Sunday Services in the Time of COVID
As you may know, St. Cross is a voting center. When you pull in this Sunday for our drive-through communion, we will be directing voters to park and directing those wishing to receive communion to pull over at the designated stations.
In the church world there are a few major topics that are often discussed among clergy:
- The future of the church after COVID (while books are coming out on this already, we are pretty clear we don’t know).
- Pastoral care for parishioners, helping those who need it most, and self-care so we can keep on caring for others.
- Will the Dodgers finally win the World Series? (This one has been answered!)
- WHAT TO DO ON SUNDAY MORNING.
- Do you go live?
- Zoom or Facebook or YouTube or website?
- How do you do music?
- Do you pre-record?
- If so why?
- One full service, or spliced together?
- Do you celebrate Eucharist (or Baptism) online or not?
- Insert EMPHATIC theological argument here!!
- Do you go live?
In our history, tradition and explanation of the celebrating the sacraments (Eucharist and Baptism being the big two) it isn’t a matter of a priest or the words we say, but it is a matter of the people being physically gathered in one place. While other denominations have communion online every Sunday (and communion has been everything from buckwheat pancakes, to fruit, to yogurt), the Episcopal Church holds onto the understanding that a Sacrament has a physical dimension to it that calls for our physical presence with one another.
This physical dimension is why we have not celebrated Eucharist online, but in small groups in the parking lot. However, the weather is changing, and the diocese has opened up more possibilities for how we can distribute the Eucharist. So we are switching to a new format this week.
For All Saints' Day this Sunday you will see two new things: Baptisms and Eucharist in the service. As you know, we do baptisms seasonally, and many of those being baptized have been waiting since before Easter. During these baptisms, our at-home cry of “We WILL!” is deeply important. These children and youth are be baptized into our community, and our Christian duty is to support them whether we know them or not. So I hope to hear “we will” ringing out across the South Bay on Sunday in support of those being brought into the Christian family.
Second, we are celebrating a Eucharist online. Our new audio-visual equipment in the church is finally up and running and we have found someone to help us with recording our services. This means the clergy are able to be present with one another and therefore there are “others” with us as we celebrate and we aren’t celebrating alone at home or in the church (which would be a bit weird for us and theologically quirky to say the least). We will distribute this communion immediately after the service in the parking lot, just as we would distribute it to those who are homebound. Remember when we would send out our Eucharistic Ministers to take communion to those who couldn’t make it to church? We would send them out before the post-communion prayer so that those to whom they went were part of our own community. It is the same principle here. We will celebrate and then you will come to us, to be part of the community to receive the sacrament (bread only for now). We will be in the parking lot from 10:45-12:30 THIS SUNDAY. You can even receive communion and then go vote if you haven’t voted yet.
In future weeks we won’t be having Eucharist every week, but we will have a few times a month, and when it is in a service on Sundays we will have a drive-through Eucharist after the 10 am service. We will be taking a pause with our outdoor services until the weather warms up again in the spring. As we have already planned Advent, old-timers are going to LOVE that we are doing Morning Prayer with Eucharist twice in Advent. I am looking forward to our Morning Prayer Advent service as it is filled with wonderful prayers and music from the choir, bringing us into an expectant and maybe even contemplative mood as we await the Christ child in the midst of a pandemic and a year that will not soon be forgotten. Please read your weekly emails as we will keep you updated and will soon have a Eucharist schedule out (and maybe even a sneak preview of what we are going to do for Christmas).
Your prayers are always asked for as we continue to negotiate our COVID lives as a church community. Your feedback is always welcome too.
Yours in Christ,
Novena of prayer for our elections
Forward Movement has put together a novena (nine days of prayer) for our country as we go into elections. These prayers will be posted on our Facebook page daily. We ask that you all pray for the well-being of our country, our leaders, our communities as our national election takes place.