Tuesday May 18, 3rd Tuesday of Paschaltide in Myrrhbearers’ Week
Christ is Risen!
Dear Family in Christ,
Let us all rejoice at the extremely good news released just days ago that the excess death rate has not only been falling since January, but is now BELOW (!) even the normal PRE-PANDEMIC levels (2015-2019), and has been since the end of March! This is glorious news! It is natural that they wanted some time to pass before announcing it since they wanted to make sure that there wasn’t an uptick.
This has resulted in the CDC completely eliminating its mask policy for the vaccinated, and major stores, offices and restaurants revising their policy to be mask-optional, and doing away with physical distancing restrictions. Some Orthodox jurisdictions did the same over the past several days.
I would like to encourage you to listen to my sermon from Sunday if you did not hear it, on how we were baptized and chrismated to be God’s reason-endowed flock, with our behavior not governed by fear and passions, but by the Lord’s grace with the reason with which He endowed us. This is especially important during this time. You can find it both on facebook and youtube (A Reason-Endowed Flock - YouTube), and on the same protectiondover channel on youtube you can find the classes we have done and sermons.
Due to the announcement of the CDC on Friday, the Parish Council met face to face Sunday following Liturgy to discuss this one issue (we will still meet Tuesday via zoom on the other issues). The discussion had the helpful input of our resident pharmacist, our nurses, as well as our food service and safety person. Our healthcare workers in particular brought up the recent findings that masks can cause serious health problems. It is important for people to understand that we have not only dropped below epidemic mortality rates but even below the normal excess mortality rate that existed before Covid!
In light of the CDC announcement, the fact that we have been below the pre-pandemic excess mortality rate for nearly two months, and the reality that most every adult who wants to be vaccinated has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, and in accordance with the laws of the state of Florida, the council has decided that Holy Protection Orthodox Church is changing its mask policy as of Sunday May 30, 2021. While emphasizing that anyone who wants to continue to wear a mask is certainly welcomed to do so, the Parish Council decided that henceforth there are no mask restrictions, each person being encouraged to discuss with their physician what is best for them. Here we practice love, compassion and understanding. One who decides to wear a mask is not “stupid,” and one who does not is not “uncaring.” We as Christians are to be always on guard so that we do not engage in watching things that influence us toward suspicion of our brethren.
The church will continue to be well-ventilated and doors propped open. The pews are already at the distanced three feet, and chairs often more than that.
There will continue to be sanitizer at the doors, but washing hands regularly is of utmost benefit.
If you want to sit separately from others on a given Sunday or more distanced, up front is your best bet to find a seat, or in the back. The chairs easily disconnect from one another and you can rearrange them. If you would like assistance to find a seat, the ushers (Bob and Tom) will gladly assist you and help you find a seat and help you re-arrange chairs if need be. In general they will try their best to accommodate “personal space” in any case. For those who are high risk and are unable to be vaccinated, please let one of us know and we will reserve more distanced seating in the front part of the Church for you.
The council no longer needs to “take roll.”
It has always been a solid practice that people be careful not to bring contagious illnesses to church. Please stay home if you have flu-like symptoms, or open sores, etc. Let Fr. Harry know so that he can pray for you. Please rest up and see a physician until you are back feeling well again. If it a prolonged illness, I can bring the Church to you (the sacraments), please let me know.
Pew Books are going back in the pews. You don’t have to have a copy and bring them to church then back home every week. We will still provide some copies for those who want to do this, however, in the narthex.
We will maintain the regular midweek cleaning practices of the Church, which will include wiping down pews and such, but will not keep the extra Sunday cleaning following Liturgy (during COVID the church was cleaned, sometimes redundantly, twice in one week, which was not redundant through Lent and Holy Week and Bright Week; but once in the midweek is enough throughout most of the year).
Please be aware that there is a mental health epidemic right now. The Assembly of Bishops has started a task force for this purpose. There is no stigma in the church with mental illness, just like there is none with any bodily injury or illness. Recently, there has been a study that people have actually become addicted to fear, which is similar to the studies about social media two years ago that found that many people had become addicted to outrage. Please realize that we cannot expect others to irrationally act in order to maintain our particular neuroses—that is not good for anyone, and that is what largely as a culture we have been doing. If you have fear issues or anger issues or control issues, wanting to control the actions of everyone around you, it may be helpful to find a good therapist and sit down for a few sessions (many places are offering free services right now), and others whose links can be found on assemblyofbishops.us. We all need help sometimes and should not refrain from getting it when we need it.
There is so much work already done behind the scenes all through the week by the same small group of people who already do a lot, who are either on the parish council or married to a parish council member. The parish council has decided that it will no longer be involved in providing things for fellowship hour (i.e. coffee hour), nor will it be involved in trying to get and schedule volunteers. It is not the council’s job and they do so many things beyond their duty already. The rest of the parish needs to step up on this front. It is the responsibility of the parish as a whole to organize and do coffee hour if it wants it, and not lay the burden on the same few people over and over again who already do a lot throughout the week in other arenas for the church. This requires people on their own talking with fellow parishioners, forming teams on their own, communicating with others to organize and prepare, volunteering by spending hours buying the coffee, re-ordering cups, plates, etc. etc. “Everyone wants it but no one wants to do it.” So on a Sunday where no one steps up to do it, the hall will still be open for fellowship, but if no one wants to make the coffee, there will be no coffee. Our parish is one where everyone needs to have skin in the game, and not expect for everyone else to do everything. It is not fair and it is not us.
We ask everyone in the social hall to please clean up after themselves, throw away their trash, wipe off their tables, have their children clean up after themselves, and help them with that, and please turn the lock on the door on the way out if you are the last one out. Thank you.
If you have any questions, please contact one of the parish council members.
Yours in the Risen Lord,