Dear friends,

We received some news from Bishop Wright today that I want to share with you — all in-person services in the Diocese of Atlanta will be suspended until May 24. That means we have two more months of worshipping online. That’s a long time. It means not only will we have spent a good part of Lent apart from each other, but we’ll continue that “wilderness” through Holy Week, Easter, and almost the entire 50 days of the Easter season. 

I have read about some churches (not Episcopal) that have continued to hold Sunday morning worship in person, with the pastors saying that not to do so is giving into fear, and showing a lack of faith. I could not disagree more. Scripture has something to say about not putting God to the test, as Jesus reminded the devil when he encouraged Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple to prove that God would save him. Needlessly subjecting people to risk is not an act of faith. Suspending in-person worship doesn’t make any of us happy, but it is an act of caring for one another, and for ourselves. It does not show a lack of faith.

I’m afraid that in the coming days and weeks this virus is going to become more than an inconvenience, affecting people we know. I found out that this morning that a friend in New York has immediate family who are affected, one who died last night and another in ICU. It seems a good time to remind you that if you have family or friends who are ill, please let us know so that they can be added to our prayer list. And if you become sick, please let me know.

We could all use a little humor now, so let me end with two comments to our online worship. First, I head from Jackie O’Connell that when she told Reese they were going to church online Sunday that Reese put on her Sunday clothes and jewelry because “she wanted to dress up for God.” God bless our children!

And then, there was this comment on our Facebook page — NOT from a parishioner — in response to our first Compline service, when I was attacked mid-prayer by Maisie, who we affectionately call the “Devil Cat.”

I was feeling very blessed to share in your Compline service on Facebook, until you caled Maisie a devil cat and fought with her and had her taken away. She is one of God’s creatures and therefore our sister and it would have been much better if you had stroked her while continuing with the service. I assume you bless her with the other animals at a blessing of the pets every fall — well, she should be treated with love and respect during Compline as well.

I was a little taken aback by that, but just in case you were wondering, no cats were harmed in the streaming of Compline. And the fact that Maisie has not reappeared has nothing to do with her “removal.” She is a beloved member of our family, even when she is at her most devilish.

See you at Compline this evening at 8.

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