Worship Update through the New Year

Your Bishop’s Committee and I met this week to discuss an appropriate worship plan for the Advent and Christmas seasons.  Our new default will be to hold outdoor, in-person services every week.  Masks and social distancing are required at all outdoor, in-person services.  These services will also be live streamed and will include the radio ‘drive-in’ option.  I’ll say more about what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of this plan below, but for now, just the facts.  Services[1] noted in italics are online-only.
 
*Sunday, December 6 (Advent 2) Holy Eucharist @ 10am outdoors and in-person.  We’ll live stream it, as well. 
 
*Sunday, December 13 (Advent 3) Holy Eucharist @ 10am outdoors and in-person.  We’ll live stream it, as well. 
 
*Sunday, December 20 (Advent 4) A Service of Lessons and Carols @ 10am!  Mark, Wanda, our choir, and a handful of others have been working for weeks to make this service possible.  Online only, and there will be lots of St. Liz faces on-screen!
 
*Thursday, December 24 (Christmas Eve) Holy Eucharist @ 4:30pm outdoors and in-person.  We’ll finish in candle-light.  We’ll live stream it, as well. 
 
*Friday, December 25 (Christmas Day) Christmas music will be available by 8am.  This will be pre-recorded, not a live stream.  Online only.
 
*Sunday, December 27 (1st Christmas) Holy Eucharist @ 10am outdoors and in-person.  We’ll live stream it, as well. 
 
*Sunday, January 3 (2nd Christmas) Holy Eucharist @ 10am outdoors and in-person.  We’ll live stream it, as well. 
 
*Wednesday, January 6 (Epiphany) Evening Prayer @ 7pm.  Online only.
 
*Sunday, January 10 (Baptism of Our Lord) Holy Eucharist @ 10am outdoors and in-person.  We’ll live stream it, as well. 
 
The strengths of this plan are that it allows more possibilities for gathering together in-person than our current approach.  As we enter Advent and Christmas, our hunger to be together is even keener than usual, especially since so many of us are not celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas as we normally would.
 
The weaknesses are primarily two: first, coronavirus numbers are on the rise in our area, and any way you slice it, we increase our risk by upping our number of in-person services.  I will confess that the above plan is the absolute limit of what I am comfortable with for us right now, and it includes more in-person offerings than I initially proposed to the Bishop’s Committee.  However, at our meeting there was a unanimous feeling among the BC (many of whom have remained consistently cautious) that we can manage weekly outdoor services safely, and I trust them.  So, we’re moving ahead.  With holiday travel, if numbers climb precipitously, I may back us off the above plan, though I hope not to.
 
The second weakness is the same practical one which has so far spared us: in the event of bad weather, our only real recourse is to live stream.  Unfortunately, this will remain true of Christmas Eve, as well.  If you don’t receive our text updates, please sign up!  Text STLIZ to 71441.  The plan as of now is to check the forecast on Saturday, and make cold weather decisions Saturday afternoon and rain decisions the morning of.  These will go out via text and will get posted on Facebook.
 
A few other details.  You will notice that the above plan does not include an in-person service on Christmas Day, but only an online musical offering.  Our Christmas Day service tends to be small during normal years, and in the interest both of minimizing risk and honoring the peculiarities of volunteer work right now, this year our physical church site will remain quiet on Christmas Day. 
 
Finally, for those who plan to participate exclusively from home, consecrated communion bread will be available for you to pick up each Saturday from 9am-noon and each Sunday (with the exception of Dec 20) from 8:15am-9:30am.  If you are unable to drive and need bread brought to you, please email me at danielstelizabeth@gmail.com  
 
The Bishop’s Committee meets again on Monday, December 14th @ 7pm. 
 
God’s Peace, and Happy Thanksgiving,
 
 
Fr. Daniel+
 
[1] Not listed above are Memorial Service for DJ Sartorio on Saturday, December 12th @ 2pm.  This will be outdoors and in-person, though we won’t live stream or radio it into cars.  We will also have Choral Evensong each Wednesday of Advent (Dec 2, 9, 16 and 23) @ 7pm.  Evensong will be online only.