First the fun: The VBS care packages have been a big success and it's been great to see the kids participating in the daily "Let Kindness Ripple" challenges (posted on a closed FB group through the church to protect the kids' identities). They have considered which of their words are helpful, soft and soothing like a cotton ball and which might be abrasive and hurt like sandpaper. They've reflected on kindness they can offer with their hands. They've built birdfeeders. They learned Bible scriptures and re-arranged them in creative ways and put them in the proper order again. The youth created an acrostic Kindness video. And we've enjoyed snacks, including chocolate chip cookie mugs. We'll show a few pics on Sunday that hide the kids faces.
Productive : The Re-Entry Team has perfected their protocols for small group gatherings at the church and for the eventual worship in the sanctuary. Unfortunately, efforts to keep safe with screening questions and new procedures like temperature checks as you enter the building, wearing masks and no air conditioning, we've also had a few folks unable to stay for their scheduled events. They either excluded themselves by failing the screening questions or found working in the heat with a mask unbearable. The Re-Entry folks have been working hard to keep up with the best science and directions from the Conference, state government, and CDC to mitigate the risk of being amidst people. They're sending out a survey next week with information about their efforts and seeking your feedback about comfort level with large group interactions and compliance with safety protocols. I hope you will ALL respond.
And the program staff continues to meet and dream together for our ministry. It 's exciting to see an idea, like plans for Rally Sunday bag lunch and worship outdoors take off. Stay tuned.
Finally, Hard: I know how anxious we are to get back out into the world. Unfortunately, we've also seen some pretty dire consequences of such interactions. Indoor church gatherings and even one graveside service have been the source of outbreaks and deaths -- even in churches following best practices and safety protocols. Some United Methodist Bishops have had to re-close churches in their conferences after re-opening. We've heard of smaller congregations in our town opening for indoor worship even as the schools have decided to delay in-person openings. The synagogue up the hill is experimenting with outdoor services for their high holy days in September and the UUs have decided not to have in person worship until May 2021. We're all trying our best to do right by our people, our communities and the most vulnerable among us. Let's spread grace all around.
Steve and I had planned to go kayaking in Rhode Island next week as a "safer" way to get away for a couple days of vacation. We even found a new pet sitter! Unfortunately, Rhode Island is experiencing an outbreak so we've cancelled our trip out of an abundance of caution. As this contagion wears on and wears at us, I know we're all struggling, so please reach out to friends , fellow parishioners and neighbors with an encouraging word. For those who can't connect with us in worship on Sundays, call the office. Let's meet in the parking lot or over zoom if necessary. Let's read good books and take care of ourselves and by staying put know that we're taking care of others.
--Peace, Pastor Kelly
Good news: we got permission to drive a carload of folks up the mountain on the closed road if we have walkers who don't want the uphill challenge--so fewer sculptures but easier trails. There will be options. Everyone park at the bottom of the hill in the parking lot before the gate and we'll figure out the next move. ** Please note that there are NO bathroom facilities on site.
Sunday Worship - August 9th Continuing Beguiled by Beauty Series
We are still collecting haikus for the Beguiled by Beauty Series poems with a pattern of syllables 5/7/5
Path of unknowing Enter the divine abyss Thrive in wonder now
Worship visuals: Look for something new in our woodland scene this Sunday. One of the suggested activities for the at home Vacation Bible School program, Let Kindness Ripple, was to find a stone while on a walk, paint it with a message of kindness and then place it back outside where someone else would spot it and read the message. So we added a colorfully painted stone with the word "Peace" to our altar area. Also notice a cairn, which is a pile of rocks placed as a monument or most often as a trail marker. As a trail marker it guides you to the correct path where navigation may become difficult and the trail easily lost. In Ireland, cairns are often placed to indicate a spiritual place, somewhere where the veil between this world and another is thin.
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 10:30am). Stop by the Vestry and catch up with your friends (bring your own coffee and snacks).
The virtual 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.
This is why we must be more careful in our conversations about when it is appropriate to return to indoor in-person worship because such services, even with safety precautions, have led to the virus spreading like wildfire and we're just now understanding the implications six weeks after the service...
Meditative Moments include various forms of mediation. Sometimes it will be music, or musings, poems, prayers and meditation. Join us live Wednesdays at 1pm or anytime you need a break scroll through our MSUMC Facebook post for the Wednesday video.
* Connectivity during Worship Service last Sunday. It seems that there were some disruptions to the internet connectivity through the Comcast Xfinity last Sunday, August 2nd. This interrupted the transmission of our live stream. Comcast informs us that this issue has been resolved.