Message Update from Brian Hopper about Covid Stage 4
Dear family of All Saints,
We as a parish have committed to final Austin Public health guidance, I call your attention to their latest message:
Austin has re-entered Stage 4 level of risk for contracting COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County as cases continue to increase, especially among unvaccinated individuals.
Stage 4 recommendations include the following:
- Fully vaccinated individuals
should wear a mask when participating in indoor private gatherings,
traveling, and dining or shopping, and should wear a mask for outdoor
gatherings, if they are unable to socially distance.
- Partially or unvaccinated individuals should avoid private gatherings, travel, dining and shopping unless essential. Wear a mask when conducting essential activities.
How will All Saints react to these
changes? Following the APH, I will wear a mask this Sunday (which I will
remove to read), and I invite all of us to prayerfully consider doing
so as well. Communion will continue,as will in person, indoor sanctuary
services and the social time, though likely with additional
restrictions in the weeks to come. The preacher and other speakers (if
vaccinated) may unmask while speaking. I hope that I am following the
advice of Paul to the Corinthians. When they argued whether to eat meat
sacrificed to idols, he told them "knowledge puffs up, but love builds
up", that not everything that is lawful is good for the community. I am
also mindful that advice can point to the opposite conclusion. I do not
claim medical certainty, which is why I look to the advice of Austin
Masks are primarily to protect others, not ourselves. Two Sundays ago I saw many masked children under 12, who cannot yet receive the vaccine and look to us to protect them, as we promised to do at their baptisms. Even though the vaccine should protect the oldest among us, I look at the many in our congregation who are of an age for the worst possible outcomes of the virus, and wish to do what little I can to protect them. I know that some among you will disagree, as I have agonized over my personal decision. I do not enjoy wearing the mask, and hate the idea of returning to it, but my small, still voice calls me to protect others before my own comfort. I think in this moment, we are all called to honor each other, to observe if your neighbors welcome a hug or a handshake during the peace, or after church. We are called to hospitality and harmony.
I know that for some the mask is claustrophobic and intolerable, and you received the vaccine to escape it - the community can bear your needs as well. We are in that gray space where so much of life takes place, safer than before the vaccine, but less safe than we were just a couple of weeks ago, and all fumbling as we squint through the glass darkly. Don't wrangle with or reprimand those who are making choices different from your own. Let us all hold together in this time, and give to each other the space and grace we need to reach a better day.
Pray for us all in this time of testing,