I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. John 13:34
Musings With Mother Liz+
Striving to be a church community when the “church” is closed.
Dear beloved, as I write this, I am quarantining-in-place at home. I was seated very close to some friends last Friday only to discover that they in turn had been close to someone who was presumptively diagnosed with COVID-19. So, out of precaution, I am at home through next Thursday. I would imagine that some of you receiving this email are in the same position.
It is a stressful and scary time right now in our country and throughout the world. A virus over which we have little control is having its way with us. I noticed this week that it feels a lot like the days following 9-11, and then realized it’s because I don’t hear any planes. Travel has been cut back so much that I don’t have the constant noise of jets on their way to ATL passing over my house.
As we were able to do after 9-11, we are able to do now – we may not have much control over this virus, but we do have control over how we respond. With that in mind, your clergy and vestry have decided that “church” is not a building, but a people, and, as such, “church” will continue.
The Greek word for church is εκκλησία – otherwise spelled, ecclesia. The word is a combination of ‘ek’, meaning ‘out’, and kaleo, meaning ‘called’. It refers to a people, not a building. Therefore, I am pleased to say that life at St. Matthew’s continues, perhaps in a different “building”, but with the same ‘ecclesia’. Make sense?
Members of the Christian Ed and Communications committees, along with clergy and members of the vestry, are developing programs that allow us to stay connected during this time. Many of you have participated in the daily devotions we lead on our Facebook page at 8am and 6pm, Monday through Saturday, and many others attended worship using Facebook Live last Sunday. We are exploring the addition of Christian Ed programs, youth programs, Wednesday with the Word, Café Theology and the Brotherhood lectionary study using Zoom software. And of course, we will continue with Sunday worship.
This Sunday, at 10:30 from the Coil Chapel, join us as we celebrate EUCHARIST-IN-PLACE!
To do this, you will need bread or crackers (gluten free for those who need that), and either wine or grape juice, or another clear juice. If you have them, a tablecloth or small cloth to go on your table, a set of candles, a plate for the bread/crackers and goblet or wine glass for the liquid. Set up your altar as you would like – you can even invite your children to decorate it!
Bring your family and your computer, tablet or mobile phone to the table. Log on to Facebook on Sunday, go to the St. Matthew’s page and wait for the Facebook Live video to start. As I am home through next Thursday, our celebrant will be Father Tommy and his on-site congregation will be Debbie; I will be with you next week.
When Father Tommy gets to the Eucharistic Prayer, pay close attention as he begins the Words of Institution (where he talks about the bread and the wine). When Father Tommy lifts the bread, you are to lift up your plate. When he lifts the wine, you are to do likewise. When he blesses the bread and wine by asking the Holy Spirit to make them the Body and Blood of our Lord, hold up your plate and glass for the same blessing. The Holy Spirit, who knows no boundaries, will consecrate your offering at the same time as the bread and wine that Father Tommy holds up. Then share the holy bread and wine around your table with the words we use on Sunday:
This is the body of Christ, the bread of heaven.
This is the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.
Share this sacrament with one another. If you live alone, partake of this sacrament, knowing that the rest of the “body” is doing the same thing, so you are not having Holy Communion by yourself, but with your church community. We will then close our service with the Prayer of Thanksgiving and the Blessing and Dismissal.
Beloved, even in uncertainty, we are blessed to be a worshipping community. I look forward to celebrating the Eucharist with you on Sunday. I pray you and your family will be able to join Father Tommy, Debbie and me as we celebrate the promise of the resurrection together.
In God’s Love, Mother Liz+
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At St. Matthew’s, our MISSION is to continue the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, by serving the greater community through loving its children, caring for the unfortunate and witnessing to the healing power of God’s love.
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