THE RECTOR'S MESSAGE Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Included in today's update: A Message from Father Keith, Belfry Bargains Update, Virtual Choirs Feature Messiah Singers, Produce for Manna, Guatemala Chica Beans Coffee, Recipes Needed, and a Prayer & Psalm for the Week

FROM THE RECTOR

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Dear Friends:

Can we really be staring at the end of August? Already? In many ways, it still feels like mid-March, when the world and all of our routines and assumptions of how life would proceed were abruptly stopped. I thought – quite naively, it is now apparent – that we would all be given a few weeks off, then we would resume right where we left everything. Pick up the pieces and move on.

How very wrong I was! So much has changed in the past five months. And when we do begin to return to some semblance of a routine, I have a feeling that nothing will ever be quite as it was.

And yet, despite all that has changed, some things still continue to flow just as before – nature, and the change of seasons being chief among them. I have always liked these transition times, the final days of one season winding down, while the next one waits to step into its place. These change-over times carry both a sense of closure and acceptance for what has or has not been done, as well as an excitement of things yet to come. For all intents, this late-summer time is a time of subtle changes with more maturing gardens, deeper-toned flowers, changing hues of foliage.

These days of late summer are such a transition time, even in the midst of all the disruptions this year brings: for some, going back to school, whether in-person or virtual or a hybrid mix, has a certain exhilaration; for others, there is the anticipation of return to work after a long-appreciated summer spell has come to an end. And for all of us, there is the hope that the dire situation of infections and deaths will flatten and ease, allowing a return to community church worship. The world is constantly in flux. God's Creation continues to evolve and unfold. And the final days of August tell us that lazy summer, and all things, are not eternal.

Only God is . . .

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

BELFRY BARGAINS UPDATE

After much deliberation, a decision has been made to keep Belfry Bargains closed until after the first of the new year to ensure the safety of the volunteers, many of whom are in the at-risk age range, as well as shoppers since social distancing is impossible in such tight quarters. This was also a difficult decision for the reason that this means that no outreach funds will be available for distribution to the many social service agencies that Belfry supports each month from the shop's proceeds. The Rector's Discretionary Fund will try to give some assistance to these organizations, particularly those that minister to the needs of our local community.

Since mid-March when Belfry closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, donations have continued to be dropped off, sorted and shelved. But so many donations have been made that we now find Belfry stuffed to overflowing! In the next few weeks, volunteers will be working to make inroads into the donated goods, and hopefully alleviate the problem of inventory blocking every aisle. If you have items to donate, please hold off bringing them to Belfry until late-September or early-October. Thank you!

VIRTUAL CHOIRS FEATURE MESSIAH SINGERS

Even a world-wide pandemic can't silence the music! In this time of social distancing, choirs around the world are finding innovative and creative ways to continue producing and promoting music - and some of these virtual choirs feature singers we know!

Our own Sam Frenkel and Barbara Harvey's daughter, Amanda, have participated in a choir featured on YouTube. Follow this link to find them: Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 6: Sing Gently

And our former soprano, Vanessa Levy, has participated in the Self-Isolation Choir, a virtual choir based in England and featuring thousands of singers from around the world. Here is the link to one of their recent pieces: Quanta Qualia - The Self Isolation Choir

And members of Messiah's Chancel Choir are working on a virtual choral piece - The Lord Bless You and Keep You - in memory of all those who have died over the time we have not been worshipping together. Current choir members, as well as a collection of former members, are participating. Be on the lookout for their debut...

FRESH PRODUCE FOR MANNA ON MAIN STREET

Two of Messiah's parishioners have undertaken a new ministry of providing fresh corn on the cob and other vegetables from a farm market to Manna on Main Street for distribution to clients, along with using it in their meal program. Twice each week - on Monday and Thursday mornings - the corn is brought here to Messiah, then later in the day I deliver it to Manna. They are delighted to receive it, allowing them to supplement the canned and non-perishable goods they normally give out.

This has gotten me thinking . . . At this time of year, with so much fresh vegetables and fruit available at quite reasonable prices, why don't we make it a Messiah mission to provide fresh produce to those in need within our community? Too many zucchini or tomatoes in your garden? Bring them to the church. See a good deal on fresh green beans or cucumbers or lettuce? Pick up an extra pound or two and bring them to the church. These will be added to the donation and delivered each Monday and Thursday afternoon.

GUATEMALAN COFFEE ORDERS SUPPORTS

TREE4HOPE GIRLS SCHOOL

Each week, since Messiah's Guatemalan Mission Team returned in January, we have included in our Sunday prayers a new ministry project we were introduced to during our trip. Tree4Hope Girls School, located just outside Antigua is affiliated with our companion parish of St. Alban's, has undertaken the mission of providing quality education to the young women of Guatemala. Numerous studies and experience has proven that the quickest way to improve and upgrade the society of a nation is to educate its women, and Tree4Hope is fulfilling that role in a society where many girls never receive the opportunity for an education beyond the early grades.

The school has now partnered with a consortium of small, independent, women-owned coffee growers. The Director of the School writes: "Our non-profit, Tree4Hope, just partnered with Chica Bean, and amazing female run coffee production company in Guatemala. Order a bag now at Chica Bean Coffee with our coupon code - "tree4hope" - and not only will you get delicious Guatemalan coffee delivered right to your door, but $4 of your purchase will come back to support our ongoing work!"

Learn more about Chica Bean on their website where you will be introduced to these women farmers, but will also learn more about their mission to empower and support women, and read this about their endeavor: "Specialty Coffee That Changes Communities: Chica Bean prides itself as a specialty coffee that inspires. We create an incredible coffee that gets its quality and flavor from a combination of the ideal conditions in which it's grown and the precise and powerful women who produce it. We are relentless in our pursuit of delivering perfect coffee through the empowerment of women."

Members of the Mission Team toured a coffee plantation and processing plant and can attest to the exceptional quality and flavor of Guatemalan coffee. Join me in ordering a few bags and support both the families of the women farmers and the education of the country's young women.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING OR BAKING?

WILL YOU SHARE YOUR RECIPES, PLEASE?

Barbara Stevenson and I are working to publish a Messiah edition of a "Quarantine CookBook". We would love to include at least one recipe from every Messiah household! Do we have your submission yet? Send your recipes to either: Barbara Stevenson - bebstevenson@yahoo.com; or to me - rector@messiahgwynedd.org. 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.

A PRAYER & PSALM FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

This prayer was written by a close friend and colleague when I was serving in Louisville, Kentucky, before being called to Messiah. It was chosen to be published in a book of prayers, Women's Uncommon Prayers, published by the national church several years ago. In today's contentious and troubling times, it seems particularly fitting.

Loving God, you are in the midst of us.

We are tired. Lead us to rest.

We are filled with doubt. Give us faith.

We need renewal. Fill us with the Holy Spirit's fire.

Our patience wears thin. Help us stay in relationship.

We need healing. Grant us peace and wholeness.

Help us to look beyond ourselves and reach out to those in need,

whether they stand next to us or a world away.

In all that we are, all that we do, and all that we say,

help us claim the promise of your presence

and lift our common voice to you

in praise and thanksgiving.

The Rev. Elizabeth "Libby" T. Wade

PSALM 120

When I was in trouble, I called to the Lord; *

I called to the Lord, and he answered me.

Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips *

and from the deceitful tongue.

What shall be done to you, and what more besides, *

O you deceitful tongue?

The sharpened arrows of a warrior, *

along with hot glowing coals.

How hateful it is that I must lodge in Meschech *

and dwell among the tents of Kedar!

Too long have I had to live *

among the enemies of peace.

I am on the side of peace, *

but when I speak of it, they are for war.

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