Messages from the bishop
Bishop Rivera: "We must support and pray for one another."
Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Blessed Paul reminds us that we are the Body of Christ. (1 Corinithians 12) As such, we are bound to one another, completely interconnected and interdependent on one another in Christ. The strength of our individual lives as persons and as congregations is affected by the strength of our common life and none of us can be the church alone. Therefore we must support and pray for one another.
I believe deeply in the efficacy of prayer. I am convinced that whatever good work I may do as bishop comes through the faithful prayers of the people with whom I serve God. I depend on your prayers. In the same way we ought to pray for one another – both in private and public prayer, keeping one another in our hearts and commending one another to God's loving care.
To aid in that endeavor there is not one, but two prayer lists for 2010. One list for our public worship includes our intentions Sunday by Sunday, hopefully listing congregations on Sundays near appropriate feast days or a day of their choosing, so that as we gather for public worship throughout the year, each congregation and each convocation will be held in prayer. We are reminded of Tertullian's observation, "See these Christians, how they love one another."
The other list is new. This list, commended specifically for daily prayer (which is generally private,) is a monthly Cycle of Prayer for congregations and ministries in the diocese in which day by day we keep one another in our hearts and minds and lives and prayers.
I am convinced that as we dedicate ourselves to daily prayer for one another, that our lives separately and together will be strengthened for service and that we will be able to discern more clearly how we are called to be The Episcopal Church in eastern Oregon.
So let us pray for the Church: for Katharine, our Presiding Bishop, for the Anglican Communion, (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acp/) for our neighbors and partners in ministry and for one another.
Finally, I ask you continue to pray for me so that I may serve God with all my heart and mind and strength and you with deepest love and wisdom.
Bishop Rivera: H1N1 Flu Season and Intinction
Beloved in Christ,
Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
In the midst of the flu season with a new strain of flu among us, it is tempting to panic and to rely on reacting to our personal fears rather than thinking things through in light of new science and for the benefit of the whole community.
Often we human beings fear the wrong thing and choose a path that is actually less life giving than the alternative – Christianity itself is a case in point. People choose not to trust in the Good News of God in Christ, and find themselves reacting to the world in fear, rather than trust in God.
The Common Cup is a particular example for us Christians. Study after study has shown that sharing the Common Cup, with proper precautions (wiping and turning the chalice after each use) does not increase the chances of getting sick. In recent years we have learned that our hands are far more likely to pass on germs and viruses. Germs and viruses do not survive on dry inanimate surfaces, but continue to live and thrive on our hands.
The practice of intinction, when either you or the minister dips the bread, puts others at risk and is not a loving practice.
For centuries the Church has known and said that receiving in one kind – either bread or wine – is receiving Christ fully. Many alcoholics have not received wine for years, and those who cannot tolerate wheat have often bypassed receiving bread, receiving only wine. In fact there are some for whom both bread and wine are unhealthy who come to Eucharist and receive the Sacrament spiritually.
I understand and hear your fears and concerns. I appreciate the precautions of sanitizing one's hands before communion, but this practice in and of itself should remind us that to intinct is to put others at risk.
I ask you discontinue this practice. If you choose not to receive from the Common Cup, know that you are still receiving all the benefits of God's extravagant Grace. Some will stay at the altar while the wine is being distributed and receive spiritually by touching the base of the chalice or others will simply return to their seats to continue in prayer while others continue to receive.
God's Grace is poured out abundantly in ways we cannot begin to imagine, describe or certainly cannot delineate. As you receive God's Grace in Holy Communion, I hope you will be especially considerate of others – which is a means of Grace in and of itself.
I encourage your continued conversation with me on this matter. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves and take good precautions against the flu as found in other parts of this newsletter.
You continue in my heart and daily prayers.