Dear People of God:
Effective yesterday afternoon, parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of New York are closed through May 17, 2020. This follows the public health advice to reduce public gatherings for the next 8 weeks. All public worship and all other activity at The Church of St. Andrew is suspended during this time. This will include Holy Week and Easter services. The parish office is closed, and our buildings are not available for gathering. At this time, we plan to continue to provide the necessary shelter to our homeless neighbors in coordination with Project Hospitality.
None of us are really sure how to respond or what to feel in such quickly changing circumstances. This all seems to have happened fast. It is completely disorienting. Tears of exasperation are certainly appropriate. We’ve been through a lot before, but I don’t think any of us ever imagined a time when we would not be able to celebrate Easter together.
We are in the process of setting up a virtual pastoral care team to coordinate checking on each other while we can’t be together. One of the ways we can continue to be church is by staying in touch with one another. We should have the Realm directory settings changed so that everyone can log-in and find contact information. If you are in need of log-in information so you can access the online directory, please email us, and we will get you registered. Please join us in caring for one another by keeping in touch with people in your usual ministries, committees, and worship times.
We want to continue to emphasize that if you need pastoral care, please contact the parish office at 718-351-0900 or the rectory for after-hours emergencies at 718-351-3735. We will continue to check messages remotely and will continue to communicate updates as we are able.
Bishop Dietsche remarked in his homily on Sunday that we should be very careful not to use the words, “new normal”. I fully echo that. A foundation of our Christian faith is being in community with one another and gathering to celebrate the Eucharist. I never imagined as I was standing before you Ash Wednesday to invite us to a holy Lent that this would be the wilderness we would quickly find ourselves in. And you know what? God can redeem even this. If this is the Lent that is upon us, let’s enter into it fully, continue our practices, spend this time alone with God, pray, reflect, be still, remember our reliance on God alone. Let’s prepare to emerge from this period to be light at the end of all this. Perhaps this will help us all to fully embrace what that means.
A bulk of the psalms in the Bible are psalms of lament. They were offered to God during times of trial, expressed with raw, human emotion. Lament is a powerful expression of faith, so much that it sometimes leads us to trust in God. So perhaps today, from Psalm 61, we offer this:
Hear my cry, O God,
and listen to my prayer.
I call upon you from the ends of the earth
with heaviness in my heart
set me upon the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
I will dwell in your house for ever;
I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
You are all in my prayers. Take good care of yourselves and your families. Be well.