On March 10th, Dr. Bonnie Henry relaxed the COVID-19 restrictions on many gatherings and situations, which also included worship. As we are members of a diocesan family, headed by our Bishop, we were asked by Bishop John to hold off on adjusting our restrictions while figuring out what all of these changes really mean. As we may have all experienced during these times, just because a restriction is lifted does not mean we are personally ready for that change. This is an important thing for us to keep in mind as we look forward to the next season of life together in community here at the parish.
Bishop John has now expressed his direction to us regarding the relaxation of restrictions on community gatherings and worship services. They come in two forms, laid out below:
As of March 20th, for worship services only:
Vaccine passports must still be shown until April 8th for the following:
So what will happen after April 8th?
While we still make good strides in the right direction, we are still under the direction of the provincial health office and the Bishops office. All things being equal, as of April 8th, we may start to see a return of the following:
So does this mean, Vicar, that we are going to return to the chalice and physically share the peace on April 8th automatically?
No. And here is why:
I think it's wise for us to take some more time to get used to the changes in the health orders first, singing without a mask etc, before we start to move down the road of sharing the chalice and the peace. Slow, intentional steps, back into life are the safest way for us as a community to continue to offer a safe and hospitable place for all of God's children, wherever we maybe on the journey of faith. While we may not return to sharing the chalice or peace physically on April 8th, parish council will take up the conversation at its next meeting on how best to listen and think through this question with the wider parish. Its very important that we do not feel rushed or pressured into doing something we are not ready for.
God has been our strength and stay all these many months, which has seen incredible challenge and deep pain becoming part of our everyday lives. And that is something we should honor as we come back together as well. Yet, just as Paul was writing to the philippians, who were doubting if they could really follow Jesus through all the tests of life properly, we can do anything with the strength of God behind us. The same strength that gave us masks, vaccines, technology, and communication, all as vehicles through which to proclaim the Glory of God in our everyday lives. A glory which is showing us that life is continuing to change for us with these relaxed restrictions, while still asking us to pause and reflect as a community to make sure we are really ready to step back into life together.
My door is open to talk about any of this,
these lands upon which we worship as the ancestral, cultural, traditional and unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people from time immemorial.