"Don't you love New York in the fall?
It makes me want to buy school supplies.
I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."- Nora Ephron
It’s that time of year again! It’s September and you can see and feel our great city filling up with people again. It actually feels as if New York City is finally finding its way back to a “new normal” after a very strange couple of years. The traffic is heavier, the lines at lunch are longer, and people are honking their horns more frequently. All these are signs that the pandemic, while not over, doesn’t frighten us in the same way it once did. And, while we need to remain vigilant, we don’t need to remain afraid. We are all learning to live with COVID just as we have learned to live with so many other difficult challenges in life.
This Sunday, September 18, we will celebrate The Feast of St. Bart’s; a “moveable feast” that kicks off the 2022-2023 programmatic year for the parish. Each year on this day we celebrate the vibrancy of our parish with a fun fair featuring food and entertainment after the 11:00 am service. There will be opportunities to sign up for a variety of volunteer positions and to learn more about how to connect with this exciting parish. There will also be the joyous opportunity to greet old friends and to meet new ones.
At St. Bart’s, more and more people are returning to in-person worship and it’s a wonderful feeling to see and to hear a more robust congregation singing and praying together. It has been a great gift for many to now receive both the bread and the wine in Holy Communion. Of course, we will continue to livestream the 11:00 am service as well as the Forum and we hope people will continue to actively participate in both. In church, some people will continue to wear masks and some will not. Some will drink from the cup and some will continue to receive the bread only. We trust everyone to do whatever makes them feel comfortable and most safe.
My colleague, Bishop Cathleen Bascom notes “The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines ‘pilgrimages’ as Journeys to holy places undertaken from motives of devotion in order to obtain supernatural help, or as acts of penance or thanksgiving.” I am reminded that we are on an ongoing pilgrimage here at St. Bart’s. Each year we begin a new journey to holy places motivated by our sincere devotion to grow more connected to one another and to God. We seek supernatural help from a source we hope to know more about. We are more likely to be motivated by “thanksgiving” than “penance” on this journey, but our thanksgiving is a sincere expression of our most profound appreciation for the blessings which continue to come to us from God.
There are lots of reasons to come to church. We come for sustenance, relief, rest, challenge, beauty, courage, knowledge, and primarily to express to the Holy One our gratitude for all the gifts we’ve been granted... and for which we’ve done nothing to deserve.
For whatever reason, we invite you to join us at St. Bart’s this Sunday, either in person or online, and become part of this extraordinary holy journey.
The Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe, D.D.