A SPECIAL NOTE FROM RECTOR CHRIS GIRATA | June 26, 2020
Published June 26, 2020 | 12:00 PM CDT
I hope this note finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. This pastoral letter is longer than most, but I believe the updates are important and deliver this message with great hope!
This week, I concluded a special summer series of the Rector’s Bible Study on Philippians. Written while he was in prison, this short letter from St. Paul packs a huge theological punch. Two verses stood out to me as being particularly important for us in this time of uncertainty: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).” Being told not to worry is like telling a 3-year-old not to touch something—it doesn’t work. Instead, focus on the invitation to take everything to God in order to find peace.
I often hear people voice concern that their problems are too small for God, and so they carry the weight of those problems without sharing the burden. Too many of us might know that feeling, like our worries and concerns are ours alone, but we are taught, as St. Paul has written, that God wants all of us, the good and the bad. God loves us unconditionally, and God wants to know our celebrations and our heartbreaks, our joy and our anger. God loves us, even the bits we may not like.
We each grieve in our own ways. We grieve the loss of freedom this virus has put upon us. We grieve the loss of security that our economic uncertainty brings. We grieve with those who feel rejected, judged, persecuted, and unloved because of the color of their skin. And in our grief, we can feel lost and exhausted, which is why we need reminders. We need to be reminded of God’s love and faithfulness. We need to be reminded to seek after God’s peace that will guard our hearts and minds. We need to be reminded that we are not alone when we travel the Way of Love together.
In the spirit of love and faithfulness, I hope this update will keep you connected to our work and inspire continued engagement and generosity. The work of the church is more important now than it has ever been. Examples of what we are doing together include bringing communion to homebound members, gifting our children with weekly Bible stories from priests and teachers, and delivering food to community members in desperate need. Your fidelity to our church family has been and continues to be an inspiration. Your gifts of time, talent, and treasure have kept our ministries moving and helped meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors.
Over the last few weeks, the novel coronavirus has exploded in Texas, and it’s no mystery why. We know how the virus spreads and what we can do to stop it: wear a mask in public, limit our time indoors with people outside our household, wash our hands often, and stay home when we feel sick. By not following public-health guidelines, our state has walked right into a crisis that threatens our neighbors, especially those most vulnerable. These are the people we are called to love, and Saint Michael wants to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Beginning this weekend, all Dallas-area Episcopal churches have been directed by our Bishop to suspend indoor public worship. Some of you know that a few of our sister churches began welcoming limited numbers of people back into their worship services two weeks ago. Although we could have opened to limited numbers, too, the Saint Michael leadership team anticipated this new wave of infections and decided to delay opening until we had a few more weeks of data moving in the right direction. I’m grateful we waited so that we did not contribute to this new surge. I’m also grateful that our Sunday afternoon communion distribution can continue because the safety measures we put in place are effective. Please click here to sign up for communion this Sunday afternoon.
Most of you know me and I know you. I miss seeing you in person on Sundays and during the week. I miss the smiles, the laughs, the tears, and the hugs, and I know you miss those, too. Yet even though we want to be physically back together, we cannot deny the fact that we can help slow the spread of this virus and keep our neighbors safe by continuing to follow public-health guidelines, including digital worship at home. Although we may not yet be able to gather together in large groups, there is something we can do to stay connected: We can gather in small groups!
Small groups, especially small groups that meet safely in homes, can keep us connected and rooted in our faith, while helping keep one another and our neighbors safe. I want you to consider forming a small group, and Saint Michael has developed some encouraging resources to help. Please click here to visit our website and read more about how you can safely gather to watch Sunday services, study the bible, pray together, and more. This can be an amazingly transformative moment for us to grow deeper together, wherever we are.
In addition to small groups, I am very pleased to announce that we will be opening our two chapels for personal prayer during the week beginning this Monday, June 29. The Saint Michael and Bishop Moore Chapels will be open each weekday from Noon-1:30 p.m. Please click here for details on how you may enter the building, acknowledge your good health, and pray in the chapels. You will note that we are taking great care to keep people from passing one another indoors and to thoroughly disinfect the chapel space after each visitor.
Many of you have recently asked where you can purchase the Saint Michael-branded facemasks you have seen on social media and during Sunday communion distribution. Beginning Monday, July 6, they will be available in the Saint Michael Bookshop! The Bookshop will resume its normal hours, Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., on July 6, and the entry and exit process will be the same as anyone wishing to say prayers in our chapels.
I am also grateful to the Women of Saint Michael who have sponsored wonderful church yard signs to help remind us all that the church is not the building. We are the church and we can #bethechurch wherever we are! Click here for information on how you can get a yard sign this week.
Thank you for reading this update and for the ways you continue to support our Saint Michael community. No matter what this world can throw at us, our faith rests in the peace of God that passes all understanding. May our faith be continually strengthened for the journey ahead and may we all find peace.
With great hope,
The Rev. Dr. Christopher D. Girata
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