Pastoral Letter

from Dr. Daniel D. London

Invitation of the Transfiguration

Dear Parish Family,

I write this letter to you from the Transfiguration House on the Feast Day of the Transfiguration, a glorious and mysterious event in the life of Christ that we read and reflect upon twice a year in the liturgical calendar: on the last Sunday after Epiphany and today (August 6th). The Transfiguration of Christ is recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—and, in each account, God speaks to the disciples as they behold their rabbi “in raiment white and glistening.” God says to them and to us, “This is my Son…Listen to him!” (Matt 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35). At the end of Epiphanytide and in the middle of Ordinary Time, the Transfiguration invites us to practice the art of listening. “The first duty of love,” according to theologian Paul Tillich, “is to listen.”[1]

I have been trying to listen prayerfully and carefully during these last few months. I’ve been listening to you through phone calls, comments on YouTube and Facebook and your honest input in the parish-wide survey.[2] I’ve also been listening to you in virtual coffee hours, Lectio Divina, zoom meetings and at porch visits. (I once heard someone say that a good preacher spends most of the week listening to parishioners so that the sermon can speak authentically into the hearts and lives of the congregation.) I have also been listening to the directives of Bishop Megan Traquair, the updates from the state and county, and the wisdom of the Wardens, the Regathering Task Force, and the Vestry. Most of all, I have been trying to heed the invitation of the Transfiguration by listening to Christ as he speaks through Scripture, silence, nature, and you.

During this time of deep listening, I have learned that a handful of people whom I know well in Humboldt have tested positive for COVID-19. Also, two relatives from Ashley’s side of the family have died from the virus. And today, 25 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in our relatively small county. After listening and prayerfully processing all of this information, I have decided that we will not be regathering inside the church until 2021. This does not preclude the possibility of outdoor gatherings between now and next year; and I am still very eager to welcome Bishop Megan in person on February 14, 2021, when we will continue to celebrate our sesquicentennial and confirm some new Episcopalians inside our sanctuary.

 Since we will not be regathering until 2021, I strongly encourage you to connect with us by worshipping online (on Sundays at 10:30 AM and Tuesdays at 9 PM), joining us for virtual coffee hour (Sundays at 12 PM), sharing at Lectio Divina (Tuesdays at 7:30 PM), and taking advantage of our many other online offerings, if you’re not already. We are in this for the long haul now, but please know that I am still listening to you. I’m listening to your sorrows, your frustrations, your hopes, and your joys. I’m listening to your fears and your loneliness as well as your clever ideas for staying connected. I will keep listening and I ask that you do the same by listening more attentively with me to the words of Christ recorded by St. John, who witnessed the Transfiguration first hand: “My peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14: 27).

[1] Paul Tillich, Love, Power, and Justice (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954), 84.

[2] Today also marks the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and, in that spirt, the Regathering Task Force made extra effort to make sure that everyone had a chance to voice their opinion regarding potentially regathering at the church.

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