Meeting the Challenge of Quarantine
For many of us this time of quarantine has been isolating and a challenge. For a few of us, this time has been a welcome quiet. For many of the parents it has been a struggle to morph into teachers on the one hand and on the other try to work from home if you are fortunate enough to still have work. As we stay in the same space with the same people in and out, it is difficult to remember what day it is, or what is on the calendar for that day and where we are supposed to be on the internet (zoom, hangout, workspaces…which platform, where is that dang link…). But I also know at the end of each day, whatever it may hold, I can stop and enjoy Compline at 7 pm on Facebook. I can be thankful for a roof over my head and access to internet which allows me to be connected at least on the internet. I can give thanks for my faith and the knowledge that even on my worst days, God is still walking with me.
Our governor has begun to lift some restrictions. Tomorrow our beaches will open for activity, though I imagine it will do little to quell the online arguments about how this should happen. More stores and businesses are beginning to be able to open. Even as California and Los Angeles begin to lift the restrictions, St. Cross leadership is also listening to the national church and our diocese for instructions from them. Your Vestry has already formed a committee to think about what we need to do to open back up for small groups. They have passed a resolution to improve the audio and visual equipment in the church so even if you are unable to attend when small groups are welcome, we can still remain connected through the internet. You will be hearing more from this Vestry committee, so be sure to stay tuned until the end of service on Sunday.
One of the changes that we know will be in place when we are allowed to gather is that we will not be able to celebrate the Eucharist together. For many of us, not being allowed to participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to receive communion, is a heartbreak. The Eucharistic table is the great equalizer where all are welcome, where we are all equal in the eyes of God, where we can lay aside our differences and share in God’s grace, mercy, and love. There are great debates about what a priest can and cannot do via the internet. What we know right now is that in the Episcopal Church we may not celebrate Eucharist over the internet. But we CAN share an Agape Meal via Zoom, which we will do after the Pentecost service, May 31. In the Eucharist we consecrate bread and wine to be the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In an Agape Meal we bless bread, wine and all of our food, remembering the Last Supper and the importance of community and relationship that is strengthened over sharing a meal together. There will be more information coming your way. It may not be as satisfactory as receiving the sacrament, and at the same time, we are searching for what our new normal will look like, and how we can keep our bonds of fellowship strong in this time of challenge.
Matthew 19:26 b says“…with God all things are possible.” In this time of pandemic, I realize that possible doesn’t mean “stay the same.” Possible is how we are to explore our new reality, figuring out our new way of being church, of being community, of reaching out to help those in need, to stay connected through our faith and our acts of charity. Perhaps finding and coming to love the possible will be the greatest act of our time of quarantine.