Dear Christ Church,
Today’s update is a bit lengthy. If you want to jump past my musings to the practical stuff, head on down to the bottom. For the rest of you . . .
Time is sacred. We often define our human reality as occurring within space and time. While we can’t share sacred space as a congregation, we can still share time each Sunday. We are livestreaming, not recording and editing, each Sunday service, attempting to make them as interactive as possible—temporal proximity to each other in the midst of social distance.
I never thought I’d be reflecting on a “theology of livestreaming,” but while I have you, let me heartily recommend a book that comes to mind these days, The Sacrament of the Present Moment, by Jean Pierre de Caussade, a French Jesuit priest from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Right now is a good time to reflect on our experience of how the eternal God made us as temporal beings, to live by the sunlight of day, rest at night, remain attentive to each moment, and keep the Sabbath holy.
Speaking of livestreaming, your engagement Sunday was incredible! We estimate that close to 1000 people joined us, with 175 answers submitted during our interactive bible study, loads of interactive chats/comments in the YouTube sidebar, and over $22,000 given in our offering designated as benevolence for parishioners most affected by the current events. Christ Church, you are amazing!
What do we do about Holy Eucharist? We feel a tension. The elements of Communion are the real presence of Christ to us, nourishment to our bodies and souls. And yet we are unable to gather as a family around this meal. While we continue to consider creative options, we can be reminded that we are still a Eucharistic community. We still daily offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, united to Christ, who offered himself for the sake of the world. We still find our identity in his broken body and shed blood, and in his bodily resurrection and ascension. This abstinence from Holy Eucharist is a temporary reality. Our Eucharistic identity is eternal.
Two Important Practical Links:
Stay connected and get involved. There are some beautiful connections being made in these unusual times, as people engage each other across social media and videoconferencing platforms. Virtual connections cannot and should never replace embodied presence, but in these days where the latter is impossible, we are grateful for the gift of technology. I want to ask you to click on the “Join an Online Community” button on our Coronavirus Update Page, if you are not already part of a small group or team that is “meeting” regularly online. We need each other. It can feel risky and maybe even a little awkward to take the first steps, but this is a moment to do so. And click the “I have a need” button, if you do!
Secondly, we have formed a Health Team comprised of outstanding Christ Church medical personnel who are on the front lines of Austin’s response to the Coronavirus. Their purpose is to advise the Christ Church leadership in our decision making and safe practices, and to provide resources for staff and parishioner safety. They have written this excellent letter to all Christ Church parishioners. Please take a moment to read it.
Lastly, I hope you’ll join us again this Sunday for our livestream and, like I mentioned last week, this presents a new opportunity to warmly and widely invite people to church. People can accept or decline your invitation without any social awkwardness. Let’s be bold and see how God might use these strange conditions redemptively.