Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I just sent you an email this morning — and it is sadly out of date. At this time in our life together, much is happening in small spans of time.
Our Bishop, in consultation with clergy from across the Diocese, has declared that church buildings shall be closed until at least Palm Sunday.
Please hear this: the churches of the Diocese of New Jersey are not closed. But the church buildings are.
Please do not come to the St. Thomas’ campus unless you are helping with Kitchen of Hope tomorrow or performing some other essential service. There will be no public worship services, no public formation activities, certainly no meals or coffee hours. Stay home, eat healthy foods, wash your hands with soap and water.
Fortunately for us, the church is not just, or even primarily, the buildings. The church is a community of people. At times like this, we are called more than ever to be the people of God. We do that by looking out for one another. Checking in with one another. Calming one another’s anxieties. And seeing to one another’s necessities.
We will do this in a variety of ways over the next three weeks. The way we’re going to get started is this:
1. A phone tree will be constructed whereby we can check in with one another. I encourage you to make additional phone calls as you are moved by the Spirit. Let’s talk to one another and hear what’s going on in each other’s lives! Make some phone calls and also be ready to receive some phone calls!
2. Vestry member Sarah Ternay has begun assembling a protocol for providing basic essentials to people who might end up quarantined or sick at home. More information will be forthcoming.
3. Online worship opportunities, including the Holy Eucharist and live video-conferenced celebrations of the Daily Office (with an option to phone in), will be available starting Sunday. Keep an eye on the St. Thomas’ website and your email for more information.
We “practice” our faith all the time. This is the season to bring it into action. Now is the time when the Holy Spirit is threatening to shine out from us in power: providing comfort, expressing solidarity, and, in service, loving our neighbors as ourselves.
God willing, I’ll see you in person for a joyous reunion on Palm Sunday. Until then, I hope to see you online!
Let us pray.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP, p. 280)