A mission for Julian - from our Trustee in America
The Rev. Robert Fruehwirth, Rector, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Hillsborough NC USA
When the pandemic started last spring, it seemed natural to launch an online, small group reading of Julian. The aim was to read Julian and savor her lesson of love as we lived through a time of radical disruption and mounting anxieties. As the political climate worsened and racial violence surged again into public awareness, our group of thirty met weekly to listen to Julian speaking from her century of plague, peasant riots, violent oppression, and perpetual war.
Julian’s timeless message of God’s love as the ground of our being resonated with the group. We relished that this love is not a metaphysical notion, but is an active and urgent care for us that we could release ourselves to: our Mother of Mercy ministering to us in our ‘lowest manner of need’. This love not only could hold our anxiety, it also could restore the vision of Jesus himself, of living with compassion. Reliably, people also discovered in Julian’s theology the invitation to a more acceptant, forgiving, and gentle relationship with ourselves. Coming back to ourselves because of love, we are able to live more connected to God and each other.
For a lot of people in the group, raised in a more punishing idea of Christianity and a fearful Church, something more happened. They began to see Church itself with new eyes. Church was more than social custom (people still come to church as custom in the southern US!). Church did not have to mean subjecting oneself to preacher’s bombast, or being driven to do more ‘good deeds’. Attending church, even on Zoom, and reading scripture, could be a meeting with Love, a deep centering that returned us to wholeness and authentic purpose. Church could be about Love.