My dear friends in Christ,
As y’all know, with the beginning of Lent this year, we have added a service of Holy Eucharist with healing on Wednesday evenings at 6:30, with an opportunity for anyone who wants to make an individual confession to do so in the hour beforehand. These services have, thus far, been small, quiet, contemplative, and ~ as far as I can tell ~ especially meaningful to the folks who’ve been able to come out and take part. Thanks to all of you who’ve helped us get this new worship time going … and for those who haven’t come by yet to check it out, here is your renewed invitation to do so, if you’re able.
There has, however, been some confusion about the new service, and so I wanted to offer a few words of clarification in this week’s newsletter, in hopes of clearing things up a bit.
So, the question I’ve heard the most over the past few weeks is: “Why did you replace the Wednesday morning service we used to have with an evening service that the folks who used to come on Wednesday mornings cannot attend?”
Well, the short answer is: “We didn’t.”
Please forgive me … I do not in any way intend that answer to sound flippant or dismissive.
But it is important, I think, to be clear that the evening service that we’ve added this Lent was never, ever intended to be a “replacement” for the morning service that we used to hold in the chapel prior to the Covid pandemic and shutdown. Replacing that service was never, ever the purpose of adding the service we’ve recently added.
The new Lenten service was added because I was going to be here at that time, anyway, in case anyone wanted me to hear a Confession (a wonderful Lenten practice, by the way!), because it wasn’t going to require any extra work from anybody else but me, and because between the ongoing Covid situation, the ongoing strife in our society and in our lives, and the now-ongoing violence and open warfare in our world, a little extra healing during Lent is especially appropriate. The added benefit of the service time’s coinciding with the in-person weekly meeting of our Youth Group was exactly that ~ an added benefit, ensuring that there are enough adults in the building whilst children are present to satisfy our Safe Church requirements. Plus, an invitation to Eucharist is an incredible gift to be able to offer to someone who has just been through the Rite of the Reconciliation of a Penitent.
Again, there was never the least thought of “replacing” the pre-Covid morning service with an evening one “instead.”
In hindsight, however, it is very easy to understand why a number of folks thought otherwise. After all, the new services began at the same time that the morning livestream of Spiritual Communion on Wednesdays went away. But that wasn’t because the one replaced the other. It was simply because, with the extra time commitment required on Wednesday evenings, I had to let the Wednesday morning livestream service go. A tough call to make, but when we’ve only got one priest, we sometimes have to make choices like that.
(The best I had been able to tell, not that many people had been tuning in to those Wednesday livestreams ~ although since I stopped doing them, I have had to wonder if perhaps a lot more people were tuning in than were showing up either in the comments or the Facebook metrics that I could see.)
So since I stopped the Spiritual Communion service in the morning at the same time as I started the evening Lenten service, it’s easy to see why it seemed as though the latter was designed to “replace” the former. It wasn’t ~ I just wasn’t able to do both in the same day.
That was the initial thinking behind the recent schedule changes. I do sincerely apologize for not doing a better job of sharing all of that information with all of you more clearly and more thoroughly beforehand. I could have done much better about that ~ and I should have. It likely would have cut down on some of the confusion.
Another objection I’ve heard lately to the Wednesday evening service is that it’s a problem to have the service in the evening because many of the folks who used to attend the previous Wednesday morning service either can’t or don’t go out in the evenings at all. This objection is also based on the idea that the new evening service was meant to be a replacement for the old morning service, which it wasn’t. But it also raises a separate point that I think we all ought to think about:
There are some folks who are part of our parish family who cannot attend evening services. We cannot ever forget that fact. We have to make sure that we make worship available to everybody in the parish, one way or the other. Let’s not ever forget that fact.
But let’s also consider the fact that there are folks who are part of our parish family who cannot attend mid-week services in the morning or at noon. So we’ve also got to make such worship available to these folks, as well. We must not forget that fact, either.
Now, here’s the really tricky question: which group is more important to All Saints?
Well, “tricky” isn’t really the right word. I should rather say: “here’s the trick question…” Because it is a trick question: Which group is more important to our parish? The answer is a resounding “yes!”
The goal is, and always has been, to get to a point where we’ve got two mid-week Eucharist services going every week ~ one in the morning and, on a different day, one in the evening. (And eventually, we will need to arrange to have both of those services livestreamed, as well.)
Unfortunately, again with just the one priest here, the process of reopening and moving towards a post-Covid “new normal” (including adding extra services like these) has to be a matter of increments, baby steps, rather than our being able to do everything all at once. For the reasons I mentioned above, it made sense to add the evening service when we did. That does not mean that the morning service isn’t important, or that the people who would attend a morning service don’t matter. Everybody here matters! As soon as I’m able to add a morning service, we’ll get one up and running. My hope is to get one going later in the spring or over the summer, so that both services are well established by the time our fall program year gears up to start in September.
So stay tuned for more news and announcements about that in the hopefully-not-too-distant future! And thank you for everything y’all do to support our shared worship at All Saints.
In the meantime, please do continue to contact me directly with any questions, concerns, fears, hopes, delights, or any other sorts of thoughts and feelings you have ~ let me know what’s on your minds and on your hearts.
Peace & blessings,