Dear friends,

I have some exciting news. Bishop Wright has expanded our Covid protocols to allow outdoor services of the Holy Eucharist. So this Sunday, almost seven months to the day since we were last together in person for Sunday worship, we will gather in the Beech Grove at 10 a.m. It will also be streamed on Facebook Live.

The service will not be exactly what we once were accustomed to. There are many Covid restrictions and protocols we must follow. Here are some of them:

  • We can have a maximum of 50 people, so you must RSVP at the link below.
  • Everyone must wear a mask. If you forget yours we will have some disposable ones available.
  • Social distancing is required. All those who RSVP will have assigned places to sit. That is to make sure that the proper distances are observed. And it also gives us a record if we need to do contact tracing in the future.
  • Speaking of sitting, if you want to do that you must bring your own chair or blanket. The building will be closed.

Those are the logistical aspects. The Covid protocols also mean no passing of the peace (bowing, waving, or nodding instead), no processions, no singing, no passing of the offering plate, and no socializing after the service. We also are not allowed to distribute printed materials. On Saturday I will email the bulletin, as I have been doing. You may print it out and bring your own copy, or you can follow it on your phone or ipad.

Communion will be bread (wafers) only, and instead of coming forward to receive it, I will come to you. I will give you the bread with a new liturgical item, “Eucharistic pincers.” Seriously, there is such a thing, although I had never heard of them before this week. In fact, they were used in medieval times during the plague. Everything old is new again!

All of that seems a bit daunting, doesn’t it? It’s a step toward normality, but also a sign that life is far from normal, that we are still in the midst of a pandemic.

But I hope that when we’re here that instead of fixating on what we are not allowed to do we can focus on what we can do. We can be nourished by the body, if not the blood, of Christ. We can worship God together. And we can see each other’s (masked) faces. That sounds pretty heavenly to me.

As I have done many times in the last seven months, I ask for your patience as we once again try a new thing. This week the outdoor service will be live-streamed. I’m not sure how that will translate, but it’s worth trying. I’ll want feedback from those of you watching from home on how the experience is. If it’s good, we’ll continue doing it that way. If it doesn’t work we will go back to live-streaming from inside at 10 a.m., and do the outside service at 11:30. We want both the live-stream and the in-person experiences to be as good as possible.

Of course, anything outside depends on the weather. This Sunday is supposed to be sunny, and the long-term forecast says the same for the following Sunday. If it rains everything will move back to indoor livestreams. We also know that holding outside services will not be an option for too many more weeks, but we’ll keep doing it until falling temperatures or rising Covid numbers make it unadvisable.

What do we do if more than 50 people want to come? If you miss the cutoff let me know, and you will be first in line for the following Sunday. Likewise, if you sign up and then can’t come, please let us know so that the space can be made available to someone else.

Along with learning about Eucharistic pincers, I learned a new liturgical term this week. The bishop has started referring to this period as “Coronatide.” Kind of like “Eastertide,” but instead of 50 days, it is a season of undetermined length. In fact, it’s the longest liturgical season ever. But even in the midst of it there is hope, and joy, and God’s presence with us.

I’m looking forward to being with you Sunday, either in person or online.

Here is the signup link. Please RSVP by 6 p.m. Friday so that we can set up the space on Saturday.

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