Good morning St. Mary’s parishioners, 

This letter was sent out to all members of the Diocese yesterday:

Friends,Yesterday, the premier and provincial health minister held a press briefing announcing the broad brushstrokes of a four-phased plan for moving forward into a new normal for life in BC. It gave us much hope and confidence that all that we have been doing has been worth our collective efforts.

The day is coming when small worship gatherings MAY be possible, but the time is not yet. Yesterday's briefing by the premier was not detailed enough for us as a diocese to make policy decisions. We are awaiting further detailed proposals from the government about religious community gatherings, that are also authorized by the provincial health officer. Our churches will remain closed for the time being.

As a faith community, we always live between the already and the not yet. Our current reality is that churches are closed to support our commitment to public health and safety. Many of the members of our congregations fall into the population the provincial health officer describes as vulnerable. We remain committed to protecting their health and wellbeing by temporarily sacrificing our desire to gather for worship. We have demonstrated over the last two months that we are able to worship virtually and this will be our continuing reality for a while. When we are able to gather again it will be with a detailed protocol about how to do so safely. In the meantime, we are called to persevere in the face of what is and has been challenging for us.

The Lord be with you.

Yours sincerely,    

J Barry Foster
Executive Officer

Since the announcement was made, I have spoken to quite a few people and it’s interesting to hear their responses. Some were stunned – “I thought we were in this for the long haul. I’m not ready to go back to work yet; there’s still so much I want to do!” and “I’m still so tired, I can’t imagine going back to our crazy life style,” whereas people on the retired end of life seem to be more than ready to leave their homes and be more active in their communities. And many have mixed reactions. Some say while this has been a wonderful time of retreat, they’re ready to venture out into the world. Yet for others, this time of isolation has been quite difficult but helped them reflect on their priorities. All these different reactions!

But there are some constants – and they are measurable. The air is cleaner, the waters clearer, the days quieter.  Our environment has had a rest from our constant and frenetic activity. The economy is struggling, people are dying without proper care, debt is increasing, businesses are going under.

So with change coming, with the ability to move more freely and engage more openly with others, how can we maintain the benefits of this time of rest and sustain a viable economy?

How will each one of us take something and bring it forward?

In the book “The Year of Living Biblically,” author A.J. Jacobs attempts to live by the hundreds of rules in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) for a whole year. While a Jew, Jacobs is not religious. The book is quite funny and an enjoyable, somewhat educational read. At the end of the year, Jacobs reflects on what he will take forward with him. And the two things I remember him choosing are:

1)   to pray daily for others; not because he’s come to believe in God, but because of the closeness he feels to others when he prays and for the sense of interconnectedness;

2)   to keep the Sabbath; Jacobs comes to value the time each week when he is required to unplug from the wired world, rest, and really be present to his young family.

After our 2+ months of living in the Time of Covid, what will you bring forward? What changes will you make that will benefit you and the world around you?

Would you be willing to stay home one day a week to minimize your impact on the environment? To give yourself a weekly day of retreat?

Would you be willing to cut your air/car travel by a ½, 1/3 or a ¼?

Would you be willing to shop less frequently, buy more intentionally, and from local businesses?

Would you be willing to cut down on your consumption of meat, from two meals a day to one, or from daily to three times a week?

The author Bo Lozoff, in his book “It's a Meaningful Life,” looks at practices/disciplines/ways of looking at the world and ourselves that support change. One of those is the vow practice, an idea that is not foreign to Christians. It’s the practice of making a public vow, making a commitment and asking for support in community. Vow practice helps people focus on changes that are reasonable, sustainable, and supportable. Vow practice makes us accountable for our decisions and choices.

We make vows as the newly baptized and confirmed, we make vows when we get married, we make vows as ordained people. And we can make vows in other areas of our lives. When done in the presence of community and God, our vows are powerful and life-changing. There is a movie I love called “Away We Go.”  At the end of the movie, there is a unusual and bitterly sweet exchanging of vows.

And a few years ago I attended a service in a church where a mother and father made vows to their new baby. (If you are interested, I’ve attached the article I wrote about that service for Island Parent Magazine.)

This a fertile time, a time of great opportunity. We need to look within to what changes we are willing to make. Because like the vote, each one of us has the power to make change. Think about it, pray about it, and we will talk about it as a parish community.

The gospel reading for this Sunday is: John 14:1-14

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of us your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. AMEN!!!

God bless you all,

GRATITUDE!!  I want to thank everyone for their commitment, generosity and support during these past two months; the love you have for this little parish is so evident!! The broom disappears, gardens are beautified, cheques arrive in the mail, and feedback and support flows through email, phone messages and cards. What an amazing community we are!!

From your community - Mary Stark shared this uplifting and creative piece of choral music:Click here.

And a UK musical blessing forwarded by Shirley Bays: Listen here.       

Have you ever made bagels? Well, if you still have flour, here’s an easy recipe shared by Heather Utley:

1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup plain Greek yoghourt

Mix flour baking powder and salt
Mix in yogourt and knead approx..15 times
Roll pieces into sausage shape, turn into bagel shape, and place on oil sprayed parchment paper on baking sheet.
Brush tops with egg white and cook for approx… 20 minutes.