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Hello, friends.

Well, it’s been quite a week for us all—not only for the parish family at St Mary’s, but for the whole city, province, nation and the whole wide world. Not a single one of us has escaped the implications of the spread of this virus called COVID-19 and the efforts we are all making to contain it and to protect one another from its worst effects:

  • Some of us have been travelling and have recently returned and are secluding ourselves. Welcome home! We are all here to help you.
  • Some of us are still abroad and their return is uncertain. We are praying for your safety, and for peace in your mind and hearts, and for your safe return home.
  • Some of us are alone in our homes. Some of us are with our families. Some of us are nervous or afraid, either about our health or that of our loved ones, or about our livelihood and our future. All of us are having to change our habits.

We are also having to learn new ways to be a community. As you know, on Monday our Bishop Logan decided to support the efforts of our health authorities and closed all churches in the diocese to the public, including services of worship. The building has been strangely quiet this week, without the hustle and bustle of people dropping in for conversation or the work of the parish. However, your priests and your staff have still been hard at work to begin the process of adjusting to this new way of our being The Church in a difficult time. And most of you are already doing the most important work: keeping in contact with one another and your neighbours, refusing to let our physical distance from one another translate into spiritual distance. We remain a community.

Tomorrow is the Fourth Sunday in Lent, which is often (in English tradition) observed as Mothering Sunday. Guess what! Our parish has its own mother parish: Christ Church Cathedral. Tomorrow we are invited to join in worship virtually by tuning in to a Service of the Word led by the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Ansley Tucker, and the Vicar, the Reverend Ross Bliss. Just as we relied on our parents when we were children, and were troubled, so it’s appropriate that we begin this new way of living together as a whole diocese in the tender care of our Cathedral.

And then, over the next weeks, we will begin to re-connect in various ways with one another and our neighbourhood. If you are on our parish membership list, expect a phone call from a member of our Pastoral Care Team. We just want to see how you are doing, and we are preparing to distribute the parish phone directory like we used to, way back in the day, so we want to confirm your willingness to appear in this directory. We are doing this so that we can keep in contact with one another, who are used to seeing each other somewhat regularly at Church.

We will also share ways to keep connected through online means:

  • for a re-boot of our Wednesday Sermon Circle
  • for a live (or recorded) broadcast of a mid-week service of Contemplative Prayer in place of our Contemplative Eucharist, and Saturday Matins (morning prayer)
  • for a Sunday morning worship service, online
  • for periodic ‘virtual coffee meetings’

I won’t get into these details here, but only want you to know that we are starting to adjust, and that we remain together, a community of people following the lead of Jesus as we care for each other, cradled in the loving arms of God.

My friends, I pray that you are safe, and that you are encouraged, and that you may soon be inspired. God walks with us through good times and challenging times. And through us and our acts of care and solidarity, God also walks with our neighbours.

I want to leave you for now with a prayer—please join with me as we raise our hearts to our Creator and Saviour and Sustainer:

God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to your people who await in uncertainty in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. Bring hope that you will make us the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness for all. You are God. We place our trust in you. Amen.

And Amen!
We will talk again soon!

Canon Craig+

[Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash]