A Special Note from the Rector – 11/23/2020

A Note from the Rector – New Coronavirus Precautions

As recorded in our four Gospels, Jesus has some pretty great one-liners.  One of my favorites is when he tells his disciples they need to be “as shrewd as serpents, and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).  I thought about that after our vestry meeting on Sunday, November 22, because in their deliberation I saw them enact this saying of Jesus with alacrity.  There were difficult decisions to be made.  The task was to be prudent, shrewd, and wise for the sake of love, for the sake of taking care of everyone in this parish, and for the sake of doing our part to reduce the spread of this deadly virus.  Another important part of their task was to make decisions that were not driven by fear or despair, or marred by vitriol and division.  We agreed on the principles, but we did not completely agree about the best course of action.  Nevertheless, the vestry came to a decision with Christian love, gentle kindness, and respect for difference.  It was inspiring.  Here is their decision:

Starting Sunday, December 6th, Holy Apostles will follow a modified version of the Phase 1 protocols that were prepared by the diocese.  For all intents and purposes our services, gatherings, and meetings will be offered online only.  On Sundays at 10AM we will offer a live stream of our service of Holy Eucharist with prayers for Spiritual Communion.  This service will be live streamed.  The total number of attendees of this service will be 10 people.  About half the people in attendance will be those who have a role in creating the live stream service.  These include camera and tech operators, cantors, and clergy/officiants.  For those who feel passionately that they absolutely must attend the service in person despite the very real risks involved, there will be several places available.  Those spots will need to be shared equitably between those who want to attend.  Attendees will need to sign up, wear a mask, and socially distance at all times.  These protocols must be understood and applied vigorously by all, as a matter of Christian love and discipline.  Anyone who is sick in any way, especially with any known symptoms of coronavirus (fever, coughing, loss of taste/smell, etc.), should not attend.  Anyone who has been knowingly exposed to the coronavirus within two weeks should stay at home.  If you feel strongly about attending in person, I encourage you to speak with me to determine a course of action. 

Please engage as much as possible in our worship from the safety of your home.  There are many ways to participate from home, including recording yourself reading the Scriptures, and participating in the virtual choir (anyone can participate!).  We will continue to live stream to our YouTube channel, and post occasional videos and other content on Facebook.  We will continue daily prayer at 7:30pm via Zoom, and will be sending out materials to help facilitate prayer and worship at home during the season of Advent.  If you have a significant technology barrier that makes participation difficult or impossible, or if know someone in the parish who does, please let me know.  The church would like to help overcome these barriers if possible. 

This plan will be reevaluated in several weeks.  In addition, our plan may need to change based on guidance or directives of the Bishop.  Unless the rates of transmission and illness in our community are significantly reduced in the next few weeks, we will have to continue implementing more stringent protocols through the Feast of Christmas.  I am deeply grieved by what this decision means for our worshipping life, especially for Christmas and all our beloved holiday traditions.  However, I am convinced these steps taken by the vestry are necessary at this time.  I am equally convinced that God has not abandoned us.  Advent is a time to remind ourselves of the depth of meaning in the name given to Christ by the angel Gabriel when the angel announced to Mary that she would have a child and his name would be called Emmanuel which means, “God with us.”  God is still with us, even now.  Even when we must worship at home, Emmanuel, God is with us.  Though we will likely have to forgo many of our beloved holiday traditions, Emmanuel, God is with us.  Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Emmanuel, God is with us. 

Blessing and peace,

James+

Advent & Christmas Worship Schedule (subject to change)

First Sunday of Advent – Sunday, November 29

8:30AM – Holy Eucharist in-person, 25 person limit, must sign up

10AM – Online service via Zoom with Holy Apostles and the Mediator

Second Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 6

10AM – Holy Eucharist with prayers of Spiritual Communion, live streamed.  In person attendees limited to 10.

Third Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 13

10AM – Holy Eucharist with prayers of Spiritual Communion, live streamed.  In person attendees limited to 10.

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 20

10AM – Virtual Christmas Pageant!  Holy Eucharist with prayers of Spiritual Communion, live streamed.  In person attendees limited to 10.

Christmas Eve – Thursday, December 24

4:30PM & 10PM – Holy Eucharist with prayers of Spiritual Communion, live streamed. In person attendees limited to 10.

Christmas Day– Friday, December 25

10AM – Holy Eucharist with prayers of Spiritual Communion, live streamed. In person attendees limited to 10.

The First Sunday after Christmas – Sunday, December 27

10AM – Christmas Lessons and Carols, pre-recorded with special music.  No in person attendees.

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