All Posts By

Rick Morley

Now more than ever: share your faith

We talk about it all the time: share your faith. 

Share what God has done for you. Share where you find God is giving you comfort and strength. Share how you’re finding God’s Presence in the wide world, and right here at St Mark’s.

But now, this is more important than ever. In this scary and uncertain time, when our world has been utterly turned upside down, people are searching for places of joy, care, peace, and love.

I’ve been hearing from so many of you during this pandemic how much you’re appreciating the daily lenten reflections, how much you’re enjoying the daily live morning prayer, and some of you were kind enough to say that last week’s Sunday service was “moving.”

So, here’s my challenge to you: if you’re finding solace, peace, strength, community, love, etc here at St Mark’s right now: Don’t keep it to yourself. 

You don’t have to stand on a street corner with a sign or go door-to-door (can’t do that right now anyway!).

It could be as simple as sharing what we’re doing right now on social media. Sharing the link to the Sunday Service in an email or a text message. Calling someone up to check on them, and telling them where you’re finding spiritual strength. 

You might never know how profoundly you could touch someone right now. 

The Church Building is Closed, message from Rick

Friends,
As you all probably know, the Bishop has directed the cancellation of all public worship in the Diocese, and has closed all buildings to public gatherings. I’m also closing the church office. Please do not come here. I have a dry cough, and we just don’t need to be spreading anything person-to-person. (I’m fine.) However, DO feel free to call me on my cell (301) 697-9139 with a pastoral concern. Or if you have a more general issue you can still call Ann Millan at the main church number which she will be monitoring from home (908) 766-9058.
My focus in these next few days, weeks, …… is to find ways to stay connected to each other and our faith in this time when we can’t physically gather but when we are going to need each other and our faith perhaps more than ever.
To that end, I’m starting several initiatives immediately.
1) Sunday worship will go live on Facebook and YouTube at 10AM. I’m working on ways to keep it from just me being a “talking head” and to keep us all engaged. I’ve added YouTube to our streaming options because I know some of you don’t have Facebook. If you just click on the link here you’ll be taken to our streaming page on YouTube, which right now has a static image of the church, but which will be where the service will “pop on” when we go live.
2) We are going to be doing Morning Prayer LIVE every single day for the foreseeable future. I’m doing this because, let’s face it, we’re all going to have plenty of time on our hands, and because starting our day with prayer is a good thing to do. If you follow us on Facebook, you can add prayer intentions right there in the comment thread, and we can actually pray as a community.
3) I’m going to be adding a thread to both our Facebook and Instagram pages every single day asking for people to add their own prayer intentions. This is a place where we can all share our concerns, worries, fears, and joys with each other.
4) I’m encouraging everyone in the parish to call someone else in our parish family every single day. Again, it’s not like we’re going to be busy! AND, there are people who don’t have access to the internet whose only connection to St Mark’s is going to be your phone call. So, call your friends, but also call someone you don’t know. Tell them you’re a member of St Mark’s too, and that you’re just calling to say hi. Maybe you could even offer them a prayer. If you already have the church directory app, great. If not you can find out how to get it here. And, if you don’t do apps, email/call the office and we will send you copy of the directory.
During the first three centuries of Christianity, public gatherings were illegal, and attending a gathering of worship could get you arrested, tortured, or killed. The church didn’t just survive in those days. It thrived. It spread like wildfire. As much as the Empire tried to snuff it out it just grew, and grew, and grew until the Empire could do nothing else but become Christian itself.
We can do this. We can be there for each other. We can be there for our neighbors. We can be there for the world. We can be there for people who are consumed with fear. We can be there for people who don’t know what to do.
Together, and with God’s help, we can.
Fr Rick

Litany during a pandemic

God the Father,
Have mercy upon us.

God the Son,
Have mercy upon us.

God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy upon us.

Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy upon us.

Spare us, good Lord, spare your people, who you have redeemed with your most precious blood, and by your mercy preserve us through this crisis, and for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.

From all evil and wickedness, from disease and illness, especially this coronavirus,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all ignorance and apathy, and from all willingness to engage in activities that could harm others,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart, from pride and a sense of invincibility,
Good Lord, deliver us.

We your children beseech you to hear us, O Lord God, to look upon this world struck by pandemic, and drive from us this disease,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to strengthen the weak, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That is may please you to give health and comfort to all who are already stricken with illness,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to give patience and grace to all those who are in quarantine or who fear that they have already contracted the virus,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to surround those who are scared and fearful, those who are overcome with anxiety and worry,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to give wisdom and stamina to all scientists, biologists, doctors, and all who are working on tests, vaccines, and treatments,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to uphold all those who are treating and ministering to the sick,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to give to your people a heart to love their neighbor through this time, and to look after those who are most vulnerable.
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to support, help, and comfort those who are worried about getting through this time financially, and whether they will have employment when this passes,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to help our young people grow in wisdom and knowledge even as schools and universities are closed,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to heal the sick, lift up the stricken, and open the airways of those who have difficulty breathing,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to receive into your bosom those who have died from this disease, and to gather into your arms those who grieve,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
Grant us your peace.

 

Litany by Fr Rick, Rector of St Mark’s

Any parish that wishes to use this litany may feel free to do so.

Coronavirus Preparations

Friends, I’ve been receiving SO many questions, comments, and suggestions regarding the Coronavirus – which is good. It means that we are all thinking about how we can best navigate this health crisis together, and keep ourselves and our community safe.

1.  If you are experiencing any cold/flu symptoms, please don’t come to church. If you are worried about your immune system, and fear that you are especially at-risk, please also use your best judgement whether you should come or not. Remember, our 10AM Sunday Service is broadcast live on Facebook, videos from the Adult Forum are posted on our website, the Sunday Sermon is posted to YouTube and available on the website, and we have several prayer services scheduled online throughout the week as well. Online spirituality only gets you so far, but in this time it might just get us through to the other side of the crisis.

2.  At St Mark’s, we’ve put “hand-shaking” on hold, especially during the passing of the peace. We can still great one another verbally, and we can even do the “elbow bump,” but for now let’s not use hand-contact, which is the surest way to spread germs.

3.  We have “Purell” bottles spread throughout the whole building. In addition to hand washing, please feel free to use them liberally.

4.  As for Communion, we are not going to stop offering the Common Cup. The common wisdom is that between the metal chalice and the alcohol in the wine, the common cup self-sanitizes. There has never been a reported case of someone contracting any disease, ever, from Communion. However, during this health crisis, if you would feel more prudent to refrain from receiving the wine, we will totally understand. There is a rather ancient theological pronouncement called “the Doctrine of Concomitance,” which says that we receive 100% of Jesus in the bread, and 100% of Jesus in the wine. If you only take the Bread, you aren’t missing out on some part of Jesus. You don’t get 50% in one and the other 50% in the other.  You’re already getting all of Him.

5.  And, let us pray. Let us pray for those already affected by the Coronavirus, those who have been exposed, those who in the medical and scientific communities who are trying to get a handle on this, those with compromised immune systems, and all of us who are trying to navigate this time with faith and not fear.

Peace, 

Fr Rick