May 22, 2020
A Word from the Pastor
Couldn't you stay just a bit longer?
Couldn't you teach us more about the scriptures?
There is so much in this life that we still do not understand.
Couldn't you sit down to one more meal with us,
keeping us company while we keep our distance from others?
Couldn't you tell us one more time about forgiveness —
how it changes everything and sets us free?
Couldn't you hold off on sending the promised power?
We want you here with us.
We know you.
We need you.
Are you sure you want us, with all of our inadequacies,
to be your witnesses?
If indeed we must be your witnesses
stay, and show us more of what you intend.
Why does it always feel like there is not enough time —
like we should have known then what we know now and made different choices?
These are yesterday's questions — even last night's desperate requests.
But in the light of today, in the most graceful way imaginable,
you lift our doubts and longings and uncertainties
and take them with you.
We are unburdened and ready, just as you hoped.
If in the future the old ache creeps back in, as it invariably does,
help us to once again embrace today's final, miraculous gesture
as we lift our faces to the stunning spring sky —
Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift. Amen.
By Rev. Jill Colley Robinson, Vermont District Superintendent
Inspired by Luke 24.44-53, and referencing 2 Corinthians 9.15.
In the story of the ascension we finally have a word from scripture that seems perfect for where we find ourselves today. In Luke's telling of the story the disciples are told to wait, to stay put, to not be in such a hurry to resume their previous way of life. They are ordered by Jesus to stay in Jerusalem, to lock down, not because of a pandemic but because they need to be empowered before they can go out into the world as witnesses of the Risen Christ. They are to wait for "power from on high" or as Acts, chapter one puts it, "to receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you".
We have been waiting for a long time now- longer than most of us usually have to wait for anything. We have been "sheltering in place"; "staying at home"; locked down while we wait for it to be safe to engage with one another. We long to be set free or at least set loose. We want to return to church; to worship in our sanctuary; to resume our normal activities, but the word we continue to hear is "wait".
A couple of days ago our Annual Conference put out the long awaited guidelines that are meant to guide local churches in figuring out both when and how to return to "in person" gatherings. Last night nearly 400 pastors and lay people attended a live webinar in which leaders within the conference explained how they came to adopt these guidelines and what they would mean for local churches going forward. The long and short of it is that we need to continue to "wait"- to wait until we have sufficient cleaning supplies to insure that our facilities are being cleaned adequately; to wait until we figure out whether we will be leaving too many people out if we return to worship in our sanctuary too soon; to wait until we have sufficiently changed the culture (no hugging, hand shaking, singing, etc.) of church to insure the safety of all who attend.
Like the apostles of old we too must wait until we have the wisdom, the clarity, the assurance that gathering together in person is safe for all who come through our doors. I am grateful that our Safety Committee, chaired by Rev. Kristy Besada, has agreed to lead this effort. Please keep them in your prayers and let them know that you are in support of their efforts as we all continue to wait. May we commit ourselves anew to being the people of God who know without a doubt that the church "is not a building, … but the church is a people."
5/24 The Seventh Sunday of Easter/ The Tenth Sunday in Exile
Special Music: Levitical Levites
Scripture: Ephesians 1:15-23; Acts 1:1-11
Theme: The Fullness of Christ. In the first prayer found in Ephesians chapter one, the author recalls the faith and love that these Christians have exhibited and prays on their behalf. In the process he reminds them that they are the body of Christ, the fullness of him who fills all in all. What does this mean for us as we seek to live out our faith in such challenging times?
SO, WHEN WILL WE BE ABLE TO RESUME IN PERSON WORSHIP?
This is the question that is on all our minds as we continue to live with this pandemic. Unfortunately, there are no clear answers. At the Church Council meeting held on May 18th it was agreed that the Safety Committee, chaired by Kristy Besada, will lead this effort. On Tuesday, May 19th, the New England Annual Conference published its guidelines for local churches. Based on the these guidelines the earliest that in person worship or other activities could take place would be July and even then only if very specific and clear benchmarks are met. In all likelihood, then, the movement towards in person worship will happen incrementally over a few months time. As decisions are made you will be informed using all of the communication tools that are available to us. In the meantime, and afterwards as well, we will continue to live stream our worship service on Sunday morning. We hope that you are able to access the worship service either live via facebook or after the fact through our web site.
ARE YOU IN NEED OF A FACE MASK?
As we increasingly look forward to the day when we can begin to get out more and hopefully even gather for worship in our sanctuary we are faced with a new reality- that of wearing face masks anytime we are in public places. In order to do this we will all need to have more than one cloth face mask available to us and we have a group of church folks who are gearing up to make some to have available both at church and to give out. If you would like to have a couple of the masks please call the church office at 882-3361 or e-mail the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org and your name will be added to the list. Once they are available we will be in touch with you and arrange to get the masks to you.
Although we are no longer able to do the live streaming of our worship service from the sanctuary, Pastor Rich is live streaming a service from home which is available on-demand on Facebook shortly after the service. You can use the Facebook app on a smartphone, or a web browser on a computer. "Like" our page and you will be notified when we go live each Sunday.
If you choose to not use a Facebook login, you can still access the live stream during the service time from our web site home page by going to the box to the right (you may need to refresh the page if you arrive early). Previous worship services are available by scrolling down through the postings.
Please note that Pastor Rich is also live steaming a Wednesday morning devotional reflection each week as well. Just follow the directions above to watch it live or any time afterwards.
Giving During This Uncertain Time
Although we are scaling back most of our church activities which will reduce our expenses during this time, we still have staff who will be working- cleaning the church thoroughly; providing office assistance from home; offering music for our "virtual" worship services; providing pastoral care remotely, etc.- so we will still be incurring expenses that will need to be covered as best we can. To the extent that you are able please maintain your financial pledge or give regularly. Contributions can either be mailed in to the church or you can utilize our on-line giving options by going to the following web address:
Thank you for your on-going support, for your prayers, and for your faithfulness to God and one another.
VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR
The latest option to help us all stay connected in this time of physical distancing is our "Virtual Coffee Hour" starting right after Sunday Worship (approximately 11:30am). We have three "rooms" available each week. Stop by the Vestry and catch up with your friends (bring your own coffee and snacks). If it seems too crowded in the Vestry, and you can't get in a word in edgewise, move over to the Lobby or the Kitchen where it is usually quieter. If you are a Facebook user, you can coordinate where to meet-up with others via the chat before/after Worship, or by indicating that you are "Going" to one of the three Facebook events each week. The actual rooms are via Google Meet and don't require Facebook at all, and may be attended by phone, by app on iPhone/iPad/Android/or by Computer. Access information is below. If you need some hints at using Google Meet there are some instructions and screen shots at https://www.mainstreet-umc.org/activities/coffee-hour that might help you get acclimated.
Vestry: https://meet.google.com/qmq-zxbb-sye or by phone: +1 617-675-4444 PIN: ?415 456 786 8524#
Lobby: https://meet.google.com/cen-uofo-ovh or by phone: +1 617-675-4444 PIN: ?566 126 046 3024#
Kitchen: https://meet.google.com/mfq-vdkf-ofj or by phone: +1 617-675-4444 PIN: ?666 362 297 7893#
CHANGE OF CHURCH MAILING ADDRESS
On Tuesday, May 12th we discovered that our mail box at church had been broken into and the mail removed. Thankfully the person left behind the envelopes so that we could notify people that their checks written to the church had been stolen. If you happened to put anything in the mail to the church sometime around May 8th and haven't heard from us, please be attentive to whether your check gets cashed or not and notify us. We are certain that it was only one day's worth of mail that was vandalized.
Given this situation we have also begun to rent a Post Office Box at the Post Office. Therefore the church's new mailing address is:
PO Box 1517, Nashua, NH 03061. From now on please use this mailing address for all church mail.
Thank you for your understanding and assistance in this matter.