21 December 2020
Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

Dear Parish Family --

No doubt many of you have seen Governor Lee's video address to our state last night, during which he announced a 10-person cap on public gatherings. This morning I conferred with our team of medical advisors and prayerfully met with the staff. While the governor's order doesn't technically apply to churches, I believe the wisest thing to do is restrict our in-person worship at St. Bartholomew's for the next thirty days in solidarity with many other churches and organizations in Nashville and across Tennessee.

So what does that mean for our parish family as we worship together, especially those who have already signed up for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services? 

  • Regrettably, we will need to restrict worship on Sunday mornings and Christmas Eve/Day to just the team streaming the service, so if you have signed up for one of those services, please join us instead via the stream from home. 

  • Rather than two masses on Christmas Eve, we will live-stream our service at 4.30 p.m. As always, it will be available via YouTube, Facebook, and our website for viewing at a later time.
  • To allow as many people as possible to make their communions on Christmas Eve, Fr. Charlie and I will be available outside the church following the service from 5.30 - 8 p.m. for people to drive by for communion from your cars -- queue up, and we will administer the Sacrament through car windows near the church porch. If you cannot make it to the campus for communion, contact the Assistant to the Rector for Pastoral Care, Butch Burch, at pastoralcare@stbs.net or me and one of the clergy or a Lay Eucharistic Visitor will make arrangements to come to you. 

  • We will also live-stream the 10.30 a.m. liturgy with music on Christmas Day so we can celebrate the joy of that morning together as a family. 

  • Don't forget the mass is said every weekday at 12.15 p.m. and on New Year's Day at 10:30 a.m. for groups of 10 (sign up >>>here), so there are still options available for in-person worship even under these latest restrictions. 

  • Lastly in accordance with the Mayor's Rule of 8 for Nashville, smaller private and public gatherings (such as a LifeGroup or the S'mores Community) should not be larger than eight per group.
Friends, none of this is as I would have it. Indeed, it's quite heartbreaking to write this to you the week of Christmas. I would much prefer to have our beloved Children's Christmas Pageant at 4.30, and I would love to sing carols together deep in the stillness of Christmas Eve night (then, wearing my cape and biretta, hug each of you). But our story is built around One who laid aside his comfort to come and live among us, who preferred not his own life to ours. Each of us has had to lay aside some comfort, some preference at one point or another through this long liturgical year, and I pray that these adjustments may actually somehow accrue to your benefit, safety, and spiritual well-being. 

Please pray for the staff and me as we continue our work in the weeks to come, and I promise to communicate with you often about our plans as they develop. Pray for our state, as well -- especially for those sick with the virus and for all those who care for them. And you are, each of you, in my prayers every single day. 

Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.

May God bless you --
Fr. Sammy
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