We are writing to notify you of changes we will be making to our worship, beginning this Sunday, in response to a Pastoral Directive we received from Bishop Fisher this past Monday. In early March, when the global pandemic began to take root in the United States, local churches were encouraged to adapt their worship in a way that made most sense for their context. Here at SsJA, we opted to live stream virtual communion each Sunday. As the weeks have unfolded, bishops and theologians across The Episcopal Church have had time to consider the thinking behind the varied approaches practiced at local churches. With the benefit of this time and consideration, a consensus has arisen that virtual communion, the invitation for parish members to consume consecrated bread and wine at home, is “an experiment born of a pastoral longing to satisfy hungry hearts”, but is not consistent with the liturgical traditions of The Episcopal Church. If you are interested in learning more about this thinking, we commend you to read “A Reflection on the Eucharist During the time of COVID-19” by Bishop Andrew Doyle of the Diocese of Texas.
In this week’s Directive, Bishop Fisher provided clergy with four options that can be practiced at local churches. We discussed these options on Tuesday with the clergy and wardens and then in the evening with the Vestry. After hearing the wisdom of church leaders, we have decided to alternate between Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist with Spiritual Communion over the course of each month.
For many who grew up in the Episcopal Church, Morning Prayer on Sunday mornings will feel a bit like welcoming a long lost friend. Prior to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer was regularly a primary Sunday morning worship service. However, for many of us this worship service will be altogether new. To help us gain a better understanding of Morning Prayer, we will have an instructed version on Sunday, May 10th at 10 a.m.
Holy Eucharist with Spiritual Communion is a service of the Eucharist without consumption of the bread and wine; it involves participation in the Eucharist without partaking in communion itself, and the request to God to receive its graces in the heart. Prior to COVID-19, this has been a part of our tradition, especially in the Armed Forces. During the worship, at the moment we would normally distribute and receive the consecrated bread and wine, we will take a moment of silence and say together a modified version of a prayer in the Prayer Book for the Armed Forces:
In union, gracious God, with your faithful people at every altar of your Church where the Holy Eucharist is now being celebrated, we offer to you praise and thanksgiving. We remember your death, O Christ; we proclaim your resurrection; we await your coming in glory. Since we cannot receive you today in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, we beseech you to come spiritually into our hearts. Cleanse and strengthen us with your grace, Lord Jesus, and let us never be separated from you. May we live in you, and you in us, in this life and in the life to come. Amen.
This Sunday we will have our first Holy Eucharist with Spiritual Communion, and during the sermon we will discuss Episcopal eucharistic theology and our thinking behind our choice to adopt a rotation of Spiritual Communion and Morning Prayer. We ask that everyone join the clergy in this fast from the Eucharist, by abstaining from consuming bread and wine for communion. We do hope you will continue to create sacred space in your homes--light candles, print a picture of a meaningful icon, put some forsythia or tulips on your table as you prepare to join us for worship.
No matter what worship service we feature on a given Sunday, you will still be able to find the links to Facebook Live, an electronic copy of the worship leaflet, virtual offertory plate, and virtual coffee hour on our website: www.saintsjamesandandrew.org We will also continue to use the Sunday Lectionary readings each week. Another modification we will be making is to sometimes simplify the service by reducing the number of readings we feature from the lectionary each week. When we do, we will be forgoing the second lesson, and have a lesson from the Hebrew scriptures, a psalm, and a gospel reading.
Since this global pandemic erupted, many of us have been wondering when things might “go back to normal”. As we have lived nearly two months in these strange times, we have come to the realization that there will be no going back to normal. Some parts of life before COVID-19 will not return. We have grief to work through as we live into this new reality. Some parts of life will be changed as a result of COVID-19. For example, we have had numerous people who would never have walked through the front doors of our church who have joined us for online worship. Even after we re-enter our building, we may want to continue streaming our worship services as another form of radical welcome, or for those who may feel unsafe to leave their home until there is a vaccine.
On Tuesday, Governor Baker extended the stay at home advisory until May 18th, and Bishop Fisher extended the suspension of in person worship until May 18th, as well. We wish we could give you a date for when we can be back together in person. What we do know is it will not be right away, it will be a gradual process guided by instructions from the national church, our diocese, the CDC, and Governor Baker.
We also want to thank you for doing your bit by staying home, washing your hands, wearing masks, sending in donations, supporting our mission and outreach, joining virtual coffee hours, bible study, online worship, and praying without ceasing. We have long known the church is not a building, but rather a people. Now more than ever, we are showing the world what it means to be the Church.
We realize this is a lot to digest, and we want you to know our virtual doors are open. Please do not hesitate to give us a call or email us if you have questions or concerns.
Rev. Heather & Rev. Molly
P.S. We also recommend reading Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Word to the Church: On Our Theology of Worship.
It all belongs to God. In his book, Ask, Thank, Tell, Charles R. Lane says, “We live by the gracious hand of God, not from our own accomplishments. God doesn’t give gifts, at least not in the way we use the word gift. When we use the word gift, we imply that one person has given something to someone else, who then owns that item and are free to do with it as they please. This is not the way it is with God and us. God continues to own everything. When we give a gift to someone, we understand that a transfer of ownership has occurred. We give up our claim to the gift and what the owner does with it is now in his/her control.
This isn’t the way it is with God and us. No such transfer of ownership occurs. God has created all that is and God continues to own all that is. Everything we have still belongs to God. We are given the privilege and responsibility to care for that which belongs to our heavenly Father.”
The arrival of COVID-19 has meant that people cannot attend church—with services cancelled altogether. We have seen the creation of some innovative ministries that have adapted to the crisis. Zoom Bible studies, meetings, and coffee hours, Facebook live worship, take-out meals, all require resources to continue. For SsJA to keep supportIng people during this crisis, it will require us all to continue to give whatever we can.
How can we pass the offering plate when people aren’t there to pass the plate?
Here are the ways SsJA can receive our donations and pledges:
In the words of the Rev. Heather Blais, “Our doors may be closed, but we will keep being the Church in virtual and adaptive ways for as long as it takes--for worship, for mission, for everything.”
Di Kurkulonis, Stewardship Chair
Dear People of Saints James and Andrew,
We will continue to offer live streamed worship until advised by Bishop Fisher and Governor Baker that churches may resume in person worship. There is a stay at home advisory until at least May 4 as of this writing. This is one small action our community can do to slow down the spread of COVID-19. We have added a list of all the links you might need to view Facebook Live, an electronic worship leaflet, an electronic offertory plate, virtual coffee hour, and recent sermons at the top of our website: www.saintsjamesandandrew.org
Up until Palm Sunday, we have offered online streamed worship from the chapel, with our worship leaders gathering in person. However, we currently have some worship leaders with cold-like symptoms and out of an abundance of caution will transition our live stream to our homes.
For those interested in how this is possible from a technology perspective, the worship leaders will be gathering on a Zoom meeting to lead worship from their homes, and then we will broadcast that meeting on the church’s Facebook account. The most noticeable difference for worshipers will be seeing worship leaders from their homes instead of the chapel.
We will offer online streamed worship Monday-Friday of Holy Week at 7 p.m on Facebook Live. The electronic leaflets will be posted on our website, just as we do for the Sunday leaflet. See the full Holy Week schedule below. A few odds and ends worth noting:
Help with NEW Sunday Sandwiches program
This past week we held an emergency Mission Team meeting where we decided to begin offering Sunday Sandwiches to fill a gap in the free community meal program. With Cathedral in the Light not meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable members of our community did not have access to a free meal from Saturday lunch to Monday lunch. This program will allow there to be at least one free meal every day in Greenfield. We have agreed to run the program through the end of May, and reassess whether there is still a need at that point in time. Marie Paquette will oversee the program, with Nancy Maleno organizing volunteers. Please read the detailed announcement below.
Change in Protocol for Community Outreach
Effectively immediately, Second Helpings, Whitney’s Pantry, and Sunday Sandwiches will be distributed from a takeaway window in the Whiteman Room, accessible from the parking lot. Folks will continue to follow all Board of Health recommendations around masks, gloves, social distancing, etc.
Due to the uncertainties of this time, the Spiritual Life Team has decided to postpone the August 26-28, 2020 parish retreat at Barbara C. Harris until a date to be determined in 2021. More information is forthcoming.
Office Hours, Ministry Teams, and Special Events
We will continue to have the staff work remotely, schedule ministry team meetings on Zoom, and postpone special events until advised otherwise.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to adapt to our current realities. Know you continue to be in our hearts and prayers.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Heather & Rev. Molly
Journey through Holy Week
Palm Sunday—April 5
10:00 a.m. This service recalls Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Please note this liturgy is different from traditional Palm Sunday liturgies, in that the Passion Gospel is not read until Good Friday.
Holy Monday—April 6
7:00 p.m. This contemplative service of worship in the Taize tradition includes sung and chanted prayer, brief readings, and silence for meditation.
Holy Tuesday—April 7
7:00 p.m. We will offer a healing service to inspire healing, hope, and thanksgiving.
Holy Wednesday—April 8
7:00 p.m. Compline, often referred to as bedtime prayers.
Maundy Thursday—April 9
7:00 p.m. This service recalls the institution of the Eucharist.
Good Friday—April 10
All Day. We hope to offer a special video that we will upload during Holy Week, which will allow folks to journey with our host through Greenfield to participate in Stations in the Street virtually. We also hope to provide the prayers for each station separately.
7:00 p.m. This service commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus, and includes a reading of the Passion gospel, music, and solemn prayers.
Holy Saturday—April 11
All Day. Walk our outdoor labyrinth to mark today in a quiet and prayerful way. A brief guided walk text is available in the wooden cabinet near the benches.
Easter Sunday—April 12
10:00 a.m. A celebration of Christ’s resurrection with music and Holy Eucharist.
How to worship online
The easiest way to find all the links is by visiting our website: www.saintsjamesandandrew.org
Online Streamed Worship at 10 a.m. and Monday-Friday of Holy Week at 7 p.m.
Join us for worship on Facebook Live. (You do not need to have a Facebook account to view this public live stream). We will start the live feed by quarter of.
During the communion liturgy we invite you to have a small piece of bread and/or wine. If we are worshiping together, even as our bodies are apart, God will still become really and truly present in the bread and wine we set apart in our own homes to consume during communion.
We realize household finances are shifting due to COVID-19. For those who are able, please consider mailing in the check you would ordinarily put in the offering plate. A Counter is coming in each week to deposit our checks. For those interested in giving electronically, please consider taking advantage of your bank’s online bill pay feature or donating on our website through Tithe.ly, (If at all possible, it helps if you can cover the processing fee). Your ongoing pledge will allow us to continue our outreach and mission, paying our staff, and caring for our campus. Thank you in advance.
Virtual Coffee Hour on Sundays at 10:45 a.m.
Following Facebook Live Worship, we will gather on Zoom for a virtual coffee hour. If you have never used Zoom before, please watch this video showing how to use it: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-Joining-a-Meeting
Join our virtual coffee hour by https://zoom.us/j/592077112
Meeting ID: 592 077 112
Dial in by Phone: +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)