June 23, 2020
Light at the end of the tunnel – signs of hope
Dear Friends in Christ,
My letter to you today is more practical in nature than spiritual but, as I’m talking about our return to worship in church, I suppose it’s a bit of both! I make no apology but I’m paraphrasing to a large extent a letter sent out on June 17 by our Diocesan Bishop Andrew Asbil to all clergy and church leaders.
Ever since the lockdown in March 2019 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been looking for signs of hope, whether it be a vaccine or a cure or a potentially effective drug. Unfortunately, the opposite has been the case with dire statistics and rising numbers of new cases. As weeks turned into months, it was easy to become discouraged and we all kept asking, “When will it start to get better?”
But now we are seeing signs of hope and the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming more distinct! As of today, Ontario has seen a consistent drop of infected cases to less than 200 cases per day and the curve seems to be flattening and progress is being made with Durham now entering Stage 2 of easing the lockdown. I’m even going for a haircut today at 1:00pm – Hallelujah!!
As well as many other liftings of restrictions, the provincial government and health authorities have loosened the restraints imposed on the Church. But, as people of God, we are conscious of our tremendous responsibility – our baptismal promises, in fact – to care for each other and the whole world. Therefore, we are obliged to resume our common life together using the utmost caution, with deliberate care. As I mentioned in the notices two Sundays ago, I would hate to be the Priest-in-Charge who allowed his church to open up too soon and by doing so caused an outbreak of COVID-19 among our family and possibly even the deaths of some parishioners.
For this reason, the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario has issued a template for the reopening of our churches entitled “Loving Our Neighbours” and each separate diocese will be releasing specific instructions with concrete guidance for parishes on June 30, 2020 (NB: this is not a date for reopening, only the date of issuing instructions on how to reopen). Hours of prayer, consultation and hard work have been poured into this by Bishop Andrew and his staff and I would ask all of us to pray for them as they deliberate on these difficult decisions to be made. I am sure the instructions will give us a clear path as to how we proceed in reopening All Saints, Whitby for public worship. Please pray for me and the Wardens as we seek to bring us back together in person!
Finally, let us not forget the 2,550 Ontarians who have lost their lives to COVID-19. For their families, there will be no “return to normal”. Please keep them, and all those affected by the disease – the sick, the vulnerable, health-care workers, care-givers and those working in essential businesses – in your prayers as we move forward in reopening carefully, bringing signs of hope and a bright, shining light at the end of the tunnel!
Thank you for reading this different type of Thought for The Day but I hope you will understand why I have done it. Finally, a reminder of God’s love for us in the words of “Footprints”:
One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God, and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonged to God and one belonged to me. When the last scene of my life flashed before us I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This really bothered me, and I questioned God about it.
‘God, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way, but I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, in times when I need you most, you would leave me.’
God replied, ‘My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never, never leave you during your times of trials and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.’
With love and best wishes to you all,