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February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022
 

Praise God. The Covid numbers are still high, but now seem to be in a steady decline.
So, say your prayers, wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, consolidate your trips, and encourage folks to get vaccinated. And, we’ll return to worshipping in-person this Sunday, February 6th. The Vestry and I remind of the protocols we have in place:
     Masks are required.
     Social Distancing as best as we can. This means minimal contact, if any, at the Exchange of the Peace.
     We cannot yet share the Common Cup at Holy Communion.
     We cannot yet initiate an in-person Coffee Hour.

If you don’t feel well… We love you and would love to see you, but please join us online.
If you have health vulnerabilities… We love you and would love to see you, but please join us online.

As I’ve said before, this has been a strange way to enter into the life of the congregation. And here we are. It’s coming to the time when we need to consider next steps. I have a few ideas. First, as a melding of our worshipping life and our pastoral care of one another, I hope that we can explore an intentional Intercessory Prayer Ministry. At the core of this ministry would be a group of people committed to daily prayer for those commended to us on our Prayer List. Another piece of this ministry is to hear the concerns of those for whom we are praying, meaning this group would know what is being prayed for as well as whom. Of course, this is a sensitive topic, and the group would only know what was willingly shared with us and with whom we’ve been given permission to share. This ministry could regularly gather in prayer (in-person or online) for those commended to us. St. Bart’s has known iterations of this kind of ministry in the past. I see intercessory prayer as one of the core identities of St. Bart’s as the little haven in the woods.

Second, I’ll be working with the Vestry and the Orientation Committee to build a two-Committee structure for organizing our ministries. The hope is that through this structure we can engage more of you with opportunities to serve God in the congregation and in the community. Please explore your gifts and your passions and consider the ways you can contribute to our life together.

Third, I want us to consider additional opportunities for Christian Formation. Currently, we have a faithful group that meets online on Monday evenings for a lectionary-based Bible Study. I would like to hear from you about other practices you’d like to explore, what other times might be convenient, and your preferences for working in an online format or in-person. We can meet for Centering Prayer or a Book Study. We can explore Christian Spirituality or Theology or the events of the day. My hope in this is three-fold: 1) gathering with our sisters and brothers in Christ talk about God is a normal, 2,000 year practice that we Christians do; 2) to help us help each other to deepen our bonds with and sense of God in our lives; and 3) to prepare each of us to make, with our whole life, a more fulsome witness to God’s love in and for this world entrusted to our care.

Finally, Lent is going to upon in no time. IN FACT, when Shrove Tuesday gets here, it’s going feel like it’s tomorrow. Now is the time to start considering your Lenten practices. Those could be taking on something new or giving something up. The practice, in and of itself isn’t the point though. The point is the transformation God brings about in you through that practice, so that when you hear the first Alleluias of Easter, you are in some way resurrected, in some way made brand new. I would like us together to take on communal prayer, either daily Morning Prayer or Compline which could be offered online.
So, that’s a lot for y’all to consider from a whipper-snapper whose only been here for a month, BUT… you have so much to offer to the community, to one another, and to God. You’ve shown such resilience, flexibility, and faith. It’s time to build and plant, and I’m so privileged to build and plant with you.

I hope to see you here in the church or online this Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

Your brother,
Michael