Today we had our first noonday Eucharist since the fire on Friday. We worshiped in the chapel down the street, and while it was strange to be in a different place, it was nice to have been offered a place to worship. The dean spoke, and he just has a really great way of putting things. [I'll post his sermon once it appears on the school's website] He reminded us that although we aren't in the same place, we are with the same people, reading familiar words, singing familiar songs, and praying familiar prayers. He said that we won't ever know why this world was created with the need for healing, but we do know that Christ steps in and provides that healing, over and over again. And in our service, we continue to give thanks for all that God does for us.
Bishop Johnston (of VA) spoke to us as well. He said that he mourned with us, and that people all over the world were praying for us. I was once again overwhelmed with the knowledge that so many people in so many places were and have been taking time out of their day to check in on us or to mention us in their prayers. The generosity of the surrounding communities (specifically Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill's Zabriskie Chapel, Episcopal High School, and even Beth El Hebrew Congregation!) has been especially moving. The Bishop called us to be a "Resurrection people," a people continuing the witness of Christ's work in the world despite--no, because of--our loss. He then highlighted the second verse of the song we were about to sing, All My Hope on God is Founded (Hymn 665 in our hymnal, but this British version has slightly different words. Here's the words from our hymnal: "...though with care and toil we build them, tower and temple fall to dust. But God's power, hour by hour, is my temple and my tower"). I can't really expand on that--the words speak for themselves.
Since getting back to campus on Saturday night, I have sensed a change within the community and within me. The briefing by the Dean was followed by Evening Prayer and then community dinner. It made my heart glad to see so many people--even spouses and commuters!--eating together. As my friend Liz said, "We do community really well," and this has only been amplified. There's an intentionality, a richness around everything--especially things that happen in church. At my field ed church yesterday I noticed the loud crack when the celebrant broke the Host at the Eucharist. It was almost as if something inside me had snapped, as if I could sense for the first time what the words "this is my Body, broken for you" really mean. And today at the Eucharist we sang louder and spoke with more conviction than ever before.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are witnessing to the light, that we truly are being "Resurrection people."