A Weekly Reflection from our Rector

13 March 2020

 

An Important Announcement from the Rector

As many of you have likely already heard, last night Bishop Lee issued a statement to the diocese directing us to stop all in-person gatherings at church beginning this Sunday. This includes Sunday worship, and all worship, meetings, and events following.

Well, there’s Lent, and then there’s Lent.

I’m sure that many of you read this announcement with the same mixed feelings that I had. My head is saying, “Yes, this makes sense. By canceling our gatherings, including worship, we are removing a kind of stumbling block and allowing people to remain safe at home without any sense of guilt or obligation. This is a way to love our neighbors and to care for the whole of humanity.” My heart, though…my heart is sad. Everything in my being and in all of my experience tells me that in times of crisis, we gather as the Body of Christ. We gather and we pray, we gather and we find comfort, we gather and we take bread and wine and eat and drink and know the real presence of Christ among us. This is the way it has always been in my life, and so it’s difficult for me to imagine another way to respond to fear and loneliness, illness and death.

Lucky for us, God has a greater imagination than I.

Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” I believe this is true even when we gather on the phone, or on a conference call, or via Facebook live. I believe this is true even when we pray alone in our rooms at an appointed time when others are praying alone in theirs. Our community and worship will look different in the coming weeks, but Christ’s presence will be the same. How might these weeks of fasting from common worship help us to find that presence in a new way? How might new experiences of worship and community reshape our relationship with God and with each other?

In other words – how might God bring light out of this darkness?

God is good at doing that, you know. It is what God has always done and will always do for us and for the world. This time is no different. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In this middle time, in these days of our new Lenten fast, I offer this prayer for all of God’s people from the Book of Occasional Services:

Keep this your family, Lord, with your never-failing mercy, that relying solely on the help of your heavenly grace, they may be upheld by your divine protection; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

What does this mean practically?

  • I am asking you, urging you, to use the bishop’s words, to stay home from church on Sunday. You may notice in the bishop’s statement that he is allowing for worship on Sunday for any who may have missed the announcement and will show up anyway. This is not intended to be an end-run around the spirit of his directive. Please stay home on Sunday. We may have simple Low Masses at our normal worship times, but they will look quite different and are intended only as a pastoral kindness to those who have missed the announcement. Readers, servers, teachers – please stay home. There will be no Sunday school, no adult forum, and no coffee hours on Sunday.

  • We will keep our normal pattern of worship tonight and tomorrow morning, which means Stations of the Cross with Benediction this evening and Confessions, the Holy Rosary, and Mass tomorrow morning. We will be careful and attentive to safety during these liturgies.

  • The Lenten Quiet Day is postponed until further notice.

  • There will be no service of Evensong & Benediction on Sunday at 4pm.

  • Beginning on Monday, there will be no weekday Masses, no Rosary and Mass on Saturday, and no Masses on Sundays until further notice.

  • All on-site meetings and events will either be rescheduled or done virtually. Stay tuned for more information about this.

  • The church will remain open for our twelve-step groups. These groups can decide for themselves whether or not they choose to use the space; we will not make that decision for them.

  • Atonement will remain a voting site for Tuesday’s primary elections.

What can I do in the meantime?

  • Pray. Pray for Chicago, for Atonement, and for the world. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for those who are scared. Pray for those who are lonely (and maybe call them, too!).

  • Watch this space! We will be sending out regular emails and social media updates announcing streaming worship and gatherings, video conferencing for meetings, and ways to stay connected during this time. Share the news of what you find here and keep checking back for more information.

  • Stay in touch with time. We’re still in the second week of Lent, and Lent will keep moving along whether or not we’re in church. We’ll provide some resources to help you stay connected to the pattern of the liturgical year.

  • Give. Our bills still have to be paid and paychecks still have to be written. Please consider giving online or mailing in your pledge payments and other giving. Even if we cannot gather in person, we can continue to support the life of this parish.

  • Call the Rector. If you are sick and need care, call me. I will come visit you. I want to encourage you to use the pastoral care phone whenever you need it – please do not hesitate.

  • Stay tuned. As this situation evolves, it is likely that people in our community may need to self-quarantine and/or need some help. We are working to understand what those needs might be and how we as a parish can respond.

 

  • There is more to be said, but no more now. We will keep you posted on changes and future plans.

May God bless you and all those you love during this time.

Yours in Christ,

 

The Rev’d Erika L. Takacs, Rector

773-271-2727

office@atonementchicago.org

5749 N Kenmore Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60660

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