Saturday, May 9, 2020

From Mother Vicki

Jesus said, "And you know the way to the place I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?"  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."   John 14:4-6a NRSV

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! This Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, we are also celebrating our mothers.  This will be a very different celebration than most years--no huge family gatherings and meals in restaurants.  We are enterprising people, however, and a way will be found, whether it's a smaller family gathering of people already living together in one house or apartment, or a celebration happening through Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, by driving past a hospital, nursing home or rehab facility with banners and balloons, by mailing letters, gifts and cards, or simply picking up the phone and calling, we will figure out a way to honor our mothers.  And for some of us, it will be sending up a prayer to heaven on their behalf.

Jesus was so clear about being the way, the truth and the life.  His life of humility and love changed the world forever.  He was mocked by the powerful elite, but his sacrifice of love resulting in his Resurrection from the dead was more powerful than any army or regime.  Many of our mothers understood that, and showed us the way.  I remember my grandmother singing, "Abide with me, fast falls the eventide" (Hymn 662) at my bedside with her low, throaty voice, and my mother singing "Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light" (Hymn 91) and insisting that the rest of us sing the alto, tenor and bass parts with her clear soprano voice leading the way.  Passing down the faith of the church often happens through the matriarchs, the beautiful souls whose devout beliefs inspire not only their own children, but everyone they know.

Our Diocesan Bishop, The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche, has sent out a letter that we have attached below, specifying the new date for reopening our churches due to the COVID-19 Pandemic as July 1st.  This decision was made in conjunction with the Diocese of Long Island and is based on the best research.  This is a bit sad for all of us.  I think we all long to be back worshipping in our beautiful building.  However, this is a very wise decision made with care and concern to keep all of us safe.   

That said, you may noticed if you have driven by the church lately, that the scaffolding is down, and the outside southern clerestory windows and frames have been totally restored and refinished.  It is beautiful work, lovingly and painstakingly done by Yaroslav and Andre Savin from Classical Stained Glass Inc.  It took longer than was expected because the wood framing dating from 1872 was in far worse condition than anyone thought.   We are now in the process of having our beautiful Nativity Window restored after the damage done to one of the stained glass panels from the horrendous rainstorm and subsequent ceiling leak a year ago.  If you remember, it began during Helen Hutchinson's wake.  Everyone laughed when I said that I knew that she was one of the pillars of the church, but I hadn't realized that she was literally holding up the roof!  Helen was so important to our congregation, a real matriarch, and a Sunday School teacher mothering many of our dear children over the years. We miss her!

We are also attaching a beautiful obituary written by Bishop Dietsche honoring The Rev. Dr. Rayner Wilson Hesse, Jr. ("Rusty") who was a curate here following his ordination to the priesthood in 1982.  If you knew him and wish to send condolences to his partner Anthony Chiffolo, that information is included below.  May Rusty+, beloved by so many, rest in God's peace.

We are also mourning the sudden deaths this week of Al DeFeo's uncle James O'Neill who grew up in Saint John's Church, and Peter Walsh's younger brother Robert Walsh who lived in New Jersey and died of a cerebral hemorrhage.  Prayers for Al, and for Peter and Carol and Peter II, all of whom are feeling the weight of so many losses coming so close together.  May the souls of the departed rest in God's peace.

We rejoice that some people in our parish who have had COVID-19 are recovering!  Thanks be to God that Naomi Henderson and Chris Craft are getting better!  We also rejoice that Carol Shoemaker who lives in Regency Extended Care has recovered.  Others we have been praying for who are improving are Emanuel and Frank Tabone and Mercedes Chavez.  Mercedes wanted me to pass along her gratitude for everyone praying for her husband Raul, who is slowly recovering from a very serious case of the virus.  And Ralph Tremonte is still in the ICU on a ventilator at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow.  They are taking very good care of him.  I just found out that he had had a stroke before he was hospitalized for COVID-19, so please continue to hold him in your prayers.

Please join us on Sunday for our worship service, which will be sent out by email at 7:15 a.m. on Sunday, May 10th. If you know of someone who would like to be on our email list, they can sign up at yonkerschurch.org (scroll down and at the bottom of the lighter green column on the right side, click on "Sign up for our Email List").  It's easy!

We are blessed to have such a gifted singer who is also our organist.  Thanks to Jason for singing and accompanying himself this Sunday in Hymn 487, "Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life" and Hymn 195 "Jesus Lives! thy terrors now no longer, death, appall us." Thanks to Karen Lorence who will read about the martyrdom of Stephen from The Acts of the Apostles 7:55-60 and verses from Psalm 31 (with Deane Prouty!), and Vera Johnson, who will read about being God's own people in 1 Peter 2:2-10.  And please join us for our Zoom coffee hour, which starts at 11:30 a.m. and is great fun!  Just to see your faces, makes us all really happy!  You can always call in and hear our voices even if you can't get Zoom. The link is below.  Put a note on your refrigerator to remind yourself.  If you haven't joined us yet, you will be surprised at how wonderful that brief time with each other is.  And we can wish all of the Moms Happy Mother's Day together!!!!

Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry talks about the Way of Love and seven practices for Jesus-Centered Life: learn (reflect on scripture daily), pray (dwell intentionally with God each day), worship (gather in community to thank, praise and dwell with God), bless (share faith and unselfishly give and serve), go (cross boundaries, listen deeply and live like Jesus), rest (receive the gift of God's grace, peace and restoration) and turn (pause, listen and choose to follow Jesus).  You can read more about this at episcopalchurch.org.  The "rest" part is really important right now.  In the midst of so much fearful and anxiety producing news, it is important to remember to take good care of yourselves.  Take time off from the news.  Sit and breathe deeply, reflect on people you love and how they have blessed your lives, and don't forget to thank your mother!

Easter blessings, joy and much love,
The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota
mothervsirota@gmail.com; cell phone 443 257 9963

Suspension of Public Worship Extended to July 1
The Rt. Rev. Andrew ML Dietsche, Bishop of New York, today announced the continued suspension of public worship in the Diocese of New York until July 1, 2020.

In an email sent this morning to the clergy of the diocese, he wrote as follows:

"In March, when I suspended public worship in the Diocese of New York until May 17, I followed the CDC guidelines which asked that we avoid public gatherings for eight weeks. But we are now going into May, and many of you have asked when we might look to the re-opening of our churches. It is clear to us that we will still be through the month of May, in an active, though perhaps waning pandemic, and we know that the period of suspension of public worship must be extended. We three bishops in the Diocese of New York are in conversation with the bishops in the Diocese of Long Island, so that the two dioceses which overlap New York City and the surrounding area may coordinate our decisions.

"We have come to the conclusion that a new target for re-opening our churches for worship can be no sooner than the end of June. Therefore, with this letter, I am directing that public worship in the Diocese of New York continue in suspension until July 1. We know that whenever we resume public worship we will do so while the epidemic of COVID-19 continues around us, but at the threshold of May the state of New York is still seeing four to six thousand new cases every day, and the bulk of those cases are clustered in the dioceses of New York and Long Island. We know that the beginning of a return to ordinary life will bring a new surge in cases of the virus, and we must do everything we can not to contribute to that, and everything we can to keep our people safe.

"This decision is subject to the changes which may come in an evolving story, and all decisions will be made in light of the guidelines and directions we receive from public health officials and the Governor of New York.

"During May and June, we will be studying ways in which we can come back together for worship in July under the limitations which will certainly still be placed on public gatherings, including the use of masks and distancing. We are anticipating a period during which we will need to hold more services with fewer people in attendance, both at church and in homes. Bishop Allen will be particularly involved in the development of models of adaptive ministry. We are anticipating that until there are effective therapies to treat COVID-19, and a vaccine, we will need to continue our congregational lives under modified conditions. Well before we begin to resume public worship, I will write to you again with directions for a phased return to public worship and the re-opening of our churches."

No comments: