Dear Cathedral Family,
In this Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus and his followers have upset the “tradition of the elders,” taught by the Pharisees, by not washing their hands before eating. Jesus responds to their criticism by distinguishing between “the commandment of God” and “human tradition.” Loving God and loving neighbor, having a heart that is not “defiled” by destructive impulses but filled by God’s Spirit, is always more important than tradition. Jesus is an advocate for being flexible.
Episcopalians love “the way we have always done things,” and these traditions matter. However, as we keep learning through COVID, we have to be flexible in order to remain true to the commandment of God. The contents of our hearts determine the shape of our actions. So, because we love one another, especially “the little ones,” we must sometimes forgo our traditions in order to be faithful.
Rally Day, the Sunday after Labor Day, is traditionally the big start to our program year, when we roll out all our plans and events and get excited about what lies ahead. We are, as always, working on plans for Christian formation for children, youth and adults; for special events that will allow us to be together for service and fellowship; for music that will lift our hearts and help us feel God’s presence with us; for worship that follows the familiar forms and traditions of our Church year. But these may not all begin in person with a great bang on Rally Day.
Although we all miss the joy of our youngest children’s presence, we understand the special caution parents must observe as school begins for the fall. We will certainly be continuing to offer safe, fully vaccinated nursery care on Sundays, along with Children’s Chapel and at-home formation opportunities, but in-person Sunday School may begin just a bit later this year, when conditions are better for gathering. The Reverend Eric Zubler is working with the Children and Youth Team to make plans for many special opportunities and events throughout the rest of this calendar year, including outdoor events and at-home activities, as well as traditional Sunday School.
Likewise, Elizabeth Bemis is making plans for musical offerings between now and Christmas that can be enjoyed both safely in-person and by recording or live stream.
We will be sharing information about fall events in the coming weeks, along with plans for a Rally Day experience that will be a flexible version of our traditional kick-off event.
The letter of James reminds us that “every generous act of giving, every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Even through this Delta variant wave, God’s gifts continue, and many of them may come through our willingness to be flexible and to allow God to transform us.