Message from Fr. Michael
The Alpha, Omega and the Delta
The truth is that while vaccinations diminish the severity of complications for people who get the virus, vaccination does not prevent one from getting the virus. In recent days, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in South Carolina and nationwide, due primarily to the Delta variant. So while we seemingly have no control over external factors which may impact our lives, we still retain complete control of how we respond to those factors.
Delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, often interrupted as meaning variation of a variable or function. A variation is a change or difference in condition, amount, or level, typically with certain limits. Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, in Christianity is used to designate the comprehensiveness of God, without limits.
In the New Testament Revelation to John, Alpha and Omega is used as the self-designation of God and of Christ. God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” and Jesus says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”So, I ask you during this difficult time, where is your focus? On the Delta or the Alpha and Omega? On the variant which is temporary or on the constant which never varies?
Let’s be honest, we’re all going through a very rough period right now. I, as well as virtually every one of our parishioners, is currently experiencing some personal health struggle or dealing with a significant other or friend who is. Like all of you, I feel tired and helpless. So, I’m choosing to focus the constant, not the variant.
I’m spending time reading the Book of Ephesians this week and I encourage you to do the same. The book of Ephesians explains how we come to full spiritual maturity in Christ. The first part describes the Good News of what God has done, in chapters 1-3. The second section gives instructions on how to live in light of those blessings, in chapters 4-5. And then Ephesians ends with chapter 6, an encouragement to stand firm in the face of hardship.
Today, as I write this message, I am particularly struck by the words of written in Ephesians 4:25, “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.” As followers of the Way, we cannot truly be members of one another if we don’t put away all falsehood and speak truth.
The Gospel of John chapter 9 begins with Jesus healing a man who had been born blind, but unlike other such stories in the New Testament where the healing is the main event, in this account the healing itself is only briefly the focus. The bulk of this chapter is about all the characters in the story who witness the healing but fail to recognize the work of God in their midst. For all sorts of reasons, they have trouble discerning what is really going on. They were focused on the variant, not the constant.
We must put away falsehood and speak truth my friends. The Delta variant and others are now putting everyone, whether vaccinated or not, at risk. Therefore, we will not gather for worship in person this Saturday and may not for the foreseeable future.
As we did in 2020, your vestry and I will review the ever changing advice of medical experts, the CDC and NIH, and make weekly decisions regarding worship based on facts, following our baptismal covenant.
Statistics published by the CDC this week reveal that current 7-day moving average of daily new cases increased 69.3% compared with the previous 7-day moving average, with a prediction that the number of newly reported COVID-19 deaths will likely increase over the next 4 weeks. It is not our preference, but the truth is that continuing in person worship in the face these ominous trends, would not be following in the Way of our Savior’s teachings.
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
So, focus on the Alpha and Omega. By the grace of God, and through the everyday miracles of science, social cooperation and sacrificial love of neighbor, all will be well.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.
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