After watching the numbers for new COVID 19 cases in Bell County ramp right up, in early April, I was exceedingly hopeful since then. Since the middle of April, Bell County has seen a steady decrease in the number of new cases. And when our numbers dropped to one or two a day, for 3 days running, I was exceedingly optimistic. Might it be that Bell County would be unlike most of the other counties in Texas? Even our Bishop held us up as perhaps the best reporting numbers of our entire diocese.
And then, last week, the number of new cases spike right back up again. From one or two a day, we ran several days back in the eight, six a day range. Now the good news is that this week, we have dropped back down again, running three a day for a couple of days now.
And let us not forget that these are not just numbers on a report. Everyone is a person, with family, friends, a life worth living. And each one also represents redoubled efforts of Doctors, Nurses, Hospital Administrators, Janitors, and countless other supporting staff. Every day our community Heros are working to stem the spread, to treat the fallen, to perhaps literally put their lives on the line, and treat these folks.
So, while I am extremely disappointed that our time apart has been extended, and the safety measures we are following are likewise being extended, I am also incredibly thankful for the work of our “Front line workers.” And incredibly concerned for those who have contracted the virus. And for those who, while sheltering in place, are frightful, lonely, discouraged, wondering.
And as the days pass by, and our Sunday services are continuing to be live streamed, as our noonday prayer services are likewise (facebook.com/stfrancistemletx And remember, no Facebook account is necessary to access this page. ), while the office is only handling essential business, while each of us wonders what life will be like when we start back up, as each of these things only add to the sense of disappointment in the current situation: let us also remember what the work of the church is for.
While we have been in these enforced circumstances, we have had, at St. Francis, a wedding and a baptism. We have another wedding coming up on June 6th (Philip Friedman and Linda Bellamy). We have used technology to join together for worship services. But even more than that, we have encouraged one another in difficulty and stress. We have seen our school provide a top notch educational program for over 100 students. We have prayed for one another. We have worked together to offer care and support as possible.
Or remembering what former Archbishop Rowan Williams said of:
what the friendship and saving work of Jesus is for; it is to bring us into the life that he lives and the prayer he prays. If that means, as it clearly does, that Jesus will not always be a distinct and comforting presence before our eyes, this is not a mark of spiritual failure; we are being taken gradually into the deep mysteriousness of his praying to the Father, a mysteriousness that we can only experience for a lot of the time as darkness and pathless desert. And when we find the hiddenness removed for some instant, it is not to reassure us that we have made a success of things, but to give us a hint of the wealth of Christ’s life in us – a kind of momentary overhearing of the Word returning in power to the Father.
NEW WEB SITE
St. Francis is moving our online presence, in our web site and email. The new web site is now up and running, even if there are still a few things to finish up. The address is nearly the same as the old web site, except that it removes the TX from the end. So the new web site is:
Please add this to your Bookmarked web pages.
Memorial Day Closings and Get Together.
Monday, the 25th of May is Memorial day. In honor of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country, we encourage folks to celebrate as possible. We at St. Francis will be doing two things.
First, we will be closing the office. Banks, many businesses, and yes, the church business, too. If you need to get ahold of us in an emergency, please know that you can always contact Fr. David or Deacon Tamara directly.
Then, if you feel that you need an opportunity to get out of the house, if you are missing the fellowship that church provides, St. Francis is sponsoring a parking lot get together on Monday, Memorial Day, May 25th, at 7 pm. Bring a lawn chair, a drink, something to nibble on. It’s not a picnic, and certainly not a usual parish dinner. But our parking lot is surely big enough to gather and maintain social distancing. We will try to just do a bit of reconvening for those who are able, and who wish to begin to restring our fellowship.
From Dame Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic and anchorite (someone who lives alone, not leaving her abode; but allows others to come visit from time to time):God did not say: You will not be troubled, you will not be belaboured, you will not be disquieted; but he said: You will not be overcome. God wants us to pay attention to these words, and always to be strong in faithful trust, in well-being and in woe, for he loves us and delights in us, and so he wishes us to love him and delight in him and trust greatly in him, and all will be well.
And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.