In my last letter introducing our generosity appeal, I reflected on how rhythms of exile and return, diaspora and homecoming, have always been a part of Christian life. And that’s true.
It’s also true, though, that the last few years of pandemic have been a season of separation like no other we’ve ever known. As we look ahead to St. John’s next chapter, we may never appreciate the power of gathering together in person more than we do today.
The beauty of worship — gathering together in the midst of a world full of distance. The wonder of music — singing together in the midst of a world full of silence and loneliness. The sweetness of sacraments — celebrating together the waters of baptism and the nourishment of the eucharist in the midst of a world full of dust and hunger. And the joy of service — working together in the midst of a world full of broken systems and broken hearts.
This past Sunday, our congregation gathered for a special meeting following the liturgy. We received and deliberated a proposal from our council leaders to build a new place to gather — for worship and prayer, for fellowship and community, for learning and conversation. In approving that proposal, we now move faithfully forward — some of us with great joy, some of us with legitimate worries and fears, and some of us with a mix of all of the above. And that’s okay.
Above all, we move forward together. Trusting in the Spirit’s guidance, we are building — now quite literally so — a future with hope. And more than that: We are building spaces of hope — literally and more than literally — continuing to live into our mission of welcome and hospitality for all people.
In short, if the world is full of exile, St. John’s is a community of return. A place to come home to, again and again. A congregation in which we can tangibly experience God’s ancient promise to “bring you back to this place” and “give you a future with hope.”
And here’s one more thing that’s true: even when this pandemic is a distant memory, the world will still be full of need. Still longing for home, for community, for reunion, for return.
That’s why we’re here. That’s who we are: a waystation of hope along life’s way. It’s the same reason God chose to be born with us as Jesus of Nazareth, to help us build bridges of connection and companionship — so that everyone might experience a homecoming to God’s new world of joy, justice, and love.
So keep praying and keep giving thanks for all the ways our faith, our prayers, our worship, our music, our sacraments, our building, our service, and our lives help bridge the gaps that divide creation. And we’ll see you for Intention Sunday on October 29, our grand celebration of God’s gift of “a future with hope.”
The Rev. Josh Evans, pastor