Worship for Advent and Christmas

Dear St. Thomas Community;

As you will know, we have been on the cusp of resuming in person worship on a limited basis twice over the course of the past few months. In both instances, spikes in infection rates have resulted in delays in both instances. As you will also be aware, the rates of infection and hospitalization from COVID-19 are at alarming levels and we have yet to feel the full effects of whatever spike might be headed our way in the aftermath of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Given all of this the vestry has taken the decision to postpone consideration of the resuming of in person worship until after the first of January. This means, among other things, the Bishop’s visitation and in-person worship in the sanctuary for Christmas Eve and the duration of Advent will not happen. A more complete schedule of services for Advent and Christmas later in the coming week. Please be on the lookout for it.

We will continue our livestream on Sundays through December 20th for Advent. On Christmas Eve at 5 pm we will premiere a pre-recorded Christmas Eve service with Communion and musical selections offered by a number of parishioners and groups presented in a safely social distanced and pre-recorded format. If you are in the mood for soaring music and a more highly produced Christmas service we will offer a number of possibilities for you to choose from.

On Sunday December 27, the First Sunday after Christmas, the Bishop will be offering a recorded service to the entire diocese to share and as an opportunity for clergy and the production teams for worship in our congregations to take a well deserved break for Christmas. At St. Thomas, we will offer a Zoom Watch Party and encourage the new tradition of wearing our Jammies to Church as we did in January of 2020. Who knew that we’d be preparing for the way many have experienced church in the ensuing 10 months?

This decision has not been taken lightly nor without appreciating the points to be made regarding the importance of our spiritual and emotional health as well as our physical well being. We have, as a community, largely been spared the worst physical effects of the virus. That being said, we have front line personnel in health care, the armed forces and other support and service roles who could use all the support in their struggles against the virus and in treating our neighbors who may have contracted COVID.

Recently the Director of the National Institutes of Health had this to say on NPR when asked about whether or not churches should open for Christmas, NIH Director Tells Churches To Do The “Altruistic, Loving Thing” And Stay Closed.

Years ago I had a spiritual director tell me, “Just because you’re capable of doing something, doesn’t mean you’re called to do it.” It is in that spirit as well as the spirit of the Christ Hymn from Paul’s letter to the Philippians;

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Php 2:3–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

In Christ,

Father Warren +