Today, the Pope walked through the deserted streets of Rome. He walked down cobblestone roads usually bustling with people and with hands open to God he offered a prayer. He prayed with his whole heart for our world, for each country, for the people of Christ and for the end of the virus.
In the last few days, our reality in Alberta has shifted. We know now that this virus is moving in our community. We know now that kids will have to take a different approach to education, trips will have to be cancelled or cut short, people will need to spend more time in their homes and often much more alone than we are used to. What we know now is that our worship at Woodcliff will also have to look different in the coming weeks also.
Under the direction of Alberta Health, we have suspended in person Sunday worship services effective immediately. We have also taken the step to suspend regular gatherings of social groups and in person committee meetings. In addition, a few special events have been postponed or cancelled, including: the Fauré Requiem on March 20, Secret Pals, Regenerate Service, Drop In Centre Meal Service, Maundy Thursday Dinner and WOW's Tea with the Beavers. Our priority is keeping our community safe and cared for. This week's Friday Messenger will look different than normal too, in that it will bring you many at home worship opportunities. You are not forgotten in this time. You are important, loved and cared for as much as ever before. The church will not close - if you wish to visit the sanctuary for prayer or if you would like to talk to anyone, please call the office and make an appointment so you can have the space you need.
We continue to keep the facility clean and safe. Rental groups are being contacted and recommendations around the suspension of their activities are being communicated to them.
Most importantly what we want you to understand is that you are not alone. Though our worship experiences will look different and we may not meet face to face for awhile, we will reach out. We will be here for you and we strongly encourage you to reach out to us if there is any support we can provide in this time of uncertainty and fear.
Previous worship services are available here WUC Reflections for you to watch from the comfort of your home and we will reach out with more virtual worship experiences in the future. We need God's word in the world more than ever. We understand that there is a lot of fear right now, but know that the promises of God are true and God is bigger than any fear you may have. Right now, in this time of self isolation, we encourage you to set a routine for yourself, find time daily for prayer (and fresh air if you are able) and make time to be in community creatively. We know the virus is contagious, but so is compassion, courage and calm. May those three C's overpower your fears and anxieties in knowing what we can control.
We encourage you to light a candle and meditate with the following prayer: Holy God, healer of my soul. Today we face uncertainty and fear. I bring to you gratitude for healers and cleaners, supporters and prayerful followers. I bring to you, oh rock of my life, my worries. I ask you to give us strength and courage and safety. I ask you to give us the ability to reach out to one another in different ways to strengthen our connections and do what we can to support each other. Lend us your strength, lend us your hope. May your love for us help us put faith before fear and love and hope before despair. Amen