Included NEW in today's update: A Message from Father Keith with Parishioner Reflections, Liturgy for Sunday 3 May Worship, Sunday Sermons to read and share, Thank you and Pledge reminder...
FROM THE RECTOR
Saturday, 2 May 2020
Last week I wrote about a life lesson I learned more than forty years ago from a dear friend and mentor named Nelson who advised me that any event or situation is only a "stupid mistake" if we fail to recognize the lesson imbedded in the experience or do not learn something to take away from that lesson.
I also asked for you to reflect on what you may be learning, what you will take away and carry forward from the trying, uncertain, and anxious times we find ourselves living these days. A few of you responded - maybe the rest of you are still ruminating and collecting your thoughts - so, I thought I would share some of the insights that some of your fellow parishioners offered. I hope you will find them interesting and inspiring . . .
My takeaway from this crisis is that it’s okay to slowdown. Life before COVID was rushing around from this thing to that thing, buying this, going there. I think we kept moving in order to avoid sitting, thinking and reflecting. We used stuff to fill a void. If we were busy, we must be important. This slowdown forces you to think and reflect on what is important, and it's people not things. It's good health not the newest outfit. It's a walk outside on a sunny day. It's looking around and realizing that this spring has been so beautiful, though would like a few more sunny days. I hope when this is over, we just don’t hop back into our cars to enter the rat race. I hope that we continue to embrace family, family dinners and family walks. When we walked today, we noticed at least 4 groups of neighbors out on driveways in a circle of chairs hanging out. I hope we don’t lose that. The rocks throughout our neighborhood with positive statements. I hope we don’t’ lose that. The rainbows in windows and signs of thanks. Let's not lose the gratitude that we are expressing to our everyday heroes: medical staff, grocery cashiers, the delivery guy, fireman and policeman. Before COVID did we ever thank them? That's a move in the right direction. The majority of us are trying to do the best that we can and for the most part we are doing it in beautiful way. We are not so bad after all. There are more good people than bad people. More people running to help than running away. In a time of crisis, we are rising up to meet the challenge.
I have been opportuned to learn from disparate geographies- Nigeria, Ghana, the US and of course beyond, through news media like everyone else. I believe there will be a new normal, given the life changes that were wrought by similar if less impactful past happenstances. I mean 911 especially as an example. So to me it is likely a matter not of whether there will be a new normal, but rather how significantly different life's routine will be.
First and foremost, I have been able to reflect on what is truly important in my life - my health and that of everyone in my family; the importance and value of each other and the realization that we only have a finite period of time to enjoy those relationships and a renewed commitment to maximize that time; slow down and assess what is really important and necessary and eliminate those things that are not; not a live-for-today mentality but a realization that today may be your last, and what am I going to do differently in case it is; a placement of God in my life that he doesn't always occupy. A crisis such as this should give all of us the desire to do some serious reflecting and come to some critical decisions on how we choose to live the rest of our lives.
I will offer some more responses in future editions. And the invitation to share your own thoughts and insights and lessons learned still remains open . . .and I look forward to hearing and learning from more of 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.
LITURGY FOR TOMORROW'S WORSHIP
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Celebrant: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Response: The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
SONG OF PRAISE
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.
COLLECT FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
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 2:42-47 1
The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;*
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
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.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Each petition ends as follows:
Intercessor: Blessed be the risen Christ.
Response: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
SUNDAY WORSHIP MUSIC
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!
SUNDAY SERMON AVAILABLE EACH WEEK
Each week, the text of the Sunday sermon is posted to the website. Feel free to print it out if you find that helpful. And perhaps you might also print a copy and send to someone who doesn't have computer access. This would be greatly appreciated and provide a way for these parishioners to also stay connected.
'FORWARD DAY BY DAY'
DEVOTIONALS ARE HERE
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name and address.
OPERATION LAWN SIGN
A large lawn sign has been erected on the front lawn of the church, with the following message: "God Bless Our Heroes". When Mike Linn was putting it up, many of the passing motorists were honking their horns, waving and giving a thumbs up in solidarity with Messiah's prayers of thanksgiving for all the essential personnel working to keep us safe and meet our ongoing needs.
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.
PLEASE KEEP YOUR PLEDGE UP TO DATE
Thank you to all of you who have dropped off or sent in your pledge over the past several weeks! Your faithfulness has allowed us to stay current with payroll and bill payment. Now that we are in a new month - can it really be May already? - please remember to submit this month's pledge. Thank you!