From the Rector, March 27, 2020
Dear Parishioners & Friends of the Church of the Advent,
This is my regular Friday “COVIDtide” update.
As expected, the Bishop has extended the suspension of public liturgies until Pentecost, May 31st, or until any time before that the public health experts allow us to resume services. At the same time, a priest offers the Mass here daily as an act of intercession for the world, and in particular for the sick, the lonely, the anxious and health-care workers. Please do make an act of Spiritual Communion and join your prayers with ours. While we are separated by geography, we can most certainly be united in prayer.
This suspension of worship is also an opportunity to remind ourselves that our identity as catholic Anglicans does not consist solely in beautiful liturgical events or “high churchery.” The liturgy rather, is an outward and visible expression of our faithfulness to the teaching that comes down to us from the Apostles. As Cranmer taught--and you will forgive me for not having the source in front of me--there is no such thing as catholic worship, only catholic theology expressed in worship.
I am also thinking about what things will look like, both for this parish and the wider Church. at the other side of this pandemic, and specifically how we get to “where the ball is going to be” post-Covidtide in terms of programming, staffing and our community life. I will write more about this on another occasion, but these are very much in my mind, and the mind of the leadership team here.
Speaking of worship, by now you will know that we are posting regular webcasts on our Facebook Page and parish website. Our aim is to present the Mass for the Sunday, a Choral Evensong on Wednesdays, and a couple of short meditations on other days. These have been very well received, both by our own people, and indeed the wider Church. If you would like to watch a Sunday Mass, I have suggested Stephen’s Church, Providence [https://www.sstephens.org/sermon-archive] and will add the Church of the Resurrection, NYC: https://vimeo.com/resurrectionnyc. The Liturgy at both of these places will be familiar to us at the Advent, with sound gospel preaching.
I will endeavor to set up a Zoom meeting so that the Lenten Bible Study can resume, albeit virtually. Look for a separate email about this in the coming days. If you wish to put Zoom on your smartphone or computer now [https://zoom.us/], go ahead, but you will also be able to call in to the meeting by telephone.
Fr James is spearheading our efforts to reach out to those parishioners with whom we especially need to check on at this time. An update from him appears below. Know that your clergy are always available by telephone to address needs, or simply to visit with you. It’s been a pleasure to visit with people this past week by telephone, some of whom I have not yet met in person!
We’ve had a number of calls and emails asking about the implications of COVID-19 for the parish finances. The Vestry met on Tuesday night (by Zoom), and heard that while we do have a satisfactory cash position at this time, the Finance Committee is closely monitoring the situation. Many of you have sent checks into the office (thank you!), and we will soon add an online giving option to our website.
And again, on behalf of my clergy colleagues, and the lay staff, I thank you for those of you who have reached out to assure us of your prayers, or simply phoned to check in on us. We’re all in this together!
Update from Fr. James:
From the Rector, March 20, 2020
From the Rector, March 17, 2020
In light of the developing COVID-19 pandemic, and the various directives of the civil authority, the Bishop has directed that “all public worship services are to be cancelled through and including Palm Sunday, April 5th.” The Bishop further cautions that it is entirely possible that this cancellation will continue beyond that date.
Accordingly, all public liturgies, including Sunday Masses at the Church of the Advent, are suspended at least until that date. Needless to say, this is a disappointment to me, as I am sure it is to you, but the concern is for the common good of society, and we must all do our part. This directive includes rehearsals, non-essential meetings, and any Lenten events. Off-site visits by the clergy will be for urgent reasons only. The Tuesday night community supper will continue, albeit with additional precautions and as a take-away meal.
At the same time, your clergy are committed to maintaining the sacramental life of the parish. Each day, one or more of us will pray Morning Prayer at 9am, and a priest will offer the Mass at 9:30am for the living and the departed, and particularly for the sick, the anxious and lonely and health care workers. Wherever you may be, we invite you to join your intentions with ours at that time, and to make an act of spiritual Communion such as the one here. I also would ask you to add the Supplication to your daily prayers. The Prayer Book enjoins the Supplication for “times of war, or of national anxiety, or of disaster” (p. 154).
The parish leadership team are working on ways for us all to be connected during this time, and for the clergy to provide you with spiritual resources. If you have not done so, please subscribe to/like/follow our Facebook page and check the parish website for these resources as they are posted.
Finally, I remind you that the Church ministers to the whole person, body, soul and spirit, and your clergy stand ready and willing to assist you in any way we can. If you become sick, we need you or someone around you to let us know. If you are isolated and down of spirit, we are most willing to talk to you. If you are homebound and need medication or provisions, we need to know.
You will hear more from me as the situation develops, but do be assured of my prayers, even as I ask for yours.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will surely help you; I will uphold you with my right hand of righteousness.--Isa. 41:10
As part of our response to the COVID 19 virus, The Church of the Advent will offer daily webcasts of Choral Evensong alternating with brief meditations by our clergy. We extend these broadcasts to our own people as well as to the wider world as an opportunity to join in daily prayer as we intercede for the sick, the lonely, the anxious, and for healthcare providers.
From the Rector, March 13, 2020
- Holy Communion will be given in the form of the Host alone; no one other than the Celebrant at Mass will receive from the Chalice. Please be assured that it is perfectly acceptable to receive Holy Communion in one kind only. Holy Tradition teaches the doctrine of concomitance (from the Latin “together with”): the belief that the whole Christ is present in each Sacred Species. Receiving the Host alone is not somehow a “half Communion” because both the Body and Blood of Christ are present in the Host, and likewise both the Body and Blood in the Chalice. The Prayer Book affirms this tradition: if a person “cannot receive either the consecrated Bread or the Wine, it is suitable to administer the Sacrament in one kind only” (BCP, p. 457.)
- Communion will be given into the hand, and not directly onto the tongue. Receiving in the hand minimizes the chances of the priest accidentally coming in contact with your mouth.
- Offering plates will not be passed from person to person. Offering plates will be placed at the back of the church, and at the head of the aisle as you approach the altar, to receive your gift.
- The Peace has been relocated from the Offertory to the Fraction, as permitted by the rubrics of the Prayer Book: “... the exchange of the Peace may take place at the administration of the Sacrament …” (BCP, p. 407.) In practice, the celebrant of the Mass will break the Bread, then sing the Peace, to which the people will make their customary response, kneeling.
- Please continue to use the hand sanitizer available at the doors of the church. The clergy and other ministers do this before Mass and immediately prior to the distribution of Communion. While we look forward to greeting you after Mass, the clergy will refrain from shaking hands at the door. Where possible, please spread out in the church. Surfaces, including the altar rail, are sanitized prior to each Mass.
- Solemn Evensong and Benediction scheduled for Sunday, March 15th has been cancelled.
- Thursday Stations of the Cross and Benediction are suspended.
- Sunday Christian education offerings for both adults and children are suspended until Easter.
- Professional nursery care is suspended until Easter. Our caregivers are largely university students, and have departed or will soon depart Boston. Parents may wish to make informal arrangements to watch children during Mass.
- Sunday coffee hour is suspended until Easter. I know this is a particular hardship, but food-service safety is of concern. You may wish to make an informal grouping to go to lunch or a drink after Mass.
- Clergy visits to hospitals and nursing homes will be on an urgent basis only. We will keep up with you by phone, or ensure that you have the ministrations of in-house chaplains where such are available, but by visiting areas of risk, the clergy do not need to themselves become purveyors of viruses to others.
O Lord, arise, help us;
And deliver us for thy Name's sake.
O God, we have heard with our ears, and our fathers have declared unto us, the noble works that thou didst in their days, and in the old time before them.
O Lord, arise, help us;
and deliver us for thy Name's sake.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
O Lord, arise, help us;
and deliver us for thy Name's sake.
V. From our enemies defend us, O Christ;
R. Graciously behold our afflictions.
V. With pity behold the sorrows of our hearts;
R. Mercifully forgive the sins of thy people.
V. Favorably with mercy hear our prayers;
R. O Son of David, have mercy upon us.
V. Both now and ever vouchsafe to hear us, O Christ;
R. Graciously hear us, O Christ; graciously hear us, O Lord Christ.
Let us pray.
O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of grievous sickness, we flee unto thee for succor. Deliver us, we beseech thee, from our peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the sick; prosper the means made use of for their cure; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we may apply our hearts to that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.