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From the Pastor

  Hello, peace be with you and with us all.  Please make sure you are taking time to get fresh air, move, talk with people via the phone/internet chats any way we can.  We need one another.  So much of what I had written and submitted for the newsletter three weeks ago means so little right now.

  We continue to work on ways to communicate with those who do not have access to computers.  For those of you who do have computers please check the website and the facebook page for information and worship services.

   We are all God’s children.  We serve the same risen Lord.  We are led by the same Holy Spirit.  Where are we?  Right now we are working to be with children, aging parents, being alone, keeping engaged and let’s face it many of us are trying not to scare ourselves or let anxiety and depression overwhelm us. 

   What can we do?  Make a schedule for ourselves each day, have some structure.  We can get outside.  Of the many things I will miss after June 9th is the nearly daily bald eagle sightings this time of year, one flew over the back yard as I got some fresh air.  I can see the lake through the trees this time of year.  The crocuses are up down the street.  People have been walking on the street and bicycle riding and scooter riding.  We can listen to music.  We can look at the space we live in and perhaps repurpose and downsize what we have, do I really need ‘that’? 

  Let’s dig a bit deeper.  The truth is most of us have never seen or been through anything like corona virus 19 (covid 19).  I find myself trying to be a medical person, a researcher, a pastor, a person, and feeling like I am not one hundred percent at any of this.  So, let’s leave the medical stuff to people like the CDC.  Let’s deal with wholeness in God’s image.  Check out Isaiah 43:1-3a, Isaiah 40:28-31, Psalm 130, John 14, Psalm 46, Luke 12:22-26, and Isaiah 35 are some great places to start.  Use your own Bible or a Bible app.  Read the words out loud, it makes a difference to read silently and to hear the words.  Reflect, your mind will wander, it’s okay.  Be still and hear God.  Move and listen for God.

  I found myself thinking back to other illnesses that rocked the world.  The one that came to my mind was the influenza that broke out toward the end of World War I.  That disease was sometimes called ‘the Spanish flu.’  A little research showed that it began in 1918 and came in three waves ending in 1919.  Millions of people died, over 550,000 in the United States alone. 

   I find myself hopeful.  Leon was thirteen, Grace was eleven, Walter was eight, and Freda was seven.  These are my maternal and paternal grandparents.  They survived.  They lived lives of love, gratitude, service, grace, mercy, reconciliation, hope.  They knew and shared the living God.  These four children brought forth families, including the woman who sits at this desk writing to you to encourage you and herself to hold on.  Hold on to hope.  Hold on to one another, at a distance.

  God created us to be in relationship with one another and with God.  During Lent it is especially powerful to have this time of quiet and silence.  Sometimes that may feel overwhelming.  Breathe into it.  Breathe out the fears and maybe turn off the news feeds for a while.  Get some sunshine.  Be purposeful and be intentional.  Develop new connections in new ways.

  During Lent we talk about being in the wilderness.  I don’t know about you, but I feel that way a few times a day.  Yet, I know that this will pass.  We do not know how long the virus will run through the world.  We do not know a lot, and let’s face it we want to know everything!  God is still God, as one parishioner has said.  God is present.  God provides.  God is with you and with me.  Even and especially in the wilderness of not knowing or understanding.

  No, I do not believe God caused the virus.  But, I do believe God has given us the tools to not only survive, but thrive.  Connections matter, to God in prayer and in Scripture.  Connections are being made in the community.  We have a God, a heavenly parent, a Savior, a brother, a Spirit who is with us always!  Sometimes we’d like someone we can touch or hear, so pick up a phone or a video chat, connect!

  Many events in the life of the church have been cancelled, others moved to media platforms, others postponed.  You may know that the General Conference scheduled for early May is being rescheduled for 2021.  Annual conference may also be delayed or postponed.  We do not know what that means for the future of the UMC, our annual conference dates, or jurisdictional conferences.

  We may not have worship services in person until after Easter.  We are figuring and sorting things out.  Much has been put on hold.  If you do need help please call the parsonage at 570-729-7625. Also, Margaret Branning’s service and burial are postponed indefinitely.

  Our baptismal vows and our professing membership vows say we commit to our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.  We can do all of that still!  We can pray.  We can be present, if not physically, via other means.  We can use the spiritual gifts and the resources God has given us.  I know that people are struggling right now being laid off and being unpaid, give monetarily knowing that you are blessed to give, check out the finance letter on the website, the office will be closing at 3 PM March 24th.  You can mail your offerings or tithes in to PO Box 387 Beach Lake PA 18405 or use the prearranged pick-ups.  

We can be of service in many ways.  Seek the one that fits you best.  And we can witness in our struggles and in our triumphs.   God bless you.  God bless all of the world.

 Pastor Barbara