In case you missed it, Bishop Thompson sent out a letter on Monday, April 27, 2020 extending the current state of affairs for churches in the Diocese until May 15, 2020. A copy of the letter is at the bottom of this email.
This means that for at least Sunday, May 3rd and May 10th, we will continue our Sunday offering of Morning Prayer on our Facebook page at 8:00 am (live) and then the recording will be available throughout the day. Our Spanish service will begin at 9:30 am (live) and then will also be available throughout the day.
It is important that we manage our expectations. That is to say, please be careful to note that no decisions have been made regarding our communal worship on May 17th, yet. The word "yet" is powerful. It brings hope and gives us some sense of empowerment, even in the midst of what feels like a lack of agency and power. We are not YET sure when we will be back. We are not YET clear about what being back will look like. Not yet. But we will in God's perfect timing.
As our preschoolers sing so joyfully, "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in be glad in it." Through God's abundant goodness and faithfulness we can be sure that there is still more yet to come.
Virtual Concert in the Courtyard
Tune in to the St. Augustine's Facebook page this Friday at 6:30pm for some songs that'll bring a smile to your face and some good memories to your heart. Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/staugmet
The latest meditation from Presiding Bishop Curry
Call in for Sunday's Service
If you or someone you know does not have access to internet, they can listen to Sunday's service over their phone by using this access code: 785302080. The phone number to call is: 1-888-958-7272
Forward day by Day
Copies of the most recent "Forward Day by Day" have been placed in the bin by the gates at the parking lot side of campus. Please help yourself, but like my grandmother used to say at the "all-you-can-eat buffet: "take all you want, but need all you take."
Updating the Parish Database
Perhaps you've been wanting a parish telephone directory? Or wondering how you could get a phone number for a parishioner you miss seeing on Sundays? Or maybe you have some extra time on your hands and this would be the perfect time to update your information so that we can publish a directory at some point with up-to-date information? If so, click on this link and register and then update your information. If you've already registered but forgot your password, you can ask them to set up a new one. Or, email Jamee at firstname.lastname@example.org with your updated information. If we all take the time to register and update our information though, we'll all be able to contact one another.
Update on COVID-19 Guidelines: Virtual Church Gatherings Extended Until the 15th of May
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I write you in the spirit of the quarantine. Our time away from each other has been way too long. I have missed seeing you in person.
About a month ago we announced a self-quarantine to last until the end of April. We took this action with the encouragement of the governor and the mayor of New Orleans. Since that announcement the mayor has extended the quarantine until the middle of May. The governor has yet to announce any change in his original declaration, although that may change. The quarantine seems to be working, this is, the curve is flattening but not completely. We still have work to do for the safety of the whole community. I am, therefore, extending our virtual church gatherings until the 15th of May at which time I will reexamine the progress and listen to the health care advocates as to when we might be able to reengage our church activities and what that might look like. In the meantime, our office staff is working on guidelines that will help us when the restrictions are eased. We should have these available in the next 10 days.
I realize this news may not be what you were hoping to hear. The stress of staying home with limited communal engagement has not been easy, but we have endured and for that I am grateful. Let's continue to pray for one another and the world.
May God grant us the strength and wisdom to live the Way in Love.
I am as always,
Your servant in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana
Saint Teresa's Bookmark
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing upset you.
God alone is unchanging.
With patience all things are possible.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.
- Teresa of Avila (with thanks for the recommendation to Don Greco)
Grace and peace to you on this Saturday and the Feast of St. Mark.
As we prepare for another Sunday of worship via Facebook Live and gathering online rather than in person, I (like many of you, I imagine) are wondering when we will return to our customary way of spending Sunday mornings, let alone life in general.
While it is certainly natural and entirely appropriate to ask these questions, I am also aware that as people of hope, we walk by faith and not by sight. Even though we can’t clearly see when we may be able to gather together again, nor what that gathering might look like, we can persevere in this long journey with these words from St. Teresa in mind: “Everything changes. God alone is unchanging.”
Discussions are underway with our Bishop, in consultation with clergy, lay leaders, and experts in public health, to plot the path for a return. There are numerous logistics to consider given the size of varying congregations, average age of our congregants, square footage of churches, availability of cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment, and disparate rates of spread/recovery. There are lots of factors to consider, including theological and sacramental issues, but most importantly the health and safety of all people. Please pray for God’s wisdom to guide us.
The short answer is we don’t know how much longer it will be before we can all gather together to celebrate Holy Eucharist. But in the waiting I hope we can draw comfort from St. Teresa’s reminder, “Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone is enough.” Perhaps making that a prayer we say throughout the day can help get us through each day: “Oh God, I have you so I lack nothing.
I also suggest adding structure and routine to your days wherever possible. Sundays are a great place to start, especially as it relates to “attending” worship. Set a time to “attend” church. We go “live” at 8:00 am, but rather than watching it “whenever” schedule a time on Sunday to watch it. Better yet, consult the whole family—maybe even those outside of your household—and agree on a time for everybody to join in simultaneously. If possible, watch it on the biggest screen you have to increase the sense of being there. Try to make it feel as much like a regular Sunday as possible by showering and dressing like you’re really going to church. Maybe plan a meal either before or after to discuss the readings or the sermon.
We may not know exactly when this time of isolation, suffering, and loss will end, but we definitely know that God is here with us in the midst of it, and will most definitely be here when it ends because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
We will continue with Morning Prayer tomorrow, Sunday, April 19th, at 8:00 am via the St. Augustine's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/staugmet/
Please visit the website to gather "live" at 8 am, or watch it at your convenience throughout the day. The bulletin for the service is below.
Additionally, Benjamin Sanchez will lead Morning Prayer for our Spanish-speaking parishioners at 9:39 am tomorrow via the same website: www.facebook.com/staugmet/
If you'd like to use a Book of Common Prayer, free copies are available in a plastic bin next to the gate by the parking lot. Please help yourself and replace the cover securely so they will be kept clean and dry.
In addition to free copies of the Book of Common prayer, Anglican prayer beads will be available in the bin starting Sunday. These were handmade using the crosses leftover from our Lent in a Bag event and are free to anyone who would like one. If you're interested in adding this tradition to your spiritual practice for the first time, you can find information on the church website: www.staugustinesmet.com/prayerbeads
Please also pray for the repose of the soul of Sarah Lingle. Sarah died yesterday at her home in California. Sarah was a member of St. Augustine's for many years prior to moving to California.
The prayers of the parish are also offered for Joy Coleman, mother of Tracey Coleman and Holly Bordelon.
May Sarah and Joy rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon them.
The 2nd Sunday of Easter Bulletin:
On behalf of my family, please accept our sincere thanks for your love, your prayers, your support, and your encouragement during these past difficult days. Many of you knew my dad. I can assure you that he loved knowing all of you too, and he appreciated the way you welcomed him and my mom into the community. Doing so gave him many occasions to introduce himself as “the father’s father.” Those who knew him will not be surprised by the fact that he never tired of that joke.
I am fully aware that our grief is just one small slice of pain in a world full of suffering. I am also aware, especially during this Holy Week, that there is a solidarity in suffering that can be redemptive; there is a God who knows our suffering firsthand; and there is a way through the pain. This is the way of the cross and it leads to life and peace.
We are making plans to continue walking the way of the cross during the services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. The complete schedule is below, but there are some immediate requests for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
For Maundy Thursday, please try to set up an altar in your home. It can be as simple as a side table or TV tray. The idea is to have a sacred space to gather around with symbols of our faith. Some possibilities are: a candle or candles, a cross, a shell, water, oil, sand, palms, flowers, a Bible, a rock, a heart, flour or wheat or bread. Also, please be ready to light the candle(s) on your altar at the beginning of the Maundy Thursday service. The bulletin will be emailed to you tomorrow.
For Good Friday, we are asking people to send a photo of a cross from your home. If you have several, please send photos of them all to: email@example.com. We plan on using them in the FB Live broadcast during the Good Friday liturgy.
Have no fear for tomorrow. The same God who loves and cares for us today, will love and care for us tomorrow.
Holy Week Schedule
All times below are in CDT. These videos are available on our Facebook page for live participation, and for viewing all day after they are posted. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view them.
Monday - Wednesday of Holy Week
Morning Prayer at 9:00 am
Evening Prayer at 6:00 pm
Compline at 9:30 pm
Maundy Thursday (April 9)
Morning Prayer at 9:00 am
Maundy Thursday Liturgy at 6:00pm
Good Friday (April 10)
Morning Prayer at 9:00 am
Stations of the Cross at 11:00 am
Good Friday Liturgy at Noon
Holy Saturday (April 11)
Holy Saturday Liturgy at 9:00 am
Easter - Feast of the Resurrection (April 12)
To Be Determined
Link to Presiding Bishop’s sermon from Wednesday in Holy Week:
Dear St. Augustine’s community,
It is with great sadness that I share the news of the death of William (Bill) Heine. Bill died peacefully this afternoon from complications related to COVID-19. His beautiful spirit will be greatly missed by us all. Please keep the entire Heine family in your prayers. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.
AJ+ also wanted me to communicate with you all that he loves you dearly, and his focus right now is to be with his family during this time. So, he might not be as quick to return texts, emails and calls. He is assured and comforted by your love and prayers. If you have a pastoral emergency, please call me on my cell phone.
May Bill’s soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.