Our Church is Closed
until Further Notice
It saddens us to give notice that St. Paul's Church will be closed indefinitely due to concern over transmission of the corona virus. Eight members of the parish Vestry reached that decision after our 10 am service Sunday. The church will be closed to all other activity except the food pantry and our Community Transition Center tenant. That means no committee meetings, no midweek healing service, no 12-step meetings, no rentals of the Parish Hall or the Scout Hall. Only those with immediate business at the church should visit.
The Vestry will evaluate the situation in two weeks. However, the spread of the virus is expected to last considerably longer than that.
Please note under Parish News that webcasts of services from churches throughout the diocese and at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are available on line. Parishioners (and others) are encouraged to make use of the Book of Common Prayer and to conduct the Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer, Compline) on their own and at their convenience. You will note below the readings and commentary on this week's lectionary. This may aid you as you read services in the Book of Common Prayer or as you watch services online.
Lapses in our accustomed collegial hospitality can be at least partially remedied by reaching out to each other either because we know of someone in need or feel such needs ourselves. Please use email or the phone or other media to stay in touch. Any urgent pastoral concerns should be addressed to Father Tyler at 845 705 9822.
"Here is an astonishing thing!"
How fitting that we should have a reading this Sunday which addresses in some detail Jesus' healing of the man blind from birth. Although we are confronting a different health issue than blindness, we are all quite aware of our faith and our hope that the corona virus will not cause too terribly much grief and heartache. We are told there will be those who become infected and die. There will be many more who suffer from the infection and survive. And there will be the rest of us who will be radically inconvenienced and upset by the precautions the public health experts are all but demanding we take. What lessons do we draw from this reading?
Right off the bat we have two extremely applicable exchanges. The religious leaders want to know whose sins resulted in the man's blindness. Jesus tells them no one's sins caused the blindness. How many people have you heard blame God for the corona virus? As though the Almighty was trying to punish us for something? How many do you think actually believe God is like that?
Continuing, Jesus explained, "(H)e was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him." Which is exactly what happened when Jesus healed him of his blindness.
Jesus continued, "We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work." And that is what he did, healing the blind man before he was ultimately captured by the authorities who wanted to be rid of this pesky preacher.
Later in the Gospel the authorities interrogated the formerly blind man's parents, who had no idea how he was healed. So he was brought before the authorities to explain his new eyesight. They were incapable of believing Jesus had done it. So they kept after the man formerly blind. He finally said, "Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
In the formerly blind man's newfound faith, his spiritual vision, we can recognize our own confidence in our faith at a time like this. The corona crisis will pass. There will be impacts. And the impacts on us will be defined by our relationship with God. That will define our experience exactly to the extent we exert ourselves to take this time of crisis to engage in our faith in prayer and action, loving God and loving our neighbor.