Dear friends in Christ,
I have written earlier about how St. David’s is taking “common sense” measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. Those measures, along with the further directives from the diocese, will be put into effect immediately. (see “What to Expect at St. David’s” below).
I think it’s important, however, to remind ourselves of some important things at this time when the culture around us is reacting with anxiousness, confusion, and even panic.
First, this is not unprecedented for the church. Many dioceses and parishes, such as my former parish in Memphis, Tennessee, enacted similar measures during the Memphis Yellow Fever outbreak in 1878, as well as the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. In fact, throughout the centuries of medical crises, the Church has always strived to balance the calm, spiritual assurance of our faith with the need to take practical, scientific action for the health and safety of its people. The same is true today.
Second, these are the times when we most need to remember who we are the Family of God, and the Body of Christ.
This means that YOU ARE NEVER ALONE. Crisis tends to isolate us from one another, and to be “family” means that we are to re-double our efforts to keep up with one another—especially those who are already isolated by age, sickness, “or any other adversity,” as the Prayer Book puts it. When a fellow parishioner is ill or isolated, then—even if we are not able to physically visit—we need to call, send notes, support family and friends, and anything else we can do.
If you yourself feel isolated, alone, or for that matter, anxious or frightened, then please let us know! St. David’s will do everything possible to bring to you the Good News of Christ’s Kingdom—that you are a beloved child of God, and that no power on earth—nor heights or depth nor things past nor things to come, nor COVD-19, will ever separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Meanwhile, we will continue to be the Church in the world. We will continue our outreach efforts to the most vulnerable in our community in any way we are able. We will pray for doctors and nurses and first responders. We will pray for families and victims of this and other diseases. And we will pray for those leaders whose policies may help cure this and all diseases.
And so, in any way possible, let us be the voice of Jesus, calm in the midst of the storm.
Take care of yourselves and one another, and may the peace of the Lord be always with you!
WHAT TO EXPECT AT ST. DAVID’S
At Worship on Sunday
1. As directed by he diocese, we will distribute bread only at the Eucharist. A small amount of wine will be consecrated and consumed by the celebrant, representing the entire congregation. The clergy will distribute the bread from standing stations, as we usually do during our bigger services. This means that, for the time being, Chalice Bearers will not be needed. As we have already indicated, special steps will be taken to wash and sanitize all areas of our worship space that could pose a threat of contagion. This is a good time to remember our Episcopal theology of the sacrament—that communion in “one kind” is absolutely considered full communion.
2. The collection plates will not be passed from hand to hand. A central collection plate will be located in the aisle just before the sanctuary steps, and you are asked to place your offering in the plate as you go up for communion. This may be a good time to consider all the ways that we are able to give on-line.
3. We will continue to find “creative” ways to pass the peace, and to greet one another before and after the service, without making physical contact. Also, the water in the baptismal font has been drained (poured over the grounds of the Memorial Garden). Acolytes will revert to the “old St. David’s tradition” of wearing white gloves, which will be washed each week.
4. For the time being, Eucharistic Visitors will no longer bring the Eucharist to the sick and shut-ins. The clergy and Eucharistic Visitor team leaders will be sure that parishioners that need pastoral visits will be taken care of in any way possible.
Around the St. David Campus
Each committee or organization is asked to sanitize your meeting area as soon as you are finished with your meeting. St. David’s will provide cleaning materials for this use.
If meetings, events, or worship is to be cancelled, St. David’s will communicate this in every way possible, including e-blasts, Facebook, and other cyber communications. If you are in doubt about an event, you will be able to call the main number at St. David’s, 770-993-6084. The Preschool will similarly offer daily information at 770-993-1258.
We are currently working on ways in which our worship services might be simulcast on line, and possibly even in an “interactive” way, where listeners might post prayers on line during a service, or even sing along to the hymns!
As a final measure to insure pastoral care, the Vestry will divide the phone directory into sections and will be checking in on parishioners from time to time.
Finally, I will be saying Compline every evening at my home at about 9:00 (Book of Common Prayer, p.127) I invite you all to do the same, and perhaps to find a sense of connection and security in doing so. It includes this psalm, and I will be adding these prayers:
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
Let me never be put to shame:
Deliver me in your righteousness.
Incline your ear to me;
Make haste to deliver me.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
For you are my crag and my stronghold;
For the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me,
For you are my tower of strength.
Into your hands I commend my spirit,
For you have remeemed me,
O Lord, O God of truth.
A Collect for Aid against Perils
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and let thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only son, our savior Jesus Christ.
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 70)
A Collect for the Presence of Christ
Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture, and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love.
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 124)