The Third Sunday in Lent
March 20, 2022

Dear Friends,

This week, for the second Sunday in a row, we will celebrate the lifting of yet another Covid restriction.  Last week it was the requirement that everyone wear a mask for all indoor activities at Grace Church.  What a joy it was to sing the hymns without a face-covering!  This week it will be rescinding the ban on offering sacramental wine in the chalice.  In a letter to the Diocese last Monday, Bishop Dietsche has authorized “the return of the common cup” at all services of Holy Eucharist.

The last time we were able to receive Communion “in both kinds” on a Sunday was over two years ago – March 8, 2020 to be exact.  By the next week the church was closed entirely for public worship, and we held together via the livestream only through those early, dark days of the pandemic.  In September 2020 we reopened the church for the 11 am service, and it wasn’t until Easter of 2021 when we returned the 9 am to our Sunday schedule.  Finally, in September of 2021 the Sunday and Wednesday 6 pm Eucharists in the chantry rejoined our weekly offerings.  In all that time the administration of the Sacrament consisted of bread alone for all but the priest who was the celebrant.  Sunday will mark another milestone on the journey back to the rituals that bring meaning to our life together.  Are we done with Covid forever?  Have we seen the last of the surges?  Probably not.  But we are learning to live with it.  Covid is becoming endemic rather than pandemic.

Three things to note: First, the vaccine requirement for indoor activities at Grace Church still stands, so everyone in the building wearing masks or not, receiving Communion in both kinds or not, is fully vaccinated.  The only exceptions are children 5 and under who aren’t yet eligible.  Second, no one should feel compelled to partake of the wine until personally ready.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is fully conveyed through the bread alone.  Third, repeated studies and the long history of the church have demonstrated that sipping from a chalice that is properly administered is safe.  The practice of intinction, or dipping the wafer, is less sanitary and will not be allowed until further notice.

On a different, yet not entirely unrelated note, at the next two Sunday Forums we will welcome Dr. Laura Moore, a scholar of Early Church history, who is going to be teaching about the rituals of Holy Week (which begins April 10th this year).  Let’s admit it, many Christians are fully on board with Easter.  They kind of get Palm Sunday.  As for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday … well, these days often get lost in the bustle of another work week.  What are the blessings of striving for a holier Holy Week?  Join us for the Sunday Forum in-person or on Zoom, March 20 and 27.

Last but not least, following the 11 am service the GCW (Grace Church Women) are hosting a festive “tea” to thank everyone who participated in the Christmas Fair last November.  The definition of “participated” is like the wideness of God’s mercy.  If you even thought about attending the fair and didn’t, you participated!  It’s a good thing that Sundays are in Lent and not of it, because the food and drink will be delicious!

See you in church.

The Rev. J. Donald Waring