Dry Desert
He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna... in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:3

This weekend, we start an online Inquirers Class series. All are welcome to join!


We’ll meet four weeks in a row on Zoom, 7pm–8:30pm on Sunday evenings. Each week will focus on one topic, with a short presentation from me and then some time for questions and discussion:


March 13: Baptism

March 20: Eucharist

March 27: The Episcopal Church

April 3: The Anglican Communion


Want to join? Register here for the Zoom link.


Part of the hope is that these classes could prepare adults for confirmation, reception, or reaffirmation of baptismal vows. For Easter Vigil, we will go to Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, where Bishop Ian Douglas will offer those three rites.


Are you considering confirmation or something like it? Here’s how to tell which of these rites might apply to you. Please email me if you’d like more information!


Confirmation


If you’ve been baptized in any Christian church (including the Episcopal Church) but were never confirmed, you might want to seek confirmation. Read more about confirmation here.


According to the Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, confirmation is:


Those who were baptized at an early age … are expected to make a mature public affirmation of their faith, recommit themselves to the responsibilities of their baptism, and receive laying on of hands by a bishop (BCP, p. 412).


Reception


If you’ve been baptized and confirmed in another Christian church but not received into the Episcopal Church, you might want to seek reception. Read more about reception here.


The Episcopal Dictionary of the Church says the following of reception:


Baptized persons who have been members of another Christian fellowship and who wish to be affiliated with the Episcopal Church may make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism in the presence of a bishop.


Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows


If you’ve already been confirmed or received in the Episcopal Church but want to make a public reaffirmation of your faith, with the laying on of hands by a bishop, you might want to seek the reaffirmation rite. People sometimes seek this when they’re going through a hard time or a major life transition: marriage or divorce, graduation from college, etc. Read more about reaffirmation here.


The Episcopal Dictionary of the Church explains of reaffirmation:


These might be persons returning to the church after a period of unbelief or those who have entered a new level of spiritual life. The BCP does not specify who these persons are, and a variety of interpretation exists.

This is a post to invite you to two completely unrelated things.


1. A Holy Lent


This week, we began the celebration of Lent. We wore ashes to remind us of our mortality. We switched our decorations from green to purple and removed the flowers from the sanctuary. Our children will “bury the All*luias” before our 10:15am service begins this morning, so that we remember not to use that word until Easter!


So, consider this one more invitation to observe Lent this year.


From the liturgy we prayed on Ash Wednesday this past week:

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

Remember that a Lenten practice can be about putting something down (like social media, complaining, or alcohol), but it can also be about taking something up (like a practice of walking every day, or starting a gratitude journal). Last year, I wrote a post with four suggestions for spiritual “new year’s resolutions,” which are applicable to Lent, as well.

A purple frontal (embroidered cloth) hangs off the pulpit at St. Paul's.

How will you make Lent meaningful and holy for yourself this year?


2. Vestry Meetings


On an entirely different note: did you know that you’re welcome to attend our vestry meetings?


The vestry meets monthly to conduct the business of the parish. Join us the second Tuesday of each month at 7pm in the Parish Hall. If you’ve ever wondered what a “warden” is or what it is that the vestry actually does, here’s your chance to find out first-hand.


All are welcome to attend to listen. And, if you have a specific issue you’d like to raise, you can do so at the Visitors’ Forum, which happens at the beginning of each meeting. (Feel free to stay for the rest of the meeting, or leave after the forum is over.)


If possible, please let me know ahead of time if you plan to raise an issue at Visitor’s Forum. That way, I can make sure there’s enough time allotted for you.

In light of the recent changes announced by the CDC, some of you have asked me whether St. Paul’s will be changing our masking requirements for indoor worship.


The short answer is: no, there will be no change for now.


We will continue to require masks in the sanctuary at all times.


The CDC has announced that, in parts of the country where COVID-19 hospitalizations are low, masks can be optional. For some of us, that’s exciting and welcome news. For others, it’s disturbing and feels too soon.


Wherever you fall on that spectrum, I get it!


A child wears a light purple shirt, dark glasses, a tiny green sparkly hat, and a pink mask. She's stretching a green slinky in front of her.

And, masks are a small but powerful way we can continue to care for our neighbors.


As you know, children under 5 still cannot receive vaccinations for COVID-19. Thanks be to God, our St. Paul’s congregation is blessed with many children under 5 years old. For them, we will continue to wear masks for now.


Additionally, our St. Paul’s family is blessed with many people who live with immune compromise from all kinds of conditions—ones we know about and others that we don’t. Immuno-compromised people, even if fully vaccinated, are at higher risk for infection from COVID-19 and for worse outcomes if they do get infected. For them, we will continue to wear masks for now.


This is an ongoing conversation among the St. Paul’s leadership, and we welcome your thoughts. Please send me an email or talk to a vestry member at church.