MESSIAH UPDATE MESSAGE
Friday, 3 April 2020
FROM THE RECTOR
As these uncertain and troubling days continue to unfold, we may have cause to ask; "Just where is God in all of this?" You may find yourself, like me, hoping to receive a sign, an assurance, that our God is still with us in these anxious times.
A few morning's back, I received such a sign . . .
On the front door of our home, as on many homes, hangs a wreath made of woven grapevines with greenery, spring flowers, and a yellow and white polka-dot ribbon. As I came downstairs the other morning, I was greeted by an unexpected addition to this seasonal decoration. There, nestled securely at the top of the wreath, was a bird's nest! Apparently, over the course of the night before, a female cardinal had spent the dark hours providing a cozy home for herself and her eggs.
I immediately stopped at the last step of the stairs, for through the glass of the door, the bird's eye seemed to stare right at me. I stood there, transfixed, caught off-guard by this unexpected sight. And then, into my mind came the following scripture:
Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap,
they have neither storehouse nor barn,
and yet God feeds them.
Of how much more value are you than the birds?
OK, it's a cardinal, not a raven . . . thank goodness . . . but there was my sign! And every time I pass by, the sign remains. How foolish of me to have doubted the presence and protection of the God who claims us as his own children!
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 (messiahgwynedd.org) on these important holy-days and join with the Rector and your parish family in worship.
OUR BISHOP'S EASTER SERVICE
FROM THE PHILADELPHIA CATHEDRAL
On Easter morning, 10:00am, Bishop Gutierrez will celebrate and preach at a celebration of Holy Eucharist from the Philadelphia Cathedral. All are invited to tune in this festive Easter liturgy by logging on to the Cathedral website: philadelphiacathedral.org.
A VERY SPECIAL EASTER VISITOR
On Easter morning, check the Messiah website for a message from a very special visitor!
Mary Magdalene will be telling her story of that very first Easter morning!
Jesus' very special friend, Mary Magdalene, was the first of the disciples to encounter the Risen Christ in the garden where Jesus' had been laid in the tomb after his death. Listen as Mary recounts her surprise and great joy in finding that her Savior lived once again, and forevermore.
Note: While this video is posted as a special Easter treat for our youngest parishioners, I think everyone will not only enjoy, but gain a new perspective, through this presentation.
A special Thank you to Messiah's very own Rebecca Flowers for her portrayal and engaging interpretation of the Easter Gospel tale.
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: email@example.com.
IN THE EVENT OF A PASTORAL EMERGENCY, PLEASE CONTACT ME BY USING MY PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBER (215-692-2667) OR PERSONAL EMAIL (firstname.lastname@example.org).
'VIRTUAL WARM WISHES' CAMPAIGN: CHAPTER 1
Thank you to all who responded to our invitation to send a photo or message for inclusion in the campaign to "see" one another and "gather together" in this time of quarantine, and isolation, and "virtual" hugs and kisses until we can once again offer and receive them in person. Check out the church website to view the first chapter of these submissions. Hope it brings some a smile to your place and a warmth to your heart to see everyone looking so well.
If you haven't yet taken a snapshot of you and your family and added it to the 'Virtual Warm Wishes' campaign, we are continuing to collect these and will be adding them periodically for sequel chapters. Messiah's Outreach Committee invites every parish household to snap a photo, a favorite quote, or uplifting message send it along to: email@example.com. Submissions will be compiled and posted to the website as a reminder that, even in this time of social distancing and seperation, we are still members who share in a community of faith, a community of believers.
MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO THE LORD
On Easter morning, Messiah will join with other Episcopal churches throughout the Philadelphia area to proclaim the Good News of the Resurrection by ringing the carillon bells from our church tower! If you live within earshot of the bells, listen at 9:30am for this traditional way of announcing the joy of Easter to the world. And then listen each Sunday morning during the Easter season as the carillon continues to announce the Good News of our Risen Lord.
AND EVEN MORE JOYFUL NOISE
In the days leading up to Easter, you and all the members of your household are invited to make a video of you shouting the traditional Easter greeting! For centuries, Christians have greeted one another with the joyful proclamation:
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
In the next few days, find a noise-maker - even a soup pot and wooden spoon will do! - then shout the proclamation, followed by a "joyful noise". Parents: your children will definitely want to help you in this! Be sure to send your video to Sam Frenkel (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sam will compile all the videos into a montage that will be posted to church website in time for viewing on Easter morning.
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 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 THE PASTOR'S PRAYER BOOK
O God, we beseech thee for all who are weighed down with the burdens of this world, for who there seems little hope; comfort them with the assurance of thy love, give them some token of thy continual care for them, and, in thy good time, restore them to a measure of cheerfulness in the good companionship of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
WORDS OF COMFORT & PRAISE FROM THE PSALMS
May God be merciful to us and bless us, *
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
Let you ways be known upon earth, *
your saving health among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, *
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God, *
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has brought forth her increase; *
may God, our own God, give us his blessings.
May God give us his blessing, *
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.
Psalm 67, Book of Common Prayer