By Bishop Todd Townshend
In the first week of November, the clergy of our diocese gathered in Stratford for the first “Bishop’s Clergy Conference” in a while.
It was different from other years—masks were worn, distance was kept, the agenda was simple and flexible, and the work we did was primarily worship.
Beautiful liturgies carried most of what needed to be done: we focused on lament, then healing, and finally reaffirmation of faith and vocation. God worked away in the prayer, the meals, the conversations, and in the times of rest. Thanks be to God.
I am very grateful to, and for, the people who serve in holy orders across the Diocese of Huron. Alone, none of us have every single gift for ministry but, together, we find an overflow of everything we need to be faithful stewards of “word and sacrament” in this time.
That doesn’t mean that the deacons and priest of our diocese are not still exhausted and grieving—like everyone else—because of this season of COVID-19. They are, to varying degrees. Yet, when I looked around the room at the faces of colleagues, I saw a group who will be able to faithfully follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit in the months and years to come—and in so doing, we will be able to recover, reconnect, rebuild, or whatever else is needed for the flourishing of faith and life in the Anglican tradition.
Of course, none of the clergy are anything without the foundation of their own baptism and the mutual ministry of all the baptized. Every one of you who reads this is a minister of the gospel according to your own faith, gifts, experience, and learning. We are in this together. The only way we can do well is “together”. Only together can the whole church be faithful, generous, and committed. Together, we will find a newness in our future, a newness that will activate that power working in us that can do more than we can ask or imagine.
We enter a new liturgical year with the season of Advent. It is such a sacred and beautiful time of the year. I look forward to hearing the customary scripture readings and prayers. I look forward to hearing (and perhaps singing!) the music of the season. I look forward to being drawn more deeply into the mystery of the Incarnation of God and the promised coming of Christ. And I look forward to hearing the ways in which you are following the work of the Holy Spirit in your places.
Every blessing of the season to you, your loved ones, and your community.