It is a challenge serving a fraction of the parish. Given the direction to have only 30% occupancy at St. Nicholas at any one service, it can be disheartening for me, and I worry that it also can be disheartening to some. The church seems almost empty on Sunday morning (considering what the attendance was pre-Covid) there is the temptation to think our joyful resurrectional prayer life together as a family in Christ could be forgotten in this pandemic.
But last weekend I had a chance to see beyond our current circumstances and gain some perspective. I served on Saturday in Winkler at the Mission, where there were 25 people, the early Liturgy at St. Nicholas with Fr. Stephen had about 28 people (2 less than full capacity) and I had about 27 people at the second Liturgy (3 less than capacity). Between all three services we had about 80 people! These are numbers we would not have seen before the pandemic!
Although we seem disjointed and small, and this pandemic has forced us to do things we never ever conceived, we in reality are still the same strong community built on the foundation of faith that is Jesus Christ. It is hard to see that when one only gets a glimpse of sparsely attended service, with only one canter (as I was experiencing), but when we see each fraction as part of the whole (as I did last weekend), we see a “family” that has not grown despondent, but in fact has grown with love and joy. This has everything to do with the faith and love each of you has offered, for which I am eternally thankful for.
Faith, in Jesus Christ, He who is the Way, the Life and the Truth, and we are truly the Church, His body, united in His divine love, greater than this pandemic, greater than even death.
Love, for it is here at St. Nicholas, that He who is love (1Jn. 4:7) shares His love for humanity. Not in some abstract or simply spiritual way, but sacramentally in our reception of the Eucharist, His Body and Blood. This same offering of the faithful at St. Nicholas unites our disjointed little groups, with each other, and our little(ish) parish with the whole of the Orthodox world, whether it be in Kyiv, Ottawa, Washington, or Nairobi, and profoundly with the Kingdom of God that we proclaim at the beginning of every Liturgy! This is perspective! May the Lord bless your time and efforts with peace , mercy and joy!