Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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February 9, 2022

February 9, 2022
 
Dear Friends,
 
First some reminders:
 
Worship is again including in-person and online gatherings. The Vestry and I remind you 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.
 
I raised four programmatic ideas in my note last week: an Intentional Intercessory Prayer Ministry, the ‘Two Committee’ Structure, additional Christian Formation, the fast-approaching season of Lent.
 
One thing I suggested for Lent was an online opportunity for daily, communal prayer - either Morning Prayer or Compline in the evening. I would welcome volunteers to serve as readers and officiants. A Lenten Study Group is different kind of experience, and we could do either something topical, a Bible Study, or a book study. Again, I say I want to hear from you because, particularly in Lent, our work of reflection is both individual and communal.
 
The first and most obvious expansion of Christian Formation is start Sunday School. It is a timeslot to which y’all are accustomed and could easily fit in our Sunday morning rhythm. We can work on the technical details of how to offer it in a hybrid, interactive format like our Sunday morning worship.
 
Forming the Committee Structure and building an Intercessory Prayer Ministry will both take some time for visioning and recruiting leadership. And I trust that you will be generous with your time and talents.
 
A brief story and reflection:
 
During the summer of 2019, I was part of a preaching enrichment program at Virginia Theological Seminary. One of the presenters was a monk of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (a monastic order of the Episcopal Church). The first thing he said to our cohort was, “Do you know how much God loves you?” He continued, “You spend your life caring and praying for people, taking their burdens as your own. Do you know how much God appreciates that and sees how it wearies you? You spend your life trying to proclaim the Good News faithfully and effectively. Do you know how God smiles upon your passion and effort, and how much He yearns to inspire you?” I was blown away and not simply by the sentiment offered in the interrogative clauses (because they were clearly statements, not questions). He was speaking in the second person singular. He was speaking directly to each of us.
 
I decided that his first statement, “Do you know how much God loves you?” would grace the cover of every bulletin of every church I ever had the privilege of serving. It is more of a statement than a question because it assumes that NO we have no idea and must be reminded to try to remember and imagine how much God does love each of us. AND how much God loves every other individual walking the face of this planet. The other interrogatives are mind-boggling and heart-breaking too. Do you know how much God appreciates your prayer and empathy for one another? Do you know how God smiles on your faithfulness and wants to inspire you? These are statements, though cast as questions that we would do well to explore as we enter our time together. I think such an exploration can help us learn about who we’ve been, what we’ve lost, and who God is creating and calling us to become.
 
In the meantime, practice saying to yourself and to those around you, “Do you know how much God loves you?” 
 
Your brother,
 
Michael