- Trinity Voices
Make Us Like The Kingdom Of Heaven – Letter from the Rector
July 28, 2020
Dear Trinity Church and friends,
In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus follows a series of quick-hitting wisdom sayings with a question of the disciples:
“‘Have you understood all this,’ Jesus asks.
They answered, ‘Yes.’”
No matter their aspirations, the disciples did not tell the truth. They did not understand, a fact clarified just beyond the perimeter of the Lectionary’s appointment. Were we to have kept reading, Chapter 13 concludes:
Jesus “came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offense at him.
Within a breath of their claim, the disciples undermine themselves, and, frustrated with their inability to reconcile Jesus’ hope with their diseased and divided world, they choose to take offense: Who does this carpenter’s son think he is, anyway?
Friends, in our own day we have reached a new phase of this pandemic: what began with self-righteous underestimation (“Oh, Honey, there’s no reason to cancel our May flights.”) … became admirable, fox-hole creativity and optimism (“Hey, worshiping in my pjs and with a plate of blueberry muffins isn’t so bad!”) … and eventually transformed into scale-measuring resolve and resignation (“Yes, ma’am, I mean the 50-pound bag of flour”).
Now, we find ourselves in a new season, one that can feel a lot like … loneliness.
Many of us are realizing that the hopes we coddled – that once the weather warmed we were going to visit our family back home, or spend a few Saturdays at York Beach, or enjoy some Heath Bar crush’ns at Ron’s Ice Cream, or at least say our prayers in our familiar pew on Copley Square – now seem so naïve. Instead, it’s turned out that we waited for these muggy days of July and August only to rearrange the two plants in our kitchen window, turn the garden hose to run cool-ish water over our hot feet, and to make yet another online order that may also fail to meet our expectations.
And frustrated with our inability to reconcile Jesus’ hope and our own diseased, divided world, we – like the disciples – turn to the cheap satisfactions of taking offense. We cultivate indignation with people who don’t wear their mask or mind their social-distancing. We fuss at the Instacart shopper who confused our order of Whole Foods’ Organic Super Greens with their Organic Summer Mix (oh, the horror!). We spite those who still have their job. We weary of those with whom we spend our days, and we risk turning those we love – our greatest joy! – into nothing more than another, unrelenting annoyance.
People of God, take heart: you are not alone!
In measures grand and small, those who have always thought of ourselves as the got-it-all-together merchants are realizing that we are as lost as any pearl. So many of us are feeling lonesome and frustrated, like treasure hunters wandering an unendingly familiar field (that looks a lot like our living room). And while not one of us would win the pandemic’s Suffering Olympics, we need not fake that we’re okay, for our struggles are real and valid, known to God and shared by legions.
Therefore, let us tell the truth – to ourselves, to God, and to one another – and, acknowledging the trials still before us, let us lean into what remains good. Let’s pray Noonday Prayer with Camp Trinity, starting tomorrow (Wednesday, July 29) and continuing through this Saturday (August 1). Let’s go for a walk, write a poem, doodle, or listen to an old record. Let’s continue to worship together on Sunday mornings and Zoom it up as necessary to sustain our treasured connections with those near and far. And trusting that this, too, shall pass, let us pray:
God of storm and God of calm, in our suffering and our struggle – our loneliness and our confusion – be with us. Hold us always in your holy Hope. Pry from us our arrogance and our apathy, and strengthen us to approach this broken, beautiful world with your Love. Inspire our kindness and join us in bonds of friendship. Remind us of your image impressed upon us – upon all of us – and accomplish in our lives your good purpose and make us like the Kingdom of Heaven. All this we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Peace and courage,
The Rev. Morgan S. Allen,
Read “The Case For Kindness,” Morgan’s Sermon From Last Sunday, 7/26