This past semester during a chapel team meeting, one of my chaplain colleagues told us all about an amusing survey he had taken. It was some kind of religious life survey and he was tickled because the survey had told him that he was a religious fanatic. We all found this amusing since the term “religious fanatic” does not immediately come to mind when describing him or many other Episcopal priests. But apparently attending more than 4 services a week put you in that category. This made me laugh because of course, we all attended more than 4 services a week at Episcopal High School.
Since I am officially a religious fanatic, it is no surprise that the gaping hole in my life since the arrival of Covid-19 is the lack of church services. I went from at least 5 services a week to none. And while our online worship is great and I am always comforted to see and hear Joani and Chuck online, it just isn’t hitting the same spot for me. I shared this with my husband, who told me that he feels he went to enough church services prior to quarantine to be able to skip church for a couple of years haha. However a clergy friend I talked to said she cried while watching the National Cathedral service online because hearing the music broke her heart, which assured me that I am not alone.
There is something about our Sunday morning time together which has always rooted me. If for some reason I don’t make it to church, then I feel off-kilter the whole week. I remembered that during my summer as a hospital chaplain in seminary that I was on call several Sundays in a row and felt so off that I asked if one of clergy could give my communion one day just so I could get back on track. It did the trick. I guess I need that bodily reminder of Jesus to keep me going.
Now since I am a priest, you might wonder why I don’t just bless some bread and wine at home. But somehow I don’t think that would fill the gap for me. I want to be with you all and I want to be at Emmanuel. It may seem selfish or silly to be sad about something like this in the middle of a national emergency but there it is, my gaping hole.
But of course, dear friends, I cannot leave you there. As Joani said in her sermon this week, we are in the hope business. So where is the hope here? The hope is that Jesus is everywhere. I might just need to start trying a little harder to find Him. I think that since I’ve been lucky to find God so easily in church all my life, I might need to find some new ways to find him in the rest of my life. I am curious about how you all are finding Jesus now. Please share your thoughts on Emmanuel Voices! Perhaps your journey might inspire my own 🙂
- Grace Pratt, July 2020
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog