March 13, 2020

The Little Church Will Remain Open

In the midst of our world’s dramatic events and changes due to the COVID-19 epidemic, I begin this blog with a promise of prayer for all of our dear parishioners. We are a parish family, and we will live into whatever faces us with rooted trust in the Christian faith that has sustained God’s people throughout the centuries. As churches monitor and adapt to this situation, we continue to share the love of Christ in the sacraments that are at the heart of our life together while also minimizing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

We will be instituting two temporary changes to our Sunday and weekday celebrations. Instead of passing the peace among the congregation, we will revert to the old 1928 Prayer Book custom of a brief verbal exchange between the celebrant and the people ("The peace of the Lord be with you!" "And with thy spirit!"). This symbolizes the whole people's prayers for peace.

Second, we will creatively revisit the medieval practice of distributing communion in one kind only. This means that the congregation will only receive the host, not the cup. It is the longstanding teaching of the church that the bread and wine must both be present for a valid Eucharistic celebration, but it is only necessary for an individual to receive one or the other in order to receive all the benefits of the sacrament. While we honor the norm of the distribution of communion in both kinds, we believe that in time of pandemic, distributing in one kind only both honors the sacrament, acknowledges the priesthood of all believers, and is also a prudent step to keep everyone in our community healthy. Gluten free hosts will be available upon request.

We encourage anyone who experiences symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, shortness of breath) to stay home and to consult a healthcare provider. Likewise, if health or demographic factors put you at particularly high risk, you should also consider keeping distance. If you do choose to stay away, you can still be part of our Eucharistic celebration through prayers for one another. An even more ancient teaching of the church is that the whole church is always present at the Eucharistic celebration. When we are prevented from joining physically for good cause, God is still able to make the body and blood of Christ present and accessible to us inwardly. We commend this traditional prayer to your use:

"In union, dear Lord, with the faithful at every altar of thy Church where thy blessed Body and Blood are being offered to the Father, I desire to offer thee praise and thanksgiving. I believe that thou art truly present in the Holy Sacrament. And since I cannot now receive thee sacramentally, I beseech thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself unto thee, and embrace thee with all the affections of my soul. Let me never be separated from thee. Let me live and die in thy love. Amen."

Our 11:00am high mass will be live streamed for those who cannot be physically present. Please visit our Facebook page on Sunday morning where you will find the link to our mass.

As we and the world struggle to deal with the impact of COVID-19, the Little Church will keep its doors and garden open as long as possible. The clergy and staff are following CDC-recommended guidelines for hygiene but, as much as possible, we are trying to maintain pastoral care during these troubling and uncertain times. If there are any further changes, the latest updates can be found on our parish e-newsletter list (sign up here) or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

In the mean time, please join in committing to pray for one another. God uses our prayers to create community out of solitude and isolation. May it be so with us now, as we pray for continued safety and healing.