What kind of faith gets people through the wilderness, through plagues, through self-imposed isolation or through infection rates again on the rise (what some are calling a 4th wave)?
We could turn to the Easter stories for a clue. After all, none of them suffer from the kind of forced optimism of happiness memes. They all take seriously the events of Holy Week, the pain and devastation when the State puts to death the one you pinned your hopes on. The stories of Easter begin in the dark or when the light of dawn is just barely visible.
But as we pass the year mark in our time worshipping online or in small groups in the garden, I'm interested in the timing of it all. In the gospels passed down to us (or at least how we've come to interpret these traditions), the events of Holy Week– the parade of hosannas, the last supper, the arrest and trial, the back and forth jurisdictional disputes, the imprisonment, the torture, the judgment, another march to the Golgotha, the execution with agonizing hours of trying to catch one's breath, the hurried burial and then discovery of the resurrection–all this happens in a week.
And the disciples are found locked away in a room, hunkered down with the grief of lost hopes.
It all seems a little quick–putting that all in the span of a few days. As if, ALL we can handle of the passion, is one holy week, and not even a full week. Amy-Jill Levine in her book, Entering the Passion, says its much more likely that the events unfolded over months, even a year – but who can tolerate months of isolation, of uncertainty and anxious waiting to know how the story will end? We've had a year of waiting to see how the story of the pandemic will end and I'm not sure we have the patience for a passion story that last months. How will we find the encouragement to endure? We need a faith with a longer time-line.
I was talking to a non-religious friend yesterday about our pandemic fatigue and our desire to worship again in the sanctuary despite the best health advice calling gatherings of more than a handful of people indoors "very dangerous." And she said, "don't you have that guy who wandered in the desert for a long time?" Yes, we have Moses, but I'm pretty sure "40 years" was symbolic more than literal.
But one thing that story of a people wandering does teach is that we can't force life into our time. Anxiety does not easily comply to our control issues. Faith is found by a people on the move and hidden away in fear. In Paul's world, it's found in small groups gathered in homes, in letters connecting cells of believers across distance, and in financial gifts shared to help those they'd never see in person.
We can't insist church happens only when we're gathered within the walls of a sanctuary. We can't restrict the spirit's appearance or require it to meet or time frame.
Instead, let's ask ourselves what faith would look like if we were the church of a Living Christ, set loose in the world, calling for costly discipleship. –a Christ that can't be handled according to our desires or anxieties, –a Christ who isn't found only in a sanctuary, –a Christ who wants to be found not in the rooms of a building but in our hearts.
Tell the story of resurrection faith again for yourself. How is a Living Christ set loose in your life? How is it calling you to be the body of Christ for the world? How is it available to you beyond the community of faith gathered in a sanctuary? How does the story speak of patience and a longer time line than your imagined possible? How does a story of new life call us out of the cocoons of ritual comfort? How does the story allow us to be Easter people in a world so hungry for good news? How can the story encourage, transform, embolden in this time?
Regarding Funeral Services
The Re-entry Committee recently met and determined the church may open the sanctuary for private, in-person, family funeral services for church members only. These services will be subject to strict safety protocols, including and not limited to guest lists, health screenings, new traffic patterns and no singing, as well as required masks, etc. We will not serve a meal. This policy is subject to change with public health recommendations and available data.
It may seem strange that we are allowing in person funerals while community transmission of COVID-19 is still very high in Nashua and numbers of cases are rising. The committee agreed that this data is concerning. In light of this, we continue to recommend remote worship for the congregation. In the case of private funerals, however, it is safer for our ministry team and for grieving family members to have small family services in the large, well-ventilated sanctuary than in smaller spaces with less-adequate ventilation.
I would like to thank the members of the Re-entry Committee for their continual, thoughtful discernment on these sensitive matters. I also give thanks for the congregation's continued forbearance during this time of challenge. Even if you are vaccinated, please continue to wear your masks, wash your hands, and physically distance to keep viral transmission low, as the possibility of asymptomatic transmission through vaccinated people is not yet determined by the scientific community, and vaccines are not yet available to younger people, including children. We all look forward to when we can safely gather many families and households together in the sanctuary for worship. We're just not quite there yet.
We have some very exciting news to share! If you are still looking to get your COVID-19 vaccine, the Nashua Division of Public Health & Community Services has announced today that they will be hosting a clinic on Wednesday, April 14th from 9am to 4pm in Merrimack offering the single dose Janssen vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). The only requirements for this clinic are people who are 18+ and reside in New Hampshire.
If you have already scheduled a vaccination appointment through the state website (VINI), but want to attend this clinic, you just need to cancel your appointment previously made through VINI.
It is with sadness and sympathy that we inform you of the death of Jane Patterson. Allene "Jane" Brodnax Patterson, age 86, passed away March 27, 2021 in West Newbury MA surrounded by the love of family.
SERVICES: Visitation will be 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM Friday, April 9th at Davis Funeral Home, One Lock Street, Nashua NH. Due to COVID protocols, masks and social distancing will be required. A private Celebration of Life Service will be held at Main Street United Methodist Church in Nashua, NH. Interment, where all are welcome to attend will be at 1:00 PM on Saturday, April 10, Oak Hill Cemetery, 50 Parker Street, Newburyport MA. Memorial Contributions may be made to Main Street United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 1517, Nashua NH 03061.
We started Lent acknowledging that one of the many things church members missed is table fellowship with one another – around the Communion table, across a table in the vestry, shared snacks at a study, or baked goods at a meeting.
We're grateful for those who shared your soups with us and your favorite table graces. When you make the effort to share your table with us, it helps us feel connected while apart. Tonight, our special Maundy Thursday service on Google Meet will provide another opportunity to see each other around Christ's table and become the body of Christ however spread out (and Paul's letters to the early church remind us that we're not the only Christian community unable to see one another in person).
And for those wanting to keep the Easter pancake breakfast tradition alive, we can't wait to see your festive pancakes on Sunday morning!
In April, as restaurants begin offering outdoor seating, we'll have Taco Tuesdays – join us.... literally at various eateries, or say hello while grabbing take out, or virtually, send in your Taco Tuesday creations.
There's something meaningful about a meal shared, ritual or otherwise. On this night, Jesus sat amongst friends and disciples, knowing there would be betrayal by those with whom he shared bread, suspecting some wouldn't understand his sacrifice, aware that some would be paralyzed by fear or feelings of inadequacy. He tried to explain, showed them an example of serving others, of the first being last, but I suspect he worried he hadn't done enough to prepare them.
We don't often know the impact of customs like participating in the Passover meal or Holy Communion or the habit of family Sunday dinner except in hindsight – perhaps years later. But the table forms us into who we are. Thanks to Andrea Weir and her family for a beautiful reminder of this truth–sharing soup and a musical grace.
Eat, drink and remember,
Soup for the Soul
Zuppa Toscana (for the health-conscious)
4 slices turkey bacon
1 1/2pounds Italian sausage
4 cups cauliflower (cutting florets in half is necessary)--we actually substituted with potatoes because we love potatoes!
1/2 cup scallions
4 cloves garlic--I used a couple small scoops of minced garlic since we don't typically buy garlic cloves.
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups kale
1 1/2 cup reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
In a large pot, cook the turkey bacon until crispy. Drain any grease, set aside. Add the sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks. Once the sausage is browned and crumbled, remove sausage and drain of any grease leaving a Tbsp to sauté the scallions, add to bacon. Add the scallions to the pan; sauté until translucent. Add garlic, sauté until fragrant. Add the bacon and sausage back into the pot. Stir in the stock and cauliflower, season with salt and pepper. Then simmer for approximately 10 minutes (until the cauliflower is tender). Add kale and yogurt. Bring to a simmer (not a boil). Top with Parmesan cheese when serving. Serve with a warm baguette for added soul-warming.
In an effort to create a more in-person atmosphere, we will be holding our Maundy Thursday service on Google Meet, link provided below.
As Maundy Thursday is a somber, contemplative service we ask that you please keep your microphone on mute during the service. You will be invited to unmute during communion.We also ask that you create a darkened room space, and gather bread and juice for communion and a candle. Log on at 6:45 for fellowship and tech support.
If you are on a computer, laptop or notebook device, you will be able to see the presentation as well as some of the other worshipers. If you go to the right of your screen, you will see three dots. This is where you can adjust your screen view. If you select "Spotlight" you will only see the presentation and not other people during the service. This link will help with viewsettings: https://support.google.com/a/users/answer/9850209?hl=en
Please use the following link to join the service:
Jesus, our brother, one you knelt sleepless in the darkness of a garden alone and wept and prayed, sweating, bleeding, with the pain of powerlessness with the strain of waiting. An angel offered you strength- but it was a bitter cup.
We pray for all who wake tonight waiting, agonizing, anxious and afraid, while other sleep; for those who sweat and bleed, and weep alone. If it is not possible for their cup to be taken away- then may they know your presence kneeling at their side.
- Jan Sutch Pickard
THIS SATURDAY IS OUR EASTER HOUSE HUNT!!!
This is a wonderful time to "gather" and be able to see one another in a safe and joyful way. We encourage you to take a ride and share this time together. Many of our congregants have not been able to see their church family and are looking forward to this time together. Drivers can decorate their cars, wear bright colors, wave and cheer, keeping the celebration festive.
You can start with any house you want and pick the route that works best for you. We only ask that you visit between 1-2 on Saturday. If you have kids drop by the church between 1 and 1:30 to pick up the Sunday School supplies for the Easter season. If you're so motivated, you could even dress up your car in an Easter bonnet (we would dearly love to see that). If you're decorating your car windows, remember not to paint the ones you're going to roll-down!
If you would like more information about the Easter House Hunt, please contact Natasha Drew at 882-3361 firstname.lastname@example.org
Please use the following link for the Easter House Hunt Map
(Please keep in mind that the Fox Hollow Dr. and Hemlock St. addresses are in Hudson)
February 2021 Financial Snapshot
General Fund (GF) Total GF Income Received as of 2/28/2021: $69,702.16 Total GF Income Budgeted through 2/28/2021: $72,278 Total GF Expenses Paid through 2/28/2021: $64,579.25 Total GF Expenses Budgeted through 2/28/2021: $77,674.46
Notes on General Fund · World and New England Mission Shares were not paid in January or February. We should be able to catch up later. · The church owes for the air cleaning units installed. A portion was paid and the balance will be paid in March using additional donations and reserve funds. · Current on other expenses.
Heart of Nashua 1 & 2 (GiF) & HON Cont. (Capital Campaign/Elevator, Connector, Renovations) · Balance Due on HON Loan as of 2/28/2021: $145,537.20 (Loan was $358,343.45) · In February the $1,769.53 monthly payment was paid. HON Cont. funds on hand 2/28/2021 ($8149.31) will cover payments for four months. · Total Paid (including interest) Using HON 1, 2 & Continued as of 2/28/2021: $1,888,119.06
Funding for the Future 100 for $150 (Endowment) – Received this year as of 2/28/2021: $785 Please be one of 100 people or families giving $150 each year to grow our endowment for our future.
Thank You · We have received donations to cover the purchase of two AEDs. Thank you UMM and others who made donations for these. · As of 3/7/2021 we received $6090 in donations toward the air purifiers for the church.
-The office will be closed on Monday, April 5th for Easter Monday observance.
-The Tech Team is looking for someone who would be willing to be available to run the technology side of things for funerals. This person would need to have open availability and be ready to assist in those times of celebration/sorrow. Training will be provided. If you are interested, please contact the main office email@example.com
Pastors: Equalization members, especially under 30, needed for AC 2021
Conference Secretary John Blackadar reports there are 66 equalization members, selected by virtue of their office, for the 2021 Annual Conference session. An additional 20 equalization members are needed from each district. At least two of those must be between ages 12 and 17 and at least two between ages 18 and 30. The Cabinet is committed to meeting this requirement to include youth and young adults, which is outlined in our Conference Policies and Procedures as well as the Book of Discipline. Pastors are encouraged to lift up names for consideration, particularly youth and young adults and send them to the district office. Those interested in being equalization members should contact their pastor or district office.
Submission of Resolutions for consideration at Annual Conference
Resolutions are generally submitted by annual conference agencies, committees, task forces, or ad hoc groups. It is possible, however, for a resolution to be submitted by any member of the annual conference (lay or clergy) or by any local church. All resolutions are to be submitted to Annual Conference Secretary John Blackadaratsecretary@neumc.orgno later than April 1, 2021. Submit materials using Microsoft Word. It is also helpful to use the Calibri 11 font. If you need assistance feel free to reach out to Rev. Blackadar.