On Friday afternoon, after a full day that began with filming at Upper Sackville United Church and continued, filled with meetings, emails, phone calls and visits, the day began to draw to a close with an hour of technical troubleshooting with Chris Meaney at the Sackville United Church. Once the soundboard gremlins had been sorted, Chris and I made our way to Ducky’s to share a beer – and ended up sharing more than that. Chris shared some of what he’d been up to over the summer, telling me about the drive-in shows that he’d done sound management for, and of the struggle for musicians and performers over the past months. He said, “With every show that I did, I realized how little I was doing, and how much I missed making music with and in groups of people.”
Maybe it was the second beer that Sheina and Colin Grant bought me in honour of International Buy A Priest A Beer Day, maybe it was my emotional and physical weariness, maybe it was the vocational isolation that I’ve felt over these months – or maybe it was a bit of all three, but in that moment I knew that Chris got it! And so I shared with him how deeply affected I was that morning while filming at Upper Sackville, when we realized that in order to be able to use more than the back two pews, and fit more than a maximum of 18 people in the building, that we would need to move the pulpit up onto the raised platform.
For years, for as long as I’ve served the Sackville Pastoral Charge and even before that, the pulpit at Upper Sackville has been on the main level – close too and in the midst of the gathered community. Moving the pulpit up to the raised platform, so as to allow for the recommended 16 feet from the speaker to the first pew feels so very wrong – symbol of the distance this pandemic has brought upon us.
Chris nodded and together we cried into our cups.
But crying will get us nowhere – and so it was that I pushed back from the table and headed home, settling in to work on editing the clips we’d filmed that morning into a video to support the community of Upper Sackville United as they resumed offering in-person Sunday Gatherings beginning September 20th.
I finished at about 2am and pushed the button to upload it the website so that those who’d offered performances worthy of Academy Awards could view the final product and offer feedback. We’d set Saturday noon for feedback and Saturday evening as a deadline for posting it publicly as we wanted people to have a much time as possible to consider the information and be supported in whatever decision they made in respect to returning to in-person gatherings.
By noon, as agreed upon I received the go ahead to post the video publicly – hoping and praying that this small effort would serve to begin to bring us back together, if not as physically close as we’d been before, at least back into a space that is sacred and comforting – and God knows, we all need as much of that as possible these days!
Today I am in the office with appointments right through until 1:30pm when Rasta has to get to the groomer – the beach bum look needs to get cleaned up.
Tuesday will see me in the office in the morning and at 10am I hope that some of you will join me for the Preacher’s Help Group (aka lectionary study group) on Zoom. You can connect using this Meeting ID (487 114 0142) and Password (usuc&suc), or by following this link. No prior biblical knowledge is required. This is an opportunity to informally talk about the text I may preach on for the coming Sunday and for you to reflect with me on what God might have to say to us through the text. The rest of Tuesday will be spent in meetings and on the telephone.
Jennie and I will both be in the office on Wednesday morning and we look forward to bringing you the first episode of http://www.psalms.com on Facebook Live at 11am. This will be a brief Wednesday Wondering (and Wandering) exploring a Psalm and wrestling with orientation, disorientation and reorientation to gratitude in community. The afternoon will see me doing pastoral visits.
Thursday I will be working from home pulling together a liturgy and reflection for Sunday – trying to keep things to 30 minutes as recommended by the Reopening Committee – hopefully I’ll do better than I did yesterday!
Friday will be a day off filled family commitments and will hopefully end at the trailer for a bonfire and a day of rest on Saturday.
On Sunday, I look forward to being with you – with the community at Upper Sackville United at 9am as they resume offering in-person Sunday Gatherings or online via Facebook Live at 11am from Sackville United Church. In either, and in both instances God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.