Week of September 6, 2020

       First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude at the outpouring of love and support on the occasion of my ten year anniversary at Trinity Church. It was a wonderful surprise and I was very touched.
        Second, I want to share with you some of what is going on in association with the beginning of the school year. I have once again been invited to serve as chaplain at Bishop Seabury Academy, an Episcopal school in Lawrence that serves grades six through twelve. I have been chaplain there off and on for five or six years, including the previous school year and now the upcoming one.
        As you might imagine the start of the new year is different than normal, with the Seabury students doing two weeks of online distance learning and then beginning optional in-person classes following the Labor Day holiday. The school is mandating social distancing and is replacing school-wide gatherings, including weekly chapel, with alternative options. For the time being I will be creating video presentations that will be aired as part of their morning announcements. Those of us old enough to remember the days of having principals speak to us each morning on a PA system in the homeroom have a rough idea of what I’m talking about—just add video. For the first few weeks I will be sharing with the students a few ways in which I kept myself sane and healthy during the hard days of the quarantine and tying those practices to Biblical lessons. Since these are recorded, I may look into posting them on our website and/or Facebook page.
        While Bishop Seabury students are returning to in-person classes in early September, public school students (at the time of this writing) will not be returning for a few more weeks after that as our Lawrence school system wrestles with the herculean challenge of providing a safe learning environment to thousands of students and hundreds of faculty and staff. I am continuing to work on the Lawrence Special Education Advisory Committee to help the district with meeting the even more challenging task of serving children with extraordinary learning requirements.
        This is not me bragging about what I’m doing in the community; it is a reminder that we are entering into a time of year where, in a “normal” year, we would be a little more mindful of how each young person in our community is engaging in a rite of passage: the start of another year. This year that rite has an overlay of anxiety, dread, and grief that demands more than just a little more mindfulness and an extra prayer tacked onto our spiritual practices. The children in our community deserve our attention, our care, and our respect. By that last one I mean that we make sound, reasonable, safe choices in our lives and in our public policies that show that we value their lives, and not just our own.
        On page 829 of the Book of Common Prayer we are called to say to God this: “you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Rob+