Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Yesterday evening (Friday) I received an urgent message from our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Ryan Reed, concerning the uptick in COVID-19 cases related to the Delta Variant. He and his medical advisors are concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in our area. The Diocesan Standing Committee (which includes the Bishop) is reviewing the data, in consultation with the medical advisors, to determine a formal course of action. In the meantime, Bishop Reed has made the following request of Rectors in urban areas:
- Encourage social distancing.
- Encourage mask wearing.
- Encourage those with health issues to participate through online worship for the short term.
- Encourage continued hand [washing] hygiene.
While these do not yet rise to the level of an episcopal mandate, I am requesting that all of us (both vaccinated and unvaccinated) heed the Bishop’s encouragements beginning this Sunday, July, 25.
Certainly, this is disappointing news and we join the psalmist’s cry: “How long, O Lord, how long?” Nevertheless, we must hear the words of St. Paul: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) Let’s rejoice as we partner with the Holy Spirit in developing the character of Christ in us as we submit to our Bishop together. We know that God has been faithful to us in Christ throughout COVID and He will continue to be faithful to us!
Fr. Andrew J. Thebeau