Every week the clergy in the diocese are invited to participate in a Zoom call. Twice a month the bishop meets with us to give us news and encourage us in these strange times in which we are living. Other times we break into small groups to check in with one another and discuss questions that are given to us.
Recently these were the questions:
What are we learning about God in this time of pandemic and unrest?
What are we learning about our congregations during this time of pandemic and unrest?
I can answer both of those questions with the same single word: Abundance.
Scripture tells us that God is a God of abundance. We see it in creation, in the presence of manna in the wilderness, in the abundance of love that God has for us and for creation. Jesus repeats that message of abundance, saying “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” More often than not, when there is scarcity it’s caused by human greed or misuse of creation and the abundance God has provided.
During these months of pandemic and unrest I have been struck again and again by the abundance present in this congregation. We’ve seen it financially. Many churches are hurting financially now; we are in good financial shape despite not being physically together for three months. But you have gone far beyond that. You’ve not only made sure the needs of the church have been taken care of, you have made sure that individuals in our community and beyond are cared for. We’ve raised $55,000 for RIP Medical Debt, meaning that we will erase $5.5 million of medical debt for the poorest in our community. The vestry has allocated $20,000 for a special fund for parishioner relief in order to help those among us whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic, and $7,500 for community food pantries to help our neighbors in need. You’ve made substantial donations to add to both of those funds.
The abundance is not limited to money. Every week there is a small mountain of food in the narthex that you have given to take to the food pantries. You’ve made masks for medical workers and written thank you notes to them. You’ve called and checked on one another, a reflection of God’s love. You’ve taken meals to Mary Kathryn and Bob to help them through difficult times, and I know that care will continue for Bob after Mary Kathryn’s death.
And Joe, Joseph Henry, and I have been recipients of your abundance through the meals, cards, emails, and prayers with which you have showered us after Joe’s accident.
All of these are examples of how you carry out God’s abundance and are witnesses to God’s love in the midst of a time of fear and scarcity for so many. I am awed by your generosity and deeply grateful.