The Bishops Share a Special Invitation for Holy Week
Welcome Happy Morning! Welcome the Easter Season! All are welcome to gather in the Name of Jesus.
“Dear People of God….”
Our Lenten season of fasting and penitence began with that same special salutation almost six weeks ago on Ash Wednesday. We heard the admonition of the prophet Joel to “call a solemn assembly” of the faithful to hear and experience the power of the Word of God. Now, Holy Week is upon us, and soon we will come with joy into the Easter Season. So now is the time to call again for an assembly of the people so that our tears of longing may be replaced with songs of joy. It is meet and right that for this Holy Week and this Easter Season, it will be especially dear for us to gather in solemn as well as celebratory assemblies to praise God.
You are our dear people. You are our dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Our hearts and spirits have been uplifted as we have returned to more and more of your churches for in-person worship celebrations of Eucharist, baptism, confirmation as well as just good old-fashioned Christ-centered fellowship. As most of our state is now in the “green” zone, we find more and more confidence to return to our most treasured Christian practices – gathering to pray in the Name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Over the course of Lent and guided by the collective wisdom of many, our diocese has been able to step back gently and thoughtfully from most pandemic protocols and go forward in mission and ministry, each according to our circumstances. With guidance from the Diocese, local churches and individual households are making decisions best suited to particular circumstances for worship, formation and fellowship events.
As your bishops, we now issue you a similar invitation to prepare yourselves in heart, mind, body and spirit for this most holy of liturgical movements – the transition from the Passion of Our Lord to his resurrection. We encourage you to worship in person wherever and whenever you determine it is safe to do so. While there are no limits to where God is present, there is nothing that completely replaces the palpable power of gathering in person for worship when possible and safe to do so.
There are certainly many who have very legitimate health reasons to continue to participate in worship through a digital platform. There are certainly times and circumstances where worshiping online is a practical necessity. We are grateful that technology now makes alternatives to in-person worship available. We believe, however, that being physically together for worship and fellowship builds the bonds of affection necessary for building the beloved community of Jesus. The convenience of at-home worship is not a substitute for participating in the Mission of God.
Dear people of God: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast. As best we can. As faithfully as we can.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman
Bishop, Diocese of North Carolina
The Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple
Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of North Carolina