February 2, 2021
Dear Heavenly Rest Family,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In recent weeks, Abilene’s rate of Coronavirus infection has begun to slowly, but steadily decline. Though local hospitals continue to be near capacity, they have not been overwhelmed. In the meantime, a number of Abilene residents, including several Heavenly Rest parishioners, have received vaccines, and Abilene has become a “hub” for vaccine distribution in Texas.
With these factors in mind, the Return Task Force has recommended that we resume indoor worship beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 17. Masks and physical distancing will continue to be required for all services. Worshippers should register for services at heavenlyrestabilene.org/registration. An updated Sunday schedule is listed below. If you are not feeling well or are not comfortable attending in person worship, please stay home. The 10:30 service will continue to be broadcast on Facebook Live and at heavenlyrestabilene.org/live.
This was not an easy call to make. While the public health circumstances are better than they were when we suspended indoor worship in November, the situation remains precarious. We continue to be aware of our responsibility to avoid putting stress on the health system. The risks of remaining closed, however, seem just as acute. These months of seeing each other on screens or catching fleeting glimpses of one another from great distances have been exhausting, even debilitating. In the end, our responsibility to nurture our common humanity persuaded us of the need to take this risk.
It is not lost on us that we are returning to indoor worship just in time for the season of Lent. There is a poetic symmetry to this: after all, our plans for Lent in 2020 were overshadowed, and eventually scuttled, by the novel Coronavirus. More significantly, however, Lent is a season of renewal: a time when we are called to reflect on what it means to be created in the image of God and how we might more fully honor that identity. Lent is an opportunity to renew our devotion to God, but also our commitment to one another. Our prayer is that the return to indoor, in-person worship will help us renew our trust in God’s faithfulness and empower us to be the community we are called to be.
As we continue to navigate this challenging time, please know how grateful I am for your flexibility and your faithfulness. I am excited to see many of you on Ash Wednesday, and I am looking forward to worshiping with the rest of you online. In the meantime, I urge you to continue praying for those affected by this disease. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. May God bless you and those you love.
The Reverend David F. Romanik
Heavenly Rest’s Sunday Schedule (beginning on February 21)
8:00 - Holy Eucharist Rite I (Nave)
9:00 - Morning Worship (Courtyard)
10:30 - Holy Eucharist Rite II (Nave)
This service will be livestreamed on the Heavenly Rest Facebook page and at heavenlyrestabilene.org/live
1:00 - Worship in Swahili (Nave)