Pastor’s Note for Sunday, 21 June 2020

Sunday June 21 (O.S., June 8), 2020
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
All Saints of America
Glory to Jesus Christ!

This past Monday (6/15), Dane County began Phase 2 of our re-opening (Forward Dane). Based on the size of our space, we can accommodate approximately 30-40 people As a practical matter, this means that everyone who wants to do so is now able to attend Liturgy.  You can attend either in the chapel or the fellowship room if you are more comfortable doing so.

The guidelines below about social distancing and face masks are not unique to our diocese but are standard for all parishes in the United States and reflect the recommendation of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in America (Assembly of Bishops Releases Guidelines and Considerations for Safer Orthodox Church Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic).

Social Distancing. I would ask you to comply with the request from Metropolitan ANTONY and Archbishop DANIEL to maintain as much as possible a distance of 6 feet. Again as a practical matter, this means maintaining social distance between households rather than individuals as such. To help with this, all the large chairs have been removed from the chapel. There are folding chairs along the walls for those who need them.

Face Masks. Please remember as well that for all adults (13+) and can do so, face masks are mandatory. There are disposable masks available on the table outside the chapel door. Please dispose of the masks in the trash can when you leave the building.

Coffee Hour. While a full coffee hours is not currently possible (i.e., no snacks) we will have coffee outside in the parking lot after Liturgy.

Liturgical Schedule. Great Vespers will again be celebrated starting the Saturday afternoon (6/20) at 5 pm. I’ll hear confessions both before (starting at 4pm) and after the service. Divine Liturgy will be celebrated Sunday at 9:30am with Hours & Pre-communion Prayers starting at 9:15am.

A Final Word. The last several weeks, months really, have been a trial for all of us. Not only have our daily lives been upended with safer-at-home orders with many of us were required to work from home when we weren’t faced with reduced hour or even unemployment. We have seen what are (for American’s anyway) uncharacteristically empty grocery store shelves. Added to this recent weeks have seen protests and riots not only around the country and the world but down the street.

And of course we have not been able to pray together and receive Holy Communion together under the same roof.

The temptation in all this is to forget that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We hear almost daily pundits and politicians who make the simplistic and unwarranted assumption that disagreements about practical matters about the pandemic or race relations are evidence of a wicked intention on the part of those with whom they disagree.

For months, we have all been subject to the overwhelming, unrelenting drum beat of dissension not so much as the meaning of citizenship but about how to foster the common good and to “secure the blessings of liberty” for all. Given this it is not unexpected that we would be tempted to think in similar ways about the life of the Church.

We must avoid the temptation to assume that disagreements about practical matters is evidence that our brothers and sisters in Christ are motivated by malice, stupidity or an absence of faith.

Succumbing to this temptation harms not only my own soul but my neighbor’s soul as well. Worse, it makes me an ally of the Enemy of Souls who lives only to divide us from God and each other.

Over the last few weeks and months, I have come to an ever deeper appreciation of the late Soviet dissident  Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s insight that The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.Whatever else it might require, our vocation as Orthodox Christians–our evangelical witness as much as our own spiritual life and life as a parish–begins and ends in our willingness to see and bless even the smallest expression of goodness that we encounter in our neighbor and society. It is only in doing this first that we prove ourselves faithful to the Scripture:He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:9-11).I am looking forward to seeing all of you this weekend. FINALLY!

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

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