This is a picture of a mural next the the tram lines in New Orleans. An otherwise bland wall has been transformed into a riot or color and expression. Sometimes art reminds us of who we really are - those who are to bring beauty into an often tired and fretful world. It would be easy to dash by a plain old grey wall, but this slows you down, makes you take the picture. That is one of the things we do for God in the world - slow people down, allow them to be present, by being present ourselves.
AMMENDED MARCH 1 TO BE IN LINE WITH NATIONAL GUIDELINES
Procedures for receiving the Eucharist.
We have now had guidelines from the Diocese. These are the same as I had sent out earlier in the week on a blog post which went onto Facebook. I am removing the option to have your wafer dipped for you before you touch it as this is not suggested in the guidelines.
A few weeks ago I asked that people switch from dipping the wafer to sipping the chalice. This is a sensible precaution because you have germs on your hands and the germs get on the wafer when we hand it to you. So, then, you are dipping a germy wafer in the wine. Every so often you misjudge and get a finger in there too - children are often just bad at aiming - not their fault.
Our wine and chalices are designed for sipping. They are made from silver and lined with gold which, in my understand, offers additional germ protection to our fortified wine. The chalice (cup) is wiped between each use.
When you come up for communion I want you to be concentrating on this great feast which God is inviting your to participate in, and not on whether you will get sick afterwards.
1. Please do not come to church if you are sick. We have a good system of home communions and it is not too much trouble for us to come out and bring you the Sacrament. Of course, advice on this may change, but for the moment that is where we are. Let us know you are sick, even if you do not want communion, we like to keep you in our prayers.
2. You have two options. You can sip the wine or you can cross your arms over your chest after you have received the bread. Please stay put until the people before you are ready to move so that it does not get too distracting. You may not intinct (dip the wafer). The Episcopal Church clearly says that receiving communion in one kind only (ie. only bread or only wine) is as efficacious as receiving both. Folks who cannot drink alcohol do this every week.
2. We will only use the silver chalices and patens. The pottery in the Chapel will take a Sabbatical until germ season is past.
3. Clergy and Eucharistic ministers will wash their hands with soap and water before the service and apply hand sanitizer during the announcements - which gives it time to dry - which makes it work.
4. The Peace and other greetings. I totally get that people are worried about flu germs. We have put the hand sanitizer back in the pews and if the bottles need refilling you will be able to do that. I would suggest you use it if you are worried. If you don't want to hug or touch people, don't.
Let’s hope that this is a storm in a teacup – as they say where I come from. The Vestry, Clergy and I will be putting plans in place in case we do have any serious disruption to life. I know that many of you will be suffering financially. If you can please be ready to help those who may be struggling.
If you can, please keep up your pledge. We are, currently, solvent. The Trust has lost value but the proportion of our income which relies on its dividends is about 10% and current losses on the principal will not cause immediate serious problems.
I will be revising procedures with Eucharistic Visitors so that we can all operate effectively. If things become disrupted we will also figure out how to get our services online, at least in audio form.
For some, this will all be an over-reaction. For those who are worried, however, I hope that this calms at least some of your fears.