I’m looking out at something I haven’t seen in more than a year — the church bustling with activity preparing for tomorrow. Silver is being polished, linens are being ironed, flowers are being arranged, floors are being mopped, grass is being cut, mulch is being spread. All of this is in preparation for a very special Easter, our first in-person worship service in the church since March 15, 2020. It is going to be a glorious day., We’ve had several people who had RSVP’d who can’t make it, so if you’d like to come email me. We have four spots open. And of course, the service will also be streamed on Facebook Live as we have done the past year, and will continue to do.
If you are coming in person, consider bringing non-perishable foods for the food pantry and/or socks for Church of the Common Ground’s foot clinic. We now have almost 900 pairs of socks. Let’s see if we can make it 1,000. And remember if you won’t be here tomorrow you can always drop things off during the week.
I am reposting below the questions and answers about the Covid protocols for worshiping in person. One important thing to remember is that we cannot hand out printed materials, which means no service sheet. All the hymnals and prayer books have also been removed. So please print out your own copies, or have them handy on your phone or tablet.
the service sheet for tonight’s Easter Vigil at 7
tomorrow morning’s Easter service at 10
and the seating chart for tomorrow
See you this evening and tomorrow morning.
Here are answers to some questions you might have about worshiping in person.
Do I have to be fully vaccinated to come to church? No. There is no vaccine requirement. Anyone who is comfortable being in a room with other masked, distanced people is welcome. Those who think that is still too risky are invited to participate online. And remember — if you have a fever, or feel like you are getting sick, please stay home and join us online.
May I wear pajamas and bring my coffee? I’ve gotten used to worshiping that way and it’s so comfortable. Sure. Just remember that whatever your fashion ensemble is, it must include a mask.
Making an RSVP for church seems wrong. Why is that necessary? It does seem odd to have to make a reservation for church. But it is necessary because our Covid protocols require we spread out. Every other pew must be empty, and there must be six feet between individuals or “pods” of parishioners. The diocesan limit for even the largest churches right now is 75. We have enough space to accommodate about 60.
What happens if someone shows up who hasn’t RSVPed or wants to visit the church for the first time? This one is difficult. Unfortunately, we will have to turn people away. We’ll invite them to watch online, and suggest they sign up for the next Sunday. And if you have signed up and then can’t come, please cancel your RSVP so someone else can take your place.
Has St. Dunstan’s done anything to make the building safer? Glad you asked. We have placed GPS units on the HVAC units throughout the building that reduce the amount of particles in the air, and are effective against the virus (ask an engineer how they work). We also have added hand sanitizing stations. And all hymnals and prayer books have been removed from the sanctuary as an extra precaution.
I can’t wait to be back in my favorite pew. Is it okay to come early to make sure I get it? Your favorite pews miss you, too. But for now we have assigned seating for every service. That way we can follow the distance requirements and will know where everyone was seated if there becomes a need to do contact tracing. When you come in an usher will direct you to your assigned places.
I can’t wait to sing hymns at the top of my voice and to hear the choir and congregation singing together. When that happens it will be a great day, but it can’t happen yet. During the time of Covid singing is a dangerous activity because so much more air is expelled, which can endanger others around you. That’s why in the early days of the pandemic there were stories about many choir members testing positive and becoming sick after choir practice. So for now enjoy Cameron’s playing and sing the words in your head. We hope the choir will be back before too much longer.
I bet the passing of the peace will go on forever. We’ll be so happy to see each other! Yes, we all will be happy. But for now the peace will be contact-free. We ask everyone to stay in their pews and wave or bow to one another. No hugging yet.
It has been so long since I’ve had communion. I look forward to going to the altar and having that bread placed in my hands and sipping that wine. Doing without communion has been difficult. We will have communion, but it will look a little different. Rather than coming forward for communion we’ll bring it to you. Instead of our delicious home-baked bread we will be using wafers that are in small glassine envelopes. They will be distributed using “Eucharistic pincers,” a fancy way of saying tongs. And for now it’s bread only, no wine. But even with these differences, it will still be communion, and Jesus will be there with us.
What else can’t we do? Well, for now no coffee hour, and no child care. We won’t have processions to begin or end the service. We will not pass the offering plate. We ask people to leave immediately after the service and not mingle.
Anything else? We can have no printed material in the church. All prayer books and hymnals have been removed and we will not distribute bulletins. We’ll email the bulletin to you the day before the service and ask that you either print out your own copy or access it on your phone or tablet.
So what can we do? We can see the faces (or at least the eyes) of friends we have missed for a year. We can pray together and hear others join in the responses. We can receive communion. We can enjoy beautiful music and flowers. We can feel like a community. And we can thank God that although things aren’t back to normal yet, we are moving in that direction.