Christian Community During COVID-19
Currently, COVID-19 is devastating the world in which we live. My interim work at St. Elisabeth's Episcopal Church, Glencoe IL, took a turn as we closed our buildings and moved worship and formation to facebook live and zoom.
After taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus during face-to-face worship, The Episcopal Church felt that, as good stewards of our loved ones and those who care for all of us – doctors, nurses, caregivers, service industry employees, – we should suspend face-to-face worship. This directive was issued by our bishop on March 12, 2020. We began streaming worship services on March 15. It was a scramble. With the help of clergy colleagues, staff, wardens and vestry, we quickly figured out a way to do this, consider what the service would look like, and how our prayers would remind us that God is present.
As we stay-at-home to assist all those in the medical profession who are saving lives and making difficult decisions, the Church is playing a vital role, demonstrating through action how to care for neighbor and serve the vulnerable. New ways of gathering, emergent theologies, and creative ways of worshiping are signs of transformation in the midst of crisis.
The Bishop and his staff meet via Zoom with all clergy in the diocese every Wednesday at noon. The Evanston Deanery is meeting every Wednesday right after the Bishop’s meeting to support each other, discuss challenges and act upon new ways of keeping all of the people of God in the Evanston deanery together.
At the request of our Bishop, our primary worship on Sundays moved to Morning Prayer with Spiritual Communion.
During this time of Christian community amid COVID-19, we cannot be physically present within our beautiful sanctuary. The spiritual practices found in St. Augustine’s Prayer Book connects us internally with the sad reality that we cannot worship together physically. We yearn for the days to come quickly when we can gather together in our church again. Spiritual Communion reminds us that God is with us and that we are the hands and hearts and spirit of Jesus to each other and to the wider community during this time of anxiety and separation.
“O God, whose care can reach to the ends of the earth and beyond: We ask to care for and bless those whom we love, now physically absent from us. Decent the for all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both they and we, are always moving closer to you through the power of the Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP, p 830)