The First Sunday after the Epiphany
January 9, 2022

Dear Friends,

It is Friday morning as I write this, and the view outside my office window looks like a winter wonderland.  The tree branches in the rectory yard hold a delicate balance of snow and the ground is a blanket of white.  I know it won’t last long but it’s fun for just a moment to pause and enjoy nature’s handiwork.  Perhaps the snow can provide a brief reprieve from all the glum news in the headlines.

Sadly, the top story is still how the pandemic has us in its grip.  The Omicron variant spreads rapidly and is even able to cause mild breakthrough cases in those who have been vaccinated.  Schools are going remote, businesses are delaying the return to offices, and the restaurant industry is staggering.  Some churches are reducing their in-person worship services or even returning to livestream and Zoom until Omicron passes.  It is immensely frustrating to be taking two steps back for every step forward.

Here at Grace Church I’ve received a number of inquiries about our plans.  The short answer is we are remaining open for our full schedule of worship services.  Especially as Christmas approached the trend seemed to be toward closing off pews or even closing altogether.  Nevertheless, we forged ahead and remained open for all four Christmas services, knowing that everyone in the building would be vaccinated and masked.  The pageant was truly wonderful, the flower arrangements spectacular, and the music soared on Christmas Eve and Day.  People self-selected according to their own comfort level.  The congregations were about a third to half the size of what they normally are at Christmas, and many participated through the livestream.  The loose plate offering that goes to the Vestry Fund for Outreach was good.  Thank you to all who contributed to and participated in a memorable, meaningful Christmas.

The world and the church are in transition.  In truth, the pandemic has only accelerated changes that already were afoot in “the before times.”  At the Sunday Forum this week Harry Krauss and I will lead a presentation about how the changing world is affecting theological education.  Specifically, what is happening at the seminaries of the Episcopal Church that have formed generations of clergy to shepherd our souls?  The Sunday Forum meets at 10 am and for the time being will remain in its hybrid form: on Zoom and in-person in the reception room.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.  If you are coming in person, have your vaccine card ready and spread out in the pews.  Grace Church is a big space with room for all.

The Rev. J. Donald Waring