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Do you want to be healed?

Do you want to be healed?

Most every time Jesus encounters someone who is wounded or ill in the Gospels, he will ask them, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Or “Do you want to be healed?”  I think it’s a way of preserving the person’s agency, yes—but also a recognizing that one person’s diagnosis of a problem is not another person’s.  (Also: a decent set up for the Life of Brian gag where the healed leper resents being healed because now who will donate money to him at the city gate?) 

This morning, the Executive Council, the Joint Committee for Planning and Arrangements, and the presiding officers met on Zoom to discuss whether and how the 80th General Convention would move forward. The meeting was called, as I understand it, by several members of Executive Council, resulting from some ongoing discussions in Puerto Rico.   (I’m also aware that the blog post I wrote last week made the rounds and may have also helped.)

The two presiding officers began the meeting (which you can find here, because they chose to leave it archived) by reading separate statements which said basically the same things:  “The Church has committed to having the Convention and must have it.  But also, we realize that there are some problems and so we are asking Planning and Arrangements to give us a plan in which Convention becomes shorter and smaller, focused only on essential business.”  The public health professional retained by the president of the House of Deputies also spoke (the document he prepared for ExecCoun is here).  Afterwards, there was much (MUCH) discussion.  Lots of really good questions posed by Executive Council members, and precious few answers.

The morning ended with nearly nothing decided:  the Planning and Arrangements group passed a document of guidelines (which is here).  But to my knowledge, there is no published timeline for when we can expect a revised schedule, an explanation of what “essential business” will entail, revision of safety protocols, details about daily rapid testing, etc.  It WAS clear, however, that there will be no movement forward on any sort of virtual or hybrid option at this time—and also that options like convening a small group to suspend the rules of order, then validate what we’ve done later, are off the table.  

So, that’s what’s happened.  Again, check the links above for the documents and the video.

I am struck by a few things: first of all, that we seem to have had no contingency plans at all for being unable at this stage to hold a full, in-person General Convention.  We’ve been in a pandemic for over two years, we already postponed the convention for a full year (which reasonably could have been used to formulate a Plan B.) I take seriously what the chancellors said at one point—that allowing for a virtual Convention would also mean deconstructing part of our self-understanding as a church—I think that’s probably true, but it also invites the question as to why, when we had the opportunity a year ago or even earlier, we didn’t begin this work thoughtfully.  

Which actually points to the larger issue:  who are we as a church?  And who do we want to be?  For a long time, part of our self-understanding has indeed been that we have this particular style of governance, that we honor all voices and orders of ministry because we gather in this particular way—and we have been led by that.  Beloved in Christ, there have been signs in the sky and in the sea for a while, but that identity no longer works for us.  Because in this moment, we find ourselves unable to figure out how to get our structures to meet a challenge two years in the making, and at the very real risk of harm to actual people. That way of seeing our identity is about to cause a whole lot of damage.

And at the same time, we have told ourselves that we are a welcoming, inclusive church that cares for the lost and the least (as the guidelines make clear.) We have passed countless resolutions about ending racism, honoring our indigenous siblings, and ending poverty.  But in this moment, how are we actually caring for the most vulnerable if we are willing to hold an event where the retained expert has informed us that if we follow all our protocols perfectly, we can still expect at least 10% of attendees (not counting the staff we encounter) will get sick?   How are we actually honoring all voices when if a deputy gets sick, they have no way to vote while quarantined?  Or if someone judges it too great a risk for their own health, we tell them to give their seat to someone healthier or younger?  We’re about to hold a meeting where only the healthiest, the most privileged can safely attend, and even they will have a 1 in 10 chance of getting sick.  

We have got to decide who we are as a church.  Do we want to continue to be a church that talks a really good game about Jesus, but will cheerfully sacrifice its members so it can gather to pass a budget because figuring out another way is really hard?  

Or do we want to be brave, and actually do the things we pray about?  Can we be bold enough to do something new and to invest our identity in the call God gives us instead of the way we decide things? To actually give up those things we used to do that we adored but no longer work?  To believe we can live like Christ calls us to, even without the fancy structures we built to shelter us?

I don’t know what will happen with Convention—at the moment, I think they should call an audible, admit they don’t have enough time to make the needed changes, and postpone another year while they come up with an actual feasible plan.  

More to the point, I really hope we figure out what church we want to be soon.  I want to be the church that is healed, the church that heals in turn. But in order to do that, the church needs to realize that we have a real problem, and it won’t go away, no matter what happens in July.

Life or Death (or Cake)

I call heaven and earth to witness before you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, so that you and your descendants may live. Deuteronomy 30:19

I remember hearing this reading from Deuteronomy when I was in middle school.  At the time, I was befuddled.   How was this even a question, I wondered.  Who would possibly choose death?  Who would, when given a choice, look at Life and Death, and think—Oooh.  Death looks lovely today.  I’ll go with that.  (I hadn’t heard Eddie Izzard’s “Tea and Cake or Death” but if I had, I would have appreciated the sentiment.)  Wouldn’t everyone want to live?  Moses was clearly being a tad dramatic.

But it’s been over two years of a global pandemic, and I can now say that Moses was badly understating it.  PLENTY of people are excited to choose death.  It turns out, a great number of people are happy to embrace death, both for themselves and for those around them, if it means they can remain comfortable.  People, as we have now learned, have a frightening capacity to waltz blissfully into the maws of destruction, even consciously, rather than do something they are convinced they would rather not do—be that get a vaccine, wear a mask, or change their plans.  

I mention this, because it is again that time when we Episcopalians turn our attention towards General Convention.  General Convention was scheduled to occur last summer, but—there was a pandemic.  So, the leadership postponed it to this summer.  We now appear poised to convene in Baltimore in a few months, for our usual 10 day Episco-fest of resolutions and merriment.  Thousands of us will descend on the city, in the way we usually do, to take over hotels, shops, restaurants, and ballrooms.

And to be clear—I love General Convention.  I have been attending these since I was 12 when I volunteered in Philadelphia.  I love the debates and the weird motions and the legislations and the intensity for stakes that seem absurd to outsiders.  I embrace how nerdy this makes me.  I love the whole thing.

But I cannot see a way in which General Convention convening right now is not a huge mistake.  If we meet, we will be putting a lot of people at risk, in ways that are not compatible with the Gospel, and frankly, we should not do it.

First, let me say that the work the leadership has done to mandate masks and vaccines, and to utilize air purifiers is good work, and should be commended. It is not like our church is unaware of the pandemic; I believe the leadership is trying to address it while also trying to convene Convention.  

The problems, though, are legion, and do not disappear because of those good intentions.  

First of all, we are not mandating boosters for everyone, only the first and second vaccine (if the Pfizer or Moderna sequence), and “boosters where recommended”.  This leaves out the increasingly-vital boosters that fight the omicron variant, not to mention the other variants we now face.  (My own pocket of upstate NY is currently dealing with an upsurge that seems to be a subvariant of the BA+ strain.). Also, we have a lot of deputations coming from overseas, where FDA-recognized vaccines are not available.  Data on how those vaccines deal with our locally-spreading variants isn’t established.  It’s not at all clear how GC will determine who should have gotten a booster, and hasn’t gotten one, or who needs two and has only gotten one. Is GCO going to be checking everyone for chronic illnesses or risk factors that enables us to qualify for a booster, aside from being over 50 years old?**

That introduces a justice issue:  people attending this convention do not have equal access to healthcare and paid sick leave, either now, or when they return home. Some deputies (like me!) have adequate health insurance, paid time off if we get sick, and the possibility of accessing good anti-virals if we get sick.  Many other deputies, however, do not have paid sick leave, and are already taking their vacation to attend General Convention.  We are asking them to risk the loss of more income if they get COVID.  Other deputies don’t have health insurance, and/or come from places where they won’t have ready access to a doctor, or to the latest COVID treatments.  Even if everyone quarantines in Baltimore, not every deputy can afford $200 a night in a Convention hotel, or the price for a local doctor or treatment.  

Also, we have known for a while that our Convention population trends older.  Some deputies no doubt can breeze through a COVID infection with no lasting effects; others no doubt are at greater risk because of age or chronic illness.  The increased risk factors for COVID are as common as depression or being overweight.  That right there is a staggering amount of people, and there is no guarantee who will be fine, who will develop Long Covid, and who will become so ill that they need hospitalization.  

We also need to recognize that Convention isn’t a hermeneutically sealed container.  While masks will be required in the Convention space (good!), we will all be going to restaurants, and eating without masks.  We will be interacting with the staff of the hotels, and breathing in our rooms, without masks.  God forbid, if we get sick, we will quarantine in hotels.  We will travel through airports and airplanes—spaces which now do not require masks, and all of which could allow transmission.  

Even if we could work out a way to provide excellent medicare care, and paid vacation time for every deputy and Bishop at Convention, we would not be able to provide the same for the minimum wage workers at the hotels, airports, and restaurants we encounter.  All we can do for them is expose them to COVID, or not.

The fact is, we will spend a great deal of time discussing legislation at Convention about racism, economic inequality, healthcare, and colonialism.  Yet the very sins we have spent years legislating against, we are about to enact on a grand scale.  We are about to talk about how we cherish and protect the vulnerable while we literally expose them to something that will disproportionately hurt and possibly kill them through our actions.  If we hold Convention, it’s going to be privilege in action.

Lest you think I am being dramatic in the vein of Moses, consider:  ENS has reported that Navajoland is currently not allowed to gather in groups of more than 25 people, because of how devastating COVID has been to indigenous people here.  But we’re about to ask them to come across the country to sit with a few thousand for 10 days.  The Diocese of Pennsylvania just had an in-person clergy retreat, with required vaccinations and boosters, but optional masks.  Of the 150 clergy who attended, as of this writing, 41 now have COVID.  

This pandemic has taken from us many things: security, safety, routine.  But it also has given us an opportunity to be the church Christ is calling us to be: one that actually does the things we say we believe in.  A church that acts to protect the vulnerable we encounter and that sit in our pews, and doesn’t just talk about it.  

We need to cancel Convention. Until we can do it safely. Until we can do it without being hypocrites. Until we can do it within the Gospel.

ETA: This post has been edited at 2:26pm to reflect that 41 clergy in PA have COVID now, not 27. Math is hard and not my forte.

ETA again!: It was pointed out to me by Smart People on Twitter that the guidelines adopted by the Planning and Arrangements Team do require “boosters where recommended.” But that language is from a few months ago, before the rollout of the fourth shot, and again, it’s not clear how GCO is going to figure out who needs a booster and who doesn’t, aside from the honor system. (And how widespread has communication been about the availability of the fourth shot in your area?)

Cathedrals, Deviled Eggs, and Unity

I have been pondering the nature of unity of late.  From the new president’s inauguration speech, to the pleas of the National Cathedral when they invited a conservative evangelical to use their pulpit, unity is the new trend.  We want it very badly. (It has crossed my mind that what we actually want is boredom, and a break from the constant existential crisis, but I digress.)

This makes sense—unity has long been one of the particular loves of the Anglican world.  I remember being told in confirmation class, as a teenager, how we were the only American Protestant church that didn’t divide during the Civil War, and wasn’t that lovely?  Because we believed in maintaining unity so much!  This went into the file of the Elizabethan Settlement, and the utility of the prayer book—both things which allowed for people to believe whatever they wanted, so long as we could all stay together, because staying together was Most Important.  So it likewise makes sense that in this time of increased division and tension, some in the church would see it as their duty to facilitate this unification.  Let’s bring people together!  We are good at that.  We are the party-planners of the Christian World!  EVERYONE INTO A ROOM, AND FIND THE DEVILED EGGS.

But, if you will recall, gentle reader, then came 2003, but really, 2006—and the limits of staying together were illustrated.  It became apparent that we could not, in fact, stay together at this particular party when the presiding bishop was a girl, or a bishop in New England married another man.  What 250 years had not done to us, some cooties managed to do, and the church split. 

And yet, there was that the insistence again—that this was a horrible tragedy because  our goal was to maintain unity.  Everyone should be together at our party!  And unity, as it played out, appeared to be making sure everyone at this party stayed put, and did so happily.  So it was important to appease everyone here.  Regardless of the cost.  Maybe some barring of the doors.  But this is our party, and Jesus says you can’t leave.  

If we want to get dogmatic about it, the emphasis on church unity is scriptural.  Jesus prays, in John’s gospel, that “they may be one, as you and I are one”, and so from that, the church has taken our instruction.  See?  We should stick together!  

What has become apparent to me, however, is how quickly unity transforms from a means into an end.  When Jesus is praying, he is asking God that his followers to come may be united in their proclamation of the Gospel, so that their witness isn’t diluted.  He’s not merely praying that God would have them all stick together forever….just because.  Unity is a means to an end.

We tend to forget when we envision unity, that Christ doesn’t call us to unify around ourselves. We’re not the thing the church is meant to point to.  Who cares if we manage to create an organization where everyone gets along always, and no one dissents?  That’s not a church; that’s a cult.  (Or the mob.  Either way—call the authorities because you have a problem.). What we are called to do is come together around Jesus’ good news—and that necessarily entails making people mad.  Often people inside the church.  

Back in ye olden days of 2003/2006 when the splits were happening, we spent a lot of time worrying about the people we were losing.  And we lost a fair number!  Buildings and real estate, and angry parishioners.  Hearts were broken.  It was rough.  People celebrated Ash Wednesday in August.  The party broke up, and there was lots of crying, and it was awful.  

  But what we didn’t talk about enough was that other people came.  

Some people left, but God sent us others, who for the first time could believe in a God of love because of our welcome.  God sent us people who needed the gospel we were beginning to gingerly understand.  God sent us people who had been longing to hear about how all people were beloved of God, and were necessary to the salvation of creation.  God sent us so many amazing people, because we—for a moment!—were beginning to head towards the gospel.  

In all of our Episcopal cultural emphasis that Church-is-a-party-everyone-should-stay! We forget that this world is not a party for a great many people.  This world is a horror show for a lot of people.  For a lot of people the world tells them that they are worthless, that they are despised and wrong, and that God is out to get them.  For many—In fact, I’m going to say, most—people, life is not a choice of parties to attend, it is a series of traps to avoid. A series of hurdles to overcome.  For those people? They don’t need to know that Mary Sue is willing to sit next to them under protest, because Party Manners.  They need to know that this is a place that fully and firmly offers them safety and salvation in the name of Christ, and will work with them to make the rest of creation that way, too.  

For people of color, for LGBTQ+ folks, for women called into leadership (and/or just called to be very opinionated), we do not need another party, full of smiles that may or may not be fake, and passed appetizers that may or may not be leftovers, while the real good stuff gets eaten by the important guests.  We need a church.  We need a church that comes together around the gospel, not around an agreement about how nice to be to its members, and how nice they should be to each other.  We need a church that proclaims us as beloved of God, that celebrates what we bring, that honors us in safety and that stands with us in solidarity against a world that frequently would leave us for dead.  

The besetting sin of the church is not disunity—the besetting sin of the church is our trading this party we like to pass off as church for the fullness of the gospel.  We aren’t called to offer people a party—we are called to offer people salvation in the name of Christ.  We are called to offer them life abundant, and all too often, we hand them a stale sandwich, and tell them to be nice, because they’re lucky they got invited here at all.  

It makes no sense to me to unify as a church.  It makes no sense to me to unify for the sake of this party.  It only makes sense to me if we are unifying around the gospel as we understand it, having discerned and listened together for Christ’s call to us, and having borne witness to the work the Spirit is doing in our midst.  We aren’t throwing a party—we are throwing a new world, and Christ calls us to it.

Insert Shel Silverstein Quote here

So, it’s been a while.

But clearly, some things (and by things, I mean attempted coups) have happened, and so I figure a written record of the sermon for today might be appropriate.

Over the last few days, as I’ve been working on this sermon, I’ve been joking with my husband over how to preach it. He told me, in seriousness, to power down my rage a bit. I asked if that meant I should not begin the sermon with a chipper story about how I have long had a fascination with stories about the Resistance during WW2? “Yeah,” says my smart husband, “Try not to have Nazis all the way through. Start with a nice poem or something.”

I didn’t manage to work in a poem, despite my efforts, but here you go.

Rev. Megan L. Castellan

January 10, 2021

Baptism of Christ/There was an armed Insurrection

Mark 1:4-11

In a normal year, we would have baptisms today.  

In a normal year, we would be cheerfully and joyously welcoming new ones into our community, and waiting to see if the babies cried, and remembering that time Kang read his own baptismal prayers, and wiping away our own happy tears as we renewed our own promises to live in the reign of God.  

In a normal year.

But, for a long time now, nothing has been normal.  And this week, we entered a new level of Not Normal.

And so, what would have been a joyous occasion where we gather together to celebrate, feels in many ways like another surreal moment, as we come together virtually, continuing to process what happened in our country’s common life on Wednesday.  

Like I said, usually, today we celebrate baptisms, and the reason we do that is because today the church recalls the baptism of Jesus.  When Jesus begins his earthly ministry by being baptized in the Jordan River by his cousin John the Baptist.  And he comes up out of the water, and God says, loud as you please, You are my son, with you I am well-pleased.  

These are words and actions that we echo, each time we baptize a new member.  We pour water over their head, and we proclaim that we recognize in them a beloved child of God, with whom God is well-pleased.  You are sealed with the Holy Spirit in baptism, and marked as Christ’s own forever.  We acknowledge publicly with liturgical actions what has always been true, but what they and their sponsors are now taking on as a chosen identity.  They are a beloved and cherished Child of God.  Period.

When we renew our baptismal promises, we acknowledge that identity and how it plays out, both in our inner lives, and in our outer lives.  We promise to continue in the breaking of bread and the prayers.  We promise to repent when we fall into sin.  We promise to seek and serve Christ within all people.  We promise to work for justice and peace.  And when we promise to resist evil, we promise to resist anything that hurts and destroys the children of God.  

Baptism, where we affirm our identity as children of God, also means that we step into a way of life that recognizes every other human being as also being a beloved child of God.  Every other person as being cherished and valued as we are.  And out of this core commitment, we find the guiding light of everything else we do.

Setting aside all the partisan talking points about the events of Wednesday, we as Christians need to see it through the eyes of our baptism. We need to stand squarely in the promises that were made on our behalf and that we reaffirmed, that we and every other person is a beloved child of God—because one of the implications of that baptismal way of life is that every person is entitled to their say.  Every person is entitled to their voice, and to that voice being heard.  

What we saw Wednesday just how threatening that idea is to many people.  There is an element in our country, in our world that—instead of deriving their identity from knowing they are profoundly loved—derive it from believing that they can only be loved if someone else is not.  They can only be powerful if someone else is not.

That fundamental interior insecurity is how racism festers, breeds and grows.  It’s how homophobia spreads.  It’s how sexism thrives, it’s how transphobia is fostered.  That persistent belief that I can only be valued if people different from me are not.  I can only be special if people different from me are silenced.  And if people who are different from me begin to speak and prosper, then that threatens, not only what I have, but my very identity.

Our national history is story after story of progress made by people of color, and then the panicked few wresting back control through violence.  The coup in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898.  The end of Radical Reconstruction and the start of Jim Crow across the South through the Hayes-Tilden commission.  Tulsa.  Wounded Knee in the 1970s.  On and on and on.

All because for so many people, their identity is rooted not in the confidence of God’s unbounded love of them and all humanity, but in how much better they must be than others.  And they will do literally anything to prevent that being threatened.

What we saw on Wednesday was not just an armed insurrection against our lawful government; it was a dramatic demonstration of how evil and destructive the lie of white supremacy is.  It acted out on live television how deadly it is to root your sense of self in the illusion that your worth is only measured in how much better you are than someone else.  When we talk about renouncing evil, renouncing the powers of death—that, those scenes of chaos on Wednesday?  That’s part of what we’re talking about.

And I want to be very, very clear—the people who invaded our Capitol are still beloved of God.  They are entranced with lies that tell them that this is only true if others aren’t, they follow politicians who encouraged them in these lies, and they have made evil decisions with deadly consequences.  But even all of that does not erase the truth of their identity—or the truth that those black and brown people, the women, the LGBTQ folks and the others they wanted to silence are ALSO deeply beloved of God, just as they are.  And that this love takes nothing away from them.  And so yet another tragedy of Wednesday is that we watched angry, deluded people hurl themselves into the abyss of violence, threaten their fellow beings, all for a lie.  Not just a lie about politics, not just a lie about votes, but a lie about existence.

And I want to be very clear about something else—those invaders may have claimed the name of Jesus, there may have been pastors in that crowd, they may have waved flags with crosses, and they may have prayed real hard, but I want to say loud and plainly that God does not now, nor does God ever call for the destruction of any his children.  Our common life is meant to enable our abundant life, in God’s kingdom, and so God willing, there will be accountability, consequences, and hopefully true repentance from those involved in Wednesday, so that we can move forward with every voice counted in our system of government.  But mark my words—if anyone tells you that what Jesus wants us to do is launch an assault on our fellow human beings, they are lying. They are not abiding in the ultimate truth of God’s love for all of us.   

And if our faith is about anything, our faith is about that love—that way of love as our Presiding Bishop tells us again and again.  A love of God cast over us so profound that it frees us to love ourselves.  A love so strong that it saves us thinking we should hurt our fellow humans to find our identity.  A love so powerful that no insecurity, no evil, no lie and not even death itself can stand against it.  If we hold onto that love, if we abide in that love, we are going to be able to see our way out of this.  If we root ourselves in God’s resounding love for us, if we fix ourselves in God’s echoing love for all humanity, if we insist that all we do extends from that central fact— then we are going to be able to withstand the lies we are fed, we can reform our imperfect nation, we can help God to renew the face of this earth.

Because that love that we recognize at baptism, that we promise to reflect in the rest of our lives, is the mightiest thing in all creation.  

Apart Together–Ascension 2020

Rev. Megan L. Castellan

May 24, 2020

Easter 7, Year A

Acts 1

In the years when I was in college ministry, the Ascension readings usually coincided with the end of the academic term.  It worked quite nicely; I could talk about Jesus departing alongside graduation, as a metaphor for the seasons of life.  Jesus ascends like the graduates departed—and the mingled feelings of loss and pride worked pretty well together, I thought.  

You can sort of see Jesus’ mother probably waved proudly at her son as he rose into the sky, and marveled at how big he’d gotten, all ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. 

So this strange week or so between Ascension and Pentecost had a place then—this stretch of time when Jesus has gone, the Holy Spirit is promised, but…isn’t here yet.  And meanwhile, there’s just a lot of waiting.  And missing.  

This year, of course, everything feels different.  We both haven’t had graduations and we had.  We both haven’t marked the end of the academic school year and we have.  We are both still together as a worshipping community, and we are apart.  

And that dichotomy, ironically, is precisely what the Ascension is describing.  As Jesus leaves his friends, there on that mountain (which is really more like a hill) in Jerusalem, he promises them that he will be with them always, right as he leaves.  And then he goes.

The disciples are understandably perturbed.  And in Luke’s retelling, we get helpful/irritated angels appearing to tell them to knock off their confusion and get on with their jobs.  But they can be forgiven, I think, for being so bumfuzzeled.  After all, Jesus just got through promising to always be there with them, before he literally does the opposite.  

It takes them a while to suss out what’s going on.  The church comes to know that Jesus is now present in the church in a new way—unbounded by space or time, by virtue of his ascension.  Jesus is as present with me, in my house now as I speak to you, as he is with you as you listen to me.  Jesus is with us whenever we call upon him; whenever we greet each other distantly, whenever we show love to our neighbor, or reach out in care to someone who needs it.  

It’s not the same, of course.  And I think that’s what took the disciples a little while to deal with.  We’ve been learning that too.  Jesus present through the Spirit wasn’t the same as the Jesus they knew before the crucifixion, sitting around the campfire, cracking jokes, and making bread.  Jesus inspiring them and guiding them wasn’t the same as the guy who reassured them on the road, and taught them what to do.  And that change brought some grief with it, because they missed that guy they knew and loved.  And that grief is real.  Even though the Spirit they gained was an amazing gift to them. 

We are learning that too.  Gathered together in this way for church just isn’t the same as church before corona.  We can’t recreate being physically together. It’s different; it sounds different, sometimes the technology works, sometimes it doesn’t, we miss each other badly, I miss hearing your voices.

But with all of that, Christ is still present with us.  And even present in a new way.  The work of the church has never stopped, even as we have been apart.  Indeed, our being apart and at home right now to prevent unintentionally spreading the virus is an act of sacrificial love to our community.  It is part of the essential work of the church.  Giving our building to Loaves and Fishes, so our community can be safely fed—that is part of the work of the church, and that goes on. The classes, the bible studies, the meetings—all of that goes on.  And believe it or not—we have had people from all over the world join us for worship during these weeks, because they come across our videos online.  

By ensuring the safety of our most vulnerable, by forgoing what we want and what we miss in the moment to protect someone else, we are living out what Christ calls us to—we are being the Body of Christ in the world.  We are being most the church now, as we are each apart from each other.  Just as Christ was most with his friends as he left them.