|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on August 4, 2021 at 1:45 PM|
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.
-2 Corinthians 4:1
I will be really happy when I no longer have to write newsletter articles about COVID-19 protocols. And I believe that day will come. But unfortunately, that day is not coming this week.
Our bishops have asked us to require masks once again for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people age 2 and up during any indoor worship service and other indoor activities whenever our county’s percentage of positive tests is above 7.5%. Currently, Mecklenburg County is at 10.4%. I am aware of at least six fully vaccinated church members who have tested positive in recent weeks - blessedly, all have had relatively mild cases. I also know that at least one breakthrough infection of a fully vaccinated priest in our diocese has already occurred. The positive case was not discovered until the priest had already celebrated Sunday services. We very much want to avoid a situation like that here at St. Alban’s, and right now, masks are the best way to reduce our risk but still be able to offer in-person worship and other activities.
And yet, while masking makes sense given the current situation, it is of course frustrating to have to reinstate restrictions at this point. We’re weary of this. We long for an end to this pandemic and we thought it would be here by now.
The apostle Paul was a pastor who had a lot of experience penning missives of encouragement to weary people. In his second letter to the church in Corinth, he writes to a community mired in stressful conflict, saying:
“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure…”
This is what it means to live by faith--to take the long view and trust that renewal is happening even when we cannot see it right now. Paul urges us to think of our short-term struggles as merely waystations on a much lengthier journey toward glory. Taking the long view is a skill requiring wisdom. It’s often the elders of the community who can put things in perspective for us. When you’ve lived through enough big stuff, perhaps the small stuff, like putting on a mask for an hour, does not matter quite so much?
Here at St. Alban’s, we striving to take the long view. The stresses and grievances of today are temporary. Renewal is happening. Our formation programs for children, youth, and adults will resume. Our committees and groups will meet. Our choir will sing. New parishioners will join. In fact, we’re actively planning for all these things to happen THIS FALL, God willing! And we will not be masked forever. For now, we will mask up indoors to love our neighbor and do our part to slow the spread of the virus and its variants. But we must not lose heart. We’ve been learning to live by faith and we will keep doing so. There is glory to come.
Yours in Christ,