30 August 2016
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It is the end of August and leaves are already beginning to turn. The stores are filled with reminders that school starts soon, and that summer is almost over. For many, this Labor Day Weekend is the last fling before getting back to work. First instituted as a federal holiday in 1894, Labor Day honors the American labor unions and the hard won social and economic achievements of working men and women. We are grateful to all of those over the years who have worked and who are working still towards issues of justice and equity in the workplace.
September is also a time for renewal and rethinking of our work habits and priorities. It is easy to get pulled back into old habits not just of what we do, but also of how we think about others and ourselves. Centering our lives in Christ, reminding ourselves that Christ is always present--in every transaction, every relationship, every activity, and every new challenge--can help us to enfold our lives in prayer and find deeper meaning in the simplest things. We are to love God with all of our hearts, minds and souls, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This Gospel message can transform the drudgery of daily living into an opportunity to witness God's miracles and joy in our love for others and for ourselves.
I have been reading the book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Dr. Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande talks about nursing homes and what dreary places they can be for those in need of help with daily living and medical supervision. In describing more recent creative innovations in healthcare including Assisted Living, Dr. Gawande points out that people who have serious illnesses do not just want to prolong their lives. He quotes surveys that identify their top priorities as, "avoiding suffering, strengthening relationships with family and friends, being mentally aware, not being a burden on others, and achieving a sense that their life is complete." He points out that people who are attached to a ventilator to prolong their physical life miss the opportunity to say good-bye, to say that "It's okay," "I'm sorry" or "I love you." (p. 155)
This new academic year provides us with new opportunities to use the precious life that we have been given--in whatever mental, physical and emotional shape we are in--to say "I love you" to the people with whom we live, work and worship. We have the opportunity to embrace our relationship with Christ every day, and consequently to have no regrets about what we have or have not done with our lives.
I am so grateful to be your Priest at Saint John's Getty Square, and look forward to our work and ministry together this year. May we have the courage and strength to be open to the Holy Spirit and let Christ guide us in all we do. See you on Sunday!
In Christ and with love,
The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota
Priest-in-Charge, Saint John's Getty Square