus on time, not space, and simply be with God and Janie and Will, our son, who is now at home with us. Trust me. This will be a real challenge. But I do believe that one of the great lessons we could bring with us from this time of sheltering in place is a renewed sense of keeping the Sabbath holy, that is, keeping time free from all the distractions that fill the spaces of our lives, and focus instead on setting aside a day that is only about and for God.
Faithfully in Christ,
Friday, June 26, 2020 RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
[Isabel Florence Hapgood]
Jesus certainly understood the nature of time and how sacred every moment was and is. In order to fully understand all that is going on in this morning’s passage from Matthew’s Gospel, we need to know what moment it is in the course of his life and ministry. Immediately prior to today’s reading, Jesus has shared with his disciples that the time has come for him to go to Jerusalem. He again tries to prepare them for what immediately lies ahead: his betrayal and arrest, his condemnation, mocking and flogging, and his untimely death by way of crucifixion. He does declare to them that, after three days he will rise again. But we must forgive the disciples if that declaration gets lost in the moment.
He also once more addresses the matter of “greatness” in God’s kingdom. This time, the mother of James and John has come to ask Jesus to grant to her sons the places of honor in his kingdom. Once again, he gently reminds them that that honor is not for him to grant. Jesus is embodying the reality that patience and time do go hand in hand.
Now, he and the disciples, along with a large crowd, are approaching Jerusalem for the keeping of the Passover. We can only imagine what is going on in his heart, mind, and soul as he concentrates on what lies ahead.
But as the crowd passes through Jericho, the last stop before the holy city, there is a commotion. Two blind men, probably beggars seeking alms from the pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem, realize that the famous Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, is passing by. They start shouting for him, calling him “Son of David”, and asking him for mercy. The crowd tells them to hush up. Can’t you see that the Rabbi is busy? Indeed, most leaders preparing themselves for great crisis would have no time for such distractions. But this is Jesus, and every moment of his life is about honoring his relationship with his Father. Indeed, time and relationship are one and the same. “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” It is time for God’s love to be revealed in compassion and healing. He touches their eyes. Immediately, their sight is restored and they join with those who are following him as he approaches his final days. It seems that they have not regained just their physical sight. They have gained their spiritual sight as well.
What if life really isn’t about dominating the spaces in our lives? What if it isn’t about success, achievements, material gain, and making a place for ourselves both in the news and in the structures of our society? Instead, what if life really is all about allowing the Son of David to open our eyes to the presence of the living God and helping us to know that all time is holy and thus all moments hold the potential for love, compassion, healing, justice, and grace?
Perhaps taking the time to really see is also taking the time to really believe.