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The Vicar's Message for the Week of April 24, 2022

Father Matthew Moretz (photo credit: Alan Barnett)

Dear Friends,

During our celebration of Holy Week this year, the emblematic word I kept coming back to was “restoration.” At this particular stage of the pandemic, we are worshipping together with a certain confidence, alongside our safety measures, which has meant that we are sharing the services with more people than we have been for more than two years. And because of the primarily “in-person” quality of this Holy Week, we were able to return to a wide variety of liturgy and music that we haven’t shared together since 2019. For those of you who joined us this year, whether in-person or online, I am so grateful to have shared this time with you. Throughout this Holy Week, worshiping with you, I have had a vivid sense of exhilaration and renewal, a sort of sustained note of lightness and wonder. The restoration of our great liturgies was very much bound up in a restoration of my spirit. And after hearing from so many of you, sometimes struggling with the language to articulate the scale of your gratitude, I expect that this restorative work of Christ took place for you as well, in the beauty of holiness.

The contrast could not have been greater between our time together in Holy Week worship and the horrible stories and desolate images that continue to come to us on our screens from the war in Ukraine. Another heart-breaking iteration of hell on earth has been made manifest, and the shockwaves that emanate from this needless war are certainly global. The economic and spiritual turmoil that many of us are experiencing can only compare in a small way to those suffering great fear and anguish in their war-torn neighborhoods, mourning the loss of loved ones and separated from millions of friends and family, now refugees. I recall the words of Christ from his Farewell Discourse in the sixteenth chapter of John, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Our often cheerful (at least celebratory, worship) in dark times has a goal, you see. We, who pray ceaselessly for it to be on earth as it is in heaven, have our solemn work before us to determine how our lives and commitments, informed by our sublime, communal worship in Christ, can support the cause of peace in a too violent and too stubborn world. When are the moments and where are the places that we can be agents of the restoration that has restored us?

Now that our Rector, Father Turner, and Mother Turner are on pilgrimage with members of our parish in the Holy Land, I reflect on how they are presently experiencing Holy Week a second time. After all, Eastern Christians observe Easter this coming Sunday, April 24, and, as I write this, the Triduum liturgies are being held in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I very much look forward to hearing the stories from our pilgrims who are having a kind of bifocal observance of Holy Week, alongside the deep resonance that comes from being in the places where the celebrated events took place. Please keep them in your prayers as they retrace the footsteps of prophets, saints, and our Lord.

In Christ,

Matthew Moretz+