Calvary’s COVID-19/Coronavirus Response
Eblast for Friday, April 17, 2020
Dear Calvary Family,
Happy Easter! I hope this letter finds you healthy and well and doing the things you need to do to care for yourself and others physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
My letter to you this week is less about church updates and more of a devotional on Easter hope, although I do want to say THANK YOU so much for your generosity over the past few weeks. Check out the updates in this week’s Enews to see how your giving is making a tangible difference in the lives of those in need! I am inspired by our collective giving and impact and I pray that our contagion of generosity continues as we seek to support the important ministry of our church. It was also wonderful to see David Farwig in worship this weekend and to hear his voice. He is still suffering from some lingering COVID-19 side effects/symptoms but is gaining strength each day. We mourn with those in our church family who are grieving and who are separated from loved ones who are enduring critical medical situations; please take time to read our prayer list closely each week, as there is a mounting list of concerns and celebrations. And finally, thank you for worshipping with us virtually throughout Holy Week and Easter. Your presence and love is felt, deeply.
I know the season of COVID-19 is seemingly stretching on “forever,” and we are all probably getting cabin fever. We are fortunate to have homes in which to “shelter in place” and as I write this letter with snow falling outside, I feel for those who have no shelter, no home, no cabin…and for those who have a legitimate fever, those who are suffering from this intense novel coronavirus illness. As we ground ourselves in gratitude for the blessings of our life, I know that we cannot help but think of those who are experiencing and enduring this pandemic without such security. In my prayers these days, which are both praise and lament, I have been drawn to the words of the wisdom writer in Ecclesiastes 3 this week:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
While the writer does not say there’s “a time for ‘staying at home’ during global pandemics and a time for frolicking about once the world re-opens,” we get the feeling from this wisdom that what we are enduring is indeed, a “season,” and that “this too shall pass.” And we do get the sense that something of our experience is captured in this poem, as we read phrases like “a time to be born and a tie to die,” “a time to weep and a time to laugh,” “a time to mourn and a time to dance,” “a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.”
In the midst of this COVID-19 season, it can be hard to remember we are in the midst of another season right now too…the season of Eastertide. It has often been said that we who claim Christ as our Lord are an “Easter People;” we live in the power and hope of the resurrection. While we
acknowledge the pain and death of Good Friday and the sometimes intolerable suffering that comes in the waiting of Holy Saturday, at our core, we are an Easter People because the tomb is empty, the stone has been rolled away, and death does not have the final word. Life prevails. And even more, to be an Easter people means that new life is born. Something that “hasn’t been before,” comes “to be.”
The question for us becomes - how do we live as an Easter people? This is our perpetual calling in the season of Eastertide even as we endure temporary seasons of suffering and disruption.
In his daily meditation today, Father Richard Rohr quotes Episcopal priest/mystic/author Cynthia Bourgeault who “makes a powerful distinction between ordinary hope, ‘tied to outcome…an optimistic feeling…because we sense that things will get better in the future’ and mystical hope ‘that is a complete reversal of our usual way of looking at things.’” Bourgeault continues,
“In contrast to our usual notions of hope, mystical hope…
· is not tied to a good outcome, to the future. It lives a life of its own, seemingly without reference to external circumstances and conditions.
· has something to do with presence—not a future good outcome, but the immediate experience of being met, held in communion, by something intimately at hand.
· bears fruit within us at the psychological level in the sensations of strength, joy, and satisfaction: an “unbearable lightness of being.” But mysteriously, rather than deriving these gifts from outward expectations being met, it seems to produce them from within…
[It] is all too easy to understate and miss that hope is not intended to be an extraordinary infusion, but an abiding state of being. We lose sight of the invitation—and in fact, our responsibility, as stewards of creation—to develop a conscious and permanent connection to this wellspring. We miss the call to become a vessel, to become a chalice into which this divine energy can pour; a lamp through which it can shine…
We ourselves are not the source of that hope; we do not manufacture it. But the source dwells deeply within us and flows to us with an unstinting abundance, so much so that in fact it might be more accurate to say we dwell within it…
The good news is that this deeper current does exist and you actually can find it…This journey to the wellsprings of hope is not something that will change your life in the short range, in the externals. Rather, it is something that will change your innermost way of seeing. From there, inevitably, the externals will rearrange…the journey to the wellsprings of hope is really a journey toward the center, toward the innermost ground of our being where we meet and are met by God.” [Adapted from Cynthia Bourgeault, Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God (Cowley Publications: 2001), 3, 5, 9-10, 17, 20, 42.]
As we have gotten through the intense spiritual journey of Holy Week and have come through Easter morning, I invite us now as we live into the season of Eastertide to work on grounding ourselves “toward the innermost of our being where we meet and are met by God.” Or, as the poet/farmer Wendell Berry asks, how are we “practicing resurrection?”
Are we just enduring this season of COVID-19, riding it out, and trying to get through it the best we can? Well, yes. But we have another opportunity as well…to remember that over and above the season of COVID-19, we are in the season of Eastertide…the season of Resurrection…Rebirth…Hope and New Life…and our hope is found in something far deeper and greater than a cure or a vaccine. Our hope is found in the one who created us, calls us by name, knows our every prayer, and journeys with us. The One whose presence is within us and all around us, and who reminds us that this is a season and “this too shall pass.”
Can we feel the living presence of God with us in these days? I know it’s not easy. Know that I am with you on the journey - not looking for easy answers, but rather, looking for meaning and truth in this unfolding season of Eastertide…and for the enduring presence of our Risen Christ.
Living in “mystical hope” while seeking to “practice resurrection” with you,
~Pastor Anne Read More…
Calvary’s COVID-19/Coronavirus Response
Eblast for Friday, April 3, 2020
Hello Calvary family,
As we live in this uncertain and somber season of what it means to be a people enduring a pandemic, we continue to be together, while apart. Know that I am picturing your faces and smiles and quirks as I write this letter. Thank you for your emails, calls, and notes of love and support for our staff. We feel your love! And we return that love in equal measure.
As the number of people who are suffering and dying around the world, in our own country, and here in Colorado rises, may our daily prayers of lament and grief join with the cries and tears of those who are suffering - whether from COVID-19 or any illness or trial. As one of our beloved hymns The Servant Song says, “I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you; I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.” This is true not just for our Calvary community, but for our worldwide community. As people of faith, we see the world through the lens of how we “love our neighbor” and loving our neighbor also means grieving with our neighbor too - and celebrating as well.
I do have some good news of celebration to share with you. On Wednesday, for the first time in 15 days, our Director of Music David Farwig, did not have a fever. He is still coughing and suffering from a bad headache, but the relief from the fever is giving David hope that he might be in his last week of symptoms of COVID-19. Please continue to pray for David and for his husband Greg.
Another celebration for our church family: the first half of Pastor Morgan’s parental leave is complete, which means we’ll be seeing her “virtually” in our worship services and she’ll begin to work from home (as all staff are doing now). As she eases back into our life together, I know it will be good for all of us to hear her “voice” and to be able to celebrate with Morgan and Ian the gift that Julian is in their lives.
In addition, we have celebrated two staff anniversaries in the last few weeks: Lori Grohskopf - 4 years (March 21) and Alice Horner-Nelson - 2 years (April 1). I am so grateful for the ministry they provide our congregation and for their personal friendship too. Calvary would not be the place it is today without both of their gifts - and we are lucky to have them! This has become especially evident as we’ve navigated the last few weeks together; their encouragement, wisdom, creativity, and flexibility have been invaluable. I hope you’ll join me in dropping them a note of appreciation and thanks.
Well Calvary, we are now headed into Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ life, a journey where time seems suspended and the days a bit longer and a bit darker. As we journey with Jesus through this week of unknowns, uncertainty, and suffering, may we strive to “stay awake” with him on his journey - remembering that it led to the cross, yes, but beyond it…to the empty tomb.
A colleague of mine shared with me a social media post that read, “This is the Lentiest Lent I’ve ever Lented.” His words match my sentiments exactly:
“For many people, Lent is not their favorite season of the year, given its unyielding focus on mortality, repentance, and the surrender of the ego. But this Lent seems particularly harsh. Weeks ago, none of us could have imagined that we would be giving up so much for Lent. All of us have given up our familiar routines, our social freedoms, our physical connections, our communal life. But many have given up so much more, including their jobs, their health, their financial security, and their peace of mind.
I know that this season is wearing on you. The uncompromising isolation; the chaos of managing kids and online education while working from home; the challenges of staying safe; the concern for loved ones near and far. The news only amplifies our fears and anxieties. We’re all doing our best to get through this, but if it helps at all, remember that the season of Lent is an invitation to be intentional about leaning into our reality, feeling the ache and awe of the world, and calling on God’s grace and mercy. Practice grace and patience with yourself. Find ways every day to be kind to the people around you. Reframe how you do community. Make space for God.”
And as you journey through this Holy Week, I offer to you a series of spiritual practices from our friends Joyce and David Reed, who are the Global Coordinators for Spiritual Care for all of our International Ministries Global Servants (missionaries), as they encourage us all to stay centered with God, with others, and with yourself:
• Community - Connect with 1 person each day via phone/text/video chat
• Gratitude - Begin or end each day by writing down 3 things you're thankful for
• Awareness - Spend time at a window, on a porch, or in your backyard noticing 5 signs of life around you
• Prayer/Silence - Practice 7 minutes of quiet space for prayer or silence
And, of course, I encourage you to participate in our daily Holy Week offerings, whether that be a worship service or a devotional. Watch for an email in your inbox each day from April 5-April 12 as we journey with Jesus to the cross, watch and wait during Holy Saturday, and celebrate the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday. It will be a Holy Week like no other, but then again, it always is…
With you on the journey,
I hope you are having a meaningful Lenten season so far, finding moments to “pause” and engage in Sabbath rest and renewal. I hope you’ll join us for our first Lenten Sabbath Supper this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Youth Lounge as we gather for a time of food, fellowship, fun, and reflection on a question related to Sabbath practice. Please RSVP to Pastor Alice if you are planning to attend so we prepare enough soup and salad. You do not have to have engaged with our Sabbath curriculum to attend; in fact, if you have yet to engage with our congregation-wide emphasis on Sabbath – Lent is a great time to begin!
We’ve been getting a few questions about the growing concern of the transmission of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as recommendations for how to prevent or minimize the risk of infection and transmission. At Calvary, we take these concerns seriously and want to be responsible in how we practice faith and community together.
Based on the recommendations of infectious disease experts from UC Health and the CDC this week, we will be using individually wrapped communion elements at Common Table, Common Life on March 15 and for the communion elements we offer each week at the back of the sanctuary in our 10:30 a.m. worship services in March. We will evaluate closer to April 5 as to how we will partake of communion on that Sunday. While the science is unclear as to whether any infectious disease has been or might be spread through the method of “intinction” (dipping bread into a common cup), it seems reasonable and responsible at this time to take this precaution in an effort to minimize risk.
It is also recommended that we temporarily forego our customary “greeting” ritual, which sometimes includes handshaking at the beginning of our services. Some congregations have temporarily replaced the “handshake” with an “elbow bump,” so you can give that a try for the next few weeks or simply cross your arms over your chest during the Time of Greeting if you do not wish to be touched at all.
Of course, if you are feeling under the weather, or if you’re at higher risk for serious illness as a result of flu or other infectious disease, please take advantage of our live-streaming service on Sunday morning. I also hope that, whenever you are unable to be physically present at Calvary for worship, you’ll use our online giving options to ensure that the ministries of Calvary continue to thrive, even in your absence.
We have also placed new signs in the restrooms encouraging you to wash your hands for 20-30 seconds (with fun suggestions of what songs you can hum to yourself as you wash!)
Final reminder: don’t forget to move your clock forward an hour this Sunday for the start of Daylight Saving Time. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday – either at our 10:30 a.m. service or as we celebrate our one-year birthday of The Gathering at 6:30 p.m. – and greeting you with an elbow bump in the name of Christ!
~Pastor Anne Read More…
The first story Luke tells in his gospel is Zechariah’s story. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s inability to conceive in their old age reminds us of the stories of many of Israel’s patriarchs and matriarchs. Zechariah’s song is the longest of several songs in the birth narrative of Jesus, and it overflows with language from Israel’s Scriptures. The connection is loud and clear. The story we are now reading is not a new story; it is a continuation of the story of God’s love and faithfulness for generations.
If this is true, then what’s different about the story this time around? What is the proclamation and promise that the birth of John brings?
After centuries of prophets foretelling the Messiah, John is the closest prophet we have to Jesus himself, the one we Christians believe is the Messiah. What can we learn from John about our role of “paving the way” for Jesus? If there was a prophet so close to Jesus in his day and age (even living at the same time as Jesus), what does that tell us about the role of prophets in our faith today? If John came before Jesus, who is coming after? Read More…
Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1-4, 8-13 (NRSV)
On this third Sunday of Advent, we meet Cyrus, the king of Persia. He arrives in Babylon with a very different concept of empire; he gives great freedom to his vassals. His policies were welcomed by the exiled Judeans, who, according to the first part of Ezra, were eager to return home, to restore their community, and to rebuild.
And – believe it or not - Cyrus makes the proclamation they’ve all been waiting for! He tells them to go home (with great blessings) and to rebuild; this is something refugees don’t even dare to dream about! Has Christmas come early? Is this too good to be true? Well, no – it’s not too good to be true. It’s real. But with reality comes complexity, of course.
As the people return home and begin to rebuild the Temple it is an emotional scene. It’s a joyous festival of celebration, quite fitting on this Sunday of JOY in Advent. And yet, along with the people who are rejoicing at what has come to pass, there are people who are mourning too – those who remember and grieve what was lost. It is a very human moment that we can relate too. Often we simplify joy as happiness and celebration, but it can be an ambiguous emotion at times – holding both hope and grief in the same moment.
Join us on Sunday as explore the complex emotions of what it means to be a people of Joy during Advent; we’ll honor the pain of what has been lost in the past year even as we await the fulfillment of the Messiah with Joy and Hope. Read More…