What now?

Published 5:04 pm Sunday, May 23, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Last week I unlocked my front door, walked into the kitchen and was brought up short by the appearance of a graduation cap and gown on the counter. I knew our son was going to pick it up that day but it had slipped my mind. I wasn’t necessarily surprised, it was just a stark reminder that soon his life as well as mine and my wife’s will be very different from it has been for the last 18 years. Soon, family and friends will crowd around graduation stages across the country and celebrate the accomplishments of their loved ones. In fact, this past Sunday (May 16) our church gathered to congratulate the graduates from our congregation with gifts and prayers and blessings. We send these young people on their way into the next stage of their lives with all our love and all our well-wishes. 

With all these reminders of transition and new beginnings happening (especially in my very household) I was put in mind of a line from the song Closing Time by the group Semisonic, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Our son is ending his time at high school only to matriculate in the fall to a university. My wife and I will have to learn to adjust to being “empty-nesters.” That’s on a personal level; however, we as a nation are coming to the end of shelter-in-place, the ravaging of a pandemic, and even wearing masks. Many of us are asking the question posed by graduates the world round, “What now?” 

This past Thursday, May 13, we commemorated the feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. What follows the recorded account of this event, are chapters full of how the early fledgling church tried to answer the question, “what now?.” These moments of new beginnings are opportunities to do things completely differently than ever before. These moments of new beginnings are filled with possibilities and we are limited only by our creativity in how we go forward. The early church realized that the Christian faith wasn’t limited to just the Jews but for all people. An idea that had been thought of as abhorrent even taboo until God showed them a different way of being. For the early followers, it was a radical moment in the life of the faith. 

As a country, we too are in a “what now” moment. How do we get on with our lives in the wake of what we have gone through in the last 15 months? Again, a vast array of possibilities lies stretched out before us. Perhaps going forward, we will be more mindful of public health and our individual impact on others in a way we weren’t before the pandemic. Perhaps we will be more conscious of “personal space” than before. Who knows what our new existence will look like. I pray that it is marked with more profound displays of kindness, gentleness and love. I pray that we will be more mindful of each other and as The Book of Common Prayer instructs us in our baptismal vows to, “respect the dignity of every human being.”

REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 562-4542.