Dear Friends,

I read an interesting interview with three university presidents talking about their decision to close or open in the fall.  Chancellor Carol Christ of Berkeley said two things that resonated with me and I believe apply at St. Clare’s Church.  

Chancellor Christ had a change of heart after an outbreak from a fraternity party broke out.  She said she realized anew “how much higher education is really about congregating.  It’s all about physical presence.”[1]  In the church we often refer to ourselves as a congregation.  That sent me back to my dictionary where I note that the Latin root is “to flock together.” The birds metaphor is an apt one, not that we’re for them, but we do tend to meet together as at the end of the pond or around the bread crumbs. And the Letter of Peter exhorts us to ” tend the flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2).  Therein is the problem; a pandemic and congregating are antithetical.  

The second thing Carol Christ said is “we have to remember that there’s a day after.”  And lest we think this is simply a glib message of hope, she goes on to say, “we also have to be focused on what’s going to happen the day after. This pandemic is going to be transformational … We will be different on the day after.” The realization she had is that we won’t simply go back to the way things were.  While she is focused on higher education, the same challenge is given to us in the church, to think of our congregation as a new creation.  Imagine that!

Ed Happ

[1] Jack Stripling, “How to Lead Through Colliding Crises: Three presidents reflect on risk, burnout, and what to do when each day presents a series of decisions with no good answers,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22, 2020