This is what the coronavirus does to my plans.
You may have heard that we are adding a worship service. Yes, we made that announcement a few weeks ago when we added the pre-recorded Sunday service to our long-running Zoom service and yes, we did do that.
But this is different—and new! As we shut down, then re-opened, and pivoted, and changed, and changed again, it’s enough to make our heads spin.
Beginning Sunday, March 14, we will hold a REAL LIVE, in-person, non-computerized, real-time, face-to-face worship service. It will be a full Holy Eucharist Rite II, without music but with (holy cow!) Holy Communion. The service will take place at 8:00am in the sanctuary. We will be limited to 25% capacity, which I believe will not be problematic for us, so reservations will not be required.
As we are still in pandemic mode, there are certain guidelines that make this service possible and safe:
When you enter, use the hand sanitizer made available, and sign in at the entrance.
We all need to wear face masks.
We need to keep social distancing between households.
We can’t exchange the Peace through personal contact. You can wave, bow, or blow kisses, or create a secret distanced handshake.
Generally, readers and intercessors will not be assigned in advance, as we don’t know yet who can reliably come. I will recruit lay readers before the service begins.
Here are the diocesan guidelines for receiving communion (so you know I did not make this up):
We will receive wafers only, without the shared cup.
I will put wafers on the paten without touching them, and only I will have a sip of wine as symbolic of the full sacrament, even though I don’t like wine.
Communion will be at a standing station. Come up to the altar masked, hold your palm out to receive the wafer which will be handed to you with chopsticks for safety, then return to your pew. Only then should you remove your mask to consume the wafer, then put your mask back on.
Got that? It will be different, a bit head-spinning…
but we will be safe, and you will be able to see one another and receive the holy sacrament of Christ’s Body. Know that “communion in one kind,” meaning only the bread or only the wine, still counts as full communion.
The Zoom service will continue, since most people who responded to my survey do not feel comfortable coming to church at this time, and prefer worshipping on Zoom or using the pre-recorded option. As we begin planning for full return to in-person church worship, we will review what services will be added, changed, or removed as best serves the community. I am aware that many people enjoy the fellowship aspect of the Zoom service who have difficulty coming to the church even without fear of the pandemic, and we want to be able to continue to enhance everybody’s worship experience.
If you are comfortable with coming to church on Sunday, March 14 at 8 a.m., I look forward to seeing you! And one day, I promise, we will be able to hug again!
I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts! Please respond at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a conversation!