From Father Tom …

The Gospel for this coming Sunday:

Matthew 16:13-20

When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

I like to think of this gospel as being about empowerment with strings attached. Jesus is telling his Apostles that they know what they know because “my Father in heaven” has “revealed it to you”. Then Jesus furthers that empowerment by telling the Apostles “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven” but (there’s always a but) the things you do on earth will follow you into heaven. Those are the strings. 

I translate it to the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Or perhaps you can see it better in the love your neighbor as yourself  piece of the greatest commandment that Jesus provided when asked what is the greatest of the laws.

Every day we have the opportunity to practice loving our neighbor as our self. I say practice because I don’t think we ever get it perfect. I know I don’t. I try really hard to always love my neighbor as myself and then something happens to rub me the wrong way, or push my buttons and I have to reach down inside and remind myself that the person who just (insert your sensitive spot here), is just like me. A child of God.

But try we must, and fail we will time and time again. That’s what being human is all about. Our intentions however bind to us here on earth. Find a way to have good intentions, even for that guy who cut you off in traffic.

Last week a group of us met outside at church to plan an outside service for the 30th of August at 10:00 am. All the concerned committees were included and voices were heard. We stood in a huge circle behind the church and discussed the positives and negatives and Covid-19 concerns.  Everyone wants to be safe.

Even though we will be outside and wearing masks the risk of infection is not zero.

In the end it was decided that it will take place, weather permitting. There certainly is no mandate to attend. You do what’s best for you. However, if you are coming, please bring a chair to sit in. Also, Dr. Atamian has access to new data that says that the virus can stay in the air in bathrooms longer than we thought and that flushing the toilets can propel the virus into the air. For that reason the bathrooms will be for emergencies. Also everyone needs to wear a mask, even outside. If you forget we will have some masks on hand. 

We will mark spots on the grass with spray paint that are 10 feet apart and ask that everyone maintain physical distance. Communion will be a spiritual communion since distribution would be an unnecessary risk to take. 

In this time of COVID-19, this is what it looks like to love our neighbors as ourselves. Just seeing one another in person after so much time will be both a relief and a blessing; however, I encourage you to adhere to the CDC guidelines. If these symptoms apply to you and are unexplained please seek medical treatment and don’t come on August 30.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

• Fever or chills
• Cough
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Fatigue
• Muscle or body aches
• Headache
• New loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose
• Nausea or vomiting
• Diarrhea

CDC Website

If it looks like rain or in climate weather is imminent I will have Alexis send out an e-mail cancellation and put it on our facebook page that morning at least an hour before service time of 10:00 am. 

Father Tom

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