July Rector's Letter
Dear Parish Family,
Church Services in July
The Church is open seven days a week, with at least two opportunities for prayer every day. Given the recent data about COVID, we totally understand that some folks are staying at home as much as possible. Everyone needs to do what they feel is best during this time. If you’d feel more comfortable worshipping with very few people present, please consider coming to a service Monday-Saturday. These last few weeks, nearly all of these services have had a dozen or fewer people in attendance. All services are taking place in the Church right now, rather than in the Lady Chapel, so there is plenty of room to spread out.
You’ve already seen the note that we have discontinued the Saturday evening 5:30 service. We added that service in order to accommodate attendance, while maintaining physical distance protocols. We will continue to celebrate two Sunday morning services at 8:30 and 10:45 for the month of July. The 8:30am service will be live-streamed on the St. Laurence website and to our Facebook and Youtube pages. We hope that you’ll join us online, if you’re not joining us in person. If you’re at home, I know it takes extra work, but I would strongly encourage you not to “watch” the Eucharist but to pray it with us. Sing the hymns, say the prayers, engage the Scriptures, and pray the prayer of Spiritual Communion.
The Great Commandment
We believe that we were created to worship God. Our Lord tells us that the most important things in life are to love God with all that we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Worship is the primary way we demonstrate love for God. If you’re avoiding in-person public worship right now, again I respect that, but I also want to reiterate what I said in last Sunday’s sermon. You have the Holy Scriptures. If you don’t have a Book of Common Prayer, you can find one here. If you are not attending public worship, please make it your habit to read the Bible every day and to lean heavily on the resources for prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. They are vast.
A People of Hope: Romans 8
Over the weekend, I experienced some discouragement about the rising number of COVID cases around us and the ramifications that news brings with it. It's been a struggle at times for me, however, I feel moved to remind everyone that we are called to be a people of hope. To emphasize the importance of this, I would encourage all of you to read Romans chapter 8 today. Click here to read it now.
My dad told me long ago that Romans Chapter 8 has enough theology in it to last a lifetime. It is probably the Bible’s most theologically rich chapter and it has some really important teaching that 100% of us need to hear right now. Specifically, St. Paul writes in Romans 8:24-25, "For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
We are a people waiting with patience right now for that which we have yet to see. It is very difficult at times to wait patiently on the Lord, but we are called to do this together. And we do it with hopeful expectation that God is doing something good in the midst of so much that is bad. St. Paul writes just a few verses later “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
God is working in the midst of these difficult times and I would encourage you to really dig in, to give it lots of thought and prayer as to HOW God is working for the good in your life. We are called to be people of Good News and surely there is still lots of good news in the world right now. There are tremendous acts of love and sacrifice all around us. We’ve been given a great gift of spending more time with family. We’ve been given the opportunity to take deeper ownership over our personal spiritual growth and formation. These are blessings that I hope you can see.
I’ve heard from so many of you over the last few weeks and it is obvious that many of you are well-formed, strong Christian people. Many have shared stories with me about how this time has actually served to deepen their spirituality, to make them keenly aware of God’s presence with them. So even in the midst of great difficulty we know that God is working this time for the good for those who love Him. If you can’t see that today, I would ask you to develop a prayer routine, asking God to show you where He is acting in your life.
GAFCON Daily Devotional
I would strongly encourage you to spend time each day with some type of devotional material. There are apps, websites, emails, etc. that can come to you every day from Christian leaders, which will enrich your spiritual life.
I’d like to recommend this one to you for the month of July. Bishop Michael Nazir Ali, one of the most distinguished and brilliant Anglican bishops alive today, the retired Bishop of Rochester in England, is publishing a daily devotional for the month of July. I’ve met Bishop Nazir Ali and heard him speak and I can confidently say, without having read any of these devotional materials yet, that you will learn a lot, if you engage with these devotions.
The conference I attended in Jerusalem in June of 2019 was called GAFCON and it's really more than a conference. It's a movement throughout the Anglican world that seeks to more deeply center the Anglican Communion around the authority of Holy Scripture. Bishop Nazir Ali spoke brilliantly at the conference and has distinguished himself as an important scholarly leader of the movement. I highly commend his work to you. I signed up to receive the daily email and I hope you will too.
A New Curate
You will have seen the note that Deacon Matthew Rogers is joining our Parish staff this week. Deacon Matthew is a wonderful guy and I am confident you will welcome him and support him as he begins his ministry, as you’ve done for so many other clergy. I’ve known him since he was a little boy. I was a youth minister at a church in Dallas, St. Francis, during my final year of college, and Deacon Matthew was a little boy in the parish. He has numerous St. Laurence connections already. One fun connection is that he actually went on one of our youth mission trips when he was a teenager! Our Youth Minister, Katie LaPenna, tells me that she can't believe that one of the youth she led on a mission trip many years ago, now becomes our Curate. But isn’t that a beautiful thing? It’s exactly the type of thing we hope our youth program is doing: helping to lay the foundation for a lifetime of serving God. Deacon Matthew has already been assigned to work with Megan Mecca and Cherie Bennett in our children’s programs. He’ll get more assignments over the next few weeks. Look for the new collared guy in Church (or online) and welcome him when you see him.
With the 4th of July approaching, we stop this weekend to give thanks to God for our country. While there is much that divides us in 21st century America, I think we can all agree that we love our country and the manifold blessings that come with life in the United States. I hope it's a wonderful and safe weekend for you. God bless America!
Feel free to reach out to me anytime. Faithfully,
Fr. John Jordan