Our preacher this year at the Rhode Island Episcopal Diocesan Chrism Mass was the Rev. Elizabeth Nestor, MD, MDiv, FACEP – an Episcopal priest of this diocese and an Emergency Room doctor who served courageously through the recent Pandemic.
Her sermon was a moving reminder of how God uses the broken bits of the World to do things no one would have expected.
In a particularly moving passage of the sermon she talked about what she witnessed of the Church and compared that to what she experienced in the medical field at the same time:
But I think that as medicine has increasingly fallen apart
the church has kept on doing what it needs to do,
through that first Zoom Easter, touchless services
always blessings, outdoor communions, walk-around-the-churchyard counseling, Zoom Convention,
and lonely lonely funerals – –
I think clergy kept up the healing
when the doctors, didn’t, really. And I thank you. It was important.
You kept on showing up:
you were gowned at bedsides with the armor of righteousness and home-made masks zooming into homes, providing connection in uncertain and dangerous times providing care in those constrained moments
drawing meaning out of fear and death and anger,
helping us all look towards wholeness: so necessary,
and so life-saving.
You have a right to be exhausted,
with all this holding-things-together that you did, and continue to do, and I think, while doctors and people may be fed up with what ‘health care’ has become under a for-profit model,
people see now that the church keeps going.
The church didn’t freeze in place – it didn’t atrophy or go away –
you adapted and found a way to keep preaching
Jesus’ unlikely message of hope and faithfulness:
to sit in the midst of the tax collectors and the sinners that we all are
and to say: yes there will be separation there will be death
but there will be resurrection from the dead, as well.
I think it is the Church’s moment, really.
And when fear of the other, when violence and anger and grievance
fill our airways and fill hearts
the church is here: we meet here to preach community and continuity and healing and mercy and resilience, and, resurrection.
I’m working on reformatting the whole sermon for publication, but the part about us all showing up in our new pandemic vestments, hospital gowns and home made masks at the bedsides of the sick and dying brought me to tears and will be in my prayers this Triduum in particular.