Amid a pandemic, we must find connection

Dear friends,

As we begin to see more spread of COVID-19 through the U.S., I am acutely aware of all the places where this note will be opened by friends in our St. John’s community: Seattle, Des Moines, Boston, the Twin Cities and throughout Wisconsin, North Carolina, Kansas, throughout California and Florida, Oklahoma City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and of course here on Madeline Island.

Some of you are navigating school closures and other changes to plans for large gatherings, adjusting to working from home, and making extra efforts to visit/care for relatives and friends in need. 

Others may, at present, be experiencing much less direct disruption to your day-to-day lives and yet be wondering what an appropriate level of response to COVID-19 risk might be. Regardless of our individual situations, however, I’m guessing that all of us are experiencing some degree of uncertainty and concern as information and recommendations continue to evolve.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency for the state of Wisconsin. Last night, St John’s Church Council met and discussed precautions we are already taking now, as well as steps we should be prepared to take if a case of COVID-19 is identified on Madeline Island or in Bayfield/Ashland county.

  • We are changing the way we share the peace. We will encourage people not to shake hands or hug. A nod, bow, touching hands to our hearts, or other simple gestures are beautiful ways to acknowledge Christ in one another.
  • The offering plate will be set at the entrance to the sanctuary rather than passed person-to-person.
  • We have hand-washing signs in the bathrooms and around the fellowship hall, and hand-sanitizer is available in each pew.
  • As always we are live-streaming our service and encourage anyone who may be feeling sick to please stay home and participate online so that you might heal and protect the most vulnerable among us. Please make sure and let me know so that we can follow up with you if you are ill or in need of support!
  • Live-streaming is also a great option for anyone who is feeling vulnerable to being around groups of people and/or for those of you off-island needing to respond to local recommendations for social distancing or for whom your regular place of worship has suspended services. You can access the live stream at stjohnsmadelineisland.org or by clicking here.
  • I have met with the La Pointe Clinic board, and if a case of COVID-19 is identified on Madeline Island or in the Bayfield/Ashland area we, of course, will follow the recommendations of our Island/county medical professionals and be prepared to move to online-only worship services. We will communicate news of this nature via email, our website, and the St John’s Facebook and Madeline Island Facebook pages.

Given all that is happening in our world right now, it is even more important to stay connected – to God, to ourselves and to each other – even if the precautions we must take in this time of pandemic keep us at a social distance. Reach out to one another by phone, email, FaceTime, text or even old fashioned U.S. mail. Try to spend time outside if you can. Make time each day to connect with the Holy in the way that works for you. And please be in touch with me (831-566-0353) if I can support you in any way. I’m so happy to listen and pray with you whether you are on the island or across the country.

At Council last night we together prayed the Metta Prayer for Loving Kindness:

May you be well, may you be happy, may you be safe and free from harm

This prayer begins by asking a blessing for oneself and gradually expands outward from there, eventually wishing good intentions for the entire world and all beings. I offer this to you as a grounding practice for these days. It is the prayer I am praying for each of you.

God’s love and peace,

Rachel

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