Beloved Community,

I'm laughing a bit because Fran T. just came in and said this is "The Noah's Ark edition" of our newsletter. At times like this, good humor is such a gift. Anyway...

In yesterday's weekly email, I wrote, "We were not spared, nor did we suffer the worst of it." And that is still true. The flooding has been a huge, messy, stinky incovenience. As I sit writing this message, I can see out my window a couple of the many houses on Rector and Church Streets that are uninhabitable. People we see, some whose names we know, more who know Daisy Mae, are facing loss and destruction far beyond what has happened here. We are safe. Our homes are inhabitable. We have the support and resources to recover relatively easily.

Yesterday, we were invited to join Christ Church for their 10:00 service, which is similar to ours, in that some worship in person, others worship via livestream. Last night I told the Vestry of that invitation and said it might be a good option for us because I will not be at my best to preach this weekend.

Today we were designated a Category 3 clean-up site, which means it is unsafe to be here, so the discussion about whether or not we worship here together is moot.

I am inviting you to join me in worshipping at Christ Church at 10:00 on Sunday morning. Actually, I am encouraging you to join me at Christ Church at 10:00 Sunday morning. In the midst of this major inconvenience, there is true grace in knowing that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. There is joy in having a relationship with other Episcopalians and Lutherans (Pastor Tristan!) that allows us to be the Church in ways that we cannot be on our own. And, selfishly, it would mean the world to me to be able to see you and know that you are okay.

If your decision to worship with Christ Church is predicated on Covid concerns, I can reassure you that you will be as safe there as you are here. They follow the diocesan guidelines, as we do. They installed a ventilation system to ensure adequate air flow and exchange. And, if you've ever been to Christ Church, you know that their space is much larger than ours, so, even with the combined congregation, we will maintain good physical distancing.

If you can't come in person, please do view the service on Christ Church's YouTube channel:

Pastor Tristan is preaching, and I promise you will enjoy hearing him.

Lastly, though there is not much we can do to help our neighbors in any substantive way, that does not mean we cannot extend our warm hospitality to them, doing one of the things Jesus clearly loved doing in his ministry: feeding people. On Sunday from 5:00 to 7:00, we will be hosting a simple cook-out in the driveway, with hamburgers, hotdogs, veggie burgers, and some sides. If you'd like to join us, we'd love to have you. If you can, text, call, or email to let me know to expect you, so that we are sure to have enough food. If coming is a last minute decision, come! When has St. Stephen's ever run out of food?

Peace & Blessings,