May 26, 2020
A Word from the Pastor
A WORD ABOUT THE TUESDAY BLAST AND MID-WEEK REFLECTIONS: When it first became clear back in mid-March that we would not be able to gather for worship and other church activities I decided to add a second "Tuesday" e-mail blast and to do a mid-week live streamed reflection with the hope that this would provide an opportunity to stay better connected during this time apart. As we begin to move into a new phase of this pandemic and with the nicer weather that is allowing all of us to get outdoors more, and with my time with you drawing to a close on June 14th, I've made the decision to cease these two activities as of the end of this week. So, this is my final Tuesday e-mail blast and tomorrow will be the final mid-week reflection. I hope that each of these efforts have been helpful to each of you during this time apart.
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses." First Corinthians 12:6-8, 11
When addressing questions raised by the Corinthian Christians regarding the use of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul emphasizes that in the distribution of these gifts there is unity in diversity. There are "varieties of gifts, services and activities" but all are given by the one Spirit. Equally important is that these gifts, services and activities are all given "for the common good" rather than merely for the edification of individuals. Each person has been gifted by God and each person's gifts are necessary to the well-being of the church. While we might be tempted to give greater value to one gift over another each gift is necessary and valuable and the church cannot do without them.
This notion of the common good is one that is under attack in this time in which we live. We have taken the idea of individualism, which is at the heart of who we are as a nation, and have allowed it to be used in an extreme fashion that does not include any concern for the "common good". Valuing the individual does not mean that we cannot also value the community and recognize that there are times when we need to give priority to the common good over one's personal interests in order to protect both the community and the individual.
As we move in the direction of resuming "in person" church activities we do so with the commitment to protecting everyone. This means that my personal comfort may need to give way to practices that insure that the body as a whole is safe. In this spirit we will each be expected to do things like wearing facemasks, keeping appropriate social distances, refraining from physical contact, and even giving up things like singing in worship that will feel so contrary to what is normal for the church in worship. All of these things will be done so that we can do our best to insure the safety and well-being of the community of faith. For some of us it may feel as though our individual rights and freedoms are being denied, but it is not so much a denial as it is a recognition that we are "all one body in Christ" and that this requires we act "for the common good".
As we look to a return to the "new" normal that will confront us in the future, may we do so with a renewed commitment to being the body of Christ in ways that embrace the common good. May we willingly make the sacrifices that are needed in order to provide a safe place for all people to worship, enjoy fellowship, and opportunities for spiritual growth in Christ.
For the Common Good,
PENTECOST SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE
Recently our Bishop and District Superintendents made the decision to pre-record a worship for use on Pentecost Sunday, May 31st and to make it available for all of the church's in our Conference to use. This decision was made, at least in part, with the recognition that pastors, local church musicians, and other worship leaders have been working overtime trying to adjust to new technologies and the challenges that these technologies have placed before us.
I have decided, in the light of the challenging and time consuming work that our church musicians, IT members, and myself have committed to providing meaningful worship each Sunday, to utilize this prerecorded service this coming Sunday. We will still live stream it on facebook at 10:30am on Sunday morning and it will come to you in the usual way that you are used to. Afterwards we will once again offer the "virtual" coffee hour that we have been offering for the last few weeks.
If you are missing the music of our wonderful musicians please know that they have now recorded over 80 pieces of worship that are available on You Tube. All you need to do is go to You Tube and search for the Lyrical Levites. If you then click on "videos" you will have your choice all the videos to enjoy.
If you would prefer to view the prerecorded Pentecost Service at a different time please use the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XMO5vUVO8k&feature=youtu.be
Ascension Here and Now- Submitted by Carolyn Ekle
Merriam Webster defines ascension as the act of rising to a higher level. We can consider level to apply to spiritual, physical, emotional, or intellectual aspects of our being. Ascension Sunday celebrates the "rising" of Christ from earth to heaven, or from physical form to spiritual being, seemingly a one-time event. Consider that, though Christ's ascension may have been a one-time event, it was an example of what is ours to share throughout our daily lives.
Let me give you a personal example. When I was in high school, it was customary to take the Quder Preference Test at the beginning of the junior year. This was meant to help the student understand strengths, interests, talents and define how these may inform the selection of a major in college and possibilities for service and career. When I met with my guidance counselor to process my test, one result he noted was my mechanical ability score: he said, "I have never seen such a low score in mechanical ability." Amid all the possible positives, this one statement of deficiency captured my belief. And, of course, because I believed it, manifestation appeared in multitudinous forms….Until yesterday.
I needed a free standing shoe stand with several wire shelves in my entry hall. I found one that was the perfect size and color. BUT, (As Gov. Andrew Cuomo is fond of saying) it had to be assembled. The box said "Easy to assemble". I thought, "That's easy for you to say, but what about for a mechanically inept person." I departed the store without it. For the next few hours, I thought about it: stared at the space where it would stand, pictured it neatly holding my shoes, felt the gratitude of easy-to-access neatly stored shoes.
Later, I returned to the store, where there was now only one remaining and I joyfully picked it up! Fear, doubt, uncertainty rode with me all the way home. I set the package aside and took care of other business. Another mental program finally kicked in: one step at a time, I can do this. Oh, and if need be, there are people nearby who could help—the first time I considered this possibility. The angels said, "Begin. Now!"
The rest is history. I had everything that was needed in the box and in me. No more but's! That old belief in mechanically inept, though held for half a century, ascended to mechanically apt!
Every day, in each moment, there is an opportunity of ascension. If we believe it, we will see it, whether positive or negative. This is the time to notice how, what and who we believe we are. Listen to God saying, "You are my beloved, in you I am well pleased." Accept the truth therein, receive it into your heart and mind, and like a tiny bit of yeast rises a heavy weight of kneaded dough, you will rise into the truth already within you.
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. By the time you read this our Church Council will have settled on a process to both determine when and how in person worship will resume. We will have to abide by the guidelines provided by the state of NH as well as those provided by Bishop Devadhar. In all likelihood 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.
Over the course of the "stay at home" time that we find ourselves in, volunteers from the congregation have been reaching out by phone to our entire membership. One of things we have found though is that so many of you have given up your land lines or otherwise changed your phone number and we no longer have the correct number for you. We would love to up-date our data base with this correct information so please either e-mail the church office at email@example.com or call at 603-882-3361. We have begun round 2 of our calling and hope to connect with 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.
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; 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#
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.
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.