Dear Grace and St Peter’s,
I hope this finds you well in spite of these hard times. Sadly, we have just learned of the first COVID-19 related death in Hamden and, in the past few days, I have learned of a number of people not far removed from myself who have been directly touched by the new coronavirus, even one who has died. I am guessing that my experience is not unique. My prayers go out for all of you, especially those whose lives may have been more than simply inconvenienced by the pandemic, and I continue to encourage all of us to follow all public health advisories. Together we will get through this!
As you know, Holy Week is nearly upon us. And, as you can surmise, we will not be doing things as we have always done them. On one hand, this is a cause for grief. We love our traditions and we love them for good reason. On the other hand, new circumstances oblige us to tap into our creativity, awaken our sense of adventure, and refresh our appreciation for discovery. Those of you who took part in our recent Fireside Chat or Zoom Coffee Hour can attest to the simple delight of gathering together in unaccustomed ways—ways, in this case, that did not even exist a short time ago. And seeing our services, limited as they might be, finally live-streamed on the internet is a cause for celebration for many of us. Necessity is a great antidote for procrastination!
Below, I am going to give you an outline of G&SP services for Palm Sunday (this Sunday!) and Holy Week. Along the way of the week, I will also send out a daily reminder of the service that will take place on that day and any links that you might need to participate in and/or view that service.
In addition, we will be sending out a special issue of The Voice, our parish newsletter which has recently been eclipsed by the website and Facebook but is being revived for this purpose. This issue of The Voice will contain prayer resources and suggestions to help you make this Holy Week a spiritually rich and rewarding time even as we are prevented from gathering together as a community of faith in one place.
Of special note in that material will be the suggestion that each household create a sacred space within your home, a place of quiet and prayerful reflection where you can enter more fully into the spirit of Holy Week just as you might if you were attending services in our sanctuary. Here’s a link to a blog post by Sharon Ely Pearson, a lifelong leader in faith formation in the Diocese of Connecticut and nationally. Within Sharon’s blog post is a link to a video from Christ & Holy Trinity in Westport that can give you even more ideas!
Making an Altar for Home
Okay, here goes the schedule...(Please note that all services will be recorded and will be available for viewing at any time on our website and Facebook page.)
Thursday, April 2: I know it’s not Holy Week yet, but we will be having our second Fireside Chat this evening. As last week, this conversation will contain a reading of scripture and a sharing of thoughts, concerns, hopes, laughter, prayer, etc. We will begin at 7:00 pm and finish up around 8:00 pm. I will send a Zoom and phone-in link shortly.
Palm Sunday: We will be live-streaming our service from the G&SP sanctuary at 9:00 am on Facebook as we did last week. A Zoom link will also be provided for those who wish to touch virtual shoulders with others who are watching. The service will combine elements of our traditional Palm Sunday liturgy and elements of our Morning Prayer rite. At the suggestion of our bishops, we will not be giving out palms this year. In place of palms, you might want to take cuttings of local foliage, or a live potted plant, and place them on your front door, window or porch. Here’s a brief article about that:
A Beautiful Idea for Palm Sunday
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: On each of these evenings, an Evening Prayer service will be led by one of our lay people. These services will be live-streamed or taped and posted depending on the technological preferences of the person leading the prayers. Services may be hosted from the G&SP sanctuary or from homes, again depending on the preferences of the prayer leader. Stay tuned for details.
Thursday: This will be a simplified Maundy Thursday evening service with scripture readings, music, conversation and prayer. We will gather on Zoom for those who wish to participate interactively, and also live-stream this service for those who wish to watch but not participate. As well, resources will be provided for individuals or households to use at home along with, or in addition to, the services that will be presented online.
Good Friday: I will be making a solemn walking tour of the G&SP neighborhood at midday, stopping in a number of sites for prayer, song and scripture. This is something that has been talked about for a couple of years and now, thanks to unusual circumstances, will actually take place. We will broadcast, live-stream and/or Zoom this service depending on what seems technologically feasible given the event’s peripatetic nature. As with the Maundy Thursday service, resources will be provided for individuals or households to use at home along with, or in addition to, the services that will be presented online.
The Easter Vigil: We will be sending out ideas for spending this sacred evening meaningfully at home and will also be sharing virtual links to locations where Easter Vigils will be taking place, though necessarily in a limited way.
Easter Sunday: Yay! We will be broadcasting/live-streaming/Zooming our Easter Sunday service either from the G&SP sanctuary or from some as-yet-undetermined outdoor location. Look for songs, prayers, flowers and rejoicing!
That’s plenty of information for now. May the Lord bless us and keep us; may the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious unto us; May the Lord lift up his countenance upon us and give us peace —