Pastor’s BLOG

Don’t Panic

Greetings in the name of Jesus!
First off let me say: “DON’T PANIC!” God is with each of you and all of us!
Well, we are certainly in a time that is unprecedented for all of us. As I was thinking about what to write to you this morning, I started thinking about a conversation I had with my grandmother about her experiences during World War 2.
I was visiting with her, as I often did, when she went into a closet and pulled out a bag full of memorabilia. She had newspapers announcing the Pearl Harbor attack and celebrating the victory in Europe. She had a large swatch of a silk parachute that a relative had brought back from the war. Yet, the item that most interested me was the rationing coupon book. She explained to me that every family was issued one and the coupons were needed to purchase various items. If you ran out of coupons, you could not purchase the item.
She explained how, while it was a hardship, everyone pulled together because that was what was required of the nation in the time of war so that the soldiers would have what they needed to win. It was a time of shared sacrifice focused on a common goal. It is no wonder they called the generation of my grandmother’s the greatest generation.
While I am not sure we can compare what my grandmother lived through to what we are living through today, the truth is that we are facing something that few if any of us have faced before. This Corona Virus Pandemic has caused major disruptions to our way of life. There are things being asked of us that are major inconveniences. We don’t want to cancel church. We don’t want to limit our interactions with people. We want our sports back!
Yet, I am convinced that we can do this. There is a limited time frame here. We are not looking at 4 years of hardship. Instead, we are looking at a couple of months at most. We can pull together and do our part to help “flatten the curve” of infection as we keep our eyes open to the needs around us.
Ironically, this time of social distancing and not gathering in large groups is providing us the opportunity to re-connect to individuals around us. I encourage you to check in with your neighbors to see if they are o.k. or need something. Reach out to an older person and offer to help them run an errand or pick up food so they can remain safely at home. Call your friends more frequently to commiserate. Seek to see with the eyes of Jesus and respond as the hands and feet of Jesus.
One thing I do think that we will all come to better appreciate is the wonderful joy and value of gathering together as a church family. When something is taken away, we more clearly understand how important it is.
Please know that I am praying for you, our community, and nation. I encourage you to be praying as well. God is with us and God will sustain us as God always has!
Your Friend and Pastor,
Pastor Lee

Corona Virus

As I write this week’s reflections, the worry over the spread of the Corona Virus continues to grow. While this virus does not seem to have the lethality of SARS (2003), H1N1 (2009), MERS (2012), or even the Flu, people are rightfully concerned about it. Any kind of respiratory virus is not something to be taken lightly. Fortunately, prevention for all respiratory viruses are the same. We all need to wash our hands more often and more vigorously; cover our mouths and noses when we cough or sneeze, and stay home if we are sick.
Just today, I learned that the Christ Episcopal Church in Washington, DC has suspended services out of an abundance of caution for the most vulnerable because its lead priest has contracted the Corona Virus. While we are no where near having to take that drastic step, I wanted you to know that we are thinking about ways to reduce the possibility of transmission of such viruses.
  • First, I would like to remind everyone to be washing their hands while at church and using the hand sanitizer dispensers that are throughout the church building.
  • Secondly, I have instructed our cleaning folks to wipe down all the door handles in the building with Lysol twice weekly.
  • Thirdly, I would like us to make a slight temporary adjustment to our passing of the peace on Sunday morning. We will still do so, but I would like to suggest that instead of shaking hands we would bump elbows or do a pat on the back. This will allow us to continue to warmly welcome one another and at the same time lessen the possibility of the transmission of germs.
  • Finally, I am looking into ways that we might make the worship service available by live stream for those who are sick and want to stay home, but do not want to miss the service. There is a lot involved with this, so it may take awhile to make this happen. I will keep you informed.
Throughout all this, let us remember that God is with us, and that ultimately, there is nothing beyond the concern of God. Let us also pray for those who are sick, those who are caring for the ill, and those who are working on vaccines and treatment options.
May you be safe and well!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

Lent 2020

As we embark on our 40 day Lenten Journey, many of us may practice the Lenten discipline of giving up something. One of my daughters has decided to give up social media for Lent. I think she will be a much less stressed and happier person because of it! Other people will give up desserts or sodas or some other food or beverage. Many of our Catholic and Episcopalian brothers and sisters will give up eating red meat on Fridays.
I have clergy friends who instead of giving something up decide to add something to their observance. One of them purchases a can of food for each day of Lent. At the end of the 40 days, these food items are given to the local food pantry. Another friend makes a weekly visit to a retirement home.
I have two suggestions for practices that you can add that would help Lent be a meaningful time of spiritual growth. The first is scripture reading. Pick one Gospel and read a half a chapter a day. Add to this one of the proverbs from the Old Testament that corresponds with the day of the month. Before you read, ask that God would open your heart to be taught something in your reading. This practice will take less than 10 minutes a day and will be encouraging to you.
The second suggestion is to choose a person who will be your Lenten prayer buddy. Ask that person to commit to praying for you for 40 days during Lent as you will commit to praying for that person. If you want, ask for specific prayer requests. Other wise, just use this simple prayer:

Lord, grant (name) and me the grace today to commit our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ without reservation; and furthermore grant (name) and me the grace to know your strength and your guidance this day.
If you do any or all of these intentional practices, you will find the next 40 days to be enriching to your faith and a great preparation for your Easter celebration on April 12th.
May each of you have a holy Lent!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

Three Tasks for 2020

For my first sermon of the year, I shared with the congregation Paul’s words to the Thessalonians about how their faith had been noticed by the world. He wrote. “For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming” (1 Thessalonians 1: 9-10). Paul commended them for turning from idols to serve the living God and to wait for Jesus.
I suggested that these three movements would be a good plan for each of us in the coming year!
First, let us each turn away from idols.
Now most of us don’t have a problem worshiping little statues that we attribute divine powers to; however, there are many things in our culture that clamor for our time and attention…things that can pull us away from a complete devotion to Jesus Christ. These could be behaviors, activities, or attitudes that are not good for us or pleasing to God. My suggestion is to choose one thing that diverts your attention or effort from growing in Christ and replace it with something that draws you closer to Christ.
Secondly let us serve the living God.
Ask yourself, “what am I currently doing to serve God and be a beacon for Jesus?” Then think about adding one new servant activity in the year to come. Or perhaps you might reflect on how you can take what you are already doing to a higher level. Whatever your decide, the idea is to be intentional about growing in service to God.
Finally, let us wait on the Lord Jesus.
For us in the 21st Century, I interpret this to mean adding a practice that enables you to spend more time in the presence of Jesus. Perhaps this could be a commitment to read through the Bible in a year or increasing the time you spend in quiet reflection and prayer before the Lord.
It is my belief that if each of us would take up this call to turn, serve, and wait in the coming year, we would see God more clearly working in our lives and in this world.
May each of you have a wonderful 2020!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee