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Since You Were Precious in My Sight

May 5, 2020

“Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you…” (Isaiah 43 : 4)

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I believe that over the weeks we have been distanced from one another and from the people of God we have undergone changes in how we view this separation and how we experience it. For myself, I know that at first it was a matter of ‘how long ? ‘ Then it became ‘So this is it for the present.’ Now it looks like ‘ for the forseeable future it’s going to remain different.’ In all of this my emotions and sense of personal well-being have moved through a variety of shapes, colors and moods – as I feel sure yours have too.

It has been interesting to read and hear (through Zoom) many people asking questions about the meaning of priesthood in these times. In this connection I want to recommend Stuart Higginbotham’s recent essay on ‘Priesthood in Pandemic.’ Our concerns seem to range from how to ‘manage’ church, through struggling to provide effective pastoral care to maintaining a focused spiritual life for ourselves.
As I said in a previous Letter, this is potentially a time of ‘rediscovery.’

The time that this enforced ‘sabbatical’ affords can be for us a time to discover afresh ways of ‘going deeper with God.’ Those ways that have always been there but which because of busy-ness and preoccupation have often been shelved. This is also a time in which to rediscover our collegiality. Surprisingly. although separated physically, we now have renewed opportunities to draw together in conversation, prayer and study.

Recently I e-mailed the Deans in our diocese asking if I might invite myself to ‘zoomed’ clericus meetings. It was delightful to receive prompt replies and very open invitations to clericus groups and other ‘gatherings’ within convocations, along with shared interest groups. This is something that I was not so readily able to do when it involved scheduling and traveling in the ‘old’ days. It occurs to me now that we have discovered a new means of mutual and self-care that is readily available and, although somewhat ‘vicarious.’ extremely valuable.
In the spirit of -‘for the foreseeable future it’s going to remain different’- how about making ever-better use of our convocations and clerics groups – not least our Deans – to grow in fellowship in these new ways. Rather than using these connections for discussing ‘management’ (important as that is) how about sharing the journey of going deeper with God.

I am fortunate in belonging to a Clergy Support Group (over 10 years now !). We are meeting twice a month via zoom and enjoying a rich time of sharing experiences which don’t often have to do with ‘management.’

Given the likelihood of remaining in some form of lockdown for a time yet, let’s use it for growing anew in relationship with God, with one another and most importantly with ourselves. Even when no longer locked down perhaps we will have discovered and will continue to live into ever better self-care and collegial relationships which, out of dire necessity, we are now beginning to discover.

Many blessings and kind thoughts,

From The Rev. Canon John Bolton

Canon Chaplain for Clergy
(404) 402-7599