Pause, Rest, Reset
Governor Kate Brown announced earlier this week that in nine counties in the state where Covid-19 infection rates have skyrocketed in the last month, health authorities have called for a Nov. 11-25 “pause” in social gathering, public events, and indoor group activity. Our own area, Jackson county, is included. While the state rules provide an exemption for faith-based groups and none of the current rule changes applies to churches, the grim spike in Covid-19 infections mean that we need to take this very seriously. In accordance with our initial plan for re-engaging our spaces, and after prayer and consultation with many of our parish leaders, I have determined that we will again stop face-to-face worship, small group meetings, and 12-step gatherings at Trinity until after Thanksgiving. During this interim, I intend to offer “solo” worship services on-line for our Thursday noon and 10 a.m. Sunday services. We will send out bulletins and the homilies ahead of time.
We have been experiencing breaks in the live-stream over the last few weeks, and believe that we have identified three possible reasons for this, and hope to resolve this problem during this “pause.”
This was a hard decision, because I know how much some of you have been supported by being able to come into the church for worship these last six months. But we mustn’t listen to the siren call of “God will protect us from Covid if we come to worship.” Such a view is little different from snake-handling fundamentalist Christians or a Christian Science adherent’s “I’d rather die than seek medical care.” The virus gets transmitted because of breathed aerosols and failure to mask, to keep physical distance of 2 meters, to wash hands, or use proper ventilation and filtration. It doesn’t care about whether you did any of those things “on account of faith.”
I am encouraged in this decision by the fact that St. Mark’s Medford has also decided to curtail F2F worship for the present.
When facing this decision, I was reminded of the Biblical line about a time to “gather stones together” and a time to cast them apart, a “time to embrace,” and a time to “refrain from embracing”:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Qohelet 3:18)
Grace and Peace, Fr. Tony+