Many of you, like me, might be interested in your genealogical roots. During this time of stay-at-home orders, I have been more careful about taking my Friday off and have spent some additional time researching my ancestry with some recent successes. (I finally have located the death certificate for one of my maternal great-grandmothers – 102 years after her death). Genealogy satisfies basic human curiosity for some of us –- it’s a curiosity that I have had since I was a small child. At its core, I think that genealogy underscores three fundamental questions: Where do I come from? Why am I here? What is going to happen to me?
Interestingly enough, the three basic questions that underpin genealogy are also the three questions that form a philosophical connection between genealogy and religion. They also certainly underscore where we are in the life of our church right now. Where have we been? Where are we? Where will we be in the future?
Right now, I cannot give you all the answers. I wish I could. What I do know is that when we are able to reopen for in-person worship it will be different from what we are used to. I was at both Saint Andrew’s and Emmanuel today. At Emmanuel, the spots where people will be able to sit are already marked. We will have a very different capacity for the number of people who can gather together for worship at one time. It means we may have to add a service on a Sunday afternoon or evening. It will present a hardship for many as we mourn the loss of the comfortable.
Chances are many of your ancestors overcame considerable personal hardship and left what was comfortable or least “normal” in their lives. In times like now with a global pandemic wreaking havoc in our communities, we can look to the stories not only of our families, but to the Bible to find stories of resilience, of the overcoming of great adversity as individuals and as communities.
We as a church are resilient. We can and do spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed. Jesus himself told us that we would have tough times but reminded us that He would always be with us. “…And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NRSV).
Facing something like COVID-19 is a time when we can and we must increase our own powers of resilience. Resilience also requires patience: how we manage ourselves as we are waiting. Waiting for churches to open, for schools to decide on plans for the fall, for hairdressers to open. This patience is arguably the most important part of resilience –- and it comes from resting, playing and dealing creatively with whatever situations or skills we happen to have.
Nobody is a fan of Zoom for worship; I certainly am not. But it certainly does provide a creative way of being together in these times. Thousands of years from now, someone will be reading stories about Zoom liturgies, about the desire to offer inspiration, peace and reverence. They will write, I hope, about the presence of the Holy Spirit and the resilience of congregations.
SHRINE MONT CHICKEN DINNERS AND COTTAGE RENTALS
If you would like you can order chicken dinners from Shrine Mont for Saturday, May 30. Curbside pick-up will be available from 12-2 p.m. You can order online or by calling 540-856-4121.
Though the camps have been cancelled, Shrine Mont will have cottages available for summer rentals. Meals are going to be available using curbside pickup or served as usual, depending on what is safest at the time. Plus, all cottages have kitchens available for cooking. Please call Shrine Mont if you are interested.
Every Thursday, 2 to 3 p.m., the kids of the parish are meeting up via Zoom to hang out together.
SUNDAY SPIRITUAL COMMUNION SERVICE
This Sunday, as it is The Day of Pentecost, I am leading a Spiritual Communion service online at 10:15 a.m. on Zoom and Facebook Live followed by a Coffee Hour on Zoom. Next Sunday will be a Morning Prayer service.
To join the service, click the Zoom link to join, the password is embedded. For Facebook Live, click the link to be taken to our Facebook page to view the live stream. A Zoom usher is allowing people into the service from 9:45 to 10:15 a.m. when the service begins. If you try to join after that, you won’t be able to enter and will need to watch on Facebook Live.
The weekly bulletin will be available on our website prior to the service so you can download it to follow the service. It is absolutely safe to download as it is coming directly from us.
Zoom Tip to make sure you are muted during the service: There should be a RED line through the microphone icon on the Zoom screen. If there isn’t, you are not muted so if you make any sound, Zoom will switch the video and audio of the service to you.
Every week, I am leading:
Mondays, 9 a.m. Morning prayer on Facebook Live
Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. Evening prayer on Facebook Live
Wednesdays, 12 p.m. Noonday prayer on Facebook Live
Fridays, 7:30 p.m. Bedtime story with Mother Kathy, invite your friends! Facebook Live
All of the weekly and Sunday services are available to view on Facebook and our website after the services.
DROP-IN OFFICE HOURS
Virtual drop in office hours with me are Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Zoom. I hope you will take a few minutes to stop by to chat, as I miss each of you dearly. (If for some reason you aren’t able to get into the Zoom meeting, please send me an email. Sometimes, technology refuses to cooperate.) Sometimes urgent matters do come up, so please forgive me if I need to duck out.
There’s no need to worry about privacy — Zoom has a waiting room so I allow folks to enter one at a time so that we can meet with me privately. Or, if folks would like to meet as a group, we can do that as well during this time.
Please continue to mail your checks directly to the church offices. Your generosity, especially during this difficult time, is greatly appreciated. If you prefer, you may use the online portal established through our diocesan office (available here) for electronic giving (be sure to mentions which church and the location in the memo).
Emmanuel Episcopal 122 E. Court Woodstock VA 22664
St. Andrew’s Episcopal P.O. Box 117 Mt. Jackson, VA 22842
CONTACTING MELISSA AND ME
As directed by Bishop Goff, we are working from home. If you have a question, concerns or would like to check in with us (we would love that!) please email us.
I observe the Sabbath Friday and Saturday while Melissa is off Thursday after 1:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. While we may not reply immediately, we absolutely will get back to you.
EMMANUEL’S TABLE FOOD PANTRY
This week, Emmanuel’s Table fed 137 people (43 families). Next Tuesday, it is open at the usual time.
A giant THANK YOU to Barbara Kirkland from Emmanuel who has donated 300 masks to the food pantry for us to pass out to clients. That is quite an accomplishment!
For now, the prayer list can be found online (scroll to the bottom of the page). Melissa is updating it as names are added or removed so it stays current.
I offer prayers every day for our parishes and for all those for whom prayer has been asked. It is nice when we can offer those prayers with one another. If you would to pray with me for physical, emotional, or spiritual healing for yourself or a loved one, please reach out to me by email. We can set up a time to speak via phone or even via Zoom. Please continue to pray for Bishop Goff. She is now cancer free, however, the genomic markers of her tumor indicate chemotherapy is recommended. She is beginning the treatment next week.
During this time of extraordinary disruption and anxiety, I want to thank those who are reaching out to one another by email, phone, notes and even the occasional gift of beautiful flowers.
And our buildings are still important. I especially want to thank those who are caring for our buildings during this time. The grounds are still being maintained; maintenance and repairs are being done. New lighting is being installed at Emmanuel and an energy audit has been done at Saint Andrew’s. Expect news about a Columbarium at Emmanuel in the very near future. We continue to be very much in the present and plan for the future.
When this crisis first began, we were reacting. Now that action has begun to shift. We are no longer reacting, but planning for the next phase. Part of that planning means looking at numbers for our area. Public health indicators for Shenandoah County continue to be troubling. People say numbers are increasing because testing is increasing. Of course, that is true. So, too, is the fact that the rate of infection for Shenandoah County exceeds that of Loudoun County and Fairfax County. The virus is among us and we must stop its spread. That’s the Christian thing to do. The ethics of Christian care requires us to take care of the most vulnerable among us. We have to rethink the things we took for granted to find ways to come back together.
Right now, “I don’t know” is the only answer I can offer to when we will be able to gather again in person. What I can promise is continued prayers and love for every member of our congregation.