Continued Advent blessings to you all! It is good to be back after a rather uneventful, but restful staycation. Denise and I mainly stuck to the homefront doing some cooking, reading, playing games, and the regular chores and tasks of living. I did take a few golf lessons and learned that trying to teach a body of a certain age new tricks is, well, tricky!
I want to thank Dick Martin and Virginia Hooper for taking the services in my absence and for ministering and teaching with skill and compassion. Thanks as well to Steven Burgoyne for keeping the Live streaming going, to Lloyd Bates for leading us in music and for the readers, singers and others who help host and our liturgies week by week. As well, special thanks to Jolette Moeliker for hosting and putting together the Advent Evensong services; well done!
I want to sincerely thank all of you who contributed to a wonderful gift that Denise and I received yesterday from the Wardens. We were blown away by your generosity and the sentiments expressed! You have made me feel very connected to you all! Again, thanks from both of us! It is a privilege to serve in this parish with such kind-hearted folk as yourselves!
Speaking of gifts, or in this case gift-baskets, yesterday the ACW held the draw for the two gift basket they were raffling; the winner of gift basket #1 (bath pampering) is Diane Persson and the winner of gift basket #2 (Covid health) is Bob and Linda Burton! Congrats and thanks to all who support the ACW outreach efforts!
We had sincerely hoped to be able to host in-person worship this Christmas season but alas the provincial health orders will not allow it. Thus, we will be live-streaming our Christmas Eve service at 7:00 p.m. It will be available at that time but also after the fact if you desire something closer to the time of a "midnight mass" or if you would like to watch it Christmas morning.
Some of you have asked me what I think of the actions taken by several churches to break the health order and meet for services regardless. The issue is complicated by the fact that there doesn't appear to be much hard evidence for the spread of Covid-19 when churches meet in small numbers, people wear masks and practice social distancing. Certainly Christians believe that worship is "essential;" not for our capitalist economy but for a host of other human reasons that make our overall health and quality of life sustainable. At present I'm deeply concerned and distressed by the loneliness caused by our isolation; I hear from parishioners about how damaging it and difficult it is and I worry about this a lot.
At the same time, to simply "break the rules" because "we have a right to worship given to us by God" (so the line goes) seems to me shortsighted. Are we then to countenance others simply deciding that similar rules or other rules don't apply to them? The social contract at the heart of a democratic society really is "we're all in this together." I also understand that there is a certain kind of "thrill" to publically advocating for the faith when certain government officials seem to treat worship as less important than certain exercise classes or going to a pub. But we need to be careful that this "righteous feeling" doesn't spill over and do damage to the social contract. So we can advocate with government officials about the "essential" nature of worship and community but we need to decide very carefully when we feel we should break the law in order to meet together.
This, of course, is merely my thinking on this matter and, at one level a mute point, because Archbishop Melissa, to whom all priests and parishes in the dioces answer, has suspended all in-person worship until at least January 8th, 2021. I invite your comments, suggestions, or conversation on this topic and other topics as you wish.
As we approach Christmas I am so grateful for all that this great feast represents and I'm so grateful for all of you. Please know that you are in my prayers and even if we can't see one another that "Christmas greetings and cheer" are in my thoughts for all of you!
I look forward to worshipping with you "virtually" this coming Sunday at 11:00 as we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent.