Dear Apostles Family,
Many of you received Archbishop Foley’s message earlier today to all the churches in our diocese regarding the coronavirus. If you have not read his letter, please follow this link to read Archbishop Foley’s episcopal guidance concerning the coronavirus. I want to address a few items in Archbishop Foley’s letter, particularly regarding church attendance. I also want to share some practical steps we’re taking at Apostles related to the coronavirus.
Notes from Archbishop’s Message
I’ve received a few questions about the Archbishop’s guidelines regarding Sunday worship, so here are a few notes on those items.
- Archbishop Foley wrote that senior citizens (age 60+) and anyone who is ‘immuno-compromised’ should consider worshipping from home on Sundays until further notice. Note that he asks you to discern this decision. I ask that you consider this question, not only in prayer, but by consulting your primary care doctor. Ask your doctor for medical advice given your own current condition and medical history about attending worship services where 100 people will be present (our approximate averages at each morning service). If you are in good health or your doctor grants permission to attend services, we encourage you to attend Sunday morning services.
- Archbishop Foley is more direct regarding anyone suffering cold or flu symptoms: stay home and self-quarantine. There is no reason to risk further illness for yourself or others if you have a cold or the flu. Worship from home until at least 3 days after your symptoms are gone.
- Archbishop Foley requires self-quarantine from Sunday services for anyone who has traveled to another country or a U.S. city directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
I know that the diocese and our bishops will review these guidelines each week, and will adjust them accordingly when the contagious risk lessens. If you must stay home, please pray the service of Morning Prayer on Sundays available at Daily Office 2019 and listen to the Apostles Sunday sermon on our website. Viewing live worship services is not available at Apostles, but you may watch other Anglican worship services online.
Worship Schedule and Table Groups
- Our Sunday worship schedule remains the same: 8:45am and 11:15am
- The Prophet, Priest, and King series will continue as scheduled: 10:10am on Sunday morning and 7pm on Wednesday evening.
- Our Wednesday service of Eucharist and Healing will continue to gather for worship. Bread only Eucharist will be distributed.
- All Apostles Table Groups are cancelled until further notice. Smaller spaces, covered dish meals, and drinks increase risks of contracting airborne illnesses.
On a practical level, I want to prepare for our church to be servants of Christ during this time, especially to those of our own household of faith (Galatians 6.10).
Though we are suspending Table Group gatherings, I’m asking that Table Groups care for their group members who are homebound or ill by taking them meals or helping with errands.
This Sunday we will also have signups to help homebound and elderly members in practical ways. Please look for these ways to serve:
- Meal Team Signup (serving Apostles members not already connected to a Table Group)
- Pastoral Care
- Phone Ministry
- Card Ministry
We also may need additional help on volunteer teams such as ushers, greeters, coffee, etc. if team members need to exercise caution and stay at home. Please communicate with your team leaders if you are unable to serve. For all who are able to attend worship, let’s be ready to offer a helping hand to those volunteer teams that might be shorthanded during this time.
When we face adverse times such as these, we must always remember that God calls us to be people of faith, hope, and love. Though our daily routines are undergoing some temporary changes, we place our hope in God and expect to meet Him in the midst of these changes. All circumstances are occasions to pursue Christlikeness and practice loving our neighbors.
Regarding Holy Communion, it’s important to remember this regarding communion in one kind, known as ‘bread only.’ The reality of God’s grace isn’t diminished when we receive only the bread. We do not receive half communion or half grace with bread only because Christ is indivisible in his body and blood.
Rather, it is our experience of the Eucharist that diminishes when we receive communion in one kind only. We feel a loss in this experience of communion, and that is fitting because Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist consecrating both bread and wine. We should not be completely satisfied with Communion in bread only as a permanent practice. These are temporary measures due to extra-ordinary circumstances.
But in these circumstances let us seek Christ. For those able to attend worship and receive communion in one kind, let us awaken our hearts to our thirst for spiritual community, with Christ and with one another. Let us also pray for the spiritually thirsty in our world who do not know Christ.1 For those unable to attend worship and receive communion on a weekly basis, I encourage you to seek Christ in the Collect for Spiritual Communion (BCP 2019, p. 677):
Dear Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Holy Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to possess you within my soul. And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you, together with all your faithful people gathered around every altar of your Church, and I embrace you with all the affections of my soul. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
The final petition of that prayer—“Never permit me to be separated from you”—is one of the great promises we have in Scripture. St Paul wrote to the Romans in the midst of their trials:
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37–39, ESV)
We are always a people of faith, hope, and love. Let us grow in faith, hope, and love in these days.
- I’m grateful to Fr John Roop for spiritual reflections he shared with me regarding communion in one kind. ↩︎