An Updated Message from the Rector
Dear Friends in Christ,
Bishop Provenzano has announced that all public liturgies and public gatherings remain suspended through at least 17th May 2020. This includes Holy Week and Easter. While it grieves me that these most precious days will not be celebrated publicly, let me assure you that Easter is not cancelled or being moved.
My friend and colleague Fr Robert Hendrickson (Rector of St Philip’s in the Hills, Tucson, AZ) puts it so eloquently — and I want to share his words with you: “The Church has marked the Resurrection of Christ while hiding from the Roman authorities in catacombs. We have marked it on battlefields, at the bedside, and in burnt out ruins. We have celebrated in times of plenty, plague, and persecution. There have been prayers offered in secret and prayers we were forced to say. There have been Easter Days in the Great Wars and Easter Days that passed almost unnoticed because the horrors of the world closed in.”
St Paul’s is committed to finding ways to celebrate the joy of Jesus’ resurrection together, while still engaging in responsible physical distancing in order to protect each other and to help flatten the curve to further mitigate the spread of the virus. The ‘spiritual forces of wickedness’ and ‘the evil powers of this world’ that we turned away from in our baptism would love nothing more than to see the Church cowering and hiding in the midst of anxiety, sickness, and death. As an Easter people, we know that death does not have the last word. While we cannot gather together in person to celebrate the joys of the Paschal Mystery, our voices will neither be silenced, nor our praises diminished for the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Each Sunday we are going to send an email to our subscribers at 9 am containing a YouTube link to our channel for everyone to join in Morning Prayer with a sermon, the Great Litany, and Supplication. It will not be live, so you can watch it at any time. A pdf of the Order of Service will be included so you can pray along. While these are new challenges to the Church, they are not insurmountable and every faith community is facing similar situations. We will face them together, with God’s help.
One of the other challenges we are faced with – and where we could use your help – is stewardship. We realize that this pandemic has significant and long-lasting financial consequences for parishioner’s own finances, for St Paul’s ministry plan, and for the world’s economy. Some people have been asking how they can continue to give to St Paul’s. If you are used to putting your pledge in the offering plate, we ask you to kindly mail it to the Church. Alternatively, you can give both one-time and recurring gifts/pledges here through the Church’s website. If your own financial situation is precarious, please reach out to the Church and we will do our best to help meet immediate needs. If you are in a position to keep your pledge, or even to give some more, in these stressful times, we hope you will consider it prayerfully. We encourage you to hand in a pledge for 2020 if you have not done so already – or to revise your 2020 pledge if circumstances have changed. This will help give us the clearest picture of our present and future income so that we can prepare a revised and responsible budget.
In compliance with Governor Cuomo’s directive that all non-essential businesses remain closed, St Paul’s is unable to be open for prayer and meditation. We look forward to restarting our Open Door ministry after 17th May.
While the Church is temporarily closed, please know that I am available to you to meet by phone, video-conferencing, by email, and by text messaging.
Each of you is in my prayers. I know this is a tough and scary time. But never forget: Jesus Christ is Lord – “and neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8)
Fr William Ogburn+
A Prayer for a Time of Great Sickness and Mortality
O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of grievous sickness, we flee unto thee for succour. Deliver us, we beseech thee, from our peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the sick; prosper the means made use of for their cure; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we may apply our hearts unto that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. The Book of Common Prayer, 1928 (p. 45)