On Tuesday night, a stone’s throw from the parish, a motorcycle’s exhaust backfired repeatedly in Times Square. Several people began running away in fear, which then resulted in hundreds of people fleeing in panic, scrambling over each other for shelter in theater lobbies, stores, and side streets. A dozen people were injured in the stampede. They were running from a fearful illusion inspired by a fearful reality, the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
With every report of a mass shooting, our heart doubly breaks. Our heart breaks for the victims lost, those severely injured, and for their family and friends and communities forever marked by a day of atrocity. Our heart also breaks for our nation, while we continue to suffer together as this most ghastly trend continues to unfold.
But alongside the grief, our hearts pick up the fear in the air and in the airwaves. With every sad report, our vigilance expands to ever more places. And our sensitivity increases. We can see and hear things that aren’t there (not without reason). This sensitivity can also carry over into our relationships, leading to more anxiety, reactivity, and misunderstanding.
I don’t pretend to have a solution to this crisis. As your priest, though, I share with you in the grief and fear of our time. And we will continue, at St. Thomas Church, our ancient pattern of lifting up our sorrow and anxiety together in prayer before the altar of God.
Yet I wouldn’t want us to stop there. We also ask for God’s help and salvation. We ask God for healing. We ask God to help us to walk in trust in each other as we continue our lives together in hope. If there is any “solution,” it will be only found if we are seeking it together, driven not by our fears of one another, but by our love of one another.
It is true that Jesus told his disciples many times to “Fear not” (Luke 5:10, Luke 8:50, Luke 12:7, Luke 12:32, Luke 18:4, John 12:15). Yet, I don’t think Christ was rebuking them for being afraid. After all, Jesus’ activity among them was often quite new, disruptive, and sometimes disconcerting. I believe he was encouraging them so that they might not remain animated by their fear. Nor did he wish for them to be paralyzed by their fear. He desired much more for them than that. He longed for them to be animated by his Spirit, even in a fearful time.
May His desire for us be made real in us. In our time of false alarms and true alarms, may God’s Spirit rest in our hearts and in our lives, so that, in the midst of our fears, it will be our faith and hope that lead the way.
Please help us provide backpacks filled with grade appropriate supplies, school clothes, and uniforms for children in need attending San Andreas Episcopal Church in Yonkers, NY.
Continuing this Sunday, August 11th, the Wish List can be found in Andrew Hall with complete details including each recipient’s age and grade.
Your donations can be dropped off at the Parish House Reception Desk anytime before September 1st.
We are grateful to the following visiting choirs at the 11 am mass on the following Sundays during the Summer:
St. John’s in the Village, Baltimore, MD
Christ Church, Greenwich, CT
New Website Testing Continues
Our upcoming new site is now in the process of being reviewed by a team of parishioners and friends for “user testing.” Thank you for all who have agreed to help us in this careful work. Stay tuned to this space for notice of the site’s proper launch.
Our Communications Department, under the leadership of Avery Griffin, has been hard at work over the past year to restructure our parish website. This updated web portal will feature a fresh look, an improved calendar, updated giving and search functions, and all sorts of improvements that will provide the best community and hospitality tools for our parish’s online presence.