Generous Orthodoxy  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Virginia Theological Seminary loses its chapel

The shocking news of the destruction of the Virginia Seminary chapel by fire on Friday has touched heartstrings all across this country. It was "only a building" and not a particularly beautiful one at that, but when one reflects on the sacred history and the memories of the prayers, the preaching, the associations and relationships, the sacraments and memorials, the pastoral care and the healing of souls that have taken place there since 1881, the loss sears the consciousness. Surely every Episcopalian can rally around the community in this time of mourning and grief, as a sign that we are still a people bound together by the love of God.

The Dean, Ian Markham, has posted an expressive prayer on the Seminary website:

Loving God, we give thanks. Our sense of loss is great—so we bring you our pain, our worry, our concerns. We give you the thousands of memories that go with our chapel. We trust that in you our memories are captured and saved for our eternal life. We give thanks for the community services that came to help us—firefighters and police. Our community is at prayer, and we give thanks that the fire was contained and that no lives were lost. We give you our concerns and worries. We pray for wisdom and discernment and we offer this moment and ourselves to you. In Jesus’ name we pray.

The website includes an easy way to donate to the chapel fire fund. My guess is that the outpouring will be great.

PS. There is much compelling material on the seminary website. VTS is doing a phenomenal job in that regard. The slide show (gallery of photos) is horrifying, but one cannot stop looking. At least two of the photos seem prayerful.