A Letter from Bishop Benfield
For me, Holy Week has always been more introspectively focused than communally focused. It is a time to reflect and not get so caught up in what, these days, has become a “pre-holiday frenzy” before every holiday, secular or religious. Even the church, with all its liturgies, loves getting into a frenzy.
This Holy Week, due to the pandemic, we all are going to be forced to be more introspective—more alone—than many of us want to be. No pre-holiday frenzy this year. Gaping absences instead. But in this week that is quieter than usual, we all have the chance to focus on the absences in life that can form our vision for a more abundant future. The most striking image I cannot let go of this week is an online news article that showed a young, uninsured woman ready to catch a bus to go to work as a health care provider. She is fearful of becoming sick, yet she knows that she has no other option than to catch that bus because she is living on the edge of poverty. It is a situation that embarrasses me because my own life has been so different, so abundant.
Holy Week is about directly facing the reality of a broken world. But it also gives us the chance to envision what a more abundant world can look like for everyone and the decisions we need to make—as individuals, as a church, and as a society—on how we get there. As I reflect during this Holy Week, I am hoping that resurrection is indeed just around the corner, a day when the fear will be replaced by joy, disease replaced by health, selfishness replaced by concern for one another. I hope you will as well.
A Letter from Bishop Benfield
April 1, 2020
The Christian Church across the world is preparing for a Holy Week and Easter unlike any we have known. We will not be gathering in person, either to observe the Passion or to celebrate the Resurrection. It does not mean, however, that we will not find ways to gather.
On Monday I had a Zoom meeting with members of the clergy to discuss the varied ways that we are going to lead our congregations this next week. Some of us are going to lead online worship, some will record worship, and some will encourage parishioners to virtually join other congregations.
We will not have “drive-by” or “in the parking lot outdoors” services. The health risk is simply too great. Neither will we attempt what some people call “long distance” consecration of bread and wine. We want to respect the essential traditions of the church that have seen us through other plagues throughout our 2,000-year history.
I encourage you to join in services online as you can, and also spend your own time in prayer in your homes. I also encourage you to find your own acts of compassion in the coming week, be it watching out for a neighbor, calling an isolated person, or donating to help others who are fearfully struggling with finances. The Holy Week and Easter messages after all, are about dying to one way of existence and being raised to a new way of life. This is the life we can live whether we are able to gather in church or not.
Bishop of Arkansas
10 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
11 a.m. - Morning Prayer
5 p.m. - Contemplative Evening Prayer