Dear St. Edward’s Family,
Today, I’ve found myself contemplating the classical definition of pastoral ministry lifted up by Gregory the Great, as the “art of arts”. Even under normal circumstances, we are called as ministers of our Lord to navigate, with great care and skill, at the intersections of complex realities that require our dedicated attention and deep listening over time. And now, in this singularly strange COVID-19 context, much of what we’re exploring together is without precedent. We’re at the vanguard of innovation around how to be an embedded and an embodied people in a virtual setting; and in one manner or another, all of us are experiencing new challenges as we actively lean into the “art of arts” as a priesthood of all believers.
But, not only have I felt the tactile presence of the Holy Spirit clothing the work that we are now engaging together, I have also found myself consistently awed by the steadfast patience and generosity of our congregation. It is no small thing to maintain reverent poise as we yearn for our ‘normal’; and it is no small feat to listen with open hearts to the nuanced dialogue pushing and pulling in the arguments for opening up our economy and for staying home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In large part, I have felt called to lower the volume of my own voice in the midst of these conversations. It occurs to me that I am incredibly privileged to have a spacious home where my two little boys can explore this season of quarantine, a home unthreatened with the two incomes my wife and I are still able to generate, a home with stocked pantries and a freezer filled with the foods we both want and need. In truth: Katrina, the boys, and I sacrifice nothing as we support the movement to stay home and stop the spread of COVID-19. But I do wonder: How differently I might be inclined to behave were our circumstances different? If we couldn’t work and risked losing our home, if our boys were hungry, I couldn’t imagine that I’d allow anyone to dissuade me from providing for my family.
And so, as I listen to the variety of perspectives and the sincere pain and longing permeating from them in our current cultural dialogue, I’m led into a place of deep stillness and prayer. I pray for those who are angry and who are threatened by the absence of social safety nets, like stable jobs with living wages and the availability of health care that won’t decimate the economic future of the uninsured. I pray also for those who are most vulnerable to the threat of COVID-19, and for those of us who can afford to listen to the needs of the other. We are, indeed, all in this together. But this is in no way the same for all of us.
Looking forward as a parish, we will continue to exercise extreme caution in our mission to protect the vulnerable – to degrees that compromise elements of nearly everything that we do in worship and in fellowship. In line with diocesan protocols, when we are able to return to our church: we’ll be having our temperatures checked, wearing masks, socially distanced, using paper bulletins, and receiving communion in one-kind only. In maximum groups of 25 in the first phase of our re-launch: we won’t be able to sing as a congregation, share the peace through physical contact, pass our offering plates, or even greet and chat together after worship. It will inevitably feel strange for many of us at first. But, while we will continue to offer virtual worship, fellowship, and formation for as long as restrictions dictate, we will also do everything that we can to pay sincere mind to the incarnational and relational DNA that makes St. Edward’s so special. As more than one person has emphatically reminded me this week: “we’re huggers!!!”. And we shall hug again friends. But in the season ahead, we’ll be called to engage the “art of arts” in entirely new ways that will stretch us. I trust that we’ll thrive and grow through it and come out the other side stronger, with God’s help and a commitment to one another. Holding each of you up in loving prayer with deep respect for the diverse and nuanced perspectives that color the tapestry of our shared life in Christ,
Here is a link to a very informative article posted on the Episcopal News Service that Father Rick wanted to share which speaks to how congregations are preparing to worship in this “new age.”
As graduation season began in the midst of closed school buildings and online learning, partners in ministry indicated that they wanted to collaborate and pool resources to help everyone have a meaningful celebration. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry also wanted to send a message of hope, love, and encouragement to those who are graduating and marking special transitions in their lives, saying, “I thank God for you, thank God for your fortitude, for your doing the work, for your staying the course as they say, for your finishing the race as the Bible says. It has not been easy. And we thank God for you, and say congratulations to you.”
Welcome to Evening Prayer. . . Tonight! An Invitation to All!
Please join us for our virtual service of Evening Prayer, on Zoom, commencing TOMORROW, Friday, May 15th at 7:00 PM and every Friday at that time, led by our choir director, Patrick Ishler.
Ever wonder, what is Evening Prayer in the Episcopal Church? Here is a little history from episcopalchurch.org library:
One of the principal Daily Offices. Evening Prayer has been the title for the Evening Office in Anglican worship since the 1552 revision of the Prayer Book. Evening Prayer may begin with an opening sentence of scripture and with the confession of sin. The Invitatory may include the canticle Phos Hilaron, an ancient hymn praising Christ at the lighting of lamps at sunset. The office continues with a selection from the Psalter, readings from scripture followed by canticles (typically the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis), the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, a set of suffrages, one or more collects, and the dismissal. Evening Prayer may also include an office hymn or anthem, the General Thanksgiving, a Prayer of St. Chrysostom, and a concluding sentence of scripture.
We will be showing the text on screen to make it easy to follow along. We have also provided a simple pdf to follow by clicking here. And, if you have a Book of Common Prayer, you may start on page 115.
We invite you to end your week with the experience of Evening Prayer. By simply clicking on the link below and adding the join code, you will be engaged in the service with ease.
Join Code: 874 9604 3790
Please check our website here, for the weekly message from Bishop Scanlan.
Tune into the web site tomorrow for the post to our Sunday service and virtual coffee hour!