THE RECTOR'S MESSAGE Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Included in today's update:  A Message from Father Keith, Messiah Joins in Community Food Donation Days, Face Masks for All, Important Voting Deadlines, The Bishop Returns to CBS and more!

 FROM THE RECTOR

 

Sixth Week in Easter Season

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

 

Dear Friends:

 

All of us are looking forward to the day - hopefully in the near future! - when the rates of infection and death caused by this vicious virus allow government and other official restrictions to be lifted. Who among us does not long for a return to a sense of normalcy? Most of us understand that life post-COVID will most likely not look like the days before this crisis attacked. Most of us understand that many things will be forever changed, quite different than before. But what that "new normal" will require of us is anyone's guess. Just how much of a deviation from our past routines and assumptions and everyday life we will need to adjust to is still a great unknown. And that "great unknown" that looms before us can carry great angst, worry and concern, even fear.

 

Over the weekend, while listening to the radio - yep, some of us still engage in that ancient practice! - I heard pieces of a commencement address given by Katie Couric. She poses a provocative question: "What if, instead of simply awaiting a new normal, we can begin to envision and enact a better normal?"  What might that look like, I wonder? What have we seen, and experienced, and been engaged in over the past few months that we would choose to carry into a new and better future than the past we leave behind?

 

A few things come to mind:

  • more unstructured time with my wife and children and loved ones, allowing for more in-depth conversations on a range of subjects, some relevant, some completely off-the-track;

  • greater appreciation for the many people I have often overlooked, but who are essential and necessary for the convenience and ease their work adds to my life;

  • gratitude for my continued good health;

  • the grace of being privileged to engage in the vocation to which I have been called;

  • thankfulness for the many physical ways we have to show one another love - a warm hug, a gentle kiss on the cheek, a comforting arm thrown around my shoulder, the assurance of a firm handshake;

  • the patience that is (slowly) growing within me to embrace day-long grocery and shopping trips;

  • new appreciation for the technologies that allow us to communicate, and even worship, in new, innovative, creative ways;

  • the joy I get from sharing a neighbor's friendly wave over the back fence, or a passerby's eyes that convey a smile hidden behind a mask;

  • continuing to make time for the renewed hobbies and pastimes that have engaged and entertained me recently;  

  • the community of living a common experience with so many others;

  • the humility of knowing that countless men and women are working willingly and desperately to ensure my safety and wellbeing;

  • the greater compassion that seems to have blossomed all around me in the past few weeks . . .

These things, and many more, I hope to carry forth into my "better normal".

 

What will you bring with you into our "better normal"?

 

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

 

MESSIAH JOINS AREA CHURCHES TO HOST

COMMUNITY FOOD DONATION DAYS

Your help is needed to help others! Most likely, you are fortunate enough to have three healthy meals a day. But everyone is not so fortunate. Right now, there are many individuals and families in your town and in towns close by who don’t know where their next meal will come from. And now, because of conditions associated with COVID-19, there are many more people facing this reality.

    The food supply in local food cupboards is dwindling and needs to be replenished so that people in need can have nutritious food during this challenging time. Five churches in the North Wales/Gwynedd community - Gwynedd Friends, Sanctuary United Methodist, St. Peter's Lutheran, St. Rose of Lima, Church of the Messiah - are joining together to help alleviate this situation by hosting Community Food Donation Days.

    We are asking you, your neighbors, and your friends to participate by donating non-perishable food items, paper products and cleaning/sanitizing products. Bring your donations to Messiah on Saturday, May 30th, between 9:00am and 1:00pm. No need to leave your car - YOM (Youth of Messiah) volunteers will receive your donations at the main doors of the Parish House; then they will work to organize, package and deliver your donations to local food cupboards: Manna on Main Street, Inter-Faith Housing Alliance, and Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard.

       Items Most Needed:

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly

  • Canned Proteins (Chicken, Salmon, SPAM, Beef Stew, Ham, Sardines, Tuna)

  • Canned or Dried Fruits & Vegetables

  • Cereal, Oatmeal, Granola Bars

  • Whole Grain Pasta & Pasta Sauce

  • Rice, Quinoa, Beans (dried/canned)

  • Coffee/Tea, Juice, Condiments

  • Baking Ingredients (Flour, Oil, Sugar)

  • Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Tissues

  • Cleaning Products, Sanitizing Wipes

  • Dish and Laundry Detergent

 

FACE MASKS FOR BOTH CHILDREN & ADULTS

Governor Wolf has recommended that all children over the age of two years should wear masks in public, but adult-sized masks are usually too large for children's smaller faces so 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 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!

 

CHURCH SCHOOL & VBS UPDATE

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 . . .

 

PA PRIMARY VOTING INFORMATION

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 VotesPA.com/MailBallot or call 1-877-VOTESPA.

    Important dates and deadlines:

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

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

 

SUNDAY WORSHIP CONTINUES ON THE WEBSITE

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.

 

THE BISHOP RETURNS TO CBS ON SUNDAYS

Bishop Gutierrez returns to CBS / Channel 3 for three Sunday morning services, including The Feast of Pentecost: 5/24, 5/31 and 6/7. You can watch at 5:30 a.m.; or 9 a.m. on YouTube and Facebook.

 

ARE YOU IN NEED?

OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS?

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; rector@messiahgwynedd.org.

    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 - www.mannonmain.org - under the "Need Help" tab at the top of the page.

 

FOOD ASSISTANCE IN GUATEMALA

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 KEEP YOUR PLEDGE UP TO DATE

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!

 

A PRAYER & PSALM FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose most Holy Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is loved and governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers for all members the human family in these difficult and trying days, remembering especially the members of Church of the Messiah and parishes throughout the Diocese of Pennsylvania, that in our labors and vocation and ministry we may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer

 

PSALM 85

Lord, you have been gracious to your land; *

     you have restored the good fortunes of Jacob.

You have forgiven the iniquity of your people; *

     you blotted out all their sins.

You have withdrawn all your fury; *

     you turned from your hot anger.

Restore us then, O God of our salvation, *

     and put away your indignation toward us.

Will you be angry with us forever? *

     Will you prolong your anger to all generations?

Will you not revive us again, *

     so that your people may rejoice in you?

Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, *

     and grant us your salvation.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, *

     for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful,

     to those who turn to him in their hearts.

Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, *

     that his glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; *

     righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, *

     and righteousness will look down from the sky.

The Lord will give what is good, *

     and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness will go before him, *

     and will make a path for his steps.

 

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