"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.
Today's trouble is enough for today."
In this time of uncertainty and fear, it is difficult to follow Jesus' advice not to worry about tomorrow. However, I am finding comfort in the opportunity to live each day for itself. We do not know what tomorrow holds, so let us trust that God's life-giving and healing grace will guide us through this time.
For now, all parish activities--including Sunday worship--are continuing according to schedule. Information changes from day to day. As of Friday morning, New York State has banned gatherings of more than 500 people, which does not cover our congregation, and the Diocese has advised us to continue to gather for worship and prayer. Exceptions are for those in high-risk groups, who are strongly urged to stay at home, and those who feel sick, who absolutely must stay at home for the sake of our community's health. If you do stay at home, you can participate in our common life of prayer by using your devotions booklet and praying for those affected. Please notify the church office so that we can pray with you and stay in touch.
If you do choose to attend church, expect practices introduced last week to continue. We will refrain from personal contact, and use of the common cup at the Eucharist is suspended. The State has advised us to spread out in public gatherings, so a little distance between you and your neighbor would be a courtesy. Finally, we ask that you not touch hymnals and prayer books; copies of the hymns will be distributed with the service bulletin.
If you are healthy and need some grounding, our Sound Bath Evensong this Sunday at 5pm could be a wonderful way to relax into God's presence. Finally, as Scripture says, we do not know what tomorrow holds. Information is rapidly changing, so please check your inbox for updates. In the meantime, please stay vigilant and pray for those in need of healing in body, mind, or spirit.
The Rev. Steven D. Paulikas
For me, Lent has always been a difficult season to understand. I have given up different things in the past, and last year even had a spiritual director who helped me consider a number of Lenten themes. But I am someone who really needs to try to grasp everything that goes past me, including with theology—I need it to make sense for me. Lent is so involved with ideas of atonement that don’t always make intuitive sense to me. And to be honest, I haven’t ever really had a clear idea of what I’m actually ‘preparing’ for.
Something that did make sense to me, though, came when I first read about James Cone’s work—among others, in a book called Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody. It’s about his laying the groundwork for black theology out of his own experience of what it means to be black in America, and in particular deals with the meaning of the Cross. He says that inasmuch as Jesus died ‘for us’, he really died ‘with us’. That this was God’s way of telling us that God is present with us in all of our suffering, and in everything we go through.
As I reflect on Lent now, that makes a lot of sense to me
Join us for our monthly Sound Bath Evensong service this Sunday, March 15 at 5pm.
Learn more about this immersive and unique sound experience through this recent article by the Associated Press featuring All Saints' Church!
The spread of COVID 19 in New York is disturbing to us all. Please know that our parish leadership is monitoring developments. These are some of the ways we are being the compassionate Body of Christ in a time of anxiety:
- Pray for those affected by the virus and those beset with fear.
- Attend worship for the time being if you feel comfortable doing so. When in church, we are refraining from personal contact. Use of the common cup at the Eucharist has been suspended.
- Do not attend worship if you have an underlying health condition or are in a high risk group. Please send us an email or call the church office; we will be happy to pray with you.
- Be mindful and generous of those whose livelihood is impacted. Our Vestry has affirmed a policy of full compensation for church staff who need to stay home for the sake of the health of the community or in the event that services and programs are canceled.
- Stay informed by public sources you trust. All Saints' will continue to update the parish if and when our policies change.
Episcopal Relief & Development has prepared a helpful guide for churches here.
I continue to keep you in my prayers. May God comfort and strengthen you and yours in this anxious time.
The Rev. Steven D. Paulikas
During an earlier time in my life, I loved Hermann Hesse’s novel, Narcissus and Goldmund. I loved the way Goldmund worked for years in the corner of the empty cathedral carving a single statue of St. John the Evangelist that would become part of a balustrade. I identified with the peace he found in his work.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, as much as 70% of the United Stated population has experienced some kind of trauma in their lives. One of the effects trauma can have is to create its own signifying system. It gives meaning to our lives in a destructive way by forming a kind of hieroglyphic of our surroundings that interprets everything as the story of our trauma. Goldmund, who in his early childhood had been deserted by his mother, learned to turn away from his own punitive preoccupations and occupy himself with the beautiful images in the church.
To a trauma survivor, Lent, with its rituals of fasting and self-abnegation can offer more temptation than salvation. It can threaten to pull us yet farther into the harmful space our spiritual health requires us to stay out of. I am grateful for Leonard Bernstein’s advice. This, he says, will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.
Our Episcopal faith, with its beautiful prayer book and the extraordinary iconography, of its church interiors offers us a space so rich in beauty as to lure us away from our traumatic space. Whatever ritual sacrifices I may make in my personal life, Lent is most beneficial to me if I make it a time to redouble my quest for beauty in the music composed for the church’s season of sorrow and suffering.
This year, I am concentrating on such tortured new repertoire as Marpurg’s Ich habe misgehandeldt and Walther’s Erbarm dich, O mein Herre to offer for our worship at All Saints’. Already I am delighted by the way these composers phrase and ornament their way out of the penitent’s torment and into the way of beauty and healing. I look forward to sharing my delight with All Saints’ church during this Lenten season.
I love corporate worship; when we pray and sing together at the Eucharist or during Evening Prayer, be it on Sundays or weekdays, the participation of those gathered energizes my experience of God among us. It’s fulfilling; it gets me through both happy and sad days; it’s easy.
But in the Ash Wednesday Gospel, Jesus calls out to you and me, “Go to your room, close the door, and pray” (Mt. 6). For me, not so easy. I have tried to pray when able to find some quiet at home. For me, not so easy. I tried to read a book of the Bible—a chapter per day. For me, not so easy. I tried reading Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) on my own. For me, not so easy.
Lots of attempts. But I have refused to give up. When falling on the road to Calvary, Jesus got up (more than once) and continued the sojourn to what would ultimately be his victory.
One year, though, during the Alpha Course, I was invited to spend some time daily using the booklet, Forward Day by Day (available at the back of the church as well as online). For each day, a few verses of scripture are printed (following the BCP) along with a short meditation and reflection question. Something about the structure of this really helped my daily private prayer, making time for silence at home a lot less difficult.
All Saints Church continues to support my daily prayer, providing wonderful opportunities to learn, and to grow in faith.