An updated Message from Pastor Laurie
Grace and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We have just received a pastoral message from Bishop Paul Egensteiner. As much as it hurts him to do this, he is directing that all congregations refrain from face-to-face worship and meetings through the end of April. He made this decision in order to follow the guidance of New York State officials, who are following guidelines recommended by medical and epidemiological officials. By avoiding personal contact, we are hoping to stop the spread of COVID-19, which is devastating our synod. Although we have not had quite the devastating effects of the virus in Suffolk County as in New York City, we are still part of a “hot spot” and need to follow guidelines in order to prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible.
That means we cannot gather for Easter worship, but it does NOT mean we will not worship on Easter. The Bishop hopes that all members of the Metro NY Synod will gather at 10 am on Easter Sunday and watch the Easter Service of the Word he has prepared for us. You can a link to the service at the web site, MNYS. Org.
Here at Calvary we plan to record services for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. Our Easter video will follow a similar format to those for today and last Sunday and can be viewed at any time following posting of the recording.
We are Easter people, and although we cannot celebrate Easter in the manner to which we are accustomed, we will gather and celebrate the day in a different, yet still meaningful way. We will still give thanks and praise for the Resurrection of Our Lord and reaffirm that thanks to the grace of God we live the resurrected life!
When we are finally allowed to gather once again, we plan on having a full celebratory Easter service. We are looking forward to seeing one another again and to share in thanks and praise in person at Calvary.
Gracious and merciful God, In addition to all who are ill or suffering in any way, we pray for all those who have contracted COVID-19, their loved ones, all those in quarantine, health care providers, first responders, and all those working in essential businesses and industries. We pray for those who mourn the loss of loved ones, asking God to bring comfort and peace to them in their loss. We ask that God remain with us during these frightening and troubled times, helping us to be patient in our difficult circumstances and empowering us with love and kindness towards one another. We look with anticipation to that day when we will be able to be with one another again. We ask this in the name of the crucified and risen Lord. Amen.
Social Distancing at Church
Sometimes we don’t appreciate something until we lose it. That always happens during a hurricane, when the electricity we take for granted is suddenly no longer available. Now church isn’t available, at least in the way we are used to. Something we took for granted – gathering for worship and fellowship, hearing the word of God, sharing in Holy Communion, lifting our voices in song, going to Sunday school – not permitted on Sunday morning. I don’t know about you, but last Sunday morning felt really strange. Different from a Sunday “off,” when we might be on vacation or not feel well, but suddenly not available.
In order to maintain our ties with one another, we are sending out via email devotionals three times a week – and thank you to those who are writing those along with me – and for Sunday, prayers, lessons, children’s Celebrate and the sermon. Volunteers will deliver those items to those who live nearby who do not have email. If you are reading this and are not on our email list and would like to receive these things, please call the church office to have your email included in the distribution list.
Our minister of music and council president, and I met to make tentative plans for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. IF we are permitted to gather in groups of 50 or less, maintaining a safe distance from one another, we will have two services on each Sunday at 9 and 11 am. We will have a sign up for each service in order to ensure that we keep to the numbers. If we are not permitted to gather, we are going to get creative. We will put together a service that we can either livestream or record for you to watch. And, believe it or not, the pastors are working together to brainstorm “drive through” Holy Communion! These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures. As the sign on one of our local restaurants says, “stay tuned.” We will let you know which plan we will implement as soon as we know the restrictions.
I will keep in touch with our homebound members. If you can send them a card or make a phone call it would cheer them up. We have a volunteer to go food shopping for anyone who needs it. In lieu of an Easter egg hunt, we are planning a little Easter surprise for the children.
God’s grace is with us and the power of the Holy Spirit will help us get through this. Please remember that right now, loving our neighbor means maintaining social distance so as not to spread the virus. Loving our neighbor means working together to make sure everyone is taken care of. Thank you so much for your cooperation and kindness. We will come through this stronger and even more connected as a congregation! Pastor Laurie