A Letter from the Rector - Friday, March 20, 2020
March 20, 2020, 12:00 AM

Dear People of St. Mark’s:

Peace to you from God our Father, and greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I wish to remind you: Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross. Therefore God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)

Gathering at the building located at 102 N. 9th Street in Haines City on Sunday mornings will cease for now and for several weeks to come. We will miss coming together as a community to share greetings, worship, pray, praise, and share in the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We will also miss the fellowship as we break bread and share conversations and goodwill with one another in Sanderson Hall.

However, we will gather (remotely) as the Body of Christ via weekly Sunday services streamed through You Tube. You are encouraged to tune in at 10:00 a.m. every Sunday morning to join in worship, but you can view it at any time. We will gather for Lenten Study on Wednesday evenings via teleconference. Know that we continue to think of ways that we might enhance this time together where we are. Help us think of ways to stay in community, as the body of Christ during this time.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed life as we know it. The world is changed with the shut-down of cities and the closure of businesses. We are practicing social distancing, thus putting an end, however temporary, to activities that mean so much for our well-being.

Try not to overdose on the news, take the precautions as directed, but try not to let the seeming hopelessness of the news overcome you. We are people of God, a God who created us in his own image out of love, not because he needed us but because he loves us.

We love, serve, and follow an awesome God, who can do more than we can ask or imagine. Know that God is in the midst of this situation. He has not forsaken us.

A few thoughts for when you feel anxious, lonely, or scared, when you feel discouraged or missing the normal way of life:

- Say a prayer

- Take deep breaths - breathing in the goodness of God, exhaling all that is not of God

- Call someone

- Sing a hymn

- Listen to music

- Read the bible or other books,

- Stay engaged and connected with others in other ways

- Think of the good and positive things that are emerging out of this calamity.

We are blessed!

Remember, also, that your offerings and gifts are needed now more than ever. Many business places are closing and have closed and many may not recover. Please help St. Mark’s remain viable for a long time to come.

It is a blessing to be your spiritual leader. Pray for me as I pray for you.

Benediction

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-22) And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be with you and yours now and always. Amen.

+The Rev. Canon Angela S. Ifill