Tuesday, March 24 2020
All of this is new to us. There are very few people alive today who can remember the Spanish influenza pandemic, and a combination of modern medicine and good fortune have spared us from the sorts of drastic measures that we've all been asked to take in the last few days and weeks. This is also new to all of us who are on staff at church. We're working hard to provide opportunities for worship, Christian formation, and fellowship for the entire St. John • San Juan community. It's been a steep learning curve, and we're still adjusting. As I write this on Tuesday, I don't have a clear picture of what Sunday will look like, for our parish community, or for our community here in the South Sound. Bishop Rickel has confirmed that the churches in our diocese will be closed at least through Easter Sunday, and our observance of Holy Week and Easter will have to move online. I spent time with priests around the church yesterday in a webinar presented by the Virginia Theological Seminary, brainstorming ways to provide meaningful, engaging experiences for individuals and families in your own homes, using the resources of the whole Episcopal Church. As we make plans for Holy Week and Easter, you'll see more about that in your email, or on our social media channels. Things are changing rapidly, and this Easter isn't going to look like one any of us have ever seen before.
Yet even as the building our church worships in at 20th and Capitol Way is closed, the church is still very much open, and thriving. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Willams says "the purpose of the church is to form people into the kinds of people who can receive the gifts that God wants to give." And St. John's • San Juan has formed many of us into the kinds of people who can receive the gifts God wants to give. God calls us into community with each other, and the caring that so many of you have shown to each other in this time of crisis, through calls, visits, reaching out to offer help with grocery shopping and prescription delivery, has been an inspiration. Our Christian formation continues, as we worship together online, reflect on the readings, and begin offering streaming Bible study online. We will be offering fellowship opportunities for everyone who wants to participate in the coming days (watch our Facebook page for more information). The building may be closed, but the church is open, and alive with the love of Jesus Christ.
Now, more than ever, I encourage you to follow our Facebook page (facebook.com/stjohnsolympia), because that will be the easiest way to hear about what is happening at St. John's • San Juan. Our new curate, The Rev. Michael Beaton, starts his work with us officially today, and we will both be posting updates online (on Facebook and our website) as the week continues. Let us know how you are doing. If you need anything, reach out to any of us on staff. We have resources to help individuals, and we can connect you to resources in the community as well.
Many blessings to each of you as you settle into your homes for the next few weeks. Know that we are praying for you each day, we look forward to worshiping with you online, and we can't wait to celebrate together again in our sanctuary. In the meantime, we will be the church where we are, and we will continue to love and care for each other at a reasonable social distance, for the sake of everyone.