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New and Unexpected, Again

New and Unexpected, Again

written by Carole Reardon

A confession: for a publication date of April 15, 2020, I thought I could find something clever and pithy to say, like how nobody has any love for the Tax Man, until they need an ambulance, or maybe I could snarkily contrast Matthew’s humility against the pedantic Pharisees. 

Then came COVID-19 and our whole world has gone topsy-turvy, Higgledy-Piggledy, catawampus, and it’s left me unsettled at best, downright scared at worst.

I’m not feeling particularly clever these days. Of pith, I got none. My humor is trending towards the Gallows variety, and that’s not really helpful.

My husband, Paul, and I are lucky as he can work from home, and so we hunker comfortably here with our goofy dog, Blanca, and evil cat, Ivan the (recently) Terrible. We are healthy, we are content and yet, a low level of anxiety is ever present. We worry for our adult children, scattered across the county; we worry about getting sick, we worry about the economy. We worry what the new normal will look like, once this virus is tamed by miraculous science, vaccines, and drugs. But right now, that time seems far away, and I’m anxious.

Yet, I write this during Holy Week; Easter is coming, the Lord will be risen indeed! 

We’ve gone to the Church of the Pandemic every Sunday, in our living room. We shower, dress, eat a home-made egg sandwich, and on our wide screen TV, we’ve visited our old parishes of St. Simon and St. Jude in Columbia, South Carolina, and St. Christopher’s in Fort Worth, Texas. We’ve giggled at technological hiccups, theirs and ours, with Paul and I agreeing we’re going to get so much better at this, after the first week’s battle finding the port for the HDMI cable cost us the opening hymn. When St. Christopher’s live stream locked up, we caught the end of Trinity’s service, then clicked over to YouTube for our own Fr. Tom at St. Paul’s, in Prosper. 

We’ve received Eucharist, in the form of my home-made rustic Italian bread, or store-bought rye, and port. While the location of service is definitely new and we’re all going to need some time to work out the kinks, the continuity of the Creed, the Prayers of the People, the litany, reminds me of God’s constancy and explicit covenant not to wipe us from the earth ever again (Genesis 9).

Even in the midst of this new death, it is Eastertide, and the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of our Lord. While it can be scary and hard to keep in mind, in time, we’ll know other resurrections, too, of “normal” life, routines, and the economy, but they may feel new and look different.

Today’s reading from Luke (24:13-35) reminds me of testimonies I heard at a Fort Worth diocesan convention one year, in the wake of a schism. Congregations had split, and many Episcopalians had been dispossessed of their church properties. Several speakers told how, even in their mourning, something entirely unexpected happened. Being turned from the physical buildings hadn’t diminished their faith, prevented them from meeting and worshipping, nor lessened their desire to fulfill the Christian covenant with Jesus to be him, his church on earth. They met in homes and school gymnasiums, made plans for the future, and they went out into their communities. It was liberating! They loaded patens and chalices, meals and clothing, bibles and Books of Common Prayer into trucks and went to places where people are found in need of ministry, and they ministered. They had always ministered, but this looked different. Jesus had been walking with them on their journey, and now they saw he was showing them something unexpected and new. Again.

I have no idea what our world will look like next month, or next year. Hopefully a lot less catawampus. I am anxious, but I have plentiful examples of a Lord who loves both saints and Tax agents, and is walking this journey with us. If we pay attention, I predict we will find him in the most unexpected places, showing us something entirely new. Again.

 

Carole Reardon is a writer, blogger, and photographer in North Texas, and attends St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Prosper, Texas.

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David Woolsey

I’m terribly sorry that you have gone against the guidance of our Church in receiving elements that you feel have been virtually consecrated. Please make a spiritual communion if you have any respect for the sacraments.

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Carole Reardon

I am sorry you were offended, David. The Book of Common Prayer makes provision for receiving the Eucharist in special circumstances (pg 396); an old friend and priest, who spent many years in prison ministry, once told me this was of particular comfort of the imprisoned, who, while they may get Christian services while incarcerated, might not receive Eucharist as they would in their own home church. Together, they celebrated. This was my thinking in joining with the priests. Again, so sorry you were offended.

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