We Are the Church, Especially in Times of Uncertainty
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Members of St. Philip’s,
Thank you for your willingness to be flexible during these different and uncertain times amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. As I preached virtually last Sunday, I spoke about the challenge presented to us by our Lenten devotional Living Well Through Lent of having the courage to grow—here we are! As of today the CDC reports 142 confirmed cases in Texas (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html). All of the updated recommendations are limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people, and we have been ahead of this as a Church, setting the example of how to live out our calling of loving our neighbor as ourselves by moving to virtual services as of Sunday, March 15th. As of now, no clergy within the Diocese of Texas have been diagnosed with COVID-19. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 it is imperative that you contact me.
During this time we do well to remember the scripture I shared with you as I concluded my sermon last Sunday, found in the Letter to the Hebrews, that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This is important to keep before our hearts and minds as we face different times which call for different measures—like virtual services.
If you are carrying on with business as usual, you have not been paying attention. It is my pastoral and Godly counsel to each and every one of that you refrain from visiting one another and from going out without necessary cause. You may not be sick, the person you visit may not be exhibiting signs of illness, and yet we are putting one another at risk and potentially escalating the spread of a disease which may very well overburden our healthcare facilities with limited staff, with limited resources, with limited ventilators. If we do our part, we have the chance to be the Body of Christ in new and fresh ways that speak to our calling of loving our neighbor as ourself and of valuing and respecting the dignity of other human beings.
Our Lay Pastoral Ministers are not currently visiting, but I can make limited and necessary visits, if they arise. However, if you know of someone in need of pastoral care, let’s make that happen by making phone calls, by setting up virtual chats, by joining together to worship our Lord Jesus Christ in new and fresh ways as we are doing now.
As I do most of my work from home, responsibly social distancing, please know that I’m working harder than before to be your pastor and priest. I’m diving in to learn new ways of being the church for the health and well-being of you all! I’m spending just as much time, if not more, preparing for our Sunday morning worship—please join me! Let's do what Episcopalians do and gather in worship! Again, I’m working hard to bring the church to you, please consider working equally hard to bring yourself to the virtual church that we are living into these days.
As of a communication yesterday with Bishop Andy Doyle, Diocesan Bishop, we will be worshipping virtually at least through March 30th. Here is the schedule of upcoming worship opportunities, please be there and even be willing to share this resource virtually with others. We now have the opportunity of opening our doors easily to people who may otherwise never step foot inside!
4th Sunday in Lent, March 22
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist (www.facebook.com/stphilipspalestine.com) Look for the "Live" video when it's time.
The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Wednesday, March 25
5:30 p.m. Evening Prayer (www.facebook.com/stphilipspalestine.com)
5th Sunday in Lent, March 29
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist (www.facebook.com/stphilipspalestine.com)
Also, in addition to sending in your contributions to St. Philip’s by mailing checks to the church, for we still must be the church and be ready to get back to things corporately when able and still have bills to pay, I’ve established a way for you to give online. That’s right, online giving! You may use the following link to do so: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=3kAcPoihbqEdQb1GAB8voo_hr5T0zTpiaEojavNVoylEOnmJMRcH4wJWfumjARp2ag90nm&country.x=US&locale.x=
You may also find the “DONATE” button on our website at www.stphilipspalestine.com.
I’ve also been exploring ways to be available to you virtually via video chat using ZOOM. I’ve held a few virtual office hours and spoke to some of you. It is likely more effective, if you desire to meet with me, to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me to schedule a virtual meeting and I can respond with a link to that meeting. Otherwise, you may always feel free to call me on my cell phone at (512) 799-9365.
I urge you all to join me in worship this Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. (www.facebook.com/stphilipspalestine.com). If you don’t know how to do this, give me a call, let me help you! If there’s something you can envision doing virtually, but haven’t seen, let’s talk about that too.
I lift you up in prayer during this challenging time and encourage you to remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
I know you didn’t plan on giving this much up for Lent—none of us did! And, as a I shared yesterday on Facebook in good humor, “Love like Jesus, but wash your hands like Pontius Pilate!”
Continued Lenten Blessings,
Fr. Justin Briggle, Rector
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church
P.S. Enjoy this video at https://www.facebook.com/josh.lang.754/videos/10221546252788771/ of our organist, Josh Lang, playing Prelude and Fugue in G Minor- Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697). You may recognize this as our Postlude last Sunday. Tune in for more this Sunday!