On March 15, 2020 I preached my last sermon at St. Mark’s. Yes, I have preached since then, but not in this majestic sanctuary. In March we did not expect we’d be where we are today. But here we are, still waiting for the church doors to open, waiting to remove our masks, waiting to feel comfortable to resume our desired activities. All this waiting can be exhausting.
In this time of waiting I’ve talked to many people who are anxious for us to get back to normal. But as we continued chatting, we know that normal isn’t going to be like we had experienced it before. “Normal” as author Barbara Johnson said, “is the setting on your dryer.” Normal in our daily lives is not a reality because every day comes with unexpected events and emotions, joyful and overwhelming. During this pandemic perhaps you’ve experienced a heightened sense of emotions, from joyful to overwhelming and everything in between.
Our Gospel reading this week begins with Jesus feeling overwhelmed and withdrawing to a deserted place, a sort of voluntary quarantine. Jesus had been preaching to crowds, teaching his disciples, and returned to his home country to the criticism of his neighbors. And then comes the news that his cousin, John, had been murdered by the tetrarch Herod Antipas. Jesus sought solitude to cope with his emotional wellbeing. But as he arrived at the deserted place a crowd of people were there waiting for him.
Exhaustion can take its toll on everyone, even Jesus. It may seem that we are not be doing much, but we are experiencing much. So, I invite you to take a break from your routine and do something that will delight your senses. Call a friend, bake some bread, tend to the garden, some of the things you’ve been doing but with a different purpose – to bless others and be blessed by God.
One thing that you can look forward to is in the next few days, you will be receiving a survey from the St. Mark’s Reopening Task Force. This survey will come electronically for those who receive their Messenger via email, and by mail for those who get the Messenger in the mail. I invite you to fill it out and return it so those working to make the church safe when it is opened will know what you need to feel comfortable if you can return. And just so you know, we continue working towards making worship at home an option for those who need it. Our desire is that everyone who wants to be part of the fellowship of St. Mark’s will have the means available to them as it becomes available. Maybe it be so.