A message to the congregation

Dear Grace and St Peter’s,

I hope you are all doing well and settling into these unusual times and their attendant restrictions without too, too much discomfort. I just scrolled through on my computer an entire Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast of Il Trovatore in about ten minutes. That’s the kind of thing that I would never have the opportunity or the time to do in any other circumstance. I give thanks for all the organizations and individuals who are generously trying to make our time of “sheltering in place” a bit less stressful and a bit more pleasant!

Like the Met, we too will be shifting into broadcast mode beginning this Sunday morning. On March 22, and for at least a week or two after that, we will not be holding public worship services. I will, however, lead a service of Morning Prayer on Sunday morning that will be be videotaped and posted on our Facebook page and website. Please look us up there beginning sometime late in the morning on Sunday. We will leave that video up indefinitely, so please join in the virtual worship service any time during the week when you have 30-40 minutes available. If you would like to virtually participate in daily worship, Rowena Kemp—the priest at Grace Church, Hartford, where Aldon is currently serving an internship—has been posting Morning and Evening Prayer on Grace Church, Hartford’s Facebook page. You may also want to have a look at the National Cathedral’s website. They are offering daily on-line Morning and Evening Prayer, Sunday morning Eucharist and a variety of other meditations and reflections.

We will also be reaching out to all of you by phone and/or email to make sure that you are doing okay and to see if you need help with anything. Please do not hesitate to ask for help with groceries, parcel pick-up, chores, etc. if you need it. Equally, if you get a phone call from one of our volunteers and feel like you would rather not be called again (some of us have gotten out of the habit of receiving phone calls), simply let the caller know and we will shift to other modes of communication like this one.

Please know that I keep all of you in my prayers. This is a challenging time for everyone. And, like all challenging times in life, it offers us reason both for despair and anxiety and for faithfulness, courage and growth. Perhaps we could do worse than to take our recent Lenten presenter Jonathan Sigworth’s example of patience, hope and endurance in the face of adversity.

Please take a moment each day to give thanks for the extra time of rest and reflection that this enforced slowdown in activity provides. May I suggest a free opera broadcast in HD (metopera.org)? Please take a moment to remember that we are all in this together across every imagined division of religion, skin color, cultural background, socio-economic status, etc. In many ways, we are blessed by this important wake-up call. As Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, man nor woman, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Please take a moment to give thanks for the amazing community that is Grace and St Peter’s, for all the ways that we support and sustain each other whether we are gathered in person for worship or praying for each other at a distance. And, give thanks for the greater Hamden community and for our discerning and clear-headed civic leaders and public servants who are putting prudence and care for all citizens before any other concern.

Lastly, take a moment to remember God’s grace and goodness towards us. At all times and in all places, we are in the palm of God’s protective hands. The psalm appointed for this Sunday is Psalm 23. This psalm, of course, is often recited at funerals. But really, at its heart, it is an ode to God’s protection, benediction and benevolence even in the most dire of circumstances. Until next time, I leave you with the psalmist’s words:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

I wish you all a peaceful, healthy and happy spring!