When I lived in India, the water supply was reliant on the monsoon rains. The rains would build up groundwater, which would make a freshwater spring burst to life in the hills where we lived. The problem was that when the spring finally came to life, not everyone got the long-awaited supply of water at the same time. For those who lived higher up, as I did, there was a sometimes frustrating wait for water to arrive while we watched our neighbors downhill bathe, and cook, and wash clothes to their hearts' content. The point of this parable: it can be hard to wait.
The great, big and beautifully all-ages All Saints’ community is also mid-stream. Some of us are vaccinated, while—just to name one demographic—our members under age 12 are not. Some of us head to grocery stores with no mask mandates, while my local stores here in Midtown still require masks in some cases. New Testament scholar Hans Conzelmann sees all of life as set within the "middle of time," between Jesus’ inauguration of the Kingdom of God and Christ’s fulfillment of it. So I suppose as the people of the church, we should be good at waiting. On the other hand, there’s a reason why patience is considered a virtue: it takes work.
Later this month the vestry will vote on new Covid-19 protocols which, if approved, will allow us to return to our pre-Covid life as a church on a number of levels. At the same time, we plan to retain opportunities to gather for those who cannot yet receive the vaccine. In others words, we will practice what it means to be a both/and community, waiting with one another with grace and care.
I’m proud of how well this church has been able to order our common life through the course of this pandemic, keeping everyone safe and recognizing people's needs that are different from our own. Soon enough the living waters of life together will spring up for all of the saints of this church, and we pray the same for all God’s children who still face long, hard months of uncertainty as the pandemic surges in other parts of the world. In the meantime, we will wait, and watch, and pray, and give thanks for the gift of life that seems now more precious than ever.