A Letter to the St. James Family from Dane
As we move toward the reopening of St. James for Sunday worship, it seemed appropriate to write to you all in anticipation of September 27th.
Like many of you, when I look at the long list of regulations and guidelines for public worship, it can be hard to imagine that our gathering will be anything like what it has been in the past. We may be feeling a little like the exiles of Israel, separated from their worshipping home: “how can we sing the song of the Lord in a foreign land?” Ps.137:4. Worship within a pandemic will probably feel like another place than the one we have known, but the exiles were called to worship all the same.
I think gathering, virtually or in person, for worship and prayer is now especially important given the challenges and uncertainty in our world. For the sake of ourselves and the communities around us, it seems that this is the right time to begin our public worship once again. Though our services may not be marked by the usual warmth and welcome we are accustomed to, by adhering to the recommended AHS guidelines we are showing each other and our community honor and care. We all have different thresholds and concerns around this pandemic, and we are very concerned that no one feel left out, ignored and sidelined in this process.
We are busy working on live video options that will help those who cannot attend feel as though they are part of things as they happen. Our children’s and youth ministry pastors are busy preparing programs that fit within the guidelines, so that families can also feel safe and confident when they come to Church. All these realities mean that we will make some adjustments to our services. We will begin with Morning Prayer liturgy, though we will consider communion further down the road. It is also important that we keep our service times a little shorter, to reduce pressure on various ministries whose responsibilities have greatly increased with the AHS guidelines.
I would ask for everyone’s patience and prayers as we begin this process. It is unlikely that we will get everything exactly right the first or second time around. Adjustments will have to be made. But St. James is really blessed with wardens, staff and many leaders who have been deeply faithful and committed to the life of this parish throughout the pandemic. Likewise, as we look toward reopening, so much hard work has been happening at every level of the Church to make this happen. Having done this once before, though in different circumstances, I am quite confident that our experience here will be a blessing. Most of all, we trust and hope that God will fill our worship with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Personally, I am excited to worship together for the first time in this beautiful Church. Thank you again for the wonderful welcome and support we have received here at St. James.