March 20, 2020
People of Trinity,
Join us for live streaming of our “Virtual Worship” service for the Fourth Sunday in Lent from Centennial Hall on Sunday, March 22nd at 9:15 am. If you are unable to join us at that time, be welcome to access the service at your convenience via Trinity’s YouTube channel. Instructions for that access are included on the attachment to this email entitled “2020 03 22 Virtual Bulletin Lent 4.” Also included with the attachment are prayers, lessons from scripture, our “Taking Faith Home” page and more as resources for Sunday worship and for your devotions in the days ahead.
Sunday will be different. Pastor Dan and I will be leading a simple Service of the Word from Centennial Hall, where our Rejoice worship service normally takes place and where we have good live streaming capability. Brooks Alder and Greg Lang will care for the sound and live streaming presentation, but the four of us will be the whole of our physical gathering in worship. We will not be blessed with Assisting Ministers and we will refrain from the gift of Holy Communion. No musicians will be present, but both traditional and Rejoice music leaders have submitted YouTube selections which will be embedded in the worship service. Most poignant will be the absence of a congregation. I have never before gathered for Sunday worship without a congregation present.
The image to the left appeared this week in a publication I receive from the University of Chicago Divinity School. In the image, Father Giuseppe Corbari, priest of Saints Quirico and Giulitta parish in Robbiano, Italy, celebrates Mass in front of photos of his parishioners that he taped to the empty pews in light of restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Father Corbari’s action inspired my reflection as I prepare for the strange Sundays that are forthcoming. We will be together in our separation. I will seek to see you, my sisters and brothers, in the empty seats that will witness our worship. After all, whether in the sanctuary or in Centennial Hall, I do know where many of you sit . . .
On Sunday morning, I will especially see in the empty seats the many Trinity members and friends who are physicians and nurses, medical technicians, specialists and support staff. Join me in praying for those who are on the front lines of this global war on pandemic, that they have the resources they need to safely care for our communities, that they will remain healthy, that their families may be encouraged and supported while their loved ones extend the gift of healing. May the source of all healing refresh them when weary, console them when anxious, comfort them in grief, and hearten them in discouragement.
The article in the publication that included the image above is entitled “Faith in the Time of Coronavirus: The Power of Spacial Solidarity.” I will share more reflections on that concept in my congregational email next Monday, but I want to lift up an insight from that article as we prepare to ‘live our prayers’ this weekend by staying away from our customary place of worship. Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David-Judea Congregation in Los Angeles, after cancelling Sabbath services last weekend, urged his congregants to stay in touch with each other even while keeping their physical distance. He wrote:
“Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place.
Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.
Every inch and foot that we physically place between ourselves and another,
must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.”
May we braid our treasured spiritual practices of prayer and meditation, even our virtual worship, with discipleship practices of care and concern for our neighbor. May we find deep connectedness in this time of separation.
Friends in Christ, I look forward to gathering with you in worship this Sunday in a new way, separated but deeply connected, distancing but claiming the unifying principle that we are all most certainly in this together.
Stay safe and well.