Victoria—March 16, 2020 Bishop Logan McMenamie has ordered all churches in the diocese closed for all public use, including worship, for sixty (60) days effective immediately.
So here we are. Many of us are looking at sticking close to home for the time-being. Most of us likely feel anxious. Some of us are already bored. Some of us wonder what the big deal is. Some of us are vulnerable due to age or underlying medical illnesses; some of us have family members in these categories and wake up on a cold sweat thinking about what could happen to them if they became ill with COVID-19. Some of us are worried about whether we’ll be able to get groceries, prescriptions and essentials. Some of us are already missing our usual social gatherings. And, all of us are empowered to bring the love of Jesus into this moment.
We are discontinuing all in-person gatherings for the time being – this includes all worship, meetings and events. This is an act of compassion, not fear. This is an act of social solidarity, not just social distancing. Though out of love we are distancing ourselves physically, we are drawing closer spiritually. Here’s some of how we will make this happen.
The centre of St. George’s "Church Without Walls" will be our church website. On the website you will find the following:
• Daily morning prayer with video and written documents so that you can watch and read and pray along with me (these will be pre-recorded, not live so that you can pray with me when you’re able to; they also include suggested Spiritual Exercises for the day to keep you spiritually engaged).
• Written daily Compline/Night Prayer so that we can all end our day in prayer.
• Sunday morning house church worship with Rev. Elizabeth: 8am BCP, 10am family worship. This will be live-streaming so we’ll all be gathering together as usual (except of course that we’ll each be in our own homes – haven’t you always wanted to go to church in your pajamas?!).
• Spiritual resources for families with young children that can be used at home.
• There are also Prayers for hand-washing and wiping down surfaces
Phone calls will be made to all parishioners by myself or another member of the Pastoral Care Team to see how you are doing. If you would like a regular check-in phone call from myself or another member of the team, please let us know. We can listen to you, and pray for and with you. If you are vulnerable and trying to stay at home, but need food or other essentials please let us know. I’m working on setting up a team of folks who are not vulnerable who can post letters for you and purchase food or essentials and drop them on your doorstep. I know some people are not comfortable doing things online; we’ll use phone calls to make sure we stay in touch with those members of our community who don’t navigate the online world.
Some meetings will be postponed for the time being, some will take place over the phone, and some will take place on computer or smartphone via Zoom. Don’t know what Zoom is? Don’t worry, we’ll be in touch about how to participate in meetings using this technology.
I know that this rather sudden change to everyday life, including the life of our church community, is difficult. But I encourage us to strive to bring the love of Jesus
into this time. “Be Still and Know that I am God” needs to be our constant prayer. God is with us. We are not promised the absence of suffering or challenge; rather, we are promised God’s abiding presence with us in all that we encounter. One of my favourite podcasts is: “Onbeing with Krista Tippett”. When she interviewed the writer Teju Cole he spoke about how we as human beings can be with problems that seem too big: sometimes he said, we are called “to be in a state of quiet sorrow and knowing that there are things we cannot solve. And maybe that moment of contemplation, that moment of quiet sorrow, is the anteroom to what the solution, someday, could be. There’s a beautiful Inuit word, “qarrtsiluni.” It means “sitting together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.”
It may feel like we’re in darkness, but we’re not alone in the darkness. God is with us, and we’re together – bound together by the love of God which crosses all barriers, all boundaries, all fears. We may be in the dark, but we’re together, and God knows how to work in the dark as well as the light.
“I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places. Then you will know that I, the Lord God of Israel, have called you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3)
You can find the interview with Teju Cole and many other great interviews here: