First: It's tough to tell at this point how bad the ice will be tomorrow, so please use care and discretion in keeping yourself safe. We will plan to have both services, but will reschedule the Seeing Matthew program at 9:10 for an open Sunday later in the year. Even if you are on deck to do something in one of the Masses, have no worries if you are iced in. We will manage with whoever is able to be at church.
Second, I want you all to be aware of something that happened on Friday night. Due to the quick thinking of David Cisneros who was officiating at Evening Prayer, we have been spared what could have been an awful experience. One of the high altar candles apparently threw off a large spark, which smoldered in the altar cloths for some time before bursting into flame when it hit the shellacked wood.
David was able to put the small fire out very quickly, thank God. The actual linens where the spark fell are ruined, but the altar itself was preserved from any real damage and the Blessed Sacrament was untouched. (Although the beautiful green-season frontal itself is safe, the burlap that attaches it was burned, so you will not see it until a new attachment piece is sewn on.) You may possibly notice some light scorching on the Tabernacle door, which we are confident can be quickly repaired by the artisan who restored the Rood Screen.
There are a number of thank-yous here: We all owe David a very big debt for his level-headed reaction that turned a potential crisis into a minor problem. He also helped with cleanup afterwards. I'm grateful to the Team 3 altar guild members and John Aquino, who came in despite the ice this morning to make sure the altar was adequately cleaned and re-dressed for Sunday. As we began our work by praying in thanksgiving for God's preserving the altar, I read part of the lesson appointed for Morning Prayer today from Isaiah 43, a true gift of God's grace to us as we witness how he has brought us through this moment:
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire
you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you....
Because you are precious in my sight,
and honored, and I love you.'
I cannot imagine a more appropriate reading for today, and I encourage you to offer thanksgiving to Our Lord for his faithfulness to these promises this weekend. Please feel free on Sunday to come look more closely at the altar after either service, or to talk with me about this at any time.
Be safe. God's love and care is very real.
Gratefully your priest,