Pastoral Letter to Pohick Church

My dear fellow Pohickians:

This week, the world is ablaze in a firestorm of anger and rage. Although reasons are obscure, muddled, and confusing, I would suggest that the twin traumas of pandemic and racially charged deaths have led to expressions of pent-up frustration and fear. Much of the rage seems unspecific, directed at an unknown target. Unaware of the root of their anger, some lash out indiscriminately, taking down innocent bystanders in their wake. Others seize the moment for their own purposes.

We go to sleep with images of civil unrest and wake up to commentary “unpacking” what’s happening. This week, I have listened to or received messages from some of you expressing  discouragement, sadness, anger, and fear about what’s next. Most of us are aware that emotions are also spilling over into our everyday lives and reactions. This is valid and expected. It is also our opportunity to name this moment as a season for reconciliation, and consciously participate in the healing of our world.

Reflecting on this week, I believe the sparks were the blatant racism and the senseless killing of George Floyd, followed by other heinous incidents. Truly, this nation must focus on racial reconciliation, as we have begun to do at Pohick! Thankfully, peaceful protests have emerged all over the world! And rightly so!

Unfortunately, violent “protests,” looting, and targeting of African Americans as well as policemen have overshadowed the many peaceful protests. With people hurt and property destroyed, random rioting necessitated the assistance of law enforcement in many cities.

Last night, during Wednesday Coffee and Compline fellowship, I asked whether anyone wanted to process their feelings about this crazy week. While few spoke, emotions were strong. I was glad we had an opportunity to name our longing for peace and healing. I encourage all to continue sharing feelings, fears and hopes with one another, and with Rev. Alex and me. Listen. Be compassionately present to each other. Let people be exactly where they are, remembering we are all struggling honestly.

I encourage us to pray about specific ways we can be beacons of light, healing and hope in these dark times. We can recall a few guidelines from our Lord and Savior:

Love God.

Love your neighbor – every single one. No exceptions.

Be humble. Humility means NOT speaking loudly over someone else to express your own truth. Even if you believe the other person is flat-out wrong, listen. Really listen. Offer dignity and respect to the other as they express their point of view. Be compassionate to the oppressed and invisible.

Disagreement is expected. When you do disagree, search for common ground for agreement, a meeting place, even if just a small one. This is the essence and ethos of our “Anglican Via Media,” or middle way. Watch out for dualism. People tend to insist there are only two answers: the right one and the wrong one. My truth is Truth; Your truth is a Lie. I am good; you are evil. If you express an opinion, you are labelled in one camp or the other.

Remember, only God knows THE truth that brings freedom; we each possess only a piece of that truth, a shadow of it, through a glass darkly.  If you find yourself insisting that you possess THE truth, then beware. As Jesus repeatedly warns the Pharisees, you have a long way to go!

By all means, protest the grave injustices you see – particularly racism! Do so peacefully. Reach out, smile, care: loving action is so powerful. We must constantly remind ourselves how Jesus embodies and enacts love: Repent. Forgive one another. Serve. Listen. Love.

Meanwhile, we are still in “Phase I” of re-gathering, according to Diocesan rules. This means no in-person worship with more than 10 people, preferably 2 or 3. Invite your friends to live worship on Facebook, and please “share” the FB post of the service.

It appears that new COVID cases and deaths are not declining anytime soon, so the Bishop’s office has officially cancelled our annual Bishop Visitation this June.  Hence, we will reschedule confirmation and reception. The youth confirmation class is prepared. The Inquirer’s Class will resume preparation soon via Zoom.

Next week, I will share the Diocesan checklists and guidelines for phasing in worship and fellowship re-gathering. At Pohick we have a committee already hard at work gathering information, ordering supplies, and thinking through what re-gathering will look like. Once we receive guidelines, we will propose Pohick’s re-gathering plan for the Bishop’s approval. We will be ready to gather once we receive the green light. We will continue to stream services.

During these volatile times, let us remain the beacon of love, listening, reason, and hospitality that Pohick truly is! Recalling the Christian spirit of our patriot ancestors, let us lean prayerfully into God, strive for justice, preserve our unity, and love our neighbors!

See you Sunday at 9 am! Blessings of peace, healing and reconciliation to all!

Rev. Lynn+