Watch this message on Youtube
Dear Community of Saints,
I wonder how long it took Noah to build the ark before the rain began to fall? Lord, help me build an ark to keep us safe in this flood of virus and fear?
I wonder how the Hebrew people were able to pack so quickly as they exited the land of Egypt after the shadow of death passed over and before Pharaoh's chariots began chasing them? Gracious God, will you lead us with a pillar of fire and smoke into the safety of this wilderness, teach us your commandments, and feed us with manna each day?
I wonder if the Babylonians gave anyone a few moments to gather their things before they marched out into exile in a foreign land? Loving God, be with us in our exile from community life that we may never forget we are the Body of Christ. And when the exile is over, lead us rejoicing to celebrate at All Saints’, our happy home.
These are the scripture stories I keep returning to in my prayers as I ask God to show me how to lead the people of All Saints’. I realized after our first Sunday of “virtual worship” that my work is to pack up the church for this life-saving journey of physical distancing so that we will not be scattered by our isolation. I am creating an ark to carry our essential presence with each other and with God so that we will not drown in the rising waters of fear and loneliness. I am asking God to give us manna everyday as we come together for prayer in the morning and the evening. I am reminding us that we are the church, a sanctuary of living bodies, a temple built with loving relationships, able to maintain our identity as the Body of Christ, even when we are not able to receive the sacrament of Christ’s Body. And I have to accept that we cannot pack everything, we will forget a few items… so let’s focus on the essentials.
I have been blessed over the last few weeks to lean on God’s presence in my prayer life and our community of leaders at All Saints’ who have supported me, informed me, and kept me focused on what is most faithful in this time of viral pandemic. Our vestry, wardens, treasurer, registrar, are an amazing and faithful group. The “COVID-19 team” of scientists and public health folks at ASEC has informed me at every step about best practices and realistic outcomes. I want to weep with gratitude for our staff who have helped me create this new way of gathering the church, remotely. Especially, I thank Jay Colley and Alyssia Turner who prophetically created our digital infrastructure and YouTube live-streaming capabilities a year ago and unknowingly prepared us for this moment. As this first week of isolating ourselves comes to a close, I feel that we are turning the corner from preparing and packing for this journey to living in this new existence out of our spiritual suitcase.
Bishop Eugene announced yesterday in a conversation with the clergy of the diocese that we will observe the CDC’s recommendation of isolating for at least 8 weeks. This means that our church buildings will remain closed until at least May 15th. Sunday, May 16th could be our first day back for corporate worship. Notice that I am using tentative language, we have no idea what the intervening weeks will be like. We will need the dove to bring us back an olive branch so that we know the waters are receding. Until then, these dates are our best projections.
The bishop asks us all to “Stay Calm, Stay Connected, Stay Church.”
This Sunday, March 22nd, we will worship online with our Bishops, +Eugene and +Bob, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation at 11am. Rev. Jess and I will be offering a Zoom bible study on the lessons for the day at 10am. After worship, you are invited to gather for a Zoom coffee hour, 12pm .
Zoom or Call-in (929)205-6099, Meeting ID 657820384
Holy Eucharist with the Diocese
Zoom or Call-in (929)205-6099 , Meeting ID 500166547
Next week, March 29th, I have been invited to preach at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. We will gather in the same way for Zoom Bible Study at 10am, worship at the cathedral at 11am, and Zoom coffee hour at 12pm.
Zoom or Call-in (929)205-6099, Meeting ID 269671373
Holy Eucharist with the Diocese
Mother Adrien preaching
Zoom or Call-in (929)205-6099, Meeting ID 917317673
Stay tuned for our Holy Week plans. Rev. Jess, Adam, and I are participating in a web conference today with Virginia Theological Seminary about creative and faithful ways to celebrate Holy Week and Easter online.
Many of you have plugged into our offerings of daily prayer and Lenten programs using Facebook Live, YouTube, conference call, and Zoom. Many of our parishioners will not use these resources to stay connected and we need an old-fashioned phone tree. Learn more about our plan for pastoral connections, prayer, and keeping the Body of Christ healthy, or download a directory.
As this pandemic unfolds we will have questions, we will learn new habits, and we will likely feel something other than calm. There may be moments of panic or anxiety. You may feel times of depression or grief. You might experience “cabin fever” and need to get outside. We have gathered information about best healthy personal practices, links for local government and healthcare information, and parish contact numbers so that if you are not feeling calm, you can reach out—get some help carrying what has become too heavy.