A MESSAGE FROM OUR RECTOR
October 1, 2020
Our struggle is … to take up the whole armor
of God, to be able to resist evil … and
having done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6)
Dear Parish Family:
I write to you today recalling St. Paul’s bracing charge to the Christians at Ephesus. These words remind us that other times and ages have seen their share of anxiety and chaos. These words also make clear our purpose in such times: to resist evil and to stand for good. Many people want to do these things, but for followers of Christ we are to begin with this: putting on the whole armor of God. If we do not begin there, we may not succeed in the rest.
What does it mean to put on the whole armor of God ? It means, first and foremost, to ground ourselves in God’s grace in as complete a way as possible. In Ephesians 6, Paul describes this metaphorically as: the buckle of truth, the breastplate of justice, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. As we gird ourselves with truth, justice, peace, faith, salvation, and Spirit, Paul says we should keep alert and keep on praying for all.
Since our national health emergency began, and throughout a summer of natural disasters, social injustice, and civic convulsions, our parish members have joined together in support of each other and the community around us. We may be socially distant, but we are as spiritually present as ever. We have found grace, strength, and the armor of God in online worship and fellowship: Sunday Morning Prayer, weeknight Compline, sharing recorded musical pieces, Bible study and book studies, Children’s worship, Vacation Bible School, the Upper Marlboro and Brandywine Prayer Walls, and Thom’s Café fellowship hour. Some have put on the armor of God in service to each other and the community: graduation parades, flower deliveries, phone check-ins, grocery deliveries, food bank and mask distributions. Our summer evening outdoor Eucharists have been Spirit filled and carefully tended. While our rental and fundraising income has taken a hit, our regular pledges and donations have been timely and generous.
It seems to me that our parish has been cultivating resilience in this past year. A church demographer and Episcopal priest, Ken Howard, says this about resilience:
It turns out that resilience is best when cultivated. It’s a tool that gets stronger the more
we use it and the more intentional we are about it. Research on resilience shows us that
resilience is more than persistence, more than picking ourselves up and brushing ourselves
off. There are actually six domains of resilience and we need some of each in order to
survive and thrive during turbulent times: Vision, Composure, Reasoning, Health,
Reverend Ken Howard, “Combating Clergy Burnout in a Pandemic,”
The FaithX Project, September 3, 2020. www.faithx.net
Our parish has maintained its vision; we are still living out our mission statement, and moving ahead with our strategic planning. Our leadership has continued to meet calmly and regularly through its staff, vestry, and teams, and to problem solve with resourcefulness and creativity. We have cared for each other’s health physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our persistence and programming has tenaciously guarded and advanced our mission, even during these very difficult days. All of this has been done in a collaborative spirit, cooperating with the grace God has given us to share.
As we enter the final quarter of the year, we will continue to do these things, and we will continue to respond flexibly and creatively to the challenges each month brings. We will begin broadcasting Holy Eucharist over Zoom each Sunday at 10 am, starting October 4th. At the parish office you may pick up a supply of the Blessed Sacrament to reserve at home for this purpose. Our midweek worship will be Compline on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 pm. Children’s Worship has returned each Saturday at 7 pm. The vestry has directed the parish to continue remote worship and meetings, until Prince George’s County enters Phase 3, at which point the Parish Hall may be used for in-person worship, with properly approved protocols enacted. As the Governor of the Church of England recently said, We will meet again. (The Queen’s Speech, April 5, 2020.)
Please know that we are here for you, and look forward to seeing you in whatever ways we can.
Peace and Blessings,
The Reverend Dr. Peter M. Antoci