Included in today's update: A Message from Father Keith , Saying Thank You,
Prayer & Prayer Shawl Requests, Prayers for the week ahead, and more...
FROM THE RECTOR
Tuesday, 21 April 2020
How can we ever say "Thank You"? To those on the front lines of this battle with the deadly COVID-19 virus? How can we ever express our appreciation for all they have been doing on behalf of our selves, our families, our communities, our nation and the world? Can we ever say "Thank You" often enough? Can we ever say "Gracias" loud enough? How can we ever say "Domo Arigato" strongly enough? How to say "Danke Sehr" to all those who deserve our "Merci" and "Mahalo" and "Toda" and "Efharisto"?
As I have been watching the news images and hearing of the bravery of the first responders and doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists, hospital cleaning and kitchen staff, police and firemen, and so many others who have left their families at home, worked long hours, gone without sleep for days, been the final face seen by those who have died without the presence of loved ones, and have had the difficult job of informing spouses and children and families of their loved ones' passing . . .
All of this has been weighing on my heart and mind over the past weeks . . . and probably on yours, as well . . . If so, please read on to see how we here at Messiah can address this need to thank those we so desperately want to know of our sincerest gratitude and deepest appreciation . . . See Operation Lawn Sign and Operation Gratitude below . . .
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.
OPERATION LAWN SIGN
A large lawn sign has been designed and ordered to be erected on the front lawn of the church, with the following message: "God Bless Our Heroes". As soon as the sign arrives - sometime later this week - it will be set out in front of Messiah so that all those passing by on Dekalb Pike will know of our faith community's prayers of thanksgiving for all the essential personnel working to keep us safe and meet our ongoing needs.
And a challenge to each parish household: Make your own "God Bless Our Heroes" sign that can be prominently displayed on your home's front lawn, or in the window, anywhere that it can be seen by neighbors and passersby. Then take a photo and send it to me - - firstname.lastname@example.org. These will be collected and posted to the Messiah website as a tribute to all those to whom we owe so much.
A national movement, titled Operation Gratitude, is underway and I invite you to join me in taking part in this worthy endeavor. You can learn more about this movement by going to https://www.operationgratitude.com. This organization has been in operation for awhile, focusing on members of the armed forces stationed overseas, veterans and military families. Now, through their Virtual Volunteerism initiative, they are reaching out to first responders, medical personnel, and others battling the COVID-19 crisis across the US. How can you participate?
LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN - Care packages containing not only much- needed items, but also snacks and "fun" things meant to bring a smile to someone's face are assembled and mailed to recipients across the country. Also included in each box are letters and cards expressing the appreciation of grateful citizens, along with children's drawings, pages from coloring books - expressions of thanks from people of all ages. Over the next week, please make the time - many of us have more than we know what to do with these days! - to sit down and put pen to paper to express your appreciation in your own words. Or go to the Dollar Store and purchase some cards that just say "Thank You". Have your children write short notes, draw a picture, color a page or two or three from a coloring book. I will then be collecting your letters, cards and drawings and sending them along to Operation Gratitude for inclusion in outgoing Care packages. You can bring your donations to the church (9-1 Mon-Thur), where you will find a box located outside my office door. Or mail them, addressed to me, here at the church: 1001 Dekalb Pike, Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002-1941.
MONETARY DONATION - I have sent a donation from my Rector's Discretionary Fund to Operation Gratitude to be used to purchase items for Care packages. If you would also like to contribute a donation, please make your check payable to 'Rector's Discretionary Fund' with the notation 'Operation Gratitude' in the memo line. You can drop your gift off here at the church office, or send it to my attention. Your donation will be added to others and promptly sent along to the Operation Gratitude organization.
SUNDAY WORSHIP CONTINUES ON THE WEBSITE
Videos of Sunday worship services will be posted 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 responses and other communal parts of the service, allowing you to 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.
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!
A PRAYER & PSALM FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
O God, merciful and compassionate: You are ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in you; Graciously hearken to us who call upon you now, and grant us your help in this hour of great need, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
taken from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer
In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; *
deliver me in your righteousness.
Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *
for you are my tower of strength.
Into your hands I commend my spirit, *
for you have redeemed me, O LORD, O God of truth.
I hate those who cling to worthless idols, *
and I put my trust in the LORD.
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy; *
for you have seen my affliction; you know my distress.
You have not shut me up in the power of the enemy; *
you have set my feet in an open place.
Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble; *
my eye is consumed with sorrow, and also my throat and my belly.
For my life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighing; *
my strength fails me because of affliction, and my bones are consumed.
I have become a reproach to all my enemies and even to my neighbors,
a dismay to those of my acquaintance; *
when they see me in the street they avoid me.
I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; *
I am as useless as a broken pot.
For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is all around; *
they put their heads together against me; they plot to take my life.
But as for me, I have trusted in you, O LORD. *
I have said, "You are my God.
My times are in your hand; *
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.
Make your face to shine upon your servant, *
and in your loving-kindness save me."
LORD, let me not be ashamed for having called upon you; *
rather, let the wicked be put to shame; let them be silent in the grave.
Let the lying lips be silenced which speak against the righteous, *
haughtily, disdainfully, and with contempt.
How great is your goodness, O LORD!
which you have laid up for those who fear you; *
which you have done in the sight of all
for those who put their trust in you.
You hide them in the covert of your presence from those who slander them; *
you keep them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD! *
for he has shown me the wonders of his love in a besieged city.
Yet I said in my alarm,
I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes." *
Nevertheless, you heard the sound of my entreaty when I cried out to you.
Love the LORD, all you who worship him; *
the LORD protects the faithful, but repays to the full those who act haughtily.
Be strong and let your heart take courage, *
all you who wait for the LORD.