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THE RECTOR'S MESSAGE Wednesday, 13 May 2020

NEW in today's update: A Message from Father Keith, Church School & VBS Update, YOM News, Are You or Someone You Know in Need, Food Assistance for Guatemala, and A Prayer and Psalm for the Week Ahead.


Fifth Week in Easter Season

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Dear Friends:

There are so many people to whom I owe a "Thank You" for all they are doing during this unusual time period we are living through: doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and first responders, of course; but also the mailman, the trash collectors, grocery and pharmacy clerks, the pizza delivery guy, bank tellers, beer distributor, the security guards at Meadowood keeping my mother and other residents safe - all the many individuals I probably wouldn't have labeled as "essential" until the past several weeks proved their need to our ongoing welfare and support. (OK, to tell the truth, I have always considered the beer distributor as essential). And I am willing to bet that you also have many people to thank as well.

So then, let's do it! I am publicly declaring this Thursday through Saturday to be:


Use the rest of this week to express your gratitude and appreciation to all those people around you who are working so very hard to minister to your many ongoing needs! Let's all make a special effort to say "Thanks" over these next few days:

  • leave a note for the mail carrier and trash collectors;

  • be deliberate in thanking the grocery, pharmacy workers, and other helpers;

  • place a phone call to someone who needs to hear how much you appreciate all they are doing for you;

  • send an email to a person who has made a difference in how you are coping with these days;

  • give a generous tip and a smile (after all, it's free!) to the delivery person at your door, or curbside delivery person who greets you with your take-out order;

  • become a delivery person yourself, bringing a casserole, or pie, or banana bread to a neighbor or friend;

  • express your gratitude to your children's online teachers . . .

There are many ways to say "Thank You"! There are many individuals who need to hear your words of thankfulness! And, trust me, you'll even gain some benefit for yourself by expressing your gratitude to others . . .

There are also some pastoral care notices to be announced:

  • Last week, we informed you of Bette and Jack Higgins, two long-time parish members who had both tested positive for the coronavirus. Sadly, Jack lost his battle with the virus this past weekend. Married for almost seventy years, Bette is deeply grieving the loss of her husband after so many decades together. I would like for her to be showered with an abundance of notes and cards from her parish family at this difficult time. Even if you don't know Bette, please take the time to put a card or note of sympathy in the mail; noting "Church of the Messiah" along with your name. Mail should be addressed to:

Bette Higgins

Peter Becker Community

800 Maple Avenue

Harleysville, PA 19438

  • We have also learned that Dr. Nasser Sabokbar, father of Julie Sabokbar, has also succumbed to the COVID-19 virus. Our sympathy goes out to Julie, her mother MaryAnn, and her children in this sorrowful time.

  • And Isabel Murphy and Joe Wilus are both home, recovering from hip surgeries. We wish them a speedy and complete recovery!

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



Health care workers battling the COVID-19 outbreak on the frontlines in hospitals, nursing homes and other care centers continue to be in desperate need of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Your fellow congregation members, Rebecca and Sean Flowers, are participating in an initiative to provide fabric face masks and head coverings for nurses, technicians and others. Messiah seamstresses are invited to contact Rebecca and Sean for patterns and assembly information. Other Messiah members are invited to speak with them to learn of other ways you can support this important project.

Please call or email Rebecca and Sean and join with them to provide these needed items: 407-760-0526;


With the mandatory wearing of face masks required in so many locations, you may have need for smaller masks to fit your younger children. One of our parishioners, Nancy Sisson, has constructed scaled-down masks and is making a supply of these available to anyone who has need for these smaller masks. We also have a supply of adult-sized masks still available here in the church office. If you are in need of masks, please stop by the church office (9-1, Mon-Thur) or call the Rector (215-699-9204).

Thank you to Nancy and the many other seamstresses who have kept us supplied. I haven't kept track of how many masks we have distributed, but it has to be at least 100!


While the Church School program year has ended, Messiah's Church School Director, Tiffany Reichley is busy planning for next month's Vacation Bible School. While there are modifications necessary this year, we are quite excited by the prospect of putting together a memorable experience for our younger parishioners. This year, rather than gathering at the church each evening, we have been forced to think "outside the box". So, we will be hosting and new way of doing Bible School - V.B.S. in a B.O.X.

Every child in the congregation, as well as all other children - ages three through sixth grade - who choose to be included, will receive a package containing all the materials needed to engage in this year's VBS, The Rocky Railway. Each day - June 29th through July 3rd - families can log onto the parish website to join in listening to the day's Bible lesson, singing a song together, and hearing more about the day's theme. Then the whole family can enjoy making a craft, perhaps doing a science experiment, or other fun activity, all the while learning more about Jesus and God's love for us.

As stated already, every child in the Messiah congregation will automatically be enrolled and receive a V.B.S. B.O.X. And if you have grandchildren, neighbors, or know of other children who would like to participate, we will publish how to register them so they can also participate. Stay tuned . . .


Unfortunately, we have to announce that a casualty of the chaos and cancellations caused by the pandemic is the annual YOM Summer Mission Trip. Dave Reichley, our Youth Minister, had made plans for Messiah's youth to travel to Boston in mid-June for a week of mission work and projects assisting those in need of home repairs and other jobs. However, YouthWorks, the organization sponsoring and organizing the trip has, wisely and understandably, been forced to cancel their summer trips.

But we are planning to schedule some single-day projects here at the church and through social service agencies for the youth to do in our local community. Of course, these plans are heavily dependent on precautionary health and safety guidelines yet to be announced, so stay tuned for more information and details as they become available.


To safeguard both our health and our vote, the date for the PA primary election has been moved to JUNE 2, 2020. And ALL residents of the Commonwealth can now apply for a mail-in ballot, eliminating the need to gather at the polls and enabling you to vote from the comfort of your home. Go to or call 1-877-VOTESPA.

Important dates and deadlines:

  • May 18: last day to update voter registration

  • May 26: last day to apply for mail-in ballot

  • June 2, 8:00pm: deadline to return completed mail-in ballot


Videos of Sunday worship services will continue to be posted to the parish website for the duration of the suspension of church services. Each Saturday, 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.

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.


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.



Many people across our region and in our local community have been financially affected by this pandemic. and we have seen unemployment and furlough numbers climb to heights not seen since the Great Depression a century ago. If you are in need of assistance, or perhaps have a neighbor or friend who could be helped in these unprecedented times, please contact me. Several members of the congregation have been generous and made funds available to assist in meeting these needs through the Rector's Discretionary Fund. All conversations and assistance is confidential. Call or email me if you or someone you know could use some help: 215-699-9204;

Another source of assistance is Manna on Main Street. Manna has sent a message to local churches noting that they have been blessed with substantial monetary contributions over the past several weeks, and, as a result, their budget for their financial assistance program has been increased. If you live within the North Penn School District, you are invited to complete a financial assistance application for aid. The application can be found on Manna's website - - under the "Need Help" tab at the top of the page.


While the needs are great here in our own communities and nation, the effects of the worldwide pandemic are also being experienced by our sisters and brothers across the globe, particularly in developing countries. Several of your fellow Messiah parishioners accompanied me to Guatemala in late January, where we worked for a week in two villages building stoves and installing water purification systems, greatly improving the health and welfare of many families. And of course, our companion parish of St. Alban's is located in Antigua, Guatemala. The economic and social quarantine and curfews mandated by COVID-19 have been especially hard as most people live on day-to-day wages, and many people are prevented from working or lost their jobs.

While other mission teams have had to cancel their trips due to the viral pandemic, the team at Adventures in Mission/Guatemala, the organization that hosted our Messiah team continue to do what they can to minister to the poorest villagers in that country. Angela and Miguel, a young married couple who served as our mission team coordinators, are making and distributing food packages to the people of Jocotenango, located near Finca Fikladelfia, the coffee plantation we toured on our last day before returning stateside.

What is included in a care package: staples such as beans, rice, and oil; fresh fruits and vegetables; toilet paper (when available) and other health needs.

How the package distribution works: families in need of food hang a white flag outside their door. Angela and Miguel go door-to-door, distributing as many care packages as they can until their day's supply is finished.

How much does it cost: "Adopting" a family and supplying a week of food costs about $20.00.

If you feel called to assist in this important ministry: Please send your contribution to my attention here at the church office. Make your check payable to: Rector's Discretionary Fund. These funds will then be sent to Adventures in Mission/Guatemala to support Angela and Miguel in their project to feed the poorest of the poor in Guatemala.


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 faithfulness is greatly appreciated and has been a great help over the past weeks. Thank you!


O God, the source of all health and wholeness: So fill our hearts with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy we may make room for your power to possess me and all who are afflicted with this COVID-19 virus, that we may gracefully receive and accept your healing love; through Jesus Christ our Risen Lord. Amen.

Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer


Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing; *

from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.

For I am persuaded that your love is established forever; *

you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.

The heavens bear witness to your wonders, O Lord, *

and to your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.

For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? *

who is like the Lord among the gods?

Who is like you Lord God of hosts? *

O mighty Lord, your faithfulness is all around you.

Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; *

you laid the foundations of the world and all that is in it.

You have a mighty arm; *

strong is your hand and high is your right hand.

Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne; *

love and truth go before your faith.

Happy are the people who know the festal shout! *

they walk, O Lord, in the light of your presence.

They rejoice daily in your Name; *

they are jubilant in your righteousness.

For you are the glory of their strength, *

and by your favor our might is exalted.

Truly, the Lord is our ruler; *

the Holy One of Israel is our King.

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