Yesterday I attended my first ECMN Tuesday meeting with the Bishop and the Bishop Elect via Zoom.
I and about 79 other ECMNers spent about 20 minutes in the main Zoom room listening first to Bishop Prior and then Bishop Elect Loya talk a little about the phase we have now entered, which they described as moving from Phase 1 to Phase 1.5 … Phase 1 being the Blizzard and 1.5 being still the Blizzard but the time after the snow plow comes through and some of the roads have been opened up.
We were then put into break out rooms and talked amongst ourselves for about 30 minutes and then back to the main room where Bishop Elect Loya answered many questions. Questions which I imagine we all must have at this time.
Can’t we just hold a service with only 10 people? Unfortunately, no. What we can do is if we intend to live stream a service from our sanctuary we can have up to 10 people present to produce that service. Well that’s not really a big deal because St. John’s in St Cloud is not looking to do that. Also no meetings in the building: no vestry, No AA, no quilters, even if they keep distance from each other.
How about a service outside? Again the answer was no, and the phrase “slippery slope” was used (meaning that it would start harmless enough but it would soon get out of hand and not be anything close to the guidelines).
It seems not a lot has changed from phase 1 to phase 1.5. Oh we want change! That was loud and clear.
We all miss our common gatherings. Our togetherness. But we have to abide by the bishops’ orders.
So – what can we do? The live streaming I mentioned above. Plus we can hold weddings and funerals that can’t be postponed, but we still must observe the 10 person rule, wear masks and practice physical distancing. Those who are sick or who have underlying health conditions or are over 65 should not gather in any form during this phase. The Offices of the Bishop and Missioners will remain closed and all groups and gatherings continue to be suspended until further notice.
So I was discussing this with my next door neighbor yesterday after the meeting. She’s Catholic and attends locally. She said to me that “her church has reinstated weekday mass for 10 or fewer but you have to have a reservation.” This got me to thinking: if I were one of the people who was over 65 year of age, or if I had an underlying health condition or I was sick and I knew that my fellow parishioners were going to mass I would feel a real sense of loss and a longing to be a part of that group (community) even if it would do me harm physically.
In Matthew 25 v. 45 Jesus said: Then shall he answer them, saying,” Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (KJV)
We need to remember about all of us when it comes time to re-gather. God’s peace be with you all.