Conversations recite the same almost ‘liturgical’ words right now; “It’s fluid.” “Everything is happening in real time.” “Plans are out the window.”
All our standard modes of life are changed. This brings an assortment of challenges and feelings across the spectrum of age and stage as we integrate what is really going on right now in our families, nation, and world.
Suddenly, I am aware of how much church is simply and profoundly a place where we find stability during challenging times.
Whether it is the familiar prayers and hymns or conversations with familiar faces; church is a way we find stability during turmoil. And more profoundly, it is a place, where as a community, we find the path of peace to take instead of the path of anxiety and fear.
So here we are unable to be together.
Take a breath with me, in the stillness reach with me for God’s peace and presence that is already with each of us.
The truth is, I have never had to figure out how to lead a community during a pandemic and you have never been part of a parish during a pandemic! We are in it together in real time.
My goal is to invite you to join me in prayer for our nation and world as we also figure out how to support each other as a community in the faith of Jesus Christ during this uncharted time.
I met with Bishop Lee and Clergy today. As already declared, all parishes in the Episcopal Church are to cease public in person worship services and meetings for the foreseeable future. The foreseeable future is getting longer each day. For SJTL this also includes the cancelling the monthly dinner at A Just Harvest and our ministries at The Grove Nursing Facility. Both of which were cancelled by those organizations. However, this does not cease other ways of reaching out to support these communities in other ways.
The Bishop also urged that this policy does not cease in person Pastoral Care by the priests of the church when deemed fitting and particularly in emergencies or God forbid, if a parishioner is dying. This does however cause me to postpone weddings and public burial services.
My priorities are clear :
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we continue to be the Church who has already survived plagues, civil wars, and every kind of strife. We can trust the Spirit to not only support us in our grief during the extent of COVID-19 pandemic, but to truly guide us toward new experiences of hope and deeper faith in the undying One’s ongoing presence with us no matter what we go through.
Plans for Sunday are in the works and include something for children, youth, something from Josh Langhoff on hymns, a Bible Study and Worship at the Cathedral in Chicago with Bishop Lee.
As we go forward, I am full of new ideas for ways to connect as church in the coming weeks. Here are a few: Conference Call Support Group, Electronic Midweek Prayer Group, and scheduling meetings for planning new Outreach Efforts. You may have ideas too, please share them.
Rectors rarely offer any mandates but if I could, I would mandate this, stay in contact with each other. Share how you are feeling. Don’t wait for others to call you. Reach out. COVID-19 does not keep us from phone calls, letters, and care packages. This is not a time to isolate and emotionally turn inward. It is a time to reach out, check in and creatively care. Please email any staff member for your personal and up to date copy of the parish directory.
Finally, join me in daily prayer as we band together spiritually in the task of Love:
O God from who we come and to whom we go, we pray for the health and wisdom of your people. May all affected by the virus be healed and may its spread be stopped. Help us to make wise decisions about our health and for all those we love.
We pray for all the medical professionals, for those who are in hospitals and medical centers, urgent care facilities, infirmaries and health centers; for all caretakers in assisted living places and nursing homes. Also, for those who respond to emergencies throughout the day and night. Keep all health care workers safe and healthy.
We thank you for all those who have dedicated their lives to studying medicine and wellness. May research continue to be expanded and vaccines be safely made available to all.
Remind us, O Divine One, to remain calm, share our resources, and to wash our hands. Hear our prayers, O Lord, for continuing thoughtful and careful responses, with loving compassion for each other. Amen
Remember wash your hands and you are not alone. Jesus and germs are everywhere!
With you on the journey,