This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, March 12, 2021
This week I am writing to you at the end of Thursday afternoon, as I often do, even as this is a day I haven’t yet been entirely sure what to call. I noticed this morning’s earliest broadcast from CBC News Network referred to March 11 as Canada’s National Day of Remembrance, however it wasn’t long before they clarified the Prime Minister’s declaration of a Day of Observance. It took me a moment to realize their language had shifted, and it left me thinking about the semantics of it all. In the end, it didn’t change how I wanted to move through this day, this time, this sombre reckoning. With colleagues, with my journaling, with my family, with my working and my praying, I’ve spent the day remembering, and observing, and hopefully honouring. I’ve spent the day in moderate disbelief that, in the words of my colleague Jane, we are at this strange place of marking a moment from one year ago, even as we’re still in the midst of it all.
In the midst of all that, this week’s worship preparations have been, as I’ve mentioned before, focused on words and ways that might draw us deeper in reflection, as a community of faith, about the year that has been. As we do every week, of any time, but now in this present context, we’ll seek to be both grounded and set free, by communal song and prayer; by silence and symbol. We will gather in the comfort of knowing there are others out there, scattered but connected, and united by a shared longing to hear God speak mercy and love into the lives we lead now.
Perhaps it may seem strange then that, in the same breath that we turn to verse and cadence of Scripture and so-called canonical texts, our worship (and the theme of our Annual Report and year ahead) will incorporate elements of so-called secular texts. The presence of such poetry won’t sit right with every Christian community, but somehow now, more than ever, there is a growing search for all manner of sufficient words. Reaching back through time to the Emily Dickinsons of the world, and welcoming the fresh and profound expressions of Amanda Gorman and beyond, people around the world are clinging to poets and poetics like never before. Breaks in the lines are powerful and intentional, and give as much space for breathing as they do our pondering. Essays now abound from church leaders, lifting up the use of poetry and fiction, alongside sacred texts, as vital paths toward what we long to express – and the power of different genres to capture and carry more of our deepest emotions and prayers. Historians will say that has long been the case. Present-day chroniclers note the work of a social crisis in pressing us even further into reflection.
And so here we are, at the start of our second year under the unwanted banner of a global pandemic. We enter this time, knowing too well that countless suffered its effects well before the declaration. Countless continue to suffer, in mourning, loss, and irreparable change. Countless will suffer long after the headlines fade to something else; and countless do so now, hidden from wider view by the experiences of the privileged and the powerful.
There simply aren’t words, of any kind, to reconcile all of that in one moment or phrase or service. Historians and sociologists will grapple with this present time for generations to come. Along the way, and especially now, may there still be resounding expressions of hope. May there still be profound and assured reclamations of what can still be. As we remember, we observe, and we seek to understand more of ourselves in the process, may we always cling to the words of our faithful, Love-defining God, who speaks more than we can capture and contain, and whose unfailing presence calls forth worship, all over again. May we dwell in that life-giving possibility, in the shelter of our Creator.
With love to you all,
“When the way is more barren than beautiful;
when the path is more a climb than a stroll;
when the desert expands and the horizon stretches,
We worship because we can.
We worship because we hope.”