MESSIAH UPDATE MESSAGE
Monday, 30 March 2020
FROM THE RECTOR
The prophet Isaiah, speaking to the Hebrew people hundreds of years before Jesus, had the following to say:
Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the wrath is past.
How very timely those words are for us today as we deal with the new phenomenon of isolation and quarantine, either forced or voluntary, on a national scale.
While I read and study scripture often, I am repeatedly caught by how many times the text I am reading is a direct commentary on where I find myself to be, seemingly written specifically for the current situation or issue I am faced with. Such was the case this morning when close friends asked me to reflect and comment on my understanding of the above text, as well as chapters 24 and 25 of Isaiah.
Isaiah begins chapter 24 with these words in verses 1 and 2:
Now the Lord is about to lay waste to the earth and make it desolate,
and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
as with the slave, so with the master;
as with the maid, so with her mistress;
as with the buyer, so with the seller;
as with the lender, so with the borrower;
as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
In the midst of the current crisis, how often we are hearing the phrase, "We're all in this together." This same sentiment, this same truth is spoken by Isaiah, over 2700 years ago. The remainder of the chapter continues with this same message of destruction and desolation and disaster. And, if we stop there, we are left depressed and forlorn.
But we are not left there! Listen to how the very next chapter opens:
O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you, I will raise your name;
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure. ...
For you have been a refuge to the poor,
a refuge to the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the rainstorm, and a shade from the heat.
The prophet's words remind us that our God never leaves us without hope for salvation. The scripture is filled with examples of God saving his people from ruin. And if God has never deserted his people in the past, why would we think he would do it this time. No, we will not be left in this situation, for we are God's people; and our God is a God of promise and hope and salvation.
Over the centuries, I wonder how many times these same words have provided comfort and strength to those facing hardship? Let God's Word now provide that same comfort and strength to you in these difficult days.
In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ,
and our God who wants only health and wholeness for his children,
I send you blessings, peace and grace in these uncertain, confusing and anxious times.
THE RECTOR'S HOLY WEEK & EASTER
SERVICES & MESSAGE ON THE WEBSITE
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, the opening day of the holiest week of the Christian year that leads to the most sacred day of the church year, Easter. Since safety and health reasons demand that church services be suspended, the Rector will be recording a service of prayers, scripture and homily which will be posted on the parish website (messiahgwynedd.org). Services for the following days will be found on the website:
Please go the church website on these important holy-days and join with the Rector and your parish family in worship.
STAFF ACCESS & THE RECTOR'S
EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
For safety and health reasons, all church staff members have been instructed to work from home until restrictions are lifted and it is deemed safe to reopen the church office. When possible, I intend to be in my church office each day between 9:00am and 1:00pm. During this time, I will answer the office phone (215-699-9204) and reply to phone and email messages (please feel free to use my email as opposed to the general office email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE EVENT OF A PASTORAL EMERGENCY, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY USING MY PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBER (215-692-2667) OR PERSONAL EMAIL (email@example.com).
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER
Now that the Congress and President have passed the stimulus package, many of us will be receiving an unexpected bump in our bank account over the next few weeks. A member of the congregation contacted me and asked that I propose that people may want to consider sending this gift - either in full, or in part - to an agency or cause that will be helping neighbors within our community. Due to the closing of many businesses and the downturn in the economy, many of our neighbors have lost jobs or found their wages severely reduced. This will lead to worries over how to pay for food, rent, utilities and other basic needs and will place a strain on social service agencies and funds throughout the area that help our neighbors in meeting these needs. I know that I am already receiving calls for assistance from members of our local community and agencies giving help to those in need.
If you would like to offer assistance by making a donation, I offer two suggestions:
Manna on Main Street - this local agency both feeds and provides fresh and canned foods for the hungry around the Lansdale and Lower Gwynedd area; as well as providing funds to assist with rent, utility and other needs. Donations always welcome and especially needed at this time. Mail or drop off your donation at this address: Manna on Main Street, 606 E. Main Street, Lansdale, PA 19446.
The Rector's Discretionary Fund - in addition to direct calls from those seeking aid, the Rector often receives calls from area social service agencies requesting financial assistance for those in need. If you wish to make a donation to this fund, make your check payable to "Rector's Discretionary Fund" and drop off your gift during office hours (9:00-1:00, Monday-Thursday), or mail to the Rector at the church office: 1001 Dekalb Pike, Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002-1941.
Thank you considering making your gift a gift for others.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++THANK YOU FOR YOUR PLEDGE
Thank you to all of you who have continued to send in your pledge during this unusual time. We are most appreciative that your continued support has allowed us stay current with all bills and charges, as well as staff salaries. Please remember to drop off your church pledge during the restricted office hours (9:00-1:00, Monday through Thursday), or send your payment to: Church of the Messiah, 1001 DeKalb Pike, Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002-1941.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++A PRAYER FROM ST. AUGUSTINE'S PRAYER BOOK
Just For Today
Lord, for tomorrow and its needs,
I do not pray;
Keep me, my God, from stain of sin
Just for today.
Let me both diligently work,
And dutifully pray.
Let me be kind in word and deed,
Just for today.
Let me be slow to do my will,
Prompt to obey;
Help me to sacrifice myself
Just for today.
And if today my tide of life
Should ebb away,
Give me the Sacraments divine,
Sweet Lord, today.
So for tomorrow and its needs
I do not pray,
But keep me, guide me, love me, Lord,
Just for today.
WORDS OF COMFORT & PRAISE FROM THE PSALMS
Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you; *
hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.
Incline your ear to me; *
when I call, make haste to answer me,
For my days drift away like smoke, *
and my bones are hot as burning coals.
My days pass away like a shadow, *
and I wither like the grass.
But you, O Lord, endure forever, *
and your Name from age to age.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion, *
for it is time to have mercy upon her; *
indeed, the appointed time has come.
Psalm 102, Book of Common Prayer