Sisters and brothers in the Anglican Diocese of Calgary, greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This year as we celebrate our season of Lent, we do so in the midst of the larger, extraordinary, challenging and difficult times of the COVID 19 pandemic.
In our household, we're just a few days into our self-isolation after returning from the United States. Thankfully, we have been well looked after by friends, for which we are very grateful, and we are symptom free.
We also do realize, however, that for us this is a small thing, compared to the larger and more difficult things faced by those around us — those who are sick, those who are suffering, the elderly and the vulnerable, those who have lost jobs. It is indeed a difficult time.
Being the church and doing what we do as church is also challenged in these times. And I want to say a big thank you to our clergy and lay leaders, who have been stepping up with creative ways of communicating with their church communities and helping to serve in the community around them. I've had a chance to see a few pieces here and there of services that have been conducted and posted online. And I am very grateful Indeed for the work that has been done.
As I ponder our circumstances, it occurs to me that I am unable to think of another time in the whole of my life and perhaps even in the decades proceeding, in which we have faced such upheaval and the suspension of the ordinary things of life in our society.
The observance of Lent this year is deepened by the pandemic. That it calls us to be even more aware of how we interact with others, making our choices in a way that is attentive to their needs, attentive to not doing harm by being carriers for others, being particularly sensitive to those who are elderly and vulnerable.
The fact that we are encouraged to NOT gather in larger groups and to spend more time in isolation. To be socially distant, means two things. One is that we have to be more attentive to those who might be harmfully isolated by social separation and think about what to do to help to extend the love of God and our love to them.
The other side of that question of self-isolation and social distancing is that it perhaps gives us more opportunity to spend time in prayer. Prayer — both for those who are vulnerable and in need, but also prayer in turning our hearts to the call of God and to God's love in our lives.
All of the signs and the evidence to this point suggest that the pandemic is not on the decline, but still on the increase in Canada. And that there may be a number of weeks yet before we even get to the peak. And so, we will be in the midst of these extraordinary times for some while yet. For some of us, that will bring a sense of fear and foreboding.
However, I'd like to challenge us to focus in on the faith that has been given to us. In his letter to the Romans. Paul speaking to people who have just been through persecution, says that in all things God works for good with those who love Him. And then slightly later, he says, that nothing can separate us from the love of God. in John's first letter, he reminds us that perfect love casts out fear.
I pray that in this Lenten time, we may more know more deeply the love of God. And, that as we prepare to celebrate Easter, we may know the presence of the risen Christ with us in all things.
Please know that you are in my prayers. And, I ask that you pray for one another.
Grace and Peace be with you through this time.