Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing.”
That’s how the Second Letter to the Thessalonians begins: with a recognition of growing faith and increasing love. I wonder if these strange days—days we didn’t desire or choose—may have brought us a deepening faith and an expanding love for one another. This is my prayer and hope: that this unrequested fast and odd Eastertide may nevertheless strengthen our faith and accelerate our love; that even in the midst of fear, suffering, sickness, injustice, and death, we will make our song, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”
As you have no doubt heard, Louisiana and Jefferson Parish are moving into Phase One. Bishop Thompson, in consultation with the clergy, healthcare specialists, and the wider Church has decided that even though the Governor has allowed indoor, in-person worship to resume (with many requirements), our Diocese will not. That is to say, we will continue for the time being with Morning Prayer via FaceBook Live.
I fully support this decision. I also recognize that it is likely disappointing news for some of you. Nevertheless, the most important thing is the safety of our congregation. Given our average age and the dedication of our parishioners, opening the doors would put people at unnecessary risk. To paraphrase “Field of Dreams,” if we have church, you will come. It would also put volunteers and staff at risk. And the worship service would be an oddity that would disappoint those looking to get back to “normal.” There would be no Communion, no choir, no coffee hour, no sharing of the Peace, no Christian Education, restrictions on the number of people, those present would all be in masks, ushers would “police” people, and many would be left out. Keeping people safe and being as inclusive and welcoming as possible are the cornerstones of St. Augustine's. It’s not time to get back together. Yet.
Well, if not now, then when? That’s a good question. It helps to have a landmark to steer towards. The Bishop will revisit the decision after the next set of guidelines come out in the first week of June. Additionally, the possibility for outdoor worship begins on May 24th. To be honest, the Vestry and I are not looking favorably at the prospect of South Louisiana summer heat with no fans while wearing masks—while still having no music, no choir, no coffee hour, etc. Please prepare for on-line Sunday worship for the coming three Sundays: May 17th, May 24th, and May 31st.
It helps me to think of this as an offering of sacrificial love. We say (and I believe) that we are all in this together. Then let us gather again when we can all be there together (or at least as many as possible). Until such time, let us offer up our disappointment as an act of love towards our neighbor. An ever-increasing love made possible by our ever deepening faith in the One who loves us and gives himself for us.
Peace be with you,
Worship for Sunday, May 17, 2020
We will stream our worship service live via FaceBook at 8:00 am. The Spanish-language service is "live" at 9:30 am. The link is: Www.facebook.com/staugmet/
The bulletin for the English service is attached. Following the service at 9:30 am, we can have some "coffee talk." See below.
We have a new Link for the Zoom Coffee Hour. Please contact us for the link and other details. "See" you at Coffee Hour!
Call in for Sunday's Service
Unfortunately, Facebook has moved this feature from the “testing” phase to the invisible phase. It is no longer available. Kate and Jeremiah are continuing to look for this offering. We will let you know if it becomes available.
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.
Link to Diocesan Resources
If you would like to read any of the Bishop’s letters or other resources regarding COVID-19, please go to this website: