May 1, 2020
A Word from the Pastor
"I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
In this familiar passage from the Gospel of John Jesus is likened to the gate of a sheepfold through which if one enters one will experience salvation which is similar to finding pasture. Jesus is contrasted to previous religious leaders who are said to not have had the well-being of the sheep in mind when they have entered the sheepfold, but rather have come to "steal and kill and destroy". Jesus, on the other hand, is said to have come that the sheep "may have life, and have it abundantly". I like this definition of salvation which clearly has little to do with what happens to us when we die, but everything to do with the quality of life we are living now. Salvation is all about finding green pasture and not just life, but abundant life at that.
Now, I don't know about you, but at the moment I am finding it difficult to think of my current situation as anything like "green pasture" or "abundant life". Some days in fact it feels like I am barely living- not so much physically, but in every other sense of the word. The days all seem to run together and are filled with monotony. My wife and I invariably have to confirm for each other what day of the week it is and what date it is. Everyday seems to be a carbon copy of the day before. Is this abundant life? Is this finding green pasture?
Truth be told, I am very aware that my situation is much better than that of many others. I am still working and don't have the financial worries that so many others are experiencing. I am able to "shelter in place" fairly easily and am not fearful that I will be exposed to the Covid 19 virus. My life is good compared to the struggles that others are experiencing. Still, it is not "abundant" life in anyone's definition of the term. At times like this, and there are many of them, both during times of crisis and otherwise, we have to take the long view and remember that better days will come. This too shall pass!
My hope and prayer for each of you is that you will be safe, healthy, and content for the moment as we live through this challenging time. May you find glimpses of the "abundant" life that is ours in Jesus Christ and may you truly find the green pasture that the Psalmist describes in Psalm 23. Jesus is not only the "gate" of the sheepfold, but is also the good shepherd who knows us by name, invites us to follow, and will indeed lead us "beside still waters".
5/3 The Fourth Sunday of Easter/ The Seventh Sunday in Exile
Special Music: Levitical Levites
Scripture: Acts 2:37-47; John 10:1-10
Theme: Idealism and Realism in God's Church. The author of the Book of Acts paints a pretty idealistic, if not utopian, image of the early church in the first few chapters of Acts. The rest of the Book of Acts though presents a much more realistic picture of the church that has to struggle with hypocrisy, favoritism and exclusivity. Sounds like not much has changed!
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.
AN INVITATION TO MEET VIRTUALLY
As many of you are aware we have the ability to meet virtually using "Google Meets" which is similar to ZOOM. We have met in this way for Church Council meetings, Finance meetings, and other meetings as well. Any group can have a meeting scheduled through Google Meets- UMW, UMM, choirs, church committees, or just social groups of any make up.
This coming Sunday we will be providing the link during the Facebook Live worship service that will allow us to have a virtual fellowship time right after the service. So, please plan to join in by clicking on the link once the service is over (you may want to get a cup of coffee first though).
If you would like to set up another meeting just be in touch with Jerry Harrow or Pastor Rich with the day, time, and names of those who you would like to meet with. An invitation with the details will be sent out and your meeting can commence at the appointed time.
In this unusual time of "sheltering in place" let us take advantage of the opportunities provided to us to stay connected as a congregation.
Latest Upper Room issue available for free download
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Since churches are unable to meet and gather safely in their buildings during the coronavirus pandemic, The Upper Room is offering the May/June 2020 issue, both in English and Spanish, as a free, downloadable PDF. The Upper Room also has created a web page featuring resources to help create and maintain spiritual wellness during anxious times.
Please note that if you have any trouble downloading a copy of the May-June Issue of the Upper Room please e-mail the church office or Pastor Rich and we can send it to you electronically in pdf form.