Rector's Message: Saturday, 27 March 2021
Updated: Apr 3
Sunday, 28 March
Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Included in today's update: Holy Week Schedule of Services, The Rector's Message, Birthdays in the week ahead, Reopening of the Church, Guidelines for in person worship, Easter Flower Memorial Donations, Seeking Vestry Nominations, Creative Angels Recipe, and Ongoing Updates
FROM THE RECTOR
Saturday,27 March 2021
HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE OF SERVICES
PALM SUNDAY, March 28th
Online - view on parish website: messiahgwynedd.org
MAUNDY THURSDAY, April 1st
Online - view on parish website
GOOD FRIDAY, April 2nd
Online - view on parish website
Scanning through some preaching resources for the services of Holy Week and Easter, I was taken by the title of a sermon titled, “It’s Holy Week! So what?”, written by The Rev. Anna Tew, a Lutheran pastor serving Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in South Hadley, Massachusetts. I found her words compelling, so I offer part of it here as a commentary on these most holy days that now stretch out before us . . .
With so much going on in the world, it may seem almost silly to insist on giving so much time and energy to the religious observance of Holy Week. This is especially true when one considers that so many people around us may only pay attention on Easter at best, and even that, for some, is at least partially out of obligation. Add the difficulties of the pandemic on top of that, and the fact that many churches still cannot meet in person, and Holy Week itself may begin to feel a bit out of touch with the world around us.
We alone do not have precise answers for the human suffering that we see around us, for violence or death or disease – or where to find hope. What we do know, however, is that the narratives that form us — the stories of our families, our country, our faith — are the eyeglasses through which we see the stories on the news and the things around us. It’s through those stories that we come to conclusions about ourselves and our world and what is hopeless and what is redeemable. It’s through those stories that we see ourselves and our places in the world.
If your family story is that the people in your bloodline are giving and caring people, then you, too, will be encouraged to be generous and attentive. If we believe that America’s story is one of ingenuity and bravery, then a true patriot will do their best to have courage and see creative solutions to even the most daunting problems.
Religious stories are even bigger than that. They tell us not only how we should live, but how we got here and where we’re going. During Holy Week and Easter, here in the northern hemisphere, we tell the story of the Resurrection just as we watch creation come back to life in the springtime.
This week, we have the opportunity to live through the story we proclaim, day by day: the story of the last days of Jesus Christ, his last meal with his friends, his death by execution, and an unexpected and joyous ending.
Right when things seem at a tipping point in our nation and our world, this story is calling to us again, if we dare to see the world through it. We are invited to forget that we know how this Holy Week story ends and place ourselves into the story itself: to feel the palm branches, to taste wine and bread, to feel cool water on our feet as they are washed, and to come and mourn at the foot of a wooden cross. Though most of us cannot experience many, if any, of these things in person this year, we remember how they felt, and we dare never take them for granted again.
In a world surrounded by disease, death, and suffering,
we are being called to stare both love and suffering —
God’s own love and suffering —
in the face.
We are each invited to be part of this story. To make this story our story. To let this story form us. To see the world through it and maybe, just maybe, begin to answer some hard questions about justice and peace and disease and suffering and death and resurrection and hope. So even if you can’t attend to it the way you’re used to or the way you might like — take some time to observe and ponder: Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper; Good Friday and the Crucifixion; Easter morning and the joyous wonder of the Resurrection, as the Church retells the whole salvation story again.
We are not only in this story, now; we are this story now.
Forget that you know how this story ends. Learn again to see your world through new eyes, through the disciples’ eyes, so that maybe we can find hope for justice and healing in the midst of the chaos and pain in the world around us. Because the disciples, in their world, also knew chaos and pain and fear and death.
Put on the eyeglasses of the story of Jesus - for this week, once again.
And as the Resurrection comes again to us next Sunday, may we leave with hope renewed that surprise endings are possible, that hope is not lost, and that even Death is not greater than God, nor greater than love. That if Christ can rise from the dead, then surely, surely, there is hope for us. Let us tell – and live - the Story again.
May your Holy Week ahead be filled with health, happiness and hope!
Blessings! Peace! Grace! And Love!
the Reopening of Church of the Messiah
for In-Person Worship
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
8:00am Rite I, Holy Eucharist
10:00am Rite II, Holy Eucharist with Music
** the 10:00am service will be live-streamed
and posted to the website for later viewing:
With the consistent reduction of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, and the increasing numbers of vaccinations, the Diocesan Office and their medical advisory panel, which has taken a conservative approach throughout this pandemic, has eased restrictions for churches to reopen. Following these new guidelines, the wardens and vestry have unanimously approved a plan to allow for in-person worship beginning on Easter Sunday.
This deliberate and cautious approach still includes necessary constraints:
Attendance is limited to 50% capacity – 125 people here at Messiah
Masks are required for all attending
Social distancing between household groups must be observed
Holy Communion is limited to the distribution of bread only
Congregational singing is prohibited
Worship spaces must be disinfected between gatherings * see note below
Contact tracing information must be collected
All doors must remain open for maximum ventilation
After-service fellowship may not include serving food or drinks
For those who may still be wary about gathering indoors with others, all personal choices will be honored and respected. EVERY INDIVIDUAL IS ENCOURAGED TO MAKE AN INFORMED PERSONAL DECISION ON WHETHER TO ATTEND. To assist those choosing not yet to attend in-person, the service will continue to be videotaped and posted on the parish website, allowing for participation on-line. If you do not have access to the website (messiahgwynedd.org), please contact the parish office for weekly mailings of the service bulletin and sermon.
As noted above, there will be two services on Easter Sunday:
The first is a quieter, more meditative offering with extended periods of silence, allowing contemplation of the mighty acts of the day.
The second service will carry a more festive, celebratory tone, featuring music expressing the joy of the Resurrection.
Beginning on April 11th, the Second Sunday of Easter, there will be one Sunday service at 9:30am. The same guidelines noted above will be followed, gradually lifted as restrictions are eased by the Bishop’s office. These services will also be live-streamed and posted to the parish website for later viewing.
I look forward to greeting many of you on Easter morning! But whatever your choice – whether joining us here in-person, or joining with us on-line or through the weekly mailings – know that you are loved in the name of Our Risen Lord!
** A NOTE ABOUT DISINFECTING THE CHURCH: We have purchased a professional fogger for use in disinfecting our worship and other spaces. This allows us to efficiently and effectively apply a hospital-strength disinfectant on all pews, door handles, restroom, tables and other surfaces. On Easter, this disinfecting procedure will be done before the first service, and again before the second service.
EASTER FLOWER MEMORIAL DONATIONS
As we do each year, donations can be made for flowers used to beautify the church for Easter services, echoing the resurrection of nature we find exploding all around us. Names in whose memory donations are made will be included in the Easter bulletins, as well as being posted to the website. A donation envelope and return envelope were included in a mailing that you should have recently received. If you are concerned that your information will not be received here in the parish office in time to be listed in the Easter bulletin, please send your details (memorial names and donors' names) to the rector - email@example.com - no later than Thursday, April 1st.
THREE WAYS TO JOIN US IN WORSHIP
Beginning Easter morning with the 10:00am service, and continuing each each following Sunday at 9:30am, the services will be live-steamed. This means that there will now be three ways to join the Messiah community in weekly worship:
live-stream in real time
posting to the website for viewing at your convenience
BIRTHDAYS IN THE WEEK AHEAD
O God, our times are in your hands: Look with favor, we pray, on these your servants as they begin another year. Grant that they may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen their trust in your goodness all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
WE'RE GETTING CLOSER, BUT WE'RE NOT THERE YET
I know we're all becoming COVID-weary, but don't forget the 3 W's:
Wear a mask.
Watch your distance.
Wash you hands.
And please, please, please! When you have the opportunity, get vaccinated!
Despite the actions in some states, let's all continue to be vigilant and keep doing our part to stop the spread of this viral pandemic! With every vaccination, we are getting closer! Let's not make the mistake of turning back now!
SEEKING VESTRY NOMINEES
Each year, at the Annual Parish Meeting, held on the first Sunday in May, four parish members are selected to fill three-year terms on the Messiah Vestry. If you are interested in serving, or if you have someone you wish to be considered, please contact a member of the Nominating Committee: Vicky Fogel, Susan Miller, Charles Sudlow.
HELP NEEDED BY A PARISH MEMBER
A member of the parish with limited mobility and can no longer drive has been receiving assistance from a couple of parishioners with rides to doctor's appointments, errands, and help 1-2 times a week with minor household chores (taking out trash, etc). She has just moved into a new apartment for independent living, and needs additional help getting settled. Her new apartment is in Hatfield, twice the distance from parishioners who have been helping her. If anyone lives near Hatfield can help this parishioner settle in her new apartment (unpacking, minor furniture repair/placement, cleaning) and/or provide rides to appointments, please contact Michael Stinson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enter "Help for Parishioner" in the subject line. Thank you.
ON THE WEBSITE
Check the website each weekend for the video of the Sunday service. And make it interactive by checking out the service bulletin with all the responses, lessons, and weekly updates and information. A copy of the Sunday sermon is also available.
NOTE: Barbara Stevenson continues to need recipes and craft ideas to pass along to the parish through the weekly email messages. You can send your submissions to Barbara at email@example.com.
As we hope to be able to entertain more than we have over last year, a delicious dessert is needed in our arsenal of easy recipes. This recipe for Boston Cream Poke Cake fits the bill! This cake is delicious and keeps for several days, covered, in the refrigerator! Enjoy!
Boston Cream Poke Cake
16.25 oz yellow cake mix and ingredients to prepare
2 3.4oz packages instant vanilla pudding
4 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup heavy cream
Prepare and bake the cake in a 13x9 pan according to directions. Let cool completely before poking holes across the cake with the bottom of a wooden spoon. Be sure to poke all the way to the bottom of the pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the pudding, milk and vanilla, but don’t let it thicken. Pour the thin pudding over the cake in an even layer poking down into the holes if necessary. Refrigerate the cake for one hour. Place the chocolate chips and the butter in a heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the cream until it simmers, stirring occasionally. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and let sit 2 minutes to melt. Stir until smooth. Let glaze cool 10 minutes. Pour glaze over cake and smooth with a spatula. Chill cake for 4 hrs or overnight before serving.