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Rector's Message: Saturday, 25 April 2020 - Preparing for Sunday Worship

Included in today's update: A Message from Father Keith , Liturgy for Sunday 26 April Worship, Sunday Worship Music, Also in the Gallery, Forward Day by Day...


Saturday, 25 April 2020

Dear Friends:

I have been having a recurring thought - a question, really - over the past several days, and have spent some time allowing it to run through my mind, seeing what comes forth and bubbles to the surface. That thought is this: What have I learned from this unusual and unprecedented situation we find ourselves to be living in? Forced and extreme isolation; "social distancing" - a whole new word and concept for many of us; constant wearing of a mask and other protective gear; watching the daily news for the daily infection and death count not only in this nation, but the world over; continually worrying about and praying for the health and safety of family, friends, neighbors - and each of you; wondering when we will return to a sense of normalcy, and what that "normal" will even look like, resigned to the fact that things will not just return to "how they used to be".

Will all of these become accepted and necessary parts of that "new normal"?

One of the mantras I have tried to live my life by is a statement of sage advice from a trusted mentor I looked up to and loved as dearly and deeply as my own father. His name was Nelson, and although he has been dead for many years now, I still miss him and think of him often, longing on occasion to once again be able to discuss things with him and seek his wisdom. At a very low and sad point in my life in the late-1970's, as I was facing a divorce I did not seek, the two of us were sitting in his judge's chambers after hours, sharing a bourbon. (OK, now you know who introduced me to that southern spirit!)

With my tears diluting my drink, I commented that my far-too-young marriage and the few painful years that followed were all a stupid mistake. I don't remember my exact words, but all these years later, I not only remember Nelson's, but can also hear his slow, quiet voice with its distinctive southern Virginia drawl: "Let me tell you something I've learned," he said. "It's only a mistake if there isn't a lesson in it. And you're only stupid if you don't learn that lesson."

For over forty years, Nelson's words have been with me, usually lying dormant in my memory and psyche. But in times of stress or confusion, times of uncertainty and regret, they always rise to the surface - and so they have done once again over this past week: What am I learning from this situation? What are WE - as a nation, as the world, as a faith community - learning from this crisis? As I watch the daily briefings, the evening news, the pundits and experts and talking heads across the broad spectrum of opinions, I am both heartened and disappointed at the same time.

I ask: Will this viral crisis just be a stupid mistake - eventually consigned to the trash heap of history and past records? Or will we be astute and inquisitive enough to seek out the lessons to be known? Will we be wise enough to learn from these lessons? I know that I don't yet have any firm answers at this point, but my thinking and ruminating continues in my quiet moments . . .

And I invite you to join me . . . I would welcome your comments, your insights, your wisdom, your advice as you ask yourself: Is this all some stupid mistake? Or are there lessons to be learned; and are we wise enough to recognize them?

Because we currently are prevented from sitting down together and having a conversation - with or without a bourbon! - I would love to hear from you what lessons we might learn from these weeks and this crisis. Please email me with your "lessons learned": I will collect and compile these thoughts and insights and, at some point in the near future, find a way to share them among all of us.

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.

- Keith



Celebrant: Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Response: The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!



Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,

we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.

Alleluia! Amen.


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.

LESSONS: Acts 2:14a,36-41

1 Peter 1:17-23

Luke 24:13-35

PSALM 116:1-3,10-17

I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, *

because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.

The cords of death entangled me;

the grip of the grave took hold of me; *

I came to grief and sorrow.

Then I called upon the Name of the Lord; *

“O Lord, I pray you, save my life.”

How shall I repay the Lord *

for all the good things he has done for me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation *

and call upon the Name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *

in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord *

is the death of his servants.

O Lord, I am your servant; *

I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;

you have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving *

and call upon the Name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *

in the presence of all his people.

In the courts of the Lord’s house, *

in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.



We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth, of all this is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God, begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look of the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.


Each petition ends as follows:

Intercessor: Blessed be the risen Christ.

Response: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!


To enhance your Sunday worship experience, be sure to check out the weekly music and carillon recordings. Go to the Gallery tab on the parish website; select videos;there you will find hymns selected for the day, along with Messiah's church bells ringing out the Good News of the Easter season. This music is presented each week by Hannah Albrecht and Sam Frenkel. Thank you, Hannah and Sam!


While you're in the Gallery, be sure to check out the 'Special Visitor' video. You won't want to miss Mary Magdalene's telling of the Easter story! Thank you to Rebecca Flowers for such a wonderful portrayal!



Many of you enjoy reading the quarterly devotional, Forward Day by Day. Booklets for the months of May through July have arrived. You may pick up a copy from the church office (9-1, Mon-Thur); or a copy can be mailed to you. Simply call me (215-699-9204) or send your email request to, with your name and address.


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 - - 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 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?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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