These are challenging times filled with anxiety, loss, and despair. Yet, in these times, we have experienced the best of what our faith promises. The Vestry is incredibly grateful to our Rector, Assistant Rector, and other clergy and staff who have rapidly made enormous transitions to nimbly adapt to the realities of these days. The Vestry, along with the Rector and staff, have also made difficult but necessary decisions based on mandates from the Bishop and Governor as well as recommendations from the CDC. Part of caring for each other means being vigilante about social distancing and respecting the shelter in place order. That means strictly limiting the people in the building, including during our worship services. We know this is difficult for all, but these actions help to abate the crisis we face.
The church's doors have not closed; in fact, they have opened wide, sending us all into the world with a new call and opportunity for ministry. Worship has transitioned to an online format without missing a single week and without loss of participation. Meetings, Bible Studies, the Lenten Programs, weekly Spiritual Practices, and work of Commissions has continued using Zoom and other tools. Our Holy Week services promise to be rich and meaningful. (Find the schedule below) All of these provide nourishing food for our souls for the journey ahead.
We are going through a strange and disorienting time. We are all worried as to when and how this will play out, and that uncertainty takes its toll. We may also be grieving - over people who are suffering, over those we know who are at risk, over the loss of human contact and over the loss of certainty. Grieving can be abstract; but you experience suffering. It buffets you, knocks you down, and then dares you to get back up. It keeps you up at night. It invites anxiety, panic, and fear. Yet one of the foundational exhortations of our faith is to “Fear not!” Today that seems like a tall order. But isn’t that the nature of faith? And haven’t we all individually come face-to-face with tests of faith? Haven’t those personal storms come and gone? This one will too.
St. Paul’s is a refuge for each of us, and for the greater community. We have reached out to each other in pastoral phone calls, we have worked to provide food to children and families in Carnegie and have made deliveries for the South Hills Food Pantry and SHIM. We have signed up to assist with outdoor church cleanup jobs. We are seeing God at work through all of this. As these weeks continue, there will be many opportunities for us to reach out to each other and to the greater community, and to draw closer to our loving God. And if there's something missing, let us know! We are here for you, and we know you're here for us.
The disciples were terrified being in a storm-tossed boat at night, even with Jesus as a fellow passenger. We have the lessons of scripture and the experiences of our predecessors to help us know that whatever the upheavals in our world, God will not abandon us. Knowing and living our faith, we need not be afraid.