A community reshaping itself to be fit for God's purpose.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Every Cloud has a Silver Lining
Packing up some things a day or so ago I came across my collection of athletic medals from my days as a track star. I was for three years running the NZ junior (under 19) champion over 100 meters with a best time of around 10.2-ish. Looking back my life was ruled by the disciplines of nightly athletic practice and weekly competition. I often felt aggrieved at not being able to hang out with my friends at the public pool after school. I never got to smoke cigarettes and do - who knows - what else? More innocent times. However, looking back I am also grateful for this foundation. At its worst it inculcated in me a tendency to get locked into too tight a routine. At its best it has given me a foundational experience of practice, practice, practice - while not actually making me perfect – encouraged resourceful resilience, perseverance, and a robust sense of self.

The important aspect of daily training was not simply to build physical fitness, but to program muscle and reflex memory. Night after night of painstaking and repetitive starter practice (sprinters use starter blocks for explosive propulsion) meant that when in competition the starter pistol fired, all thought ceased and the muscles responded as they had been programmed to do without any conscious direction.

This leads me to offer a brief comment on the role of religious practice, particularly during periods of anxiety. Faith is more than an idea it’s a series of practices that orient us towards God and the world. We worship, we pray, some of us meditate, we take spiritual reading seriously in order to nurture our faith in a direct encounter with God speaking to us through sacred text, and we practice putting others ahead of our own self-preoccupation. As with the experience on the track, the spiritual life is founded upon practice, practice, practice.

The emphasis in spiritual practice is not on generating a feel-good factor. If we are looking for this we will fall at the first hurdle - to return to a metaphor from the track. So often our practices can feel empty and rote – but here’s the point – we do them anyway! We worship, we pray, we find space for silence, and we encounter God through the reading of Scripture. The beauty of being members of an ancient liturgical tradition is that we are spared having to reinvent these practices for ourselves. All we need is a Book of Common Prayer, the Bible, and a commitment to practice so as to program spiritual muscle memory.

During this current period of social distancing in order to flatten the curve of increased infection, we are being offered a new perspective on the effects of virtual spiritual practice. We now live in an age where much of life is lived in virtual reality. Though often decried as the cause of the breakdown of traditional patterns of person-to-person relationship - in a time of social distancing we are coming to appreciate how online resources can support and enhance spiritual practice. We are discovering new ways to experience being connected together in spiritual communion – both with God and with one another.

Here are some recommendations for how to use online resources to support your spiritual and emotional well-being during this period of uncertainty and fear:

A Morning at the Office, Forward Movement's Episcopal Morning Prayer. You can also find daily updated morning, midday, evening and night prayer here in simple text format. Remember, saying one of the four daily offices found in the Book of Common Prayer is like a lamp plugging into the electrical power source - a way to link into the Church's world-wide cycle of public prayer.

Mission St Clare is an online daily office program and phone app.

E-Common Prayer i s a phone and tablet app which gives access to the online BCP and daily lectionary readings.

You can join the weekly Meditation Hour via Zoom here .

And don’t forget to tune in to the St Martin’s Sunday worship podcast which can also be accessed from here . Last week on the sermon blog site we had 402 visits to the podcast Sung Morning Prayer . On the Facebook we had 165 visits. So we have vastly increased our worship exposure through online media. Every cloud has a silver lining.
So, I won’t see you in church this Sunday but I hope to connect with you online.
A timely message from our Senior Warden
Our work, our outreach, our faith must overcome the world!

To help us overcome I have a simple ask: just keep doing what you’ve been doing to support St. Martin’s. If you give electronically, push that button. If you put a check or an envelope in the plate, take a minute to put it in an envelope and send it to St. Martin’s or contact your bank about setting up an electronic check payment. You can also use the paypal button on the website. If you put cash in the plate, put in in a jar labeled to support your Christian Community. Bring it or send it when you can.

I’m not asking you to do more than what you’ve already told us you can do. We have a balanced budget. If your support continues at our current level, we can, and we will maintain and even grow our mission - and thank you!

Worshiping during COVID-19 Pandemic
The phrase ' flatten the curve' is an appropriate response to the current anxieties around the novel Coronavirus. It means to take active steps to lessen the opportunities for infection spread. Presently we have no reported cases of infection but out of an abundance of caution, and after consultation, I have decided to take the following measures (details are posted on our website here):

  • The church will remain closed for Sunday Worship until further notice.
  • Mid-week Eucharist is cancelled until further notice.
  • Morning prayer Tuesday through Thursday will still be said in the chapel at 9:00 am.
  • Meditation Hour on Thursdays will be held via Zoom. Join here
  • Holy Week and Easter services will be podcast on the following dates:
  • Palm Sunday, April 5, 10:00 am
  • Maundy Thursday, April 9, 7:00 pm
  • Good Friday, April 10, 7:00 pm
  • The Great Vigil of Easter, Saturday, April 11, 7:00 pm
  • Choral Eucharist Easter Sunday, April 12, 10:00 am

The following events have been cancelled:

  • Lenten Adult Forum Series
  • RI Civic Chorale & Orchestra, March 21
  • 20's & 30's Group, Friday, March 22
  • Easter Egg Decorating for kids, March 28 - see you next year!

Please watch for further announcements regarding event cancellations.
The Thrifty Goose Thrift Store
The Thrifty Goose will be closed temporarily due to Covid-19. At this time we are unable to take donations. Please watch the St. Martin's website and our Facebook page for updates.
Weekly Prayer List

  • Those with the virus or in quarantine
  • Those affected by the economic fallout from the virus
  • Those commended to us: Wendy, Chris, Joe, Justin, Linda, Jennifer, Cheryl, Mark , Marvin, Cathie, Tom, Adam, Harry, Gail, Patrick, and Jerry.
St. Martin's Church | 50 Orchard Ave | Providence, RI |02906
(401) 751-2141