A NOTE FROM FR. ALLAN...
Dear Members of St. Philip's,
Truly we are living in unprecedented times. St. Paul says in his first letter to the Thessalonians, "Now concerning the times and seasons brothers and sisters, you do not do not need to have anything written to you...When they say, 'There is peace and security,' then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!" The dire reports from all corners of the globe have fueled panic and alarm, resulting in empty store shelves and the threatened breakdown of world order. Meanwhile, the unseen enemy advances its global invasion, causing illness and death at every turn. Where will it all end? What are we to do? Just like you, I am concerned for my health, for the health of my family, for this church, and for the coming global recession, which will surely follow such an event as we are witnessing. At the same time, I am reminded over and over again, that our Holy Scriptures tell us, "Have no fear." Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (Jn 14:27). "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?"(Ps. 27:1) "Do not be afraid...for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
In these difficult times we can lean into the challenges which come our way, fully confident that God will always be with us. We do not have to be afraid, we can indeed be the voice of calm to a troubled world about us. Some are convinced this is the beginning of the end times. 1 Peter 4:7 says, "The end of all things is near..." I don't know about that, but I do know that Peter calls us to keep things in perspective. He continues: "Therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another...Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received." (1Peter 4:7-10) Life, especially for the Christian comes with no promises of ease, or absence of suffering. Just ask Jesus. But it does come with the certain promise of Victory over pain and suffering- and the call to live the Christ-centered life in the midst of hardship.
SO, instead of watching those endless TV loops of doom and gloom, have YOU called a friend? Have YOU hugged your spouse or checked up on a shut-in? Have YOU prayed for those who are sick? Have YOU remembered to keep your pledge current?
We may be sequestered for a few days, weeks, or months. But we are never distant from the One who loves us and sustains us. "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." (1 Pet.5:7)
Yours in Christ,
WE ARE NOT "CANCELING CHURCH."
What do we do now?
Ok, so you need to stay home from St. Philip's, and stay out of harm's way for the next few weeks. What do you do with your time? Well, you can watch endless news broadcasts, designed to amplify your anxiety and feed your fears. OR- you can attend Church on Sunday Morning. NO, not at St. Philip's, and not in person, but on-line. St. Mark's San Antonio has an online church service. So does Church of the Holy Spirit, San Antonio. So does Christ Church and probably 100 others. Let your fingers do the walking! Visit an online website. Check on YouTube. Want a real treat?- How about Easter Sunday at the National Cathedral? Or Good Friday at Canterbury Cathedral in England? How about an African-American service at St. Philip's, Houston? or a Spanish service at El Buen Pastor in Austin? With so many Episcopal Churches offering online services, I have decided to issue a challenge....How many different services can you attend? What is the best (or worst!) sermon you have heard online? What is the best (or worst!) music you have heard performed without a choir? I will be keeping score, and you can too.