Thursday, November 19, 2020
Because of the increase in cases locally and throughout our region of the Commonwealth, I am suspending in-person worship at Grace through December 6 with the exception of 8:30 am weekday Morning Prayer which will limit attendance to 10.
The Annual Meeting will also meet via Zoom and call-in only 9:15 am Second Sunday of Advent, December 6.
The following services will be conducted via Zoom and presented on Facebook:
- 8 am and 10:30 am Christ the King Sunday, November 22
- 10 am Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26
- 8 am and 10:30 am First Sunday of Advent, November 29
- 8 am and 10:30 am Second Sunday of Advent, December 6
It is so important that we do what we can to keep others safe without compromising on our commitment to share the presence of Christ with other members of his Body.
I hope you will continue to wear masks, social distance, and practice good hygiene, and that you will keep supporting one another through virtual worship and any other means available.
As we close our church liturgical year under the sign of Christ the King (Ps. 95:3), I am keenly aware that we always proclaim the kingdom of Christ in a world in rebellion against God. Our king Jesus says directly to the rulers of this world, My kingdom is not of this world. (John 19) And at the same time that He will always Jesus dwell with us (Matthew 28) and among us (Luke 17). The Word opens our eyes to see one another as the children of God (1 John) and to see Jesus with and among us, here and now (Matthew 25). The world does not honor Jesus who comes among us as the least of our brothers and sisters on the margins, on the road, in shelters, camps, prisons, ghettos. Nevertheless, he calls us to recognize, serve and honor him.
I am also keenly aware of that the First Sunday of Advent marks the anniversary of my first Sunday among you as rector. From the search process I knew that Father James had done so much to help you heal and recover strength and hope. Thankfully, we had four months to begin to get to know each other before the pandemic forced us to suspend in person worship just before Palm Sunday. A less resilient parish would have been disheartened, but the challenges you overcame together during the interim seem to have given Grace the strength to rise to the new challenge and focus on the priority of caring for one another, especially the most vulnerable, and find creative ways to minister the presence of Christ to one another.
I have been inspired by the way the professional and lay leadership of the parish has responded to the pandemic. Lisa, Martha and Sharon pivoted without missing a step to help us develop virtual worship and programming and support all the ministries of the parish. Every Committee has done remarkable work, and as a result we have exciting things to look forward to in every part of our ministry – Organ and chancel renovations are happening on schedule, Students are worshiping and participating in parish life (VMI, W&L, SVU, Dabney Lancaster, Choral Scholars), we are responding in timely ways to needs in our community and around the world (the Boys Home, RARA, Emergency Relief, Sudanese Scholarships), we are developing a robust ministry to re-entering citizens (STEPS and Re-Entry Council), to children (mask-making, YMCA), and we are continuing the journey to Becoming Beloved Community (the Walker Program, Racial Equity, Sacred Ground). There is more information to share about these efforts, and each committee will be drafting reports for the Annual Meeting. And as I think on them I find myself strangely grateful for the pandemic to slow you all down!
And please, feel free to call or email. Interrupt me especially with any questions or concerns or thoughts you might have.
Serving Christ the King in this rebellious world is always a challenge. We all are complicit with it in one way or another, and sometimes that weighs on us and gives us a feeling that we aren’t doing enough. But Christ our King does not ask us to conquer the world. He has already done that! He asks us to accept his grace. He asks us to take care of ourselves and others. Don’t miss the goodness and kindness that is always so prevalent in every corner of creation. Even the most rebellious among us is made in God’s image, beloved and loveable. But above all seek the King who is with us and among us. You know where to look for him and how to serve and honor him. You are doing it.