Included in today's update: A Message from Father Keith, 2nd half of 2020, VBS Online, Church Cleaning & Sanitizing, Property Upgrades, Belfry Update, Food Assistance, Recipes Needed, Worship Service Reminders and a Prayer & Psalm for the Week
FROM THE RECTOR
Wednesday, 1 July 2020
How very different this year's Independence Day celebrations will be! With all the restrictions and prohibitions in place because of the COVID pandemic and the recent spikes in infections and deaths in many places, this holiday that evokes thoughts of picnics, pool parties, parades, mass concerts and fireworks will have a quite different reality this year. And perhaps that is as it should be this year . . .
After all, it has been a wearying time for our nation, and indeed for the whole world over the past several months. The grief over the loss of so many lives to an invisible enemy virus is a hard weight to bear in our families, in our community, across our nation, and around the world. The loss of jobs and livelihoods for so many among us is devastating. The inability to meet face to face, to congregate, to embrace, to comfort, to celebrate, and to console in person is nothing but a loss - a deep, aching loss. The shutting down of so much and the confinement for so long has felt like a long, slow slog with heavy packs.
Admittedly, there is much that we can find to be thankful for and to admire from this time. People have been quite creative in finding ways to continue to reach out and "embrace" one another and express love and affection. Who thought a Zoom call "cocktail party" could bring families together from across the country and be so much fun. And I read a report that many parents are saying how much they have enjoyed the increased time with their children, bonding over family dinners and shared experiences. (Let's hope this also translates into a greater appreciation for teachers and day care workers! I heard from someone that the two students in his home school had been expelled for unruly behavior and the teacher had been fired for drinking on the job!)
But the pandemic has also exposed truths about ourselves that are hard to face. Inequalities in health care. Disparities in educational opportunities. The persistent, pervasive and insidious racism in our society.
As you celebrate this patriotic holiday that highlights the many freedoms and liberties that this nation provides, let us take time to honestly assess the weaknesses within our country and society. And let us then resolve to work to make advances in those areas, so that next year's celebration finds us even further down the road toward equality and justice for all who call our great nation home.
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.
BEGINNING THE SECOND HALF OF 2020
Today, the first day of July, begins the second half of the year. Let's pray that it's better than the first half! And in addition to our prayers, let our actions match our words: Wear a mask! Maintain social distancing! Help your neighbors! Find a way to work for justice and equality for all God's children!
Regardless your age, I guarantee you'll enjoy "attending" Messiah's virtual Vacation Bible School! And chances are good that you'll learn something new, gain a new insight, or find something to ponder. This year's theme is Rocky Railway and Tiffany Reichley and her team of volunteers have done a superb job with the daily videos. Thank you to everyone involved! Just go to the church website (messiahgwynedd.org) and check out the lessons, skits and songs posted for each day! Have a good time!
CHURCH CLEANING & SANITIZING TEAMS
After each worship service and every gathering in the Parish Hall, the spaces must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized using a hospital-grade disinfectant solution. Teams of parishioners under the direction of Dale Murphy and Robin and Greg Honeyman, along with our sexton Mike Linn, will perform this important ministry to ensure the safety of all using the parish spaces. If you are available on Monday or Thursday mornings, and are willing to be added to the list of volunteers, please contact Dale Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Greg Honeyman (email@example.com). Time commitment for each cleaning/sanitizing session is about an hour. Each week, six to eight volunteers are needed for the two teams, so we are hoping to compile a pool of at least 25 individuals in order that this responsibility can be spread across a larger group. Thank you for your help!
MESSIAH PROPERTY UPGRADES
Looking out my office window as I compose this message, I am watching workmen lay the cement and put the finishing touches on a new sidewalk leading from the parking lot to the church. As was done for the apron at the base of the church steps last year, the slate slabs that formerly made up the sidewalk have been removed and cement laid. This is a great improvement, alleviating the tripping hazard that the uneven slate had become, as well as making it much easier to clear snow and ice in the winter months.
Once this work is finished, the pole lamps lining the driveway will be replaced. The old wooden posts have, over the years, rotted away, requiring many to have to be propped up. The new lamps will make a nice impression as cars and pedestrians enter the church.
Thank you, Marv Walters, property chair, and our church sexton, Mike Linn, for making this upgrade happen.
BELFRY BARGAINS UPDATE
Back in mid-March, when the decision was made to close Belfry Bargains "for awhile", until the COVID-19 crisis had passed, none of us anticipated that the doors would remain shut through the rest of the spring season. But sadly, that is what has happened. While the store is usually cleared of merchandise each summer, it has been decided not to do that this year. So, the shop will be shut for the summer and reopen in the fall with over-flowing shelves and racks of goods.
Donations have continued to arrive and the store is currently jam-packed with merchandise. If you have donations, please hold onto them for further notice of when donations can be accepted.
As a result of the store's early closing, the last few months of outreach funding to community agencies normally receiving assistance from Messiah could not be made - at exactly the time when these social service agencies have experienced a surge in requests. Through the generosity of several parishioners, gifts to the Rector's Discretionary Fund have enabled that fund to give donations to the following: Manna on Main Street, Interfaith Ambler, Community Cupboard of Ambler, Laurel House, Salvation Army, and Grace Bean Soup Kitchen. Thank you to all whose gifts made this possible!
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 just $20.00.
We have already gathered $1,000 to send to Angela and Miguel. 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.
AND SPEAKING OF FOOD . . .
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING OR BAKING?
WILL YOU SHARE YOUR RECIPES, PLEASE?
News reports have carried several stories about how, with restaurants being closed or reduced to carry-out only, and with more time available to many of us, lots of us have been cooking meals at home or (re)discovering the joys of baking. I have even heard that the country has baked ourselves into a shortage of flour, sugar and other baking needs! And the empty grocery shelves and rationing bears this out.
I'm sure lots of old favorites and comfort foods have been prepared in most of our homes, as well as some experimenting with new recipes and new techniques you have long wanted to try your hand at. That got Barbara Stevenson and me thinking: What about collecting all those old and new recipes into a Messiah edition of a "Quarantine CookBook"?
We would love to include at least one recipe from every Messiah household! Send your recipes to either: Barbara Stevenson - firstname.lastname@example.org; or to me - email@example.com. We will then work to organize your submissions, and make the cookbook available to all of you.
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.
BISHOP GUTIERREZ ON CBS EACH SUNDAYS
Bishop Gutierrez continues to broadcast on the local CBS station for Sunday morning Eucharist services. You can watch at 5:30 a.m. on Channel 3; or 9 a.m. on YouTube and Facebook.
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 can be delivered during office hours, or 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
With the July 4th holiday quickly bearing down upon us, it seems appropriate to include this Litany of Thanksgiving for the Nation as the prayer for the week ahead.
Almighty God, give of all good things: We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land. They restore us, though we too often destroy them: Heal us.
We thank you for the great resources of this nation. They make us rich, though we often exploit them: Forgive us.
We thank you for the men and women who have made this country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall short of them: Inspire us.
We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we have often hidden its lights: Enlighten us.
We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless again and again: Renew us.
Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun. Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will glorify your holy Name. Amen.
from The Book of Common Prayer
I will exalt you, O God my King, *
and bless your Name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you *
and praise your Name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; *
there is no end to his greatness.
One generation shall praise your works to another *
and shall declare your power.
I will ponder the glorious splendor of you majesty *
and all your marvelous works.
They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts, *
and I will tell of your greatness.
They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness; *
they shall sing of your righteous deeds.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, *
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Lord is loving to everyone *
and his compassion is over all his works.