What We Need in the Wilderness:
Weekly Flame for Thursday, March 26, 2020
From Our Rector
Earlier this week, the four of us sat at our dinner table, talking about COVID-19. We don’t always discuss it, in part because G and B are only ten and seven, but it’s always there. After all, the disease is the reason the four of us are home right now, grateful to be healthy and mindful that all of us are seeking to “flatten the curve.” As cases in New York have skyrocketed this week, our need to continue sheltering in place here in San Francisco, the second densest city in the country after NYC, is becoming all the more important. At one point I found myself saying, “I just need you guys to know, this is a major historical event we’re living through right now. The world is changing right now in major ways, and it’s still unfolding.” With the news never on in our house, the truly historic dimensions of what is happening is not necessarily obvious to the kids. But, as Ed Yong, writing in the Atlantic, put it, “Like World War II or the 9/11 attacks, this pandemic has already imprinted itself upon the nation’s psyche.”
We talked about the massive economic impact of this pandemic. We talked about what we can do to support those who are being most affected. Even little things to support, for instance, small businesses—ordering local takeout, buying bagels from a new South San Francisco bakery, shopping at the small market in our town that has been such a help as the larger grocery stores have been inundated.
We’ve also talked about when all this might end. In this uncertain, historic context with both medical and economic reverberations, it’s understandable to simply want this to stop. How could we not? But the conclusion of this pandemic and its economic impact is not something that can quickly be engineered-- especially given the major mistakes that this country made early on, and the lack of key medical supplies. It may go on in waves for months, perhaps even popping back up over several years, as Ed Yong describes. And whatever “new normal” emerges on the other side of this, some aspects of our lives, our world, will be forever changed. There is much that we do not control and that we simply cannot know yet.
It strikes me as important in this time to sit with that not knowing, to hold it as intentionally and yet as lightly we can. This is part of our Lenten wilderness journey. The wilderness is the place that calls us to engage metanoia, that turning of mind and heart, taking on as much as we can the mind of God, as CDSP Professor Emeritus Bill Countryman has described. How might our perspective be enlarged by God in the midst of all that is unfolding?
This is where our perspective in this moment can be shaped by the patterns of pain in our midst. So much that is broken in the systems of our world is being exposed right now, is being felt in our own community. In response we are reaching out to listen and share with one another. We are launching our new COVID Connect survey effort that I described in yesterday’s Spark, connecting the parish through phone calls. We are also talking with and listening to one another at the Friday Food Pantry, which we are doing our best to keep open with extra social distancing precautions, so that people most impacted by the economic fallout of this pandemic can still receive food. Next week we will do this as well by doing Diamond Diners in a socially distant, take-out form, giving out soup, salad and bread at our main door from noon-1 PM.
In this moment, it seems to me, we as a community are being called to be attentive to connection. Our relationships are being sustained as we gather remotely, which we are doing on so many fronts now (please visit our website -- staidansf.org -- for a list of all our worship online/via-phone, an opportunity for every day of the week). That connection allows us to respond to one another and to our neighbors, to turn outward with one another, even as we remain inside.
Tomorrow during the Food Pantry, Faith in Action will be holding a brief virtual vigil (please see the description below). It will take place while we are preparing the bags for distribution at our Food Pantry. We will be calling for new action, new resources, to help those who are so devastatingly impacted in this moment, the unhoused community in our city. As part of that vigil, we’ll be singing a chant we’ve sung several times at St. Aidan’s: What We Need Is Here. In the midst of much that we do not and cannot know about this pandemic, we do know that here and now in this wilderness, God is with us, sustaining us, and calling us to help sustain others. Wherever you are, I invite you to tune in and to sing.
Remote Worship Continues
A reminder that 8 AM and 10 AM worship this Sunday will again accessible through the Zoom platform, not in person:
Phone: dial (669) 900-9128
Meeting ID: 246 191 325 followed by #
If you are joining the 10 AM service early, please be aware that the 8 AM folks will likely still be online, having (Creighton's!) Coffee Hour conversations. In fact, you can join them!
Holy Week & Easter
A reminder that last week Bishop Marc let us know (and reiterated today, in case the President's comments earlier this week confused anyone) that all in-person public gatherings in churches across the diocese (with the exception of food pantries) are to be put on pause until May 10th. This is to comply with rules announced by the governor regarding sheltering in place. This guidance means that Holy Week and Easter will be observed and celebrated remotely this year by all of us in the diocese, including at St. Aidan's. We know this is difficult news. Please rest assured that when we are able to gather in person again-- both at St. Aidan's and in our wider diocese -- we will have a major Easter celebration. The bishop's guidance also means that all groups who use our space need to move to remote access.
Worship Committee This Tuesday, 10:30 AM
This week the Worship Committee met remotely to work on Holy Week and Easter worship. We are meeting again on Tuesday, 10:30 AM, to continue the conversation. You are very welcome to join us! Please reach out to Cameron if you would like to participate: .
Calling for Garden Photos!
Dear everyone, you may know that I write a garden blog - https://www.staidansgarden.org/ Since we’ve been sheltering in place, I’ve been posting photos from my roof garden and backyard garden. But I’ll run out of photos! Do you have photos from your garden that I could add to the blog? Just email them to me and I’ll post them. At this time, I’m finding reminders of the beauty of creation to be important and poignant.
With love, Deacon Margaret (email@example.com)
Faith in Action – Calls to Seniors
Faith in Action is launching a campaign to speak with 2000 seniors by phone over the next four weeks, to check in on their welfare, hear about their experiences, dream with them about how our city could support everyone to live with dignity, and invite them to join our movement to reclaim the soul of San Francisco. (We will also remind them to be counted in the Census!)
This campaign was in the works before the coronavirus crisis, but now it is even more urgent, as seniors find themselves isolated from physical contact with their beloved friends, communities, congregations, and neighborhood centers. Seniors are already one of the most vulnerable populations in San Francisco due to the housing crisis. Many low-income and middle-income elders are working well into their 70s just to pay the rent and have money for food. Now, the coronavirus crisis represents a full-on assault on these seniors-- they are most likely to get seriously ill or die, their part-time jobs are going away as social gatherings cease, and they are isolated in their homes to avoid getting sick.
To make this campaign work, Faith in Action needs your help! They are building teams of 3-5 people who can commit to making phone calls to seniors. They will train and support us through video/phone conferencing. Together, we can reach out to 2000 seniors by the beginning of April and let them know that they are an important part of our community, and have a role to play in building power for change.
If you want to join a team with others from St. Aidan’s to make these calls in District 8, contact Barbara at or 415.902.4142.
Episcopal Impact Fund Announces Rapid Response Fund
Episcopal Impact Fund, the outreach arm of the Diocese of California, is responding to the current crisis by making emergency funding available. Every church in the Diocese, including St. Aidan's, will receive $1000 in discretionary funding to be used as quickly as possible to help individuals and programs meet basic needs.
Episcopal Impact Fund has created a Rapid Response Fund for available for church and community programs to help them meet the current need. To learn more about Episcopal Impact Fund and its work, visit episcopalimpact.org.
Thank you to Episcopal Impact Fund for its support!
Contributions - now online as well as via snail mail!
In this time of sheltering in place, there is a significant economic impact on all of us in a variety of ways. To enable us to continue doing what we do as a congregation, supporting one another and our neighbors, we particularly appreciate your continued financial support, as you are able. We are checking our mail and making deposits. We also now have a donate button on our website: . Thank you so much for your support.
Lent Adult Formation Series: The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann (1978, 2018).
Join us online to learn more about what “the prophetic imagination” is and how we as a community can engage it. 6pm communion with 7-8pm supper and focused discussion. Wednesday evenings for the remainder of Lent: April 2. Join us on Zoom for worship at 6 PM, followed by discussion:
Online address: https://zoom.us/j/955782882
Phone: dial (669) 900-9128 US (a San Jose based number)
Meeting ID: 955 782 882 #
Wrestling with Scripture: Now Remote/Online Only
It was this monthly Bible, inspired by Don Casella to have remote as well as an in-person access, that first led us to acquire a Zoom account back in January. Who knew our facility with Zoom would become so important so soon! Our next meeting will be online/phone on Tuesday, April 7th. It will focus on the Passion Narratives, and will be led by Cameron. Many thanks to Patrick Hall for leading our discussion of the story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well in early March month. Join us via Zoom or phone
Online address: https://zoom.us/j/570962782
Phone: dial (669) 900-9128 (a San Jose based humber)
Meeting ID: 570 962 782 followed by #
New Jim Crow Anti-Racism Book Group: Zoom Meeting
Our next meeting is March 29, 4-6 pm via Zoom. We’re reading Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. All are welcome!
Online address: https://stanford.zoom.us/j/149550294
Phone: dial (650) 724-9799
Meeting ID: 149 550 294 #
Contemplative Prayer Is Back: Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays 9-10am
To provide some sort of worship experience every day of the week while we are still sheltering in place, we are re-starting Contemplative Prayer via Zoom, adding an extra day, Saturday. Contemplative prayer is silent with the beginning and ending marked by a bell. You can practice meditation, silent prayer, journal, or otherwise enjoy the collective quiet. Thank you to Susan Spencer for offering to anchor this practice once again, especially the Saturday, during this time.
Phone: dial (669) 900-9128 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 899 374 551 #
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