The last time I went to a normal, physical, church service was on March 8. It was an 8 AM Rite 1 Eucharist in All Saints’ Chapel in Sewanee, TN. As a Sacristan, I prepared the church for the service and assisted the celebrant. The priest celebrating had not arrived yet. It was 7:45 AM and I was thinking to myself, “What do I do if there is no priest? Do I just start a Morning Prayer service? How do I tell the congregation that there will be no Eucharist today because we don’t have a priest? I couldn’t tell them where the priest was or why they weren’t there. I pondered for a good two minutes about how to proceed and then the priest runs in apologizing for the delay. They had overslept. I was relieved and the service could go on as normal.
It is now April 16. A little over a month later, I think of that momentary fear often and how different my life and the church looks now. I left that Eucharist to go back to my homework and work to prepare myself for my spring break to start. I was looking forward to the first break I would have in several months before I would go back to school to complete my comprehensive exam for Religious Studies, the final papers and projects, and prepare for the inevitable end of my college career. I think about how all of those things happen differently now, and how the end came much quicker than I expected.
Today’s Gospel is “Jesus on the Road to Emmaus” (Luke 24:13-35). Some of disciples are grieving for what they had lost as they journey to Jerusalem. They do not even recognize Jesus on the path. It was not until Jesus broke bread with them did they realize who he was. The disciples were sad, scared, and lost. Jesus appeared to them when they least expected to share the good news of His resurrection. We too are on a journey this Easter season. We are also on a new path that has left us scared, out-placed, lost, and sad. But through this grief, God is giving us the time we need to reflect on what we love and value.
I am grateful to return back to All Saints’, Concord, to start the next chapter of my life. I am incredibly grateful for the love and support All Saints’ has given me these past 22 years. I have watched how we have sailed on through rough waters, bringing new life and light to dark corners of Cabarrus County. I am saddened that for now my last physical service was not at my parish home, but I am excited and hopeful for my next physical service to be at a church of “Disciples Making Disciples for Jesus.” We will return to Jerusalem again one day, but until then we can be a church that loves like God loves, spreading the good news of the resurrection.
Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord.