The year was 2003. The Anglican Communion was being roiled by the issues of homosexuality and the consecration of the first openly gay bishop. Churches and clergy were splitting away, congregations torn apart, everything was in turmoil. As a newly-ordained priest, I was attending one of my first diocesan conventions as a rector.
While I was there I ran into the dean of my seminary, an intelligent and thoughtful man named John Kevern. I asked him his thoughts about the controversy and he surprised me with his answer. He said that this period of time would not resolve the question of homosexuality and the Anglican Communion, but would force us to finally understand what it meant to be a community.
I was reflecting on this old memory this week as I wondered what the long-term implications of all of the COVID-19 stuff going on and its impact on the Church. Whatever happens, I feel like this will bring tremendous insight and inspiration to what it means to be a community. How are we a church with a strong liturgical and sacramental tradition when we are not gathering together to worship and share in the Eucharist? I feel like rather than end this having lost something, I feel we will come out of this stronger, with a great appreciation of who we are, and who we are to each other.
But that means embracing our true identity as brothers and sisters in Christ. It means finding ways to connect, both with each other and strangers. As I have said many times in the last week, call someone. Write a letter. Chat with a stranger (at a safe distance). Be creative, and enjoy one another’s creations. Parishioners are making fun videos to share with their friends, starting online book clubs, playing games remotely, even making music together. In all of these and so many other ways Christ is being made manifest in our lives, refining us as Christians. Helping us understand beyond our traditions who we really are.