I have extremely important news of which I want you to be aware. This week, Governor Brown and state health officials have announced statewide and county-specific restrictions
Dear ones, I know this is hard. I know we are all tired of this. I know we want to celebrate Thanksgiving and the season of Advent with warm hugs and our loved ones in our homes. Sadly, this year, with nearly 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed across the state last week, it is clear gatherings can and are putting the health and lives of our family and friends, and the lives of the family and friends of others at risk.
Yesterday. Dr. Esther Choo, an emergency medicine physician at Oregon Health & Science University, joined Gov. Brown at a press briefing and gave an emotional plea for members of the community to adhere to the new restrictions, saying:
So, I ask you to practice love, to practice safety, and to practice patience. Patience is an important part of the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22) In fact, the words patient, patience and patiently are used 35 times in the New Testament, each time as an aspect of Christ-like love. Again and again, followers of Christ are called to be patient, especially as we await the coming of Christ this Advent.
Patience, however, does not mean to sit and do nothing as we wait. Patience means to be active in this world, living in hope-filled faith in God, taking faith-filled risks that are responsive to the Spirit’s presence in our lives. Patience is daring to stay in the place we are, as hard as it can be sometimes, and seeking God’s glimpses of life in the situation while trusting that something hidden will become manifest to us. It does not mean staying stuck in death-filled places where there is no hope, but unless one’s life is truly at stake, it does means sticking it out as we live God’s activity in the present world, nurturing the times in the same way a mother nurtures a child growing in her.
This kind of Holy Spirit presence, waiting yet active in the already/not yet, can’t be done alone. We need the support, encouragement, love and forgiveness of God and of one another. so here are three ideas for practicing patience together. First, by simply breathing with one another in silent meditation. Second, by praying to God with each other for the patience we need. And third, by practicing gratitude, intentionally looking for, naming out loud with someone, and thanking God for what God is already doing in our lives. Remember that patience in Christ requires practice: the more we do it, the better we get at it. Here are the new restrictions followed by some ideas for being together safely:
- Statewide: Faith gatherings should not exceed 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors. Physical distancing of 6 feet and face coverings are still required.
- This guidance applies to all faith gatherings, regardless of where they are held.
- Multiple faith gatherings are permitted at the same location as long as there are:
- Separate entrances and exits
- No shared facilities such as bathrooms or shared spaces such as hallways & foyers
- Separate enclosed spaces
In effect COVID-19 Nov. 18-December 2nd. The Oregon Health Authority has declared a two week pause on social activities (this includes in-person church services) for Baker, Clackamas, Jackson, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Umatilla, Union, and Washington Counties to reduce the growing infection rate of coronavirus. The Governor has said that hotspot counties (like Multnomah) will likely need longer (at least 4 weeks) “to stop COVID-19 from spreading in order to preserve hospital capacity and save lives”. The freeze will be reassessed on December 2nd to determine what measure may still be needed depending on progress made.
Please limit social gatherings to your household, or no more than six people from two households, and reduce the frequency of social gatherings significantly in this two-week period, and keep the same six people in your social gathering circle. You can find all the information from the OHA by clicking here.
Did you know every Oregonian over the age of 6 months is eligible for a free flu shot? The OHA asks you to consider getting a flu shot this year to stay healthy and reduce the impact of health care needs on our medical workers and facilities.
Celebrating Thanksgiving Safely
- Wondering how to hold a Zoom Thanksgiving with your family or friends and make it meaningful? Check out this article for ideas.
- Oregon restaurants are reminding you to keep your celebration small and to consider supporting a local restaurant by ordering Thanksgiving dishes to-go.
- Click here for more on having safe Thanksgiving celebrations and small gatherings from the CDC.
- 10 ideas for Celebrating Thanksgiving During a Pandemic