Service Material for Sunday, 26 July 2020 Will be posted here
“And gathered them out of the lands,
[Psalm 107: 3 from the Scottish Psalter of 1650]
One of the things I didn’t expect to discover as Emmanuel Church reconfigured for the Pandemic shutdown was that our webcasts would travel so far. We have people who have viewed us from Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, the Pacific Northwest, Colorado (Hi Mom!), and a wide selection of places in between.
For the next couple of weeks, we are specifically welcoming to our Sunday webcasts friends that Jan and I have made in our visits to the Adirondacks, and in particular to those who worship at the Church of the Transfiguration on Blue Mountain Lake. For many years now, we have celebrated Holy Eucharist and preached at this glorious lakeside chapel for the visitors and a few local residents on a couple of Sundays in late June and early July.
Like many of us, we don’t know when we will be able to take some time off, or whether we will be able to visit the mountains at all this year, and we suspect this is true for many of our Adirondack friends. The Rev’d Dr. Chip Lee, our friend from Western Maryland who is the Vicar of the church has agreed to post the link from Emmanuel’s service (which you will find at the top under the tab “Worship” so we can share our service with them over the next couple of weeks and wave “Hi!” electronically.
One of the things I particularly enjoy about Transfiguration is the stained glass window I see at the end of the aisle as I stand at the altar facing the congregation. (The architect was clever enough not to put the front door at the end of the center aisle, knowing that a priest would be overwhelmingly distracted by the view of the lake just steps away. It is by the Willett Studios as are almost all of Emmanuel’s windows — and not only by the same company, but it is clear that the same artist did both the West Window at Transfiguration and the Parable of the Sower Window at Emmanuel.
We are all learning something about community — about what creates it, sustains it, and empowers it — during this pandemic experience. I don’t think I could have predicted that our “views” at facebook.com/EmmanuelChurchBelAir or at our YouTube page would often exceed our in-person average Sunday attendance, let alone take our humble offerings to the corners of the country. And it only takes a quick look at what we have posted to see that we are still on a steep learning curve with respect to the technology of this new sense of community. But even I find myself wandering the Anglican world online to see what others are doing and looking for inspiration and spiritual sustenance (in my case, especially through music).
I miss the in-person gathering that traditional worship has been based on for the last 16 centuries or so. I love the shape of our liturgy and the architecture of our gathering places and the sensory input of light and sound, of voices and of silence — and the occasional whiff of coffee brewing in the parish hall, or even of incense on the highest of holy days. What will replace these, and how these new experiences will serve to bring us together to be of common heart, mind, and purpose are still mysteries to me. But I have every hope that God’s hand is still at work among us, and that the Holy Spirit is breathing life into our new world. And so we will keep at it, mistakes and technical difficulties notwithstanding, until we are done shaping our new future.