Weekly Lifelines 3/17/2022

A bunch of St. Luke’s folks gathered last night on Zoom to talk about the affordable housing proposal. (In case you’re new to the topic, we’re looking into selling some of St. Luke’s land in order to build affordable housing. We heard details about the proposal last Sunday during coffee hour and are inviting people participate in listening sessions as we discern what God is calling us to do.)

We had a really good conversation. We didn’t come away with all the answers or discover with certainty God’s call for us. Instead we surfaced more questions and talked candidly about our stances on the project. I came away with the clear sense that there is still more work to do. I’m looking forward to continued conversations about the project, the next of which is this Sunday during coffee hour. I hope you’re able to join us.

We closed last night’s meeting with the Lord’s prayer. Praying together from our various locations, the sound echoed in the strange, cacophonous way that it does on Zoom. The overlapping sound of that prayer struck me as a perfect image for us as we discern what God is calling us to do: Coming from many places, each voice weaving between standing out and blending with the group, we are moving together, united in our desire to follow God.

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The Wardens, Vestry, and I have decided that St. Luke’s will no longer require masks inside our building. Nor will we ask people to sign in upon entry. Covid numbers have dropped to where they were last summer shortly before we returned to requiring masks. In addition, all our members are vaccinated and boosted, so far as I’m aware.

It seems that the absolute safest thing for us to do would be to mask, perhaps in perpetuity. (I’ve certainly been grateful for the decrease in colds I’ve caught in the past two years.) But that isn’t realistic or even desirable. I’m a little sad that this might make our worship services less accessible to some. At the same time, it seems that the vast majority of people attending worship are ready to go maskless and that continuing to require them will leave us oddly out of step with evolving norms.

As with many decisions that involve competing priorities, I think this is the right thing to do, even though I’m not entirely comfortable with it. Our community places high value on safety and accessibility in worship. We also highly value welcome and comfort. I believe this is a good balance between competing interests and so is the right decision for us right now.

If you would prefer to continue wearing a mask at St. Luke’s, perhaps to offer protection to those around you, you’re always welcome to do so. Indeed, if you have any symptoms, please put one on for the sake of the rest of us who don’t want your cold. And if you’re vaccinated and healthy, you’re welcome to come inside with face uncovered.

Thank you all so much for your patience and grace as we have navigated the pandemic and all its weirdness. With conflicting guidelines from authorities and even different perspectives within our own congregation, the last few years have been incredibly challenging. Your prayerful support has made all the difference in the world.

Yours in Christ,

Justin

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