Good Morning, St. Augustine’s.
What a strange, new way to be connected to one another.
Thank you for being here, together/apart—apart/together.
This Sunday marks the final week of lent.
Next Sunday begins Holy Week with Palm Sunday, continuing through Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and culminating with the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
Our lessons this morning are whispers of the story and rituals and mysteries that are to come during Holy Week:
And that the very breath of God animates creation again, and again, and again. Through time and space—past, present and future.
Life from death. God with us, through Christ, always. Today, tomorrow and forever.
I don’t know how. I don’t know why.
It is the mystery of our faith: Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will Come Again.
It is a mystery Christians wrestle with always--but no more so than during holy week--or perhaps during a global pandemic unlike any we have ever seen before--or maybe as we will next week, during both at the same time (!!).
So, here we are, via facebook live, adapting to this new reality of COVID-19. Together, but apart. Apart, but together.
Adapting to a tremendous amount of change in an incredibly short amount of time.
Our morning Collect this morning asks for God’s grace “Through the swift and varied changes of the world,”---
Swift and varied changes are not new to the human experience.
But--these swift and varied changes are new to us. Here. Now.
And with that change comes loss.
For myself, I am beginning to feel and understand this loss in fragments.
I’ll catch a glimpse of something I hadn’t yet realized would be changed, or lost altogether, by coronavirus.
Glimpsing fragments of the bigger picture—like shards of broken glass. Life and light reflected differently in ways I’ve never imagined.
And I think what we are also experiencing as we catch glimpses of the change and loss, is grief.
We are grieving even as we are adapting.
And I wonder, dear friends, have you—like me—felt at all during the last two weeks like that pile of dry bones in the reading from Ezekiel?
Disconnected. Static. Cut-Off.
Them Dry Bones. All in a pile. Waiting for the breath of God--Ruach—to breathe new life into them. Me. Us.
The idea of “Dried Bones” in the context of Ezekiel is a poetic way to describe a downcast spirit. And to be “cut-off” is to be in the grip of death.
The idea of resurrection in this text is offered as an anecdote to despair.
God says to Ezekial, “these bones that I have brought to life are the whole house of Israel.”
The whole of the people of God, brought to life--resuscitated by the very breath of God.
Restoring consciousness. Vigor. And Life to the people of God who are despairing, disconnected, and in the grip of death.
Life from death.
Hope in Despair.
Connection to God and one another through Christ. In Christ. And With Christ.
The mystery of our faith.
Our days don’t look like they did two weeks ago. We are separated from family and friends. Routines are upended. And anticipated plans and celebrations are postponed or cancelled altogether. Just sitting there. A pile of dry bones. Waiting for God.
And maybe you know this already--but I want to say it to you, too:
It is okay to feel whatever you feel right now. It is okay to have conflicting feelings all the time and all at the same time.
If you are tired, rest. Remember, we are grieving even as we adapt to new ways of moving through this time. Fatigue is a natural response to stress and loss and grief.
If you are lonely, know that you are not alone. We are still connected one to another. We are with you. We are together/apart. Apart/Together. Remember, God is with you. Always.
We won’t be able to do all the things. And that is okay.
Please be kind to yourselves. Be gentle.
To my perfectionist friends out there (we’re in the same club), lower the bar.
Seriously, lower the bar. It’s okay.
When you feel like those dry bones in the valley--all disconnected and separated one from the other--wait for God to breathe new life into you.
We will be animated by God in new and unexpected ways. All God’s people, all of God's creation, restored to consciousness, vigor, and life.
That is the mystery of our faith. It is the promise of God.
And to that, Let the Church say Amen.
The Rev. Anne K. Ellsworth
Lent V, Year A
St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Via Facebook Livestream
Second Sunday of COVID-19 Church Closures
March 29th, 2020
 The New Oxford Annotated Bible, NRSV
My Sermons (and other thoughts)
a sampling of sermons preached in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and a sprinkling of other writings