Cross Words –September 2020 by Fr. Rick Cross

After checking out my frost-bitten garden this afternoon, in realization that the season is indeed changing, I am inspired to connect via “Cross Words.” In some ways the past several months (or half a year!) has seemed like a bad dream from which I longed to wake up. I confess that our mandated physical separation and lack of being together in the flesh has robbed me of the core of my priesthood I value most – seeing you, giving you a hug (or at least a sign of Peace), and serving you at God’s table. I have felt like I was being dragged into what to me is a foreign, technological wilderness where I did not choose to go. Thank the Lord for a couple of wonderful guides who have kept me from suffering loss at several turns along the confusing trail. Yes, there have been bright spots and creative gifts of sisters and brothers have emerged in this desert, and I have encountered the Spirit in some new ways. Old dogs can learn some new tricks!

But this fast transition into virtual community has left some people behind. It is similar to the gap created in public schools where some students do not have the skills, equipment, learning styles or supportive family members to make the new way work. I wonder how we can include and support those outside the band width?

And is it good stewardship for every congregation, no matter how small, to invest in the technology and staffing necessary to produce quality programming? Is the Spirit prodding us to collaborate?

Yes, no doubt the season is changing as our Jewish sisters and brothers are now observing in High Holy Days. How might this coming Advent become a real time of reflection and preparation for the new life we are already experiencing? I am asking the Vestry, the chosen leaders of the congregation to explore some basic questions about the future of St. Patrick’s. I know we have been in a kind of survival mode since the pandemic struck, but we must trust the Spirit to lead us through the desert into what we have proclaimed for centuries to be a “promised land.”

 As you get your Winter clothes out and put the storm windows down and turn that thermostat up, be aware of how you are experiencing our community of faith and what others in the community may need. Let Vestry members know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Be still and listen to what God may be saying to you, and to us about the Body. The season is changing.

 Shalom, Fr. Rick