The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Dear Friends,

Years ago, when Jimmy Fallon was a cast member of Saturday Night Live, one of his signature characters was Joey Mack, a radio talk show host on station Z-105.  On air Joey Mack would banter with a wide array of colorful personalities, most of whom were merely himself using a different voice to create the illusion that someone else was in the studio.  Every time he would return from a commercial break, he would shout into the microphone: “AND WE’RE BACK!”

This coming Sunday is what we typically call “Welcome Back Sunday.”  This year more than ever I can imagine Joey Mack in a dozen different settings announcing, “AND WE’RE BACK!”  Nursery care, Sunday School, vested choristers in the chancel, and the 6 pm Eucharist in the chantry are back after the long shutdown due to the pandemic.  The church is open again every day from noon to 5 pm, and on Wednesday the midweek 6 pm Eucharist in the chantry will be back.  The Sunday Forum and many other programs will follow this month.  Welcome back, indeed!

Unfortunately, at the same time that we are moving forward, it also seems that we are needing to take some steps backward.  As we all know, the Delta variant of the coronavirus has enabled the pandemic to shout that it, too, is back.  Even though highly effective vaccines are free and available to anyone aged 12 and older, many people strangely have chosen not to receive the shots, and the virus continues its grip on society.  Therefore, to protect the children among us for whom the vaccines have not yet been approved, we are enacting two mandates for all indoor activities at Grace Church:

  1. Everyone must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth.
  2. Everyone who is 12-years old and above must be vaccinated. No exceptions.  Please have your vaccine card or Excelsior Pass ready to show to an usher or volunteer when you arrive for worship on Sunday.  For the safety of the children, if you are not vaccinated, please participate in the 11 am service through the livestream.

It is our fervent hope that increasing numbers of people throughout the country will be vaccinated, and that such an embrace of common sense will beat back the pandemic once and for all.  Until then, we’re back, but so are the masks and the need to keep up our guard against the virus.

Finally, on a personal note, last month many of you heard my mother’s name – Virginia Waring – in the prayers for the departed.  Thanks to all of you who sent cards and wonderful, heartfelt expressions of sympathy.  Mom died on August 12th, two months shy of her 91st birthday.  Even though her health had been in decline for the past year she valiantly cooperated with her many doctors and was fully in the midst of life until the very end.  Next to her favorite chair in her apartment was a half-knitted infant cap that she was planning to donate to a charity (Stacie finished it on her behalf).  In her refrigerator was an open bottle of her favorite white wine (I finished it on her behalf).

Since the pandemic began Mom was one of our most faithful worshippers on the livestream.  It was fun for me to know that she was there, and I would occasionally call her out and remind her to use the coaster for her coffee mug.  Every Sunday evening she would give me her review of the sermon, the music, and other details of the service.  We had all hoped for more time, but time sets a limit to human life.  Nevertheless, for those who trust in the Communion of Saints, it is open for us to believe that the livestream ministry is a foretaste of that greater mystery.  Indeed, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light.

See you in church.

The Rev. J. Donald Waring