Monday, September 21, 2020

Love

There is a saying that makes the rounds on Facebook here and there, attributed to the Dalai Lama or with no attribution at all.  Regardless, it rings true: "The issue we have to deal with today is that people were made to be loved and things were made to be used, but now things are loved and people are being used."  It is reminiscent of what Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has often said: "If it’s not about love, it’s not about God!"

Every aspect of our lives having been thrown into chaos, with much normal activity curtailed and priorities shifting seemingly sometimes by the hour, it can make it difficult to keep perspective on what our activity and priorities are supposed to be about in the first place.  Too often the gospel is used for political or personal gain rather than for its inherent purpose: the proclamation of the good news of God in Christ Jesus; the love of God and neighbor as self.

Life sure has its moments!  Regardless of what swirls around us, I hope the simplicity of the gospel message grounds us in love, because if it is not about that, it is not about God!

Marc

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Why are other groups using our building while we have not yet regathered for worship?

Several folks have raised this question, and it’s a good one.  Here’s what’s going on:  As you know, the decision about when to regather for worship is to be made by the vestry, with the final say coming from me as rector.  Our vestry is in ongoing conversation about considerations that shape our timing, including local COVID statistics; input from health care professionals; parishioner responses to the summertime survey about regathering; and lots of prayer.  Simultaneously, we are working on a regathering plan which will need to be approved by Bishop Susan before we can come back to the building for worship.  The vestry meets again on September 15 and will continue our prayerful discernment about regathering.  All of us miss being able to worship together in our beautiful sanctuary.

Meanwhile, Marc has diligently been working with at least five different groups interested in using our Community Outreach space, and we are eager to bring that aspect of our ministry to life.  Many parishes host outside groups, and the diocesan regathering guidelines address the question of whether or not those groups should be allowed to use the building.  Churches are asked first to consider limiting or eliminating the availability of the church facility for outside groups, but if parishes decide to move forward—and I have made that decision, in consultation with Marc and with Bishop Susan—then outside groups are to adhere to the same COVID safety standards that we ourselves will eventually be using when we regather in person for worship:  social distancing, masks, sanitizing, and all applicable CDC and Virginia Department of Health guidelines.

So why are we inviting others to use our space before we ourselves come back into the building?  Because the leaders of each program have discerned for themselves that meeting in person is the right choice at this time for their programs (just as our vestry has not yet reached that decision for our own in-person worship); because the primary “clientele” of building users is children, not adults, and the risk of becoming infected with COVID is less severe for that age group than for the general church population; and because our building users will be providing much-needed services to local children and their families in this difficult time.

To borrow phrasing from Canoeing the Mountains, we are in uncharted territory these days, trying to navigate the pandemic with faith and grace, making the best decisions we can moment by moment.  Please keep the vestry and me in your prayers in this endeavor, and know that you are in ours. 

Blessings,

Anne

An Inquiring Heart

 Dear friends,

The other day I attended a webinar entitled Holy Chaos:  Creating Connections in Divisive Times.  The webinar presenter, a minister named Amanda Henderson, had written a book and was sharing some of her main ideas.   I signed up because the webinar felt timely; we are indeed living in divisive times.  And we are Christians living in divisive times, called even in the midst of great division to love not only our neighbors but also our enemies.

Pastor Henderson began by pointing out that most of us were taught never to discuss religion and/or politics—and then she noted that following that advice doesn’t seem to be helping us much!  To clarify—it’s not that people today aren’t talking (or posting or tweeting or shouting!) about religion and politics; it’s that we are not listening and speaking carefully and respectfully to one another.

One of the communication strategies Amanda Henderson suggested for this divisive time is “Cultivating Curiosity.”  I love that.  As we find ourselves in conversations with people whose core beliefs are very different from ours, she recommends that we open ourselves to listen with wonder and to ask “Why?” questions—the way a child asks those questions, genuinely seeking to understand.  “What makes that so important to you?” we might ask, truly trying to learn from the other person’s perspective.

Listening to Pastor Henderson, I was reminded of a line from the wonderful prayer in our baptismal service, the prayer that comes right after the baptism itself:  Give [the newly baptized] an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works (BCP 308).

In this time of such division, may we indeed have inquiring and discerning hearts, and the gift of joy and wonder in all of God’s works—including and especially God’s children who look at the world very differently than we do!

Blessings of curiosity and wonder to you!

Anne

Day School Space Being Used

Even under the circumstances, a lot has been happening regarding use of space in the Outreach Center:

 

Because the risk of Covid-19 remains so high, the Hilton playgroup who met in the basement will not be gathering again until there is a vaccine.

 

The Families in Transition (FiT) ministry is still planning on using space along the short length of hall.  Given constraints of Covid and inconsistencies of the families they serve in following Covid protocols, they will be waiting until later in the year to resume their work.  This will be five days a week after school (roughly 3:00 to 5:00 or maybe 6:00 pm).

 

The Carrington Institute (a tutoring organization) will be using a couple of the classrooms plus the office at the end of the long hall.  They will likely resume their work sometime later this month.  This will be five days a week, usually 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.

 

Sprouting Roots, a speech and language organization, will be using the art room and space in the music room beneath the art room as needed, allowing for use of that space by other groups.  This will be five days a week through regular business hours.

 

The Classical Conversations (CC/homeschool) group will no longer be meeting in the school building.  Because of Covid, they were not comfortable with other groups using some of the classrooms in proximity.  I'm sorry this is CC's decision, but they only used the space one day a week.  Most of the other groups coming in will be using the space each weekday, allowing us to more fully realize our vision for use of that space.

 

On the other hand, the Homeschool Co-op, a new homeschool group forming largely out of the CC group (about half the number of kids) will be meeting in the remaining classrooms basically in the center of the long hall.  As with the CC group, this will still be only one day a week, either Tuesday or Thursday (yet to be clarified), likely gathering sometime this month.

 

With Bishop Haynes having exempted school building-related work from the restrictions the church must follow, we are in full consideration of the Bishop's directives as we work with these new groups coming in, ensuring Safe Church certifications, as well.

 

Marc

Monday, August 24, 2020

Holy Eucharist on September 6

Dear friends,

During these months of pandemic, I have so missed being able to celebrate Holy Eucharist together and share in our central meal, and I know that many of you have been feeling the same way.  After much prayer and reflection, I have decided to offer communion once a month for as long as we continue our virtual worship services.  Consecrating and consuming the bread and wine is not something that clergy can do by themselves; the Eucharistic prayer and the eating of the holy meal are meant to be done in community.  Therefore, on the Sundays when our worship service is the Holy Eucharist, there will be a few representative parishioners (with clergy, fewer than 10 people total) in the sanctuary.  The first date for Holy Eucharist for us will be on September 6.  Please read the following information carefully to learn how you can receive the precious Body and Blood.  I look forward to sharing in this Sacrament with you once again. 

Blessings,
Anne

How can I receive the bread and wine?

You have two options:

1.   Wearing a mask, come to the River Road door of the church between 12 and 2 PM on Sunday, September 6 to receive communion from the clergy.  Social distancing protocols will be in place.  An alms basin will be available if you would like to drop off your offering.

2.   Immediately following the morning worship service on September 6, communion will be delivered to those who are unable to come to the church to receive. Delivery will be to your front door; no one will come inside your home.  

      If you would like to have communion delivered to you, you must contact Bill Wilds by Wednesday, September 2.  Call or email at 595-0371 or saec.bill19@verizon.net.

What is being done to prevent the spread of COVID as we celebrate Holy Eucharist?

All clergy and lay people distributing communion will be masked.  Those receiving the bread and wine will also be masked and will step away to a separate spot to consume the elements.  We will be using prepackaged, sealed, single-serving containers of bread and wine, which will be placed on trays on the altar to be blessed.  Those who come to the church door to receive communion will pick up it up from a tray; no one else will touch your container.  Communion kits being delivered to people at home will be bagged by gloved hands for transportation, so no one other than the recipient will touch the container.

Which parishioners will be in the sanctuary for the service of Holy Eucharist?

Parishioners who will be delivering communion to people’s homes will receive individual invitations to come to the service. 

How often will we have a service of Holy Eucharist?

For the time being, while we continue with virtual worship, we plan to offer Holy Eucharist once per month.  For home delivery, you will need to make a reservation each time.  

If on September 6 I receive communion at my home,

what will that look like?

Sometime Sunday morning, we hope that you will take time to pray through the Holy Eucharist booklet that we will be sending you.  Shortly after our online service ends (around 11:30 AM), a fellow parishioner will come to your door with the bread and wine.  Your visitor will lead you through the litany found on the next page.  (Notice that you already know all of the responses, so you do not need to be holding a copy of the litany.) 

For safety, your visitor will remain masked at all times, and you will wear your mask until time to consume the elements.  Your visitor will step away briefly when you open and consume the bread and wine.

Please note that your visitor will be bringing communion to other parishioners as well and so cannot stay more than a few minutes with you.  He or she will not come into your home. 

Litany for home distribution of Eucharist during pandemic

Masks on; social distancing

LEV: The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Parishioner:  And also with you.

LEV:  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall not thirst.”

LEV: The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ keep you in eternal life.

Parishioner:  Amen.

LEV hands communion package to parishioner and steps 6 feet away to allow parishioner to unmask and consume the elements.

(If at a home with a storm door, the parishioner can simply shut the door and then consume the elements.)

LEV: Let us bless the Lord.

Parishioner:  Thanks be to God.