Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
“Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted Life.” ~ Paschal Apolytikion
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
For the first time in our lives, we have experienced an extended “shelter-in-place”/ “stay at home” directive from our Government Authorities. Our Ecclesiastical Hierarchy has decisively and painstakingly taken measures in supplementing the directives set in place with modifications, of how we are to gather, for the care of the health and well-being of all the Faithful under their care. All this took place, unexpectently and rapidly as we were entering into the middle of Great Lent, continued as we journeyed through Holy Week, and is ongoing as we navigate through the Paschal Season. None of us anticipated the rapid spread of the COVID 19
disease to become the Pandemic it has come to be today. We did not realize that it would make the U.S. its epicenter with the most confirmed cases, world-wide. I must confess that
I was really unprepared for celebrating all of the services via Livestream at home and at the Church without all of you physically present with me. We had to figure out how to broadcast the services, trying to balance what would be the best worship experience possible for everyone. I would like to thank everyone who offered their expertise and feedback to help make it all happen! We went from Uber Conferencing for listening to the services, a Sunday with Facebook live streaming with audio and visuals, then to Zoom where we could listen and watch the services, then gather to greet each other at the conclusion of the services. During the services, when I would look out at the congregation, I saw an empty church (very strangely odd experience), but when I took a look to see who was in the Zoom Meeting and see who was present, virtually at the services, I felt a great sense of joy and connection seeing those of you on the computer and hearing your voices and seeing the expressions on your faces!
I’m sure a great deal of time and energy has been spent by each one of us in adjusting to live the so-called “new normal!” We have been stripped and deprived of many things that we normally enjoy doing, such as: gathering for entertainment, sporting events, graduations birthdays, social gatherings, dining out, seeing movies, etc. After all, we as humans are social beings, and we naturally have the need and inward desire for connectiveness with one another. In the long run, I believe that our “shelter-in-place,” and “stay at home” directives, plus our physical distancing thru May 31st, will be in best interest for all of us, in that we will likely return to normal sooner than later.
Amidst the challenges of everything we are going through, I have seen, on the other hand, innumerable blessings as well. We are able to have meaningful time with our loved ones/family and we are able to be mindful of those whom we are physically separated from us by reaching out to them with a phone call or by technological platforms where we can hear and even see them via our computers, telephones, and tv screens. We can go outside to breathe fresh air and to get out and exercise and take walks, jogs, etc. We also have the opportunities to connect with God in prayer, find time for stillness and quiet time, without excessive distractions and constant noise. Also, we can challenge ourselves to enumerate all the things we are grateful to God for. Gratitude brings us an inner sense joy that is satisfying and cannot be easily taken from us.
I pray for your continued well-being, safety and spiritual health during these times. As a parish and community, I feel that we can help each other remain whole, well-rounded and healthy by staying connected, in a meaningful way. With each of your God-given talents and skills, you can each contribute, in your own special way, your love and caring for one another. We need each other, especially now!
The ministries in our parish, I suggest, can use these challenging times to help each other continue to feel connected and meaningfully needed. We can use the modern technologies such as Zoom to creatively find ways to accomplish tasks together. Examples could be to have a virtual choir rehearsal for choir members. We can “screen share” the music and have the members sing with the director and section leaders while “muted” on the screen. Our chanters can do something similar in going over special hymns. Our Philoptochos can share outreach ideas and implement them in helping those in need. Our Sunday School can share activities and crafts, as they did on the Saturday of Lazarus. The list of ideas we can share is pretty limitless. However, I need each of us to step up to the plate and help make these happen. With all your help, we can get through these times, until we go back to normal.
With Love in Christ,