HOLY WEEK & EASTER 2020

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HOLY WEEK & EASTER 2020

Many therefore, who had come with Mary (and Martha) and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.   John 11:45

Last week’s gospel lesson from John is one of my favorites, the raising of Lazarus.  It is so moving, so timely.  Mary and Martha’s emotions are raw; their anxiety high.  Their request for Jesus’ return to prevent the death of a loved one is urgent.  Their cries and grief are palpable.  However, Jesus seems to take his time getting back to them and teaches them an important lesson in waiting and faith.  He brings new life from the tomb.  What an amazing story to help prepare us for the Resurrection and to guide us through this time of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, impatience and grief associated with the coronavirus.  We will rise again.

This pandemic has shaken up the whole world.  Many institutions, including churches, have been shut down.  We are regularly reminded to practice social distancing; stay at home—which actually feels more like social isolation. Of course, we want to “flatten the curve”, stay alive and prevent more deaths from this virus.  Like many, we find ourselves feeling like Martha and Mary.  And Jesus reminds us again and again, “BELIEVE and see the Glory of God.”

What a critical time for the church to be the church (not made by human hands).  I am so proud of St. Martin’s for checking in with each other and creatively maintaining our corporate prayers, our gathering, our worship through technology.  Two weeks ago I’d never heard of ZOOM, now it’s become an important way for us to be together as a church, even as we respectfully practice distancing from each other.  We are still close.

We are still gathering!  Please join us this Holy Week online.  Just click on the link Lisa, our administrator, sends to your email address from your smart phone or PC.  If you do not receive an email for the event, contact Lisa at (scoflo6@gmail.com) for a “Zoom” invitation to be with us…it is not difficult at all.

Our Holy Week online schedule is:

  • Bible Study, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, 6 pm (we’re in the Gospel of Matthew, chps 20-22)
  • Holy Thursday, April 9, 2020, 7pm
  • Good Friday, April 10, 2020, 7pm – an evening with Al Stinson, special friend of St. Martin’s and a supervisor with Youth Guidance’s “Becoming A Man” mentor program
  • Resurrection Sunday, Sunday April 12, 2020, 10 am

Easter is the center of our lives as communities of faith.  Christ’s death and resurrection are the cornerstone of our faith.  As this deadly coronavirus continues to hover over us, we strongly need the reminder Easter brings—new life can emerge, even in this tragedy.

I’m convinced that we, the church, are also “essential” members in times like these to encourage one another to hold on, believe, new life is coming, God is in our midst.  Or, as Ezekiel reminds us in the Hebrew Bible passage from last week, “The LORD has spoken, and will act.” (Ezekiel 37:14).

What a unique opportunity we have before us to re-imagine what it means to be the church and we must be ready, on board, and online.  We need your support.  I appeal to you to believe in God, believe in us, and make a spiritual / financial commitment to collaborate with St. Martin’s. Please consider blessing us with a financial gift or pledge for Easter.  Donations may be submitted through personal check, money order or cashier’s check, made out to:

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church / 5700 W. Midway Park / Chicago IL 60644.

Donations may also be submitted online via Tithe.ly or PayPal.com

Help us move forward through this time of crisis to create opportunities for more people to experience the new life and love of the Resurrected Jesus and believe in him.

 

In Christ,

Fr. Christopher Griffin

Easter 2020 Flower Donation

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Make Your Gift for Easter 2020 In Honor of  or in Loving Memory of Your Loved Ones

Easter Lilies

Lily Flowers White Lily Flower

Please send your gift and names of your loved ones to

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church

5700 W. Midway Park Chicago, Illinois 60644

or send names to our email: stmartinschicago@yahoo.com

and make your donation using the donation links on our homepage.

Your loved ones will be remembered on our online Easter Sunday Service

March 22, 2020 Pastoral Letter from Fr. Chris

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Dear St. Martin’s family and friends,

Blessings to you on this Fourth Sunday of Lent!  What a challenging Lenten journey this has become.  I know it’s only been a week since our last worship service; but what a week it has been.  I miss you so much. Oh how I wish we could jump to the end of this crisis.  Unfortunately, it appears we’re only at the beginning.  Nevertheless, I hope you are all staying indoors (with the noted exceptions from our leaders) and remaining safe.  I also pray you are staying encouraged.  As we’ve heard week after week during this amazing month of powerful women preachers, God is still in our midst!!

I am so proud of you St. Martin’s.  I know you have remained in contact with one another and you are caring for one another.  The love we have for one another has been palpable.  St. Martin’s is truly what a faith community is all about.  I thank God for you.

Just in case you have not yet picked a Lenten discipline—we are just past the half-way point—I invite you to join me in praying together at noon everyday for St. Martin’s, even if it’s just a brief, “God watch over us and heal us at St. Martin’s, in Jesus’ name.”  Our sisters Celeste and Alice have proposed this practice, and I think it is an excellent one.  If you’re feeling the urge, or unction, to deepen this practice, please consider adding additional moments of prayer throughout the day, such as 3 pm, 6pm and or 9pm.  “The fervent prayers of the righteous availeth much.” (James 5:16)

These are challenging times indeed.  However, I think the leadership offered by our bishop, mayor and governor has been great.  Please add them to your prayer time as well.

I am so sorry that I am not on top of social media and the corresponding technologies that support us.  But we do have some aficionados among us who will help me / us move forward and develop ways we will be able to be with each other and see one another. So, stay tuned.

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.  John 9:1-7

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

John 9:24, 25

 

The Coronavirus is definitely changing the world as we know it.  It has many of us anxious and uneasy from the rapid rates of infection and transmission around the world and the corresponding uncertainties of When? Why? And How long?  We have all heard the importance of “social distancing”, which is a challenge in and of itself, especially for people of faith.  We at St. Martin’s love our hugs and kisses during the Passing of the Peace.  How long can we live without touching?  How long can we make it without answers?

Oh the questions…  The disciples wanted to know, as well as the Pharisees, how did this “blindness” happen?  As with many ailments, sudden crises and other inexplicable occurrences, we try to understand what is going on.  We become philosophers and theologians of sorts.  In a recent conversation about the coronavirus with family, my nephew posed the question, “How did we get here?”  His mother, my sister, chimed in, “How do we get out of here?”  In another exchange, a close friend and colleague, proposed that this global crisis may be part of God’s permissive will and added that perhaps this is a sign that reveals that God is not pleased with how we’ve been (mis)treating each other, and neglecting the vulnerable among us or how we’ve been handling, or mis-appropriating, God’s creation.  Hmmmm very interesting.

Moreover, another friend from another part of the country called me and took it a step further with an end-time / eschatological kinda question, “So Rev, you’re a man of God, do you think this virus will eventually wipe out all of humanity and God will start all over again?” and then another friend, who is a passionate military man and Christian, asked me point blank, as if he were about to rally the troops…”so who’s responsible for this?  China?  Or US?”  I love the conversations, questions and speculations and have some of my own.

Some of these questions resemble the ones Jesus disciples, and Pharisees, presented him with in today’s Gospel passage from John 9:1 – 41, “who sinned, this (blind) man or his parents?”  “Who healed you?”  “Is this from God or not?”

We want answers.  We need meaning in our lives.  We’re getting a lot of explanations, but we desire understanding.  With all the round-the-clock information we have at our disposal on how the virus behaves, and the daily number of casualties, it may take awhile to come up with an understanding and satisfactory responses.

My question is, when will we be able to touch each other again?  We need compassionate, loving touches more than ever, at times like these.  The blind man who now sees basically tells us, “ I don’t know the answers to all those questions, but I do know this, I’ve been touched….and now I see.”

Pastoral Letter March 2020 – coronavirus and St. Martin’s

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March 14, 2020

Dear St. Martin’s family and friends,

The spread of the coronavirus has caused a level of fear and anxiety in many of us.  As believers, we know that God is in control.  Yet, we must take this situation quite seriously and care for each other and move forward with wisdom. On Thursday evening, our bishop Jeffrey Lee has asked all churches to suspend public worship until further notice in order to be responsible and do our part in minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in public spaces.  Bishop Lee has given permission for churches to hold worship tomorrow, Sunday March 15, with the precautions we outlined last Sunday, i.e., Communion in one kind, bread, and minimal contact with each other (hand waves over hand shakes) and much hand washing.  You may check on the diocesan website to access our bishop’s letter.

St. Martin’s will hold service tomorrow, Sunday, March 15 to be together, pray together, and discuss some ways to proceed.  Beginning on Sunday, March 22, we will not meet until we hear from Bishop Lee.  Therefore, we must be patient and creative in our use of technology to worship and be together as a community of faith.  The bishop will begin having services online next Sunday, the 22nd, and he will post a link on our diocesan website.  I’ve asked Arlicia, who has already begun videotaping parts of our service and placed them online via YouTube, to go over a few options (such as Google Hangout and Facebook Live) with us tomorrow (March 15).  This information will give us insight on how we may proceed to hold worship electronically.  Our good friend Rev. Sandra Castillo has also agreed to help us with videography needs, as well as clergy needs, during this time.

This is a new frontier, so I ask you to please be patient and always prayerful.  The Bishop’s Committee, assisting clergy and I will continue to plan ways for us to take care of each other during this time and will be checking in on members by phone.  Feel free to contact the Bishop’s Committee, or me, if you foresee any needs or have any concerns.  Trusting God, we will make it through this together.

Important Reminders….

OFFERING
It is important that we continue to share our pledges and offerings at this time.  Lisa has set up ways to do this online (via Tithe.ly or PayPal); or you can mail them to us.

PREVENTION
Stay informed.  Please pay attention to the news on updates on the coronavirus…visit the website of the Center for Disease Control.

And remember…

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, you should be at least 10 ft away from someone coughing.
  • Follow mom’s or grandma’s conventional wisdom, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, preferably with a tissue, and discard the tissue and wash your hands.
  • Clean, and disinfect frequently handled surfaces and objects with disinfectant sprays and wipes.
  • Again, wash your hands!!

PRAYER

The fervent prayers of the righteous availeth much…(James 5:16)
Always pray and do not lose heart… (Luke 18:1)

Our prayers matter.  Let us continue to pray for one another (especially those on our prayer list) and for those directly impacted by the virus.

Peace and Blessings

Father Chris