"We have this crazy tendency to say thank you in a deep way only when we are parting ways," says Bishop Hughes, "when someone is moving away or moving on or when someone dies so they aren't there anymore to even hear how grateful we are. So I want to encourage us that, in this time of transition, one of the ways we can make a complicated time more joyful is to thank those who have helped us so much along this way." (Time: 4:50.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. As we continue our transition out of pandemic, I find myself grateful... grateful first of all for God and the way God has taken such wonderful care of us, of our churches, of our diocese, of our people, of all that we care about and the people around us in the communities. That in all of this time we have not ever been alone – whether we were facing tragedy or triumph, God has been there with us and God has kept us connected to each other. I do not take that for granted and I know many of you, like me, treasure that, in a way, right now more than we did before we moved into pandemic. For that I am grateful.
I am also grateful for our staff, a staff who comes together to support me and my ministry in the diocese but, even more importantly, supports all 96 of our congregations. They have been there in ways that are creative. They have been... it's been steadfast and they're bringing help to clergy and congregations. And one of the things that I admire the most in them is they not once, in this time, said no. Their response across the board has always – all through pandemic – been “Okay, let's see how we can make this happen.” They did that for me and they did that for every congregation in this diocese and I am so grateful for that.
I'm especially glad, too, for the many hands involved in putting our worship online over the last 16 months – and they continue to do that. That was not our area of expertise and with a spirit of adventure and a pressing need to make it happen, we jumped in there – clergy, lay leaders – we had a few people who were experts in doing this – and those people were tireless in their efforts to teach anybody and everybody who wanted to learn. We banded together, we shared information, we got ourselves online, we were a blessing to each other, and we were also a blessing to the wider world that was looking for a place to belong and looking for hope. I'm so grateful for all the hands that did that.
I find myself every day thanking God for the clergy of this diocese and thanking God for our wardens, treasurers and vestries. These people carried an incredible burden during this time, most of the time worried about how things were going to work out and also faithful. You can be worried and faithful at the same time and they have shown us how to do that. They took every worry to God – they have been very honest and clear with their congregations, letting them know what the challenges are. And I'm grateful not only for their truthfulness and their transparency but I'm also grateful for that steadfast generosity that they have shown to so many congregations.
There are so many people to thank: those of you who have helped keep your buildings in good working order and make sure that they were safe; those who figured out how to teach Sunday school online or to bring things to homes for children in order to continue their spiritual growth; those of you who kept music ministry going when our people were broken-hearted that they could not sing together. And there are countless others to thank that I have not even mentioned right now. Know that I just am filled with gratitude for all of you and I want to invite you to think this same way too.
We have this crazy tendency to say thank you in a deep way only when we are parting ways – when someone is moving away or moving on or when someone dies so they aren't there anymore to even hear how grateful we are. So I want to encourage us that, in this time of transition, one of the ways we can make a complicated time more joyful is to thank those who have helped us so much along this way. It's been a gift and a blessing to serve alongside you in the midst of pandemic. It has been full of hard times and it has been full of good times and I am grateful for your presence. Please do take the time to tell another person how grateful you are for their presence.