By The Rev. Daniel P. Strandlund | March 12, 2020
This morning I spoke with the Hays County Health Department epidemiologist. As you can imagine, he’s been busy. The good news is that there are currently zero Coronavirus cases confirmed in our immediate area. While this is good news right now, we should be prepared to be extra responsible for the foreseeable future. I’m writing with how we’re going to do that at St. Liz.
Much is unchanged from my last communication:
- If you’re sick, stay home!
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often
- Frequently and liberally use our many hand sanitizer dispensers
- Continue to “Church” well
A few things are changing, though. Here are the details:
For the remaining Sundays in March…
1.) I am discontinuing the practice of intinction (dipping) at communion. Sip, don’t dip. Sipping is more sanitary than dipping, and receiving only the bread still ‘counts’ as communion. Sipping from the common cup involves a theoretical increase of risk for spreading disease, but in practice this risk is so low as to be undetectable.
2.) Given my observations of how difficult it can be for many of our children to sip carefully from the chalice, I am asking families with young and elementary aged children (5th grade and younger) to have their children receive the bread only. I will communicate this to the kids myself this Sunday and subsequent Sundays in March. At St. Liz we go out of our way to nurture and involve our children in all aspects of our common life, and I have no qualms about asking their help in caring for our wider congregation in this way until Coronavirus concerns have significantly decreased.
3.) We will pass the Peace verbally and with hand signals but without physical contact. Thus far, I have reminded us that it is perfectly acceptable to bow or wave during the Peace and have asked us to respect each other’s boundaries in this regard. However, to continue in this way puts the burden of maintaining firmer physical boundaries on the folks who want firmer boundaries, which is to say the burden is on those who are most concerned during a time of heightened anxiety. I think we can be more loving than that. Once folks are hanging out at coffee hour, or saying goodbye in the parking lot, folks are going to do what folks are going to do. I realize and respect that and am not at all trying to micromanage all the ways we interact as Church. But the liturgy is different. As our Godly Play leaders remind the kids, and as I remind the kids before we set the Learning Altar, the work we are doing is special, and our bodies have to be ready. Right now, while concerns and risk are higher than usual, a ready body is one willing to love his or her neighbor from a bit more distance than we might usually like.
That’s a look at what is changing for the next few weeks. Here are some things that are not changing:
- We will continue to hold all our Sunday morning services and Tuesday Morning Prayer.
- Newcomers Class will continue.
- We have Lay Eucharistic Visitors who are ready and waiting to visit those unable to make it to worship.
- Godly Play will continue.
- Our new Children’s Chapel Choir Experiment will still begin this Sunday during the 11am service.
- As of this writing, there are no changes to our Holy Week or Easter schedules.
- Deacon Thom’s Sunday School class will continue. (He was always planning to be away on March 22, though.)
- Life Groups will continue. If any Life Groups feel the need to change how, where, or when they gather, I am happy to assist if I’m able, but I trust hosts and leaders to have those conversations with the members of each particular group.
- And as always, we will continue to be smart, calm lovers of God and His Church!
Finally, I am available if you’ve concerns or need to talk. You remain in my prayers, and I ask that you add to your own prayers the many medical and public health professionals who are burning the midnight oil on our behalf.
Fr. Daniel+ Back