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A Message From the Rector


Dear Palmers and Friends,

Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, is the "feast day" for Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church. Palmer is a family name that connects our congregation to an inspiring story of sacrificial love in which one person lost his life while saving another. But that word has also historically referred to someone who returned home with a palm frond as a sign of having taken a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. So we call ourselves Palmers, walking together in the footsteps of Jesus as he leads us home to God. Along the way, even now in this strange landscape of a global pandemic, we continue our mission "to know and share the love of Jesus Christ." And we have done that, not only for other Palmers, but also for our literal next door neighbors, for those who are older and more isolated in our neighborhoods, and - through our prayers or donating blood or the ringing of Palmer's bells during the daily evening shift change - for patients and health care workers across the street from our church in the Texas Medical Center.

Another way to love our neighbor is to participate in the 2020 United States Census. Completing your response to that constitutional mandate not only affects your political representation but also federal funding for clinics, Medicaid, the children's health insurance program and much more. As the Episcopal Health Foundation has reminded us, an accurate Census count is crucial for community health, especially for low-income and vulnerable populations. For example, it is estimated that a 1% undercount in the Census could cost Texans about $280 million each year for health programs alone.

Needless to say, we will not gather on the lawn of the church for a "family photo" of our congregation on our feast day this year (click here to see us gathering for that last year). But we will still worship together online, beginning at 10 AM on Palm Sunday, April 5. Because that liturgy was recorded inside the church before we implemented further restrictions related to the community spread of COVID-19, you will see palm decorations behind the altar and on the standing candelabras. Those were later taken down by the dedicated cleaning crew who wipe down and sanitize the furnishings in the church after every recording session in accordance with the guidelines of the Bishop of Texas. So you will not see flowers or other decorations in the church after that until we gather once again in the pews on the other side of this experience of exile. Again, as I wrote to you last week, we are taking the stay-at-home order for Harris County very seriously, and we hope you are too.

Early next week there will be a special email from the church with details about how we will observe together the rest of Holy Week. Until the current restrictions are lifted, the regular weekly email from the church, like this one that you are reading, will continue to be sent to you each Friday, partly so that you will have a link to the bulletin for our liturgy on the upcoming Sunday. So look for The Palmer in your inbox on Good Friday with information about our online worship for Easter Day.

Here is a prayer from William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury during World War II. Note that his reference at the end to being worthy to dwell with God is in the context of having been made worthy through God's gift of love to us:

O God of love, we pray thee to give us love: love in our thinking, love in our speaking, love in our doing, and love in the hidden places of our souls; love of our neighbors, near and far; love of our friends, old and new; love of those whom we find it hard to bear, and love of those who find it hard to bear with us; love of those with whom we work, and love of those with whom we take our ease; love in joy, love in sorrow; love in life and love in death; that so at length we may be worthy to dwell with thee, who art eternal Love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

Faithfully yours,
The Rev'd Neil Alan Willard
Timely Prayers
For those across the street from Palmer in the Texas Medical Center, for physicians and scientists, for nurses and technicians, for patients and their loved ones kept apart from them, for staff members whose work often goes unseen, and for public health experts during this global pandemic, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy. Amen.

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your sick and suffering servants, and give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, that they may be strengthened in their weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, we are at the limits of our power to help. We place into your hands ourselves and all that we have left undone. For what you have helped us to do, we thank you. We ask you to lend your strength to what must be done by others. Now shelter us in your peace, which surpasses our understanding. Amen.

Sanctify, O Lord, those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing, and to the prevention of disease and pain. Strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit, that by their ministries the health of the community may be promoted and your creation glorified; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen. 

This hour we turn to you, O Lord, in full knowledge of our frailty, our vulnerability, and our great need as your mortal creatures. We cry to you, as one human family, unsure of the path ahead, unequal to the unseen forces around us, frightened by the sickness and death that seem all too real to us now. Stir up your strength and visit us, O Lord; be our shield and rock and hiding place. Guide our leaders, our scientists, our nurses and doctors. Give them wisdom and fill their hearts with courage and determination. Make even this hour, O Lord, a season of blessing for us, that in fear we find you mighty to save, and in illness or death, we find the cross to be none other than the way of life. All this we ask in the name of the One who bore all our infirmities, even Jesus Christ our Risen and Victorious Lord. Amen.
This Week
10 AM SUNDAY SERVICES ON FACEBOOK
This Sunday we will continue to worship together, not in person, but by watching a recorded service that will be posted simultaneously to  Palmer's Facebook page and  Palmer's YouTube channel. Thank you to all who joined us this past Sunday online and in spirit.  Click on this link to download a copy of the bulletin for this Sunday. To participate via Palmer's Facebook page, which does not require having a Facebook account,  click on this link and scroll down until you see an image of the outside of the church and a notation that says "Palm Sunday | April 5, 2020." That post will first appear at 10 AM. But you will be able to watch it either there or on YouTube at any time thereafter.

8 PM WEDNESDAY COMPLINE ON FACEBOOK
Each Wednesday evening, a short service of Compline will be recorded and posted to   Palmer's Facebook page. Scroll down until you see words about Compline above a video. That will first appear there, however, only at 8 PM. You can also follow along at home by turning to page 127 in the Book of Common Prayer, which is where those prayers begin, or by clicking on this link to see the words onlineYou do not need a Facebook account to watch this service.

HOLY WEEK AT PALMER 
Even though we can't be together at church for the holiest week of the year for Christians, we can still be church together to observe the Triduum, the Great Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. Palm Sunday and Easter Day will both be pre-recorded services that you can attend on Facebook and YouTube at 10 AM each Sunday. For the rest of the liturgies, we will be joining together over zoom (don't worry, it can host a lot of people at once!). In those virtual services, you'll be guided through participation, whether you're home alone or with a housefull, so that we can journey toward Easter together as a community.

For each of the three services, we've compiled at-home components (set up guide for an at-home stripping of the altar, a virtual veneration of the cross, home-alone footwashing essentials, etc.) that will be sent out along with a service bulletin and a Zoom link to join together. If you have questions about how this will go or need help with Zoom, feel free to contact the Rev'd David WantlandIt will be different, but we look forward to journeying toward the resurrection with you!
 
PREPARING FOR PALM SUNDAY AT HOME - PALM YOUR FRONT DOOR!
Like previous Sundays in this season of social distancing, you're invited to join in worship with other Palmers by watching the Palm Sunday service on April 5 via Palmer's Facebook page or YouTube channel at 10AM. But since we can't process together, we're encouraging folks to join with other Episcopalians across the country and hang a "Palm" on your front door. Any green branch will do - it doesn't have to come from a palm tree to be a "palm" this year (here are some examples, if you need a little inspiration). Put your palm up on Sunday morning and send a picture of it to  Roger Hutchison  so that we can collect those images together!

THE PALMER NEWSLETTER TEMPORARILY MOVES TO FRIDAY
In light of the current circumstances, The Palmer e-Newsletter will be distributed on Fridays while we are under the stay-at-home order. This will better serve to keep the Parish updated with timely information for both the weekend and the coming week. We will continue to send reminders for mid-week online worship and events. If you have any questions, please contact Dustin Jesudason, Director of Communications.

CAMPUS CLOSURE AND PASTORAL CARE
The Palmer campus remains closed. We will keep everyone up to date on when we will be able to resume in-person worship services and group meetings. However, following the most recent guidelines from Bishop Doyle, that will not be earlier than May 10. In the meantime, if you need to contact the church, please call the church office at 713-529-6196 or email us at  info@palmerchurch.org . If you are in need of pastoral care, please call the church office at 713-529-6196 and follow the instructions for members to leave a message about that or contact  the Rev'd Liz Parker. Also know that the clergy and our trained lay pastoral care ministers are continuing to make phone calls to everyone in our church directory to check on them. If you have not spoken to or received a message from one of them by the beginning of next week, please tell us so that we can make sure that you are on our list and that we have the correct contact information for you.

PALMER WILL HOST A ONLINE CONVERSATION WITH CATHERINE MEEKS
Palmer will host Catherine  Meeks, PhD, noted author and leader in the work of racial  reconciliation on Saturday, April 18, from 10 AM to 12 Noon, for a  discussion on "Getting Beyond Fear: Embracing Hope and  Resilience." Dr. Meeks is executive director of the Absalom  Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta and is the author  of six books and an inspirational CD. She is the editor of the  bestselling book, Living Into God's Dream: Dismantling  Racism in America, and co-author of Passionate for Justice:  Ida B. Wells as Prophet for Our Times

ZOOM FOR ONLINE GATHERINGS AND MEETINGS
You may have heard that Zoom has very quickly become a meeting place online for Palmer's Vestry and church staff and for many of our small groups and parish councils during this time. If you are new to Zoom or do not know how to join a meeting via Zoom, click this link to watch a short video about using it.

UPDATE YOUR MYPALMER ACCOUNT
As we find new ways of keeping in touch, it is important to make sure your info in the church directory is up-to-date. Login by clicking here to your MyPalmer account. If you are new to using MyPalmer you can click the same link and sign up for one. Review your current address, phone number, and email address. If you have any questions please contact Sue Howard.

TEXT MESSAGE UPDATES
Palmer now has text message notifications for urgent updates -- and don't worry, we won't spam you! Click here to subscribe to our messaging system and receive timely and important information. Your carrier's standard message and data rates apply. Complete the form at the link above and follow the prompts you receive via text message.

TITHES AND OFFERINGS
Thank you to all who are continuing to give in support of our church during this time. We encourage thoughtful, intentional stewardship that ensures that our parish will continue to be able to "know and to share the love of Jesus Christ" for the greater good of our congregation and of our city and its people. Your support is vital as the clergy and staff stay in touch with you and other Palmers and offer new ways to gather as a community that follows Jesus and that cares for one another, especially those who are most vulnerable, under extremely challenging circumstances.  You can give online by clicking here or visiting  palmerchurch.org/give.

PHARMACY AND GROCERY RUNS
Palmer is providing a service, for those in need, to take trips to the pharmacy or grocery store to buy necessary items and deliver them to their doorstep. If you or someone you know requires this service or you would like to volunteer to help, please contact Laura Van Ness.

FREE CHRISTIAN RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN
Click here to be connected to a weekly Sunday School lesson from StoryMakers NYC. StoryMakers, the curriculum our children are using during Lent and Easter, is dedicated to creating new ways to share God's redemptive narrative found in the Bible. StoryMakers shares the gospel with children in ways that are meaningful, healthy, and ultimately draws children into God's story. StoryMakers gives children and grown-ups the chance to connect while exploring the greatest story ever told. Please contact Roger Hutchison if you need additional StoryMakers support and materials or if you are interested in joining the curated private Facebook Group for Palmer Parents and Guardians of Children, where he is staying connected to households with children and posting a variety of Christian formation resources.

TUESDAY TEA TIME BIBLE STUDY FOR WOMEN
Last week the Rev'd Liz Parker began offering an additional Women's Bible Study that meets online via Zoom. That gathering begins on Tuesdays at 4 PM, which is the perfect time to time to have a cup of tea as well. The subject is the Book of Psalms, reflecting on the many ways our ancestors in faith prayed in times of trial and tribulation. If you have questions about this new group, please contact  the Rev'd Liz Parker.

FOUR WEEKDAY BIBLE STUDIES MEETING ONLINE
There are now four weekday Bible studies that are meeting online via Zoom. If you would like to join the Noon Wednesday All-Parish Bible Study contact the Rev'd David Wantland, the 7AM Tuesday Men's Bible Study contact the Rev'd Neil Willard, the 7 AM Tuesday Women's Bible Study or the new 4 PM Tuesday Women's Bible Study, contact the Rev'd Liz Parker  who will send you information about how to do that.

NEWCOMER CLASS MOVING ONLINE
Our newcomer class "This is Us" will continue to meet on Sunday mornings online via Zoom.  Contact the Rev'd Liz Parker to learn how to join this gathering and specific details.