March 8, 2020
Our psalm this Sunday begins this way:
I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.
When we find ourselves up against things outside our control and which appear to pose a possible threat to our sense of being in control, we can respond in anger and fear, or we can choose to renew our trust in God's Providence.
As good Anglican Christians, our trust in God's Providence enables us to "Keep Calm & Carry On." We can keep our cool in the midst of a challenging situation, and actively address the specifics of our situation.
At this moment, it is prudent for us to actively address the proximity to us of the coronavirus known as "COVID-19." Active cases of the virus have been diagnosed in the states around us. I trust you are taking the precautions in the News: frequent and thorough handwashing, covering nose and mouth with tissues or elbow when coughing or sneezing; staying home if ill, minimizing casual contact (shaking hands, hugging), etc.
Earlier this afternoon, the Bishops of Connecticut, +Ian Douglas and +Laura Ahrens, issued "pastoral directions" to Connecticut clergy regarding the administration of communion "to mitigate the spread of COVID-19:"
"Beginning immediately, only the consecrated bread of the Eucharist is to be distributed at the altar rail ... in your parish. Provision for those who wish to take the risk of drinking from a common cup should be made by having one station for communicating the wine, separate from the altar rail ... In no cases should intinction (the act of dipping the bread into the wine) be used to receive the wine.
So, I will ask one of our chalice bearers to stand at the Children's Altar with a chalice for those who wish to receive the wine by sipping. Please do not put the chalice bearer in an awkward situation by asking to intinct your wafer. The Bishops' pastoral direction is clear: In no cases should intinction ... be used to receive the wine.
You can read today's update from our Bishops by clicking here. In it you will read that this admonition is taken out of an abundance of concern for those among us who might be most susceptible to COVID-19. They also make clear that "receiving in one kind" is a complete communion, and that these directions are a temporary measure. Their previous message, which also suggests other ways to exchange the peace, including "elbow bumps"(a personal favorite), is available here.
Now let's turn to other dimensions of how we are "Carry-ing On."
Some of you may notice that the Prayer Books in "your" pew rack look fresher, in better condition, some almost like new, compared to those with missing pages or broken bindings to which you were accustomed. You can thank Carol & Jude Iovanna, and the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT).
Carol had inventoried our Prayer Books, indentifying those most in need of replacement. I put her in touch with Matt Handi, ECCT's Operations Manager, who retrieved from storage three boxes of Prayer Books in good condition; these came from parish(es) which had closed. Not even the sleet of February 18th deterred Carol and Jude from retrieving these boxes from The Commons in Meriden and installing the Books in their new homes among us. Many thanks to Carol & Jude!
Thanks to all who are participating in our ECW's Lenten Service Project! We're being provided with gallon zip-lock bags and shopping lists, and then invited to fill the bags with travel-size personal hygiene items.
We've begun our conversations about African American Bishop Barbara Harris's life and witness, and our study of Paul's Letter to the Romans. Copies of the Bishop's memoir Hallelujah, Anyhow! are arriving, and it is available on Kindle; she covers in brief some of the same material in a video interview -- so we can hear her tell her stories in her own voice. Although Paul didn't leave an "Audible" voice recording of his letter to the Romans, our Bible study helps us hear his concerns about the one-ness of the God of all peoples, and the one-ness of all peoples before God. Feel free to join these conversations!
Please remember to "Spring Forward" before you go to bed Saturday evening, March 7. Daylight Savings Time begins in the wee hours of Sunday, March 8. I trust you don't want to be late for Sunday's worship, Rectory Forum, and Faith Formation and InReach Meetings.
In faith and hope,
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!