Letter to the St. Barnabas Community
May 8, 2020
Good Heavens! These days are like no others — we keep saying over and over again. Never before have so many people of the earth shuddered to such a screeching halt. Never before have we stopped so many things at once, and watched and wondered, grieved and even found new ways to celebrate.
When Archbishop Melissa told us, well over a month ago, that all church services would need to be cancelled, I couldn’t believe it. How on earth could we do that? And then, the truth sank in, deeper and deeper. We watched as the first countries were consumed in a tidal wave of illness, and then it began its creep across the whole world.
I feel many things: sorrow at the losses so many have experienced, relief that we live in Canada, where public health, science and social equality matter, concern for how or what “normal” will ever be again, anxiety while trying to figure out how to care for the most vulnerable in our communities. I know that we all share some version or another of these things. I know as well that deeper than all of this, our faith must sustain us. We believe, beneath and beyond all things, that we belong to the God who made us. We know that Jesus Christ, our brother and our friend, came to show us the path to love. We know that the Spirit, the Comforter, will never leave us alone. And so, we go on.
What does it mean to be church? As we read these days stories from the Acts of the Apostles, I wonder what it meant to be church in those early days? Nothing was secure, nothing was stable. The first Christians (who didn’t call themselves that — they were followers of The Way) must have struggled with many things: sorrow, concern, anxiety. Yet we hear again and again how they found sustenance in their lives together, in what they knew about Jesus. They committed themselves — despite real hardships — this week we will hear the horrifying story of the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr — to a way of being where love and concern for all was always greater than every suffering.
So — in practical terms. What are we, the people of St. Barnabas, going to do? Continue to worship, continue to engage in pastoral care, continue to celebrate, continue to love one another! Here are some ways you can connect with what is happening.
- Our main Sunday services are being pre-recorded, and posted to our website at stbarnabasparish.ca, or on our facebook page. You can watch this at any time, and it will include songs, prayers, the readings for the week, a sermon, and spiritual Eucharist.
- We are doing our midweek Wednesday service as Morning Prayer via Zoom. Martha is sending out the link every week. Please contact us if you wish to join.
- Sacred Singing Circle is happening twice a month now, second and last Sundays. The Second Sunday is via Facebook Live, and the last Sunday is a Zoom circle.
- Children’s Church. With our friends from Shiloh United. Join our Zoom gathering at 10am Sundays. As for all ZOOM meetings, you must receive the link to join in. We really encourage all families to be a part of this important connecting.
- These are strange times. If you need prayers or just to connect, Emilie is available for phone conversations. Please contact her on her cell: 778 773 2342
- Thanks to a generous donation from the Vancouver Foundation, and to the tower of work done by the Venerable Mavis Brownlee, City Councillor Chuck Puchmayr and many others, we are able to hand out 80 Emergency Grab and Go bags weekly. Please please let your friends and family members know, and come yourself to this new program, Fridays at 10am, in the St. Barnabas’ courtyard.
One of the things we miss the most about being together is social time. We have launched a “Zoom Coffee Hour”. We will begin this on Sunday, May 17th. Join us after that on Sundays from 11 – 12noon. We will send out the link, so get in touch with us.
In this time of trial, we have been deeply blessed by the offering of the Venerable Mavis Brownlee to stay with us as an Honorary Assistant. We are delighted and look forward to maintaining a strong friendship with Mavis, who has meant so much to St. Barnabas over the years. As soon as they are able, Mavis and her husband, Graeme, will be returning to attend to their vineyard in Quebec. But they will return to us in the fall. We raise our hands in thanks to Mavis!
Financial Support for the Parish:
We still need your support. Though our daily and weekly operations have ceased for now in the normal way, we are still paying our expenses, of course. We rely on your continuing generosity, and love for our precious community. Please mail your cheques to St. Barnabas, or wonderfully, you can now make a donation to our church by e transfer. Here’s how to do it:
1. Open your online banking account, select e-transfer. Add St. Barnabas as a payee. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Select e transfer and select St. Barnabas as the recipient.
3. Enter the amount you would like to donate.
4. It is important to put your full name and email address in the message box so that we can send you a tax receipt at the end of the year.
That, friends, is quite a list! As you can see we are still very busy, and we thank you for your prayers. Know that you are each and every one of you in my prayers every day.
May the God of all Love continue to bless and guide our way.