"... I have never (literally never) had to pause and consider anything other than my hopes for my own actualization. Whether certain opportunities might be denied me; whether those in authority might treat me poorly; whether I might be profiled nefariously because I am somewhere I look out of place…I’ve never had to consider any of these things. But if I did have to do so—every moment of every day—how might I respond and react? How might indignation and frustration build in me? And then, if I saw every attempt at peaceful demonstration denigrated as unpatriotic; and if I repeatedly saw unarmed people who look like me molested, harmed, and killed by bad actors with the authority to protect; what would I do then? Not what would some hypothetical person do then, but what would I do then?"
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For church leaders and elder boards everywhere, the last few months have presented a near-constant array of complex challenges related to shepherding a church during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest complex challenge is perhaps the trickiest yet: how to prudently resume in-person gatherings.
As if the logistical details weren’t challenging enough—how to maintain social distance and limit crowd size, whether or not to require masks, to sing or not to sing, what to do with children, and so on—the whole conversation is fraught with potential for division. If a congregation—and within it, a leadership team—is at all a microcosm of our larger society, it will likely contain a broad assortment of strongly held convictions.
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"In studies of people isolated in submarines, space stations or polar bunkers, researchers have found there appears to be an inflection point where the frustration and hardship of being cooped up inside gets suddenly harder to bear."
"Dr Kimberley Norris, an authority on confinement and reintegration at University of Tasmania, told Hack that Australians have broadly been through two periods of isolation: an initial point where there was panic buying and confusion, and then a "honeymoon period" when it felt novel and different to stay at home."
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"...we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air."
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A word to the Church regarding the theology of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic from the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church:
"Sacraments are actions that give new meaning to things. The current questions about the way we worship in a time of radical physical distancing invites the question of what we are prepared for a given sacramental encounter to mean. Sacraments are communal actions that depend on “stuff”: bread and wine, water and oil. They depend on gathering and giving thanks, on proclaiming and receiving the stories of salvation, on bathing in water, on eating and drinking together. These are physical and social realities that are not duplicatable in the virtual world. Gazing at a celebration of the Eucharist is one thing; participating in a physical gathering and sharing the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist is another. And, God, of course, can be present in both experiences."
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We have experienced that the Church is not a building but a community gathered in prayer. We’ve also realized that our homes can also be places of prayer. So as we near the end of our Lenten journey and prepare for Holy Week, perhaps it’s time to create a prayer space at home that is available anytime of day or night to anyone in your household.
Watch this video featuring Dr Peter Lin explaining how Coronavirus spreads and what we can do to protect ourselves.
My sermon includes a little bit of Leila Janah’s contribution to others. How she was Salt & Light - enhancing this world and the people who God so loves.
"Even though she died at a young age, her efforts to help others proved that age does not matter. Leila Janah primarily focused on putting a stop to world poverty as well as promoting environmental sustainability. As mentioned earlier, Samasource is just one of the many companies that she had founded. In actuality, she founded three corporations, each with a specific problem to solve but all with the common theme to provide job opportunities for people."
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At issue was the question of what to do when prayer doesn't feel like much of anything. If sometimes you find yourself just reciting words with no particular emotional power attached to them, does it mean your prayer is not genuine? Does it mean you're a fake, that you are not really a spiritual person at all, just a person who wants to look spiritual.
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Mother Susan will be referring to this organization in her Sermon this weekend, Dec 28 & 29, 2019. https://www.puppiesbehindbars.com/