An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 5/30/20

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Dear People and Friends of St. James,

Despite every effort on my part to want to ward off the belief that a new normalcy is being established, daily patterns move us all subconsciously [to] that direction nevertheless.  In my own instance, attendance at and participation in Zoom meetings establish patterns.  Further, the failure of my internet connection this week in the middle of one such clergy meeting and lasting five hours (thus “excusing me” from another later clergy meeting) reinforced a sense of normalcy.  (And that the company made no effort to reduce my bill for lack of service was also normal!)  Even so, my rotating pastoral telephone “visits” remind me that we remain, in spite of our physical distancing, a people whose drive and will is to share life, with all its uncertainties and joys, with each other.  In that we are united and to that end we remain committed.  That is my contention.  That is my belief.

I report to you that our bishop has requested each deanery—because of the size of our diocese, we are subdivided for administrative purposes into smaller units—to put forward 2 to 3 individuals (clergy and laity) who will participate in a larger group whose role it will be to recommend liturgical changes for our diocese that will honor local parish traditions but that will follow CDC, state, and local guidelines to prevent further transmission of COVID-19.  Our bishop is clear on many things but three things stand out in my mind from that meeting:

  • The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts shall make every effort to maintain the physical, psychological, and spiritual health of parishioners.
  • This commission, being assembled, will not work under threat of deadline, i.e. while the committee will not advance beyond the phases established by our governor, neither will it be bound to accept civil authority’s reopening dates for Houses of Worship as a mandate to reopen our parishes to corporate worship.
  • As a reminder, already push[ed] off from today’s date, 31 May 2020, Pentecost, as a desired reopening, all clergy and wardens have been advised to understand the new proposed date, July 1, 2020, not as a fixed date for renewed corporate worship.

In addition to my weekly reflections on scripture [see separate post], I call your attention to the following:

As the new normalcy becomes normal, I bid you pray for those who continue in their efforts to find a vaccine to combat COVID-19 and other biological threats to our well being, for those who put themselves on the frontline of assisting those affected, and for those and their families who suffer under affliction.  Let us pray always for peace.

And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you and those whom you love, this day and for evermore.  AMEN

Your fellow traveler in The Way,