EASTER WEEK MESSAGE
Easter Monday, 13 April 2020
Included in today's update: A Message from Father Keith , LESSONS FOR YOUR EASTER WEEK DEVOTIONS, Sunday Worship on the Website, Prayer & Prayer Shawl Requests, Office Hours this week...and so much more!
FROM THE RECTOR
As of this morning, we are living in a new world, a new Creation. Can you feel it?
In the opening verses of Genesis, we learn the story of God creating, over the course of seven days, the universe and all that is 'ex nihilo,' a theological term meaning 'out of nothing'. At Easter, through Christ's Resurrection, with his defeat of death and opening up for us the possibility of eternal life, we experience a new day - the eighth day - and we are invited to step into, to live in a whole new Creation - indeed, we are invited to become, each one of us, a whole new creation. For the creative powers of Our God did not end, but continue. Through the sacramental waters of baptism, we die to the old world and our old self, and we are raised with Christ into a new world order. This is why many baptismal fonts are eight-sided, for through the font we are ushered into - and actually become - a new Creation.
Yesterday, on Easter morning, we remembered and celebrated the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord! The Church proclaimed, with shouts of 'Alleluia! Christ is risen!', that we lay claim to that invitation of new life! That we claim our citizenship in God's new Creation in Christ! That we claim our right as citizens and heirs of the newly emerging and transforming Kingdom of God!
All of that is certainly enough for our 'Alleluia!' to break out and be shouted to the heavens. May our lives from this moment on be worthy examples and evidence to the world of all that has been done for us. May we live as Easter people, portraying to those still living in the old world order that there is a new possibility, a new Creation, a new alternative, a new life.
Beginning today, you are living in a new Creation! Beginning on this morning after Easter, you are a new Creation! Can you see the evidence of new life? It is bursting forth all around you. Allow it to burst forth from within you.
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.
LESSONS FOR YOUR EASTER WEEK DEVOTIONS
Here are the daily Collects and list of assigned readings for the days of Easter Week..
MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK
Grant, we pray, Almighty God. that we who celebrate with awe the Paschal feast may be found worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Psalm 93, 98
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise forever and ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:12-28
WEDNESDAY IN EASTER WEEK
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Psalm 97 & 99
1 Corinthians 15:29-41
THURSDAY IN EASTER WEEK
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 146 & 147
1 Corinthians 15:41-50
FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK
Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give us grace so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
SATURDAY IN EASTER WEEK
We thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered us from the dominion of sin and death and brought us into the kingdom of your Son; and we pray that, as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his love he may raise us to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10
SUNDAY WORSHIP ON THE WEBSITE
Due to the many favorable responses to the Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Day virtual services offered through the church website . . . As well as the many requests to continue offering worship videos in the weeks ahead . . . I will be videoing Sunday worship services and posting them to the parish website for the duration of the suspension of church services. While I hope and pray that the COVID-19 crisis will soon peak and abate, allowing us to resume our regular schedule of Sunday 8:00 and 9:30 services, it is unclear how soon social distancing requirements and other precautions will prevent our parish family from resuming our Sunday routine. In the meantime, we will make use of modern technology to gather together and maintain ourselves as a worshiping community of faith.
Each week, you will receive the psalm and words of the other communal parts of the service, allowing you to respond and fully participate and interact in the worship service.
A huge thank you to Nick Kapusta, Jean London and Lauren Marsh for their assistance in videoing these service offerings and posting them on the web. Your technical expertise is much appreciated by this technically illiterate Rector; and the gift of your time and advice is deeply appreciated as well.
So get that second cup of coffee, still in your pajamas and bathrobe, and gather together in front of the computer or iPad or other other device . . . Then join with me and other members of Messiah as we worship together virtually, until we can once again worship together in person . . . As has been often said in the past few weeks: We're all alone together.
PRAYER REQUESTS & PRAYER SHAWLS
I have not received notification that any member of the Messiah community has contracted the coronavirus, required hospitalization due to infection or any other reason, or has suffered the loss of a loved one during this time. And for that we must all be exceedingly grateful and offer a prayer of thanksgiving, for that is truly Good News!
However, if you do have prayer requests - due to the virus outbreak, or for whatever reason - please be sure to pass them along to me so these can be named in my own personal daily prayers, as well as added to the parish prayer chain.
And prayer shawls can still be obtained. If you know someone who would benefit from receiving one of these shawls, please contact me and we can make arrangements for you to pick one up from the church office.
AND SPEAKING OF PRAYER . . .
One valuable outcome of this situation we find ourselves in has been the increased viability of my personal prayer life. (Now, that's a real silver lining!) While I have for many years started my day with some private prayer and meditation time, the disruption of normal routines over the past few month has allowed for a bit more time to be spent in this endeavor. This has permitted a new discipline to begin.
I now spend about five minutes each morning with the parish directory in my lap. As I go down the list, for each name and household, I spend a few moments recalling faces, remembering past conversations and current concerns, then offering a short prayer for that specific individual or family before moving on to the next listing. I have found this discipline to be quite helpful in maintaining that important sense of connection that could easily slip away in this time of forced isolation.
I mention this for two important reasons:
Please know that each of you, individually, are being brought before God by name and prayed for on a regular basis.
Consider beginning this exercise as part of your own prayer life. Not only will you find it rewarding to know that you are enriching your prayer life and remembering others in a meaningful way, but will find that it serves to remind you that you are not alone in these uncertain days, but an integral and vital part of a community that values your presence.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
A big thank you and note of appreciation to all the seamstresses who stepped forward and answered the urgent call for cloth face masks. Through your efforts and skill with needle and thread and sewing machine, you helped keep many members of our congregation and neighbors in our local community a bit safer in these times of viral infection. Thank you to everyone who created masks and donated supplies!
And to all: If you or your family members or neighbors are in need of a mask, a few are still available. Contact the Rector to make arrangements for pick-up or delivery.
EASTER WEEK OFFICE HOURS &
EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
Our Bishop has encouraged all clergy to take Easter Week as days of rest and relaxation, recuperation and retreat. So, your Rector will be taking a little extra time away from the office in the days ahead. While I will not have set office hours, I will be stopping by the church office for awhile on Tuesday and Thursday to retrieve and answer phone and email messages, sort the mail, and take care of other ongoing office duties. Should a pastoral emergency arise that requires my immediate attention, please contact me on my cell phone: 215-692-2667; or personal email: email@example.com.
Beginning next week, April 20th, the Rector will resume regular (though reduced) office hours once again: 9:00am-1:00pm, Monday through Thursday.
The church staff members will continue to work from home until we receive instruction form public health authorities and the diocesan office that it is safe to resume normal operation. Please join me in expressing your gratitude for their efforts throughout this stand-down period. Their efforts to continue their duties and their creativity in continuing to maintain parish business, communication, finances and education opportunities for our church school children and youth has been exemplary.
PLEASE KEEP YOUR PLEDGE UP TO DATE
While church services and activities are suspended at least until May 4th, the utility bills, staff payroll, and other financial obligations still must be met. Please help Messiah to remain financially solvent and secure through the continued regular payment of your pledge. Payments should be mailed to: Church of the Messiah, 1001 Dekalb Pike, Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002-1941.
Many thanks to all who have submitted pledge payments - and even additional financial donations, or advance payments of pledges. Your loyalty is greatly appreciated and has been a great help over the past weeks. Thank you!
CONSIDER HOW YOU MIGHT HELP
THOSE IN NEED THROUGH THESE DIFFICULT DAYS
A couple from within the congregation, anticipating a bump in their bank account due to the government's stimulus initiative, donated the expected amount of their check to the Rector's Discretionary Fund this past week, with instructions that it be used to provide for food and other needs of those living in our community. Another individual, a new member of the parish, delivered a ham and the funds to buy the other makings of a fine Easter dinner for a family in need. Over the past few days, I have received calls for assistance with rent, utilities, and medications from social service agencies and individuals from the local community seeking help. As unemployment numbers continue to rise and more people find themselves laid off, furloughed, or wages reduced, the needs will continue to climb as well.
First of all: If you or someone you know is experiencing financial hardship, please contact the Rector and express the need. All conversations and details of assistance are completely confidential. Names and circumstances are never shared.
And if you feel called to share your blessings with others, I offer two suggestions for your consideration:
MANNA ON MAIN STREET - This local social service agency provides food, feeding programs, financial assistance, employment counseling and training for those living in the Lansdale and Lower Gwynedd area. Donations of nonperishable food stuffs and monetary gifts are desperately needed at this time. Drop off or mail your donation to: Manna on Main Street, 606 E. Main Street, Lansdale, PA 19446.
RECTOR'S DISCRETIONARY FUND - This fund allows the Rector to respond quickly to emergent needs brought to his attention by social service agencies around the local area, appeals from Episcopal Community Services, the diocese and national church offices for assistance, or direct contact from individuals. You can contribute to this fund by making your check payable to Rector's Discretionary Fund; and mailing it to: Church of the Messiah, 1001 Dekalb Pike, Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002-1941.
There are many other local, regional and national agencies and organizations providing much needed assistance in these unprecedented times. If you know of these efforts, and would like others to know of them as well, please contact me with that information and I will post it in order to help spread the word of their good actions.