By the time almost all of our churches had resumed regular Sunday worship and the public celebration of Holy Communion, most of our on reserve congregations began a new round of lockdowns and we suspended worship in those communities struggling with local outbreaks.
There has been a recent spike in cases in the north of Saskatchewan including a large outbreak associated with gatherings for public worship in a Church, of another denomination, in Prince Albert. Thank God, there have been no deaths but the fear, danger, and disruption caused by that outbreak are a warning to us.
This increase in cases coincides with the coming of Advent and Christmas. I am asking your Clergy, Wardens and Vestries to prepare for Christmas so that we might still gather safely to hear again the glad tidings, join the angels’ song and receive our Christmas Communion, but this will require changes and compromises and adaptations. We also need to be prepared for the possibility of further provincial restrictions on our gatherings and activities.
I am asking you all to keep all the provincial and diocesan guidelines with even more diligence and care. That includes physical distancing and frequent hand washing or sanitizing. It is a legal requirement that any member of the congregation singing in Church wear a mask. I am pleading with you to wear a mask whenever you are in Church (in the church building or associated hall for any purpose). I ask this of all of you as your brother in Christ, your bishop and father in God.
Please wear a mask in Church.
We long for fellowship, the fellowship of the body of Christ. We long to see each other face to face. We long to greet each other with a handshake. We long for Coffee Hour. I am asking for your patience and cooperation so that we do not endanger any sister or brother or neighbour, lose the privilege we now have of meeting on Sunday and of sharing in the Holy Communion or damage the reputation of the Church.
This pandemic recalls us to a life of prayer that is concerned for the health and good of others. We are all living with this sense of dislocation and disruption, with new fears and frustrations and with added stress. So, let us pray,
O ALMIGHTY God, the Lord of life and death, have pity on us miserable sinners, now visited with this pandemic. Withdraw from us, we pray thee, this grievous affliction. Teach us so to understand and obey thy laws, that under thy good providence we may live in health and well-being all our days. Enlarge our charity to relieve the distressed, and above all, bless this visitation to the welfare of thy people and the glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Michael W. Hawkins