During the Easter season the blessing I used at the end of the service began “May the living God remove the suffocating shroud that lies upon our world.” Slowly, but surely that shroud is lifting. Some parts of the world, such as India and Japan, are still seeing surges of the Coronavirus. There is still concern about variants and what affect the vaccines will have on them. There are many people in this country who still need to be vaccinated.
But our part of the world is moving toward normalcy. And so I write today with some joyful news. The bishop this morning lifted almost all of our Covid restrictions!
After 14 months of services streamed from an empty church, an empty parish hall, our dining room, the Beech Grove, and finally the church with people, but lots of restrictions, we are going to be back to almost normal!
Here is what that means for us, beginning this Sunday:
— There are no longer restrictions on how many people may attend services, or spacing requirements for seating. That means you no longer have to RSVP for the service, and you may sit wherever you please.
— The service will begin and end with full processions — acolyte, choir, lay reader, and clergy.
— There will be both choir and congregational singing.
— Masks are optional for those who have been vaccinated; mandatory for those who have not.
— Coffee hour will return, as will exchanging the peace. The offering plate will be passed.
— Childcare will be available.
— Still no wine at communion, but everyone may come forward to the altar rail to receive the bread.
— The service will still be streamed on Facebook Live.
— Since we have been apart for so long, we will continue to worship together as a congregation at 10 a.m. through the summer.
Just writing this makes me happy. But we do need to remember that the pandemic is not over, even in this country. People are still dying from Covid every day in Georgia. Vaccinations prevent these deaths, so if you haven’t been vaccinated, please take advantage of God’s gift of science, and do so. And if you attend a service and become ill in the following days please let us know so that we can alert others who were there.
“Our journey together for more than a year has been a difficult one,” Bishop Wright said in announcing the lifting of the protocols, “We have lost loved ones. There has been isolation, fear, disorientation, even anger. But there has also been interdependence, faith, generosity, and innovation. The Covid fire has scorched us, but it has also refined us.”
There will be plenty of time for reflection about what this year has meant. But for now we rejoice! I can’t wait to see you Sunday.