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Trinity Church to Worship from Home Through April 29

March 22, 2020

Dear Trinity Church and friends,

 

Before I started seminary in Austin, I worked as the Young Adult Minister at Saint David’s Episcopal Church in the center of the Texas capital’s downtown. The Rector of that large, urban parish was a wonderful companion and mentor to me. More than any specific counsel I can recount now twenty years later, Jim offered me his time – often supplemented by delicious breakfast tacos and salsa.

 

Given the many early mornings we spent together, I remember very well his office, and, with special fondness, I remember the well-worn, leather Communion kit he kept on a low bookshelf near the pair of wingback chairs where we often met. A Communion kit includes travel-size vessels for celebrating the Eucharist away from a church altar and for bringing the bread and wine blessed at a congregation’s table to those who are at home. I asked Jim about his kit, and he proudly shared its origin story, how it came to him from a World War I Chaplain. Its cracking leather and dented chalice spoke to me of Love’s power, of God’s unrelenting presence wherever and whenever God’s people gathered. Its symbol has stayed with me.

 

To my great delight, my in-laws gave me a beautiful Communion kit when I was ordained. A wooden box with silver vessels and glass vials, it now shows the loving wear of the last two decades. In times thick and thin, the kit has accompanied the parishes I have served, from their bayou homes of North and South Louisiana, including the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, where buses dropped 30,000 New Orleanians who had been washed out of their homes when the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina. The kit has travelled with me to specialty hospitals from Dallas to Pittsburgh, as families readied for life-risking and life-changing surgeries for their children. Most recently, the kit has travelled with me from Austin to Boston, to parishioner homes where, together, we have celebrated births, prayed over illnesses, and grieved deaths.

 

Sharing Communion in another’s home remains among my favorite acts of ministry. Theologically, I love the convincing instruction implicit in the action: that we encounter God where we “live and move and have our being,” and not only in the “official” space of our church building. That is, the kit and I never bring God into people’s homes! Rather, we meet the God who – unrelentingly and lovingly – is already there, and that God makes an altar wherever we share the sacraments, whether at a living-room chair, a piano bench, or a bedside table.

 

God continues making new altars among us in these strange days, wherever and however God’s people come together as the Body of Christ.

 

Worshiping from home through Sunday, April 29

As some may have read in this week’s Pastoral Message from our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry encouraged congregations to halt on-campus worship through at least Easter Sunday. While so many in our community have been hoping beyond hope that our Holy Week might be preserved, we also realize that the best way our congregation can express our Trinity Church and Christian values is by being good citizens – the best Bostonians and Eastern Mass neighbors that we can be. Therefore, we are now committing to remote worship through at least Sunday, April 29. This longer horizon allows for our more effective planning, and, we pray, best serves and supports our broader community’s wellness. All of us have an obligation to slow the spread of this virus, and we at Trinity Church are working faithfully to meet that higher responsibility.

 

Worship this Sunday, March 22

Though we grieved being physically separated from one another and our beautiful worship home, I am proud of our first online worship experience last Sunday and I am grateful to everyone who worked so faithfully to make it happen. While the technical glitches at launch caused consternation, take heart that it was something wonderful that crashed our website – 1,847 individual devices attempting to access the service at 11:00a! Showing great determination, those individual users made 4,596 attempts to load the page. Eventually, the site settled down and could accommodate the crowd, and we learned a great deal from the experience.

 

Continuing our learning process, this week we will try a different format, one that will bring liturgical leaders together from their homes, rather than from Copley Square. Paige will preside from Wellesley and Patrick will preach from Belmont; Richard will play from Dorchester and Colin will play from Winthrop; all among the many of us who will participate from across Greater Boston. As we invited last week, so we invite again, that we Trinitarians would put the “virtue” back in “virtual” and be gracious with our liturgical leaders and this technology as we accustom to its remarkable possibilities and its inevitable limitations.

 

This Sunday’s service will begin at 10:55 with an organ prelude that will run until about 11:05. We hope this longer onramp will stagger the arrival of the faithful and help us prevent another crash. Bolstering these hopes, we have also increased our site capacity.

 

Access to worship this Sunday will be the same as last. Please plan to visit either our website at trinitychurchboston.org/live-worship, or our Facebook page for the Facebook Live stream. The worship booklet – newly formatted for this digital environment, while remaining printable – is available now and may be found on our publications page.

 

Looking Ahead

Let us approach these new worship experiences with a “home Communion” spirit, trusting in the unrelenting presence and love of our God. In coming weeks, we hope to offer our first virtual Eucharist – picture yourself at your home table with bread and drink, and I at mine on the other side of the screen, God with us all – as well as exploring strategies to incorporate both on-site worship on Copley Square, and real-time participation from homes. In all that we are undertaking, we remain committed to Being Trinity Church, together, and I look forward to joining my prayers with yours.

 

As we have done for these last weeks, then, let us continue praying God’s presence and healing mercy for those who are sick and those who are afraid; praying God’s courage and care for doctors and nurses, and for medical staff and scientists; and praying God’s wisdom and grace for our civic leaders and for us at Trinity Church – that we would find peace and strength in the knowledge of God’s Spirit with us, always. In the name of our loving God in Christ,

Amen.

 

Take care and be well,

 

The Rev. Morgan S. Allen

Rector