Dear Friends in Christ—
This week, I have been reminded of a scene in The Lord of the Rings, where the wizard Gandalf is asking the hobbit Frodo to undertake a perilous journey. As Gandalf is spelling out the challenges, Frodo is putting on his coat and packing his bag. By the time Gandalf has finished with his explanation, Frodo has one foot out the door.
I have seen the same kind of responsiveness from so many in this congregation. As it became clear we would need to change our worship patterns yet again, many of you had the answers prepared before I could frame the question. This flexibility is all the more moving to me, coming as it did on the heels of our Christmas celebrations, which had their own challenges and demands.
I want to be sure to shine a light on the efforts of so many to make our worship beautiful and accessible this Christmas season: altar guild, livestream crew, acolytes, ushers, lectors, subdeacons, choirs, and so many others. It’s always dangerous to be specific and so risk leaving someone out—especially this year when so many people were stepping up at the last minute, even before being asked.
The past two years have taxed the resources and frayed the institutional memory of Grace. But this church has deep strengths. We know how to share ministry and train new leaders. We cultivate open and willing hearts. And we trust in the love of God—love that allows us to take risks and endure changes, whether welcome or not.
As we leave 2021 behind, I know many of you will be gladly shaking its dust off your feet. (And—good ways to celebrate the new: the livestreams of the Feast of the Holy Name on Saturday, January 1, at noon, and the Feast of the Epiphany on Thursday, January 6, at 7:00 p.m.).
At the same time, I hope you will not forget the good this year has shown you about this community and the people in it. Resilience is always hard to celebrate, because great pain is a necessary precondition for resilience to exist. But this year has deepened our resilience—our responsiveness to one another, our adaptability, our sense of what is most essential and most important.
I wish we could have found those gifts another way. But I end this year nonetheless grateful for them. And grateful for each of you.
Yours in Christ,