“Pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
Reading this in September 2021, after 18 months of COVID-19, made us think today about what we’re praying for when we pray. We have seen plenty of evidence that we can’t pray ourselves out of a pandemic, or to heal from a virus. But still we pray. We offer to pray for friends and even strangers who suffer illness or loss. We pray for ourselves and our loved ones, for peace and wisdom, on a regular basis. We pray for our worshiping community. We pray for refugees and migrants, for the hungry, the sick, and those who care for them. We pray for our nation and the world. It’s not magical thinking: we haven’t ended hunger or illness; there are still refugees and migrants. Instead, in doing so we are connected, to God and to each other. When we pray we are not alone, and those we pray for and with are not alone. We know that God is with us, present in the world.
For Pentecost, we are delighted to welcome Rev. Linda Huggard. A California native, Rev. Huggard has served in the Diocese of San Joaquin for 10 years, and has recently retired as Priest in Charge of St. Michael’s, Ridgecrest. She is currently serving as a supply priest in the diocese. She lives in Elk Grove.
The season after Easter is one where we are constantly asked to think about what it means to live after the Resurrection. What does it mean to how we live? The lessons keeps reminding us that the disciples were as puzzled as we are at times: rushing off to meet Jesus, or terrified by his presence.
A few weeks ago, the Pilgrimage of Hope came through Merced. We’d worked to organize a good pot-luck supper, and homes for the walkers. What struck me most watching the walkers take off in the morning was the prosaic nature of pilgrimage. They were just walking. Nothing fancy, one foot in front of the other. It is probably not accidental that pilgrimage and journey are among the common metaphors for our lives as Christians. Pilgrimages and journeys have destinations. And, because we live after the Resurrection, we know that Jesus is always with us on the road. Sometimes, as on the road to Emmaus, we don’t recognize him. But the promise is that he is there.
On Easter Sunday, we welcome Rev. Tim Vivian, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at CSU Bakersfield. Tim hold both a Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara (an interdisciplinary degree in History, Classics, and Religious Studies) and an M.Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP). From 2008, Tim served as Vicar of Grace Episcopal Church in Bakersfield, which (after the return of the property) became St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. As a scholar, Tim’s field of research is early Christianity, especially early Christian monasticism from the 4th-6th centuries. He’s published numerous books and articles on the subject and now writes for a broader audience to show how valuable monastic spirituality can be for our own lives; many of his articles are online, and the books are on Amazon.
Tim is partially retired, so in addition to teaching two courses a term, he reads, writes, gardens, and naps.
We are delighted to have him with us on Sunday.
I’m writing this in the middle of Lent, a time when we turn our focus inward to our relationship with God. Lent is a time of reflection, a time to clear some of the clutter out of our lives, whether in the form of stuff or thoughts. The point is not giving up chocolate (or whatever else) but figuring out what distracts us from paying attention to where God calls us in the world.