Dear St. Paul’s Friends,
As summer winds down and the school year winds up, I am reminded of a story I received from a friend.
A chaplain intern at a hospital visited her first room of the day. It was an old man with a chronic disease and his wife sitting quietly in the half-lit room. The chaplain intern greeted them and made a few attempts at awkward conversation. Nothing seemed to stick, so after 15 minutes of silence she pronounced a blessing, said a prayer and left. “Not my best work,” she thought to herself as she charted the encounter. But later that day, her supervisor, a chaplain for the hospital, stopped her. He asked if she had visited that room, and when she said she had, commended her on her visit. The couple in that room were overjoyed to have a visitor, and one who was willing to sit with them and say a prayer. But the intern protested, “I didn’t do anything!”
“Ah,” said her supervisor, “But you showed up, and to paraphrase Woody Allen, 80% of ministry is showing up.”
Especially over the last couple years, COVID has kept us away from all kinds of activities in our lives. We’ve adjusted our schedules, routines, and hobbies. As the pandemic wore on, we began to question whether we’d ever get back to “normal.” We developed a new normal, in which we began to stay home more and we dropped out of certain activities.
For some, church has become one of those activities. We’ve gotten comfortable worshiping at home in our pajamas, or we have found other things to do on Sunday mornings, or we find ourselves unsure how to return to what we did before. Even for those who continue to attend worship, perhaps we’re less involved than we used to be.
While there is still some danger from the virus, our world is now adjusting to a NEW new normal. How do we choose to live in a world where COVID is still around, but we need to be more active in the world around us?
I think it is time to start showing up again. Maybe that means coming to church after an extended time away, or maybe it means returning to other services and ministries that stopped during the pandemic. Maybe it means volunteering your time and your talents in new ways, or dreaming up new ways to be church for the sake of the world and developing new ministries at St. Paul’s.
Certainly, not everyone is able to show up, and that is understandable. We continue our lay eucharistic minister program for our homebound members, and I will always provide pastoral visits at Christmas, Easter, and on request. We continue to offer the livestream service for anyone who cannot attend on Sunday, and we are grateful to be able to reach beyond our walls and beyond our community in this way. We also continue to monitor the COVID situation, and other health concerns, taking precautions as necessary.
But as we prepare for another program year, I would like to invite all of you who are able to come back to church. Whether you’ve been waiting for things to get back to normal or you’re eager for the new things that God is doing, now is the time to show up for ministry. Now is the time to help us shape the NEW new normal for St. Paul’s. Now is the time to join with us in praising God, serving our neighbors, and building up the church.
Please join St. Paul’s in showing up for worship and the ministries that God has set before us here in Hainesport and throughout the world.
Rev. Jessica Hahn