Dear Parish Family,
You may have noticed that the Island has begun to "come to life" with tourists and other visitors. I have noticed increased traffic on the roads and bike paths; the beaches are either open, or will all be open within a week or so, and are crowded with people. Restaurants, hair salons, and other businesses are beginning to open up again. Our Church Mouse Thrift Shop has opened (being sensitive to Social Distancing and limiting the number of people in the Mouse) with amazing days of sales and numbers (people in line out the door!).
Some are reacting with "It is about time;" and others: "We shouldn't be opening so soon," and a variety of other reactions; some even stronger! The "right answer?” No one really knows for sure. Balancing the need to isolate and the opposite, allowing people to "get out" and "get back to life" for the sake of the economy as well as mental and emotional health, is not easy. Speculations continue as to whether there is a treatment that works, the speculation that a vaccine has been discovered and is in early stages of testing and should be out in a matter of months.
What is right....and even....what is right for me? We are at the stage where everyone needs to make decisions that are wise for themselves, and for others. We saw indications of this when we "opened for worship" on Sunday and had about 60 people: a low number by "normal" standards, to be sure. What does that tell us? We don't know for sure! Clearly, there are many that are not ready to be around others in a "social setting;" and, probably shouldn't be if they have a "compromised immune system" for any reason. Some just figure "it is not worth the risk for me and/or my family." Some feel, for now, that streaming the service is a pleasant option. Some don't like to wear masks (and, just to remind you, masks prevent others from getting the virus from you if you are a "carrier;" it doesn't prevent you from getting the virus from those who may be close to you unless you have an N-95 mask).
We have taken steps at St. Luke's via our protocols (posted on our website HERE and at the Church) for Social Distancing. We have "fogged" the Church with an anti-viral, plant-based, non-toxic treatment, and we clean the church regularly with a disinfectant that also kills the virus.
All of the States in the United States are now re-opening, or taking steps in the next few weeks to reopen. This includes Churches. Some have re-opened; some have not; some have plans to open in the next few weeks, and I have heard of Churches that are not opening until schools re-open, or have no definitive plans yet. Again, I go back to the question: "What is the right thing to do?” I believe that it takes being aware of your own responsible decision for yourself, and taking responsibility in public for being sensitive to others. There is no right answer for ALL based on one's physical, mental, and emotional condition.
And, of course, we are being "warned" that there "will be" or "could be" a resurgence of the virus during flu season. And, with the prospect of a "busy" hurricane season being projected by the weather experts, we may have other challenges.
Should you "come back to worship?” Obviously, that is your decision! We will be continuing to "stream" our worship service for the foreseeable future. This has become a "new ministry" for us that has blessed many in the United States and even Europe, based on responses that we have received! Please be assured that we are taking proper steps to protect you when you come.
1. All of us need to be in "worship," either streaming or in the Church building! In fact, worship needs to be a daily practice individually, and a time of Worship on Sundays "with others" if possible; and if not, then virtually!
2. All of us need to be as sensitive to others as we can with social distancing and, if you are going to be in crowds, wear a mask, and possibly, gloves. Some may not have the capacity to wear a mask right now; be sensitive to them and have compassion on all. We may, at times, be surprised by people's reaction or what they say to us. Again, be patient, sensitive, even smile (even if they can't see your smile behind your mask!).
3. All of us need to be aware of our physical, mental, and emotional health, and take steps if we see problems arise. Without going into any details, I have become more aware of these needs in my ministry; and, I believe that these health concerns have been accentuated by what we are going through with the Coronavirus, "reopening" and the "unknown" and "uncertainty" of the future, and "the right thing to do."
We always need to be connected: connected to the Lord first and foremost, for our spiritual, mental, and emotional health. That is the way that He has created us!
We need to be connected to others. What that "looks like" for each of us right now may vary; but, be aware that we all need others to "touch" our lives (even if it is not actual physical touching) and we need to "touch" other lives! God has made us in such a way that we need to receive and we need to give.
As we continue in this challenging, strange, and uncertain time: trust the Lord! Use wisdom. Take steps for spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health. Reach out to others for your sake, and for their sake. "Whatever you do, do as unto the Lord." (Colossians 3:12-17, especially verses 14 & 17).
May our Lord continue to richly bless you and keep you in His love and care as all of us seek to be His "Church" in this challenging time.
With love, in Christ,