April 2, 2020
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On March 17, 2020, I sent a letter to you all cancelling in-person worship services through April 1. Today, regretfully, I must extend that cancellation through the month of April. This will include Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter services.
I have been participating in weekly meetings via Zoom video with the Bishop, the Canon, and other parishes that lack clergy. As some of you may have seen, the Bishop has cancelled services in Shelby County “for the foreseeable future.” I also had a brief meeting with the vestry via Zoom video yesterday evening. After discussion, we decided that it was best to cancel the services given the continuing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly rising number of cases in the State of Tennessee. However, rather than leaving the question as to when we will be able to reconvene for in-person worship open, it was decided we will revisit this question toward the end of April and make a decision then as whether to extend the cancellations or not.
Holy Week and Easter are our most important holidays. They represent the very heart of our faith: the promise of resurrection with the Father after our mortal death. It grieves me greatly to take these measures. This fall, our pledge campaign demonstrated the difficulties this parish has overcome in the past. Mrs. Pat Craig will need to update her curriculum to include this difficult episode for future generations. I am confident that we will survive this as well. Our resurrected life at St. Luke’s has been assured through our Lord and Savior.
In the interim, please follow the guidelines set forth by health professionals. Stay out of public as much as possible, and if you do go out, engage in social distancing. Wash your hands frequently. Check on each other. If you have needs, please let us know. Pray for those of us that must continue in our work – medical professionals, first responders, and others that perform essential functions.
During this time, we are providing links to various online worship offerings, from the National Cathedral to our own reading of the Passion Gospel. Utilize those as much as needed. And if you are able, please do not neglect your financial support for the Parish as well. Mail in your pledges or drop them in the mail box outside the office door. We have installed a locking mail box to facilitate this. In addition, we will be rolling out methods for online payment as well.
I look forward with anticipation to the time we are able to gather again, to celebrate the Risen Christ, to embrace each other in the love of Christ. Over the past several months, the many visiting priests have noted the enthusiasm with which we exchange the Peace, how there is no corralling us back into the pews until we are done. Imagine the Peace on the day we return!
Lee R. Sparks