This is the final week of Liz's sabbatical; can you believe it? I am so looking forward to welcoming her wise pastoral leadership back into our midst. She'll be worshiping with us this Sunday (who else is ready to hear the full Eucharist liturgy in a British/South African accent?!), and I hope you'll join us for the happy reunion.
But this week also brings other news. On Monday, our nation surpassed 500,000 COVID deaths; a truly staggering number. And yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. We are surrounded by reminders that our world is not as it should be, that sin and death are still oppressive realities among us, and that Christ's redeeming work is not yet finished.
This is also the final week of Black History Month. Have you had a chance to read Michelle's reflection? I loved her encouragement "to see this Black History Month as not a limited time of learning and celebration, but as the beginning of an unlearning and relearning of history." Yes!
What are you learning, unlearning, or relearning in this season? Perhaps you'd like to revisit one of the books we read and discussed last year -- Howard Thurman's Jesus and the Disinherited and Jamar Tisby's The Color of Compromise -- or explore a new work. I'm currently reading Reading While Black by Anglican priest Esau McCaulley and it is EXCELLENT. And I can't recommend highly enough the beautiful prayers of Cole Arthur Riley (@blackliturgies on Instagram); one of our fellow Anglican dioceses is even using her collects as part of their Lenten worship. Finally, we'd love to listen and learn from one another this Lent. Send me your reflections and I'll gladly share them here!
All that said, my constant prayer for our church in this season is that we experience a gentle Lent. We've all spent a year doing a lot of unlearning and relearning, whether we wanted to or not. We've all given things up, we've all experienced loss, we've all grieved the tragic realities of sin and death. It has felt in many ways like one long Lent. The last thing I want in this season is to burden you under the weight of more Lenten expectations. Perhaps what you need most in this season is simply to rest, as our Rector has modeled so well for us in her own sabbatical. Jesus invites each one of us: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
May we all experience the gentleness of God in this season, bringing our losses to him, finding him right there with us, and trusting him to redeem our own stories and the story of our whole broken world.