Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
-Collect for the Third Sunday of Lent
One of the great gifts of our incarnational theology is that we are asked to imagine the profound reverence owed to our physical bodies. If the almighty and powerful God chose to inhabit earthly flesh in the gift of Jesus Christ, we must take seriously the care of our physical selves that contain our souls. It also calls us to respect the physical bodies of each and every child of God.
As most of you know, I was raised in the Society of Friends, or the Quakers. One cannot be raised in that tradition and not know and respect that the inner light, which we all bear, is worthy of reverence and care. Souls need bodies and bodies need souls. Whenever we err too much towards privileging one over the other, we are in trouble. Our bodies find a way to get our attention when we fail to care for them and our souls are usually lighter when we are physically well.
One of the more difficult aspects of this time of separation from one another is just how embodied our worship is. It doesn’t feel the same to worship on screen, and we long to be gathered together in our full embodied form. It’s good for our souls. The COVID numbers in our community have been improving over several weeks and we’ve been able to hold outdoor worship. This week we returned to the green zone, based on Metro Health data, and so we will be offering masked, socially distanced indoor worship during the 10 am service of Holy Eucharist. It will continue to be streamed, so you can also participate that way. If you are more comfortable outside, there is a service in Tucker courtyard at 11:30 as well. Registration is available for in-person worship on our website.
We are currently finalizing the ways in which we will be able to observe Holy Week and Easter this year. As has been the case all along, the care of one another and our physical bodies will continue to be our guiding principle, along with our diocesan guidelines. Changes in state mandates do not govern our practices, since we are
governed by the authority of our Bishop. He has consistently upheld guidelines that are grounded in public health practice and our St. Mark’s COVID workgroup has provided invaluable advice as we look to the make-up of our congregation and the physical constraints of our physical space in the sanctuary. We found creative ways to utilize Travis Park at Christmas and will be doing the same for Palm Sunday and Easter—so stay tuned! We will continue to have streaming options for those of you who prefer to worship remotely.
We are kept, body and soul, under the steady gaze of love from our God. It
inspires us to love ourselves and one another. We remain people of the resurrection and know that this requires us to move towards hope in a steady and responsible way. I give thanks for each one of you and pray blessings on your Lenten pilgrimage as we “easter” forward.
The Rev. Beth Knowlton, Rector