For an extrovert like me, social isolation is the worst. There's nothing more energizing that seeing your faces on a Sunday morning as the procession gets underway, as I say the opening acclamation, or as I stand in the pulpit. But these days, standing in the pulpit with empty pew after empty pew and only the lens of the camera looking back at me makes it all a little more difficult. I love doing it for you all, but the experience of it is something like the sound of one hand clapping.
Then I start thinking about the extraordinary needs that so many have. I read of the unemployment numbers, the rising death toll, and the seemingly insurmountable task of returning to some kind of new "normal" that would at least allow us to grab a bite to eat or have a cup of coffee. The whole weight of it presses down on me, and I ask myself, "Realistically, what can our little Episcopal parish at 379 Hammond Street do to confront these challenging days in a truly meaningful and impactful way?"
That's about the moment the name Winston Churchill starts buzzing around in my brain. Now, let me be honest, having Winston Churchill whispering in your ear (even metaphorically) is a strange experience. But it makes me think of his speech to the British people and the world on August 20, 1940. That is the date when Churchill gave his extraordinary speech extolling the RAF pilots who battled back the tides of Nazi squadrons assaulting the isle. He offered this line, "Never was so much owed by so many to so few."
Now this line of course came at a time of existential struggle for Britain, and comparing it to COVID-19 might seem a little disproportionate. But what I am after here is not melodrama...it's purpose. When we look back on these strange days, I do not want us to be known as the parish that perished. I want our friends and neighbors alike to be able to think of the Redeemer with a similar sentiment of gratitude. What did we do to further the reign of God? Everything we could...to the last full measure.