You will see in the Notices at the end of our Liturgy at Home that the Archbishop has renewed the suspension of public worship and other in-person group activities until at least 14 June. This means that we shall be continuing with our Zoom worship for the next several weeks. It is being an effective way of meeting together as the St. James’ community, upholding one another, our city and our world, in prayer. I find it encouraging and uplifting to hear familiar voices and see friendly faces, albeit on a video screen and through a computer speaker. Yet it is not the same as being together in church, being able to sing, to receive the Blessed Sacrament at the altar: far from it.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, our justly renowned Provincial Health Officer, is counselling the Province as a whole, and stakeholder groups within it, to think carefully about what “re-entry” will mean when the current Covid-19 preventative measures begin to be relaxed. This applies to us as a Diocese and as the Parish of St. James’. The Archbishop, in consultation with Provincial advisers, the Archdeacons and the Mission & Ministry Committee, is working on a protocol for parishes when “normal service” is resumed. This will include keeping safe distance, sanitizing the church space, maximum attendance, how we welcome people, whether we are able to sing together, how we receive Holy Communion, is it possible to hold coffee hour, may we meet in smaller groups, will there still be a need for online worship in some form or other. All of these, and no doubt other issues too, will need to be considered before we re-open. Then as now the highest priority is for the well-being and safety of all in our St. James’ community and neighbourhood.
On a different tack, may I share with you a paragraph which struck me particularly when I came across it earlier in the week, from the journals of Thomas Merton, writing of a secluded, private place in the woodland: “Everyone is his own Jacob. [See Genesis 28.10.17]. He wakes up at the foot of his own ladder and sees the angels going up and down, with God at the top of the ladder. And thus he wakes up in his own unrecognisable house, his gate of heaven.” [April 21, 1959, II.456-57] In these strange and uncertain times, where is your special place, where is your ladder with God at its top, where is your gate of heaven?
In the joy of the Risen Lord,
[To download the Liturgy at Home booklet for Sunday, April 26 click Liturgy at Home Easter 3 Sun Apr 26 2020]