Dear St. Paul’s,
In reading through A People’s History of Christianity by Diana Butler Bass, the chapter on ethics highlights the notion of being hospitable and the ways throughout history early Christians practiced this sacrificial hospitality. Whether it was Christians tending the sick during the Plague of Galen (165-180) (p. 59) or Bishop Basil using most of his family’s money to feed the poor through the “creation of a sort of ancient food bank, earning himself the popular title Basil the Great” (61), the church demonstrated in both word and deed the hospitable and generous love of Christ.
These days, a year and a half plus into this pandemic, I find myself asking for the same gift, the ability to offer God’s love and hospitality even when the unknown continues, even when change continues to run amok, and even when I’m called to don a mask when it is incredibly inconvenient and hot.
Several weeks ago, when our Regathering Team met, we wrestled with whether or not to continue masking due to the Delta variant. We then chose to lift our masking protocols to be in line with what else was going on in our area.
As you all undoubtedly know, the Delta variant is now incredibly problematic. The CDC this week released this guidance, even for vaccinated individuals.
- “To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
We are currently listed as a high transmission area, thus we will return to wearing masks during all services for all people. That is the physical invitation for us all.
We will continue to be distanced in the service, have windows open, stand while taking communion, and work to move conversations after worship outside.
The spiritual invitation is to see this not as an inconvenience or annoyance, but rather as a very practical way we can love our neighbors and practice hospitality. We have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of many before us, offering hospitality and practical love to one another.
As I’ve said before, these guidelines will change. While we cannot control the change around us, we can do our part and offer hospitality and grace to one another amid all the changes.
We will continue to follow the CDC guidelines on this and continue to communicate as clearly as we can.
Many thanks to the Regathering Team for all of their work.
With God’s Peace,
To see if we are listed as an area of high transmission, check out https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/07/28/1021795290/cdc-mask-guidelines-indoors-vaccinated-by-county-covid-spread.