Many are wondering when we can start worshipping together again in the sanctuary, or when we can invite people to register to attend in small groups. The answer is – when Austin/Travis County reach Stage 2 as indicated by the “Key Indicators for Staging.” We are currently in Stage 3 (Yellow), with the 7 day moving average for new hospital admissions at 21. When that number drops below 10, we will enter Stage 2 (Blue). The number dropped as low as 12 several times in September and October, but the last time it was 10 or below was May 31st. Here is a link to a graphic that shows this Key Indicator every day since the beginning of the pandemic restrictions: https://austin.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/0ad7fa50ba504e73be9945ec2a7841cb.
That being said, it is so important that we gather in whatever ways are possible in these days – to worship, to pray, to practice kindness and hospitality toward one another, and to focus on the two most important things – loving God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. To that end, I want to share with you two special worship opportunities coming this Sunday, November 1st.
TWO Special Worship Opportunities
This Sunday, November 1st, is All Saints Day and the first Sunday of the month. Our worship this Sunday will take place in two parts – one online and one in person.
The regular online worship service will be available to view in the normal ways – through our website or our Facebook page, so anyone who wishes to worship virtually from home can do that. The broadcast will be available online at 11:00 a.m., and then will remain available indefinitely to be watched whenever it is convenient for you.
In addition, we will also have an opportunity to gather in the church parking lot for a time of prayers in remembrance and in thanksgiving for the lives of those who have died in this year of so much grief and sorrow. We will pray and remember and share communion – with the individually-sealed communion elements, of course! You are invited to arrive in the church parking lot just before 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. There will be 20 folding chairs set up in the tree-shaded area in the middle of the parking lot. You are invited to mask up and find a seat or stand on the edges of the space. Our prayer and communion service will last approximately 20 minutes. Then you are welcome to say hello to friends (staying appropriately masked and distanced) prior to departing for home. When you get home, take time to watch the recorded part of the service online.
Later in the day, at 5:00 p.m., the Austin Area clergy of Mission Presbytery will be offering an online Prayer Vigil for our Nation, ahead of Election Day. This will be a non-partisan service of prayer and worship. Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer, of Austin Seminary, will be preaching. You can participate through the Mission Presbytery website or Facebook page (click here).
I hope you will take advantage of these offerings as ways to practice loving God and neighbor. I pray that they will lift you up and hold you fast in God’s peace and love in the days ahead.