Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church

552 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10024
(Church Entrance on 87th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue)
Tel. (212) 580-3326 ~ Fax (212) 873-1452

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A message from the Rector about coronavirus (COVID-19)

16 March 2020

Dear Friends,

The news has been coming in fast since we gathered at church yesterday. It has become clear to the Churchwardens and to me that given the closure of the New York City Public Schools and the new CDC guidelines about suspending all gatherings of fifty people or more for the next eight weeks that we must now suspend public worship.

Yesterday in my sermon, I talked about the story of the woman at the well from the Gospel of John (4:1-42). As someone who was shunned by society because of her multiple marriages and co-habitation with a man not her husband, she chose to draw water from the well at a time when she knew no one else would be there. In the heat of midday she encounters Jesus, who knows exactly who she is and how she lives, who knows “everything that I ever did,” and he shows in an instant that he accepts her and that he loves her. He invites her into the life of the Kingdom of God and offers her “living water,” which is a way of talking about this new life that he brings. Unlike the stagnant water of the well, this living water is powerful, dynamic, full of energy, on the move, able to sweep away the things that are holding us back. It brings life and it brings change, it brings transformation. It brings life in relationship with the God of Love and with all others who are part of this community of the Kingdom of God.

The woman at the well was isolated and alone, cut off from her community and yet God in Christ is waiting for her wherever she goes. God in Christ tells her that she is loved and in relationship with him. God in Christ offers her connection and new community, he offers her eternal life.

Yesterday, I suggested that our time together at mass might be our last for a while and that we likely would be closed for public worship next Sunday and for some time to come. And this is where we are. The story of the woman at the well shows us, however, that we are never cut off from God and from each other. Jesus will meet us at our well and offer us that same living water. This new thing we are experiencing shares some of the qualities of that living water in that it will rapidly bring unexpected change and sweep some things away. At the same time, the Living Water, that dynamic, energetic, fresh water “will become in [us] a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Here Jesus calls this thing he offers Living Water, elsewhere in John’s gospel he calls it bread of life and the light of the world. Jesus nourishes us and makes us one with him and brings a light that clarifies the things that are truly important: Love, relationship, community, all the fruits of baptism into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We are working on ways of staying in touch with you. You will be hearing from me regularly via email and on social media (here certainly daily). We are working on the technical aspects of presenting worship to you via the internet, including our hope to live stream Holy Week and Easter services. We are working on ways to help those in need through the Leopards. And I will write to you over the coming days with more information about all of these things.

In the meanwhile stay connected with me and with each other. I can not tell you not to be frightened or anxious. I can tell you, however, how much you are loved: by me, by your community, and, most importantly, by God in Christ. It is my hope and my prayer that this knowledge of being loved and held can reduce that fear and stress and replace it with hope and confidence that in the end Love will win out and that Easter will come.


The Rev’d Dr Andrew C. Blume +