As Holy Week begins and New Yorkers search for meaning in what is anticipated to be a brutal week of sickness and deaths, churches, synagogues and meditation centers throughout the East End are turning to teleconference calls, YouTube and online platforms like Facebook Live and Zoom to bring parishioners together while keeping us apart.
Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church in Mattituck has recorded an online reflection on the gospel of Palm Sunday by Father Joe, and has placed blessed palms at the door of the church.
The church is asking parishioners to take just one palm and be mindful of practicing social distancing at the church.
“Help us to imitate in our own lives his lessons of trust in you and patient suffering,” said Father Joe. “May we shoulder with faith the crosses we bear and follow him with a lively faith, knowing that as he relied on you for his strength,we can confidently do the same and experience the power of his resurrection working in all of us.”
“Three words I think that characterize the disciples as they saw Jesus arrested and savagely beaten and God seemingly doing nothing were fear, uncertainty and a wavering of faith,” he said.
“The fear was what would happen as their world was falling apart. The uncertainty was what’s going on during this time and after, and the wavering of faith — as you know they all ran away from him — maybe we are experiencing those same emotions at this time to some degree,” he said. “Where is God in all of this? That’s very normal and very natural. The disciples went through that and so will we. Jesus told them he would be with them always. Let us have that same kind of confidence, take that fear and uncertainty and give it to the Lord.”
Throughout the East End, houses of worship are putting together new and innovative ways to connect people, to fulfill their missions of caring for those in need, and to help people keep faith in the future.
Here are a few examples, though this is far from an exhaustive list — please check in with the websites of houses of worship near you to learn more, as many new services are coming online all the time.
The Project Genesis interfaith group in Greenport that explores parallels between Jewish teachings and the New Testament is holding a virtual Last Supper/Seder on Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. Email Projectgenesis1212@gmail.com to RSVP.
“Let us join together as Christians and Jews to pray together as Jesus did at the Last Supper/Last Seder,” said the group’s organizers, Father Roy Tvrdik and Rabbi Gadi Capela in an email this week. “In this difficult time, may our faith and prayer comfort us and guide us as to the Lord did the people of Israel through the desert to the Promised Land.”
Riverhead’s First Baptist Church will hold a teleconference Palm Sunday service, this afternoon at 1 p.m. To dial in, call 712-770-5039 and enter code 550781#.
First Baptist is also providing religious education through Zoom teleconferences, and is providing information on resources for parishioners on its Facebook page.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork in Bridgehampton is asking everyone who can to bring a branch from a local plant or tree to its Palm Sunday Zoom service at 10:30 a.m. The service can also be joined at 929.205.6099 using Meeting ID: 6315370132 and Password: 11932
Bhante Kottawe Nanda of the Long Island Buddhist Meditation Center in Northville is holding Facebook Live meditation sessions on Tuesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. Archived sessions are also on LIBMC’s Facebook page.
“Join with us and make peace and happiness with yourself,” said Bhante Nanda at his Friday, April 3, session. “May you be well happy and peaceful. May all those who are suffering be well soon. Giving that aspiration, let us give thanks to the Buddha and Dharma and Sangha”