by David Romanik
Over the past several months, the Heavenly Rest community has become accustomed to online worship, which means that we have become used to the occasional technical difficulty. While our team of staff and volunteers work incredibly hard to create a seamless online worship experience, problems inevitably arise from time to time. There was, for instance, the Sunday when it sounded like the service was being conducted underwater. There were other Sundays when the video and audio feeds were out of sync with one another by several seconds. Of course, who could forget the Sunday when we had a catastrophic internet failure and had to post the sermon after the service ended? In the face of all these challenges, I have been deeply impressed not only with the tenacity of the “production team”, but with the patience and the grace exhibited by those worshiping online. Even when everything falls apart, your desire to stay connected to the worshiping experience and the people you love is profoundly evident. Perhaps nothing demonstrates this quite as well as the exchange of the Peace. As soon as the Celebrant announces “the Peace of the Lord be always with you”, the comment section of the video quickly fills with words of greeting and expressions of love, no matter what technical difficulties we have endured until that point in the service. On one level, this is a wonderful testament to the warmth of this church community. On an even deeper level, however, this outpouring of affection in the face of technical difficulties is an emblem of this community’s faithfulness. It is an affirmation that, no matter how many challenges we have faced or will face as a parish, we are still here.
Normally, September is a time of almost frenzied activity at the Church of the Heavenly Rest: we gather for Rally Night, register children for Sunday school, begin several new Adult Christian Formation Classes, announce the schedule for our Chamber Music Concert Series, restart our Wednesday Night Suppers, and enjoy being together once again. Obviously, our efforts to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and keep our community safe mean this September will look different. Nevertheless, as this issue of the Lay Reader will attest, we are still here. Our worship, formation, and fellowship opportunities may look different, but Heavenly Rest will continue to be a center of thoughtful reflection, vibrant learning, and mutual love even in these unusual and challenging circumstances. We hope you will join us as we strive to be faithful in this season and as we continue to nurture our identity as a repository of grace.