​​Waterford Baptist Church

At Home Worshp resources during covid-19

We will be holding church services via Zoom until we can resume worship at church. If you would like to join us, please contact us here.

COVID-19 Announcement:  Please note that services at the church will be cancelled until further notice. In the meantime, we will be worshipping together on Zoom. Please contact us here if you would like to join and visit Resources for inspiration and devotionals.

FAMILY

​​Resources for inspiration and to assist in your home worship as shared by Rev. Jerry Turner

CHURCH

june 21, 2020

Happy Father's Day!

Order of Worship:


Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture: Galatians 4:1-7
Prayer
Sermon: We're Adopted
Closing and Benediction


june 20, 2020

The Blessing from Sweden
In whatever language the message and blessing is the same!!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z21Jyq7RPXo


june 19, 2020


Blessings from Malaysia

www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9vJw3tZ7E0


june 18, 2020

The Blessing Kids - France

www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K_0Ed8Tgwc


JUNE 17, 2020

Blessings from Australia
www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9vJw3tZ7E0


june 16, 2020

Blessings from Zimbabwe


www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA1tVs7VNcY

june 15, 2020


I have needed something uplifting in recent weeks given Covid-19 and the events following the death of George Floyd.  We have seen how the whole world has been impacted.  But I have been lifted by the reality of the unbroken Spirit of God whose presence is affirmed around the world as His people claim His blessing.  
This week I will share that blessing as celebrated by believer from every corner of the world.  Watch the expressions, energy, passion and compassion of these singers, musicians and dancers as they share their faith in OUR GOD. 
" For God so loved the world"
Be blessed,
Jerry  

www.youtube.com/watch?v=TascsWZPj8U

june 14, 2020

Order of Worship:


Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture: Psalm 4, Psalm 46: 10-11
Prayer
Sermon: Be Still
Closing and Benediction


Take Time to Be Holy

www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_z9g8S6aow

june 12, 2020


Adapted from an article in the Alliance of Baptist newsletter written by Rev. Bob Tiller.  This was written before the events of the last 2 weeks but in many ways still fit for "faithing Christians." 

In this difficult time of fear, upheaval and loss, many people ask, “Where is God in the corona- virus? Why is God forsaking us in our crisis?” This is neither an academic exercise nor an issue for a few outliers in our religious communities to pursue. These are crucial questions for every person and every faith community. The virus pandemic challenges deeply-held convictions about God and God’s role in our lives. People are sick and people are dying, and we are getting seriously upset with God over it. We can easily conclude that God has turned a deaf ear to us, that God is indifferent to our suffering, that God is failing to live up to the role and responsibilities that we have assigned to God. We may even feel a sense of panic as we consider the possibility that God has totally abandoned us in our time of need. 

Let’s think instead about a God who is complete love and compassion, not a God whose acts of care are uncertain. Let’s strive to see God as love acting in and through the entire natural world, including in and through humans. Let’s acknowledge that God is hurting deeply right now, and that God suffers in our suffering. Let’s accept that there is no supernatural God swooping in to rescue us. Maybe then we can accept the loving God within us and around us, the God who sustains us in our struggle to defeat the virus and survive the economic slowdown. 

For me faith is not a noun at all, but should always be understood as a verb.  Unfortunately, English does not have a verb for faith, so we must create one – faithing.  (It would be conjugated like this: I am faithing, you are faithing, she is faithing, we are faithing, you are faithing, they are faithing.) Faithing means trying to follow the example and teachings of Jesus, trying to grow in discipleship. Faithing means attempting to live each day with values that embrace the sacredness of all creation, values that may not be shared by others around us. Faithing means seeing God in life’s daily activities and giving thanks for God’s love in my life and in yours. Faithing means pursuing peace and justice for all creation – and knowing that a loving God is present in that pursuit. Faithing means realizing that today I may have real doubts concerning God, and tomorrow I may again have real doubts, but God still loves me. Faithing is seeing God’s face and God’s presence in every person on the planet. Faithing enables us to live with real hope. Faithing means trying to pray even when I find it difficult to do so. Faithing is something that I try to do every single day, even every hour, especially in these difficult days.

Where is God in the coronavirus? God is in the loving acts performed by millions of people each day; some of those acts are heroic and some are ordinary, but God is in them all. God is in the loving decisions that people make to do their part to halt the virus’s spread – through staying at home, through physical distancing when out, through wearing a mask, and much more. God is in the decisions of churches and organizations to cancel gatherings, no matter how frustrating such decisions are. God is in the daily work of nurses, janitors, grocery clerks, drivers and millions of others who are valiantly helping us all to live. God is in the tears of the lonely, the fearful, the bereaved. God is in the faithing of each of us each day as we struggle through the virus crisis.

Rev. Robert Tiller is a retired American Baptist clergyperson, living in Silver Spring, MD.


june 11, 2020


Fix Our Eyes on You Lord
www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOZcifb_4QU

june 10, 2020


A high school choir
www.youtube.com/watch?v=alTmKZWEkHw

june 9, 2020


I want to share what could almost be a sermon from Woody.  He is battling to stay alive and as you will see, thinking more about others and sharing the example of Christ.  He is an inspiration to me by his witness and Spirit. 

It was June 6, 2012 when I was first diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma of the bone.

The most remarkable thing is I'm still here. At times I feel like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones who seemed to be able to abuse his body while his friends died around him. He just keeps on going. I'm not saying I have abused my body but I have gone through so much treatment it probably is similar and I keep going and it saddens me to a point of guilt that many of my friends got cancer after me and have passed. I know I have been blessed and can only hope with the additional time I have been given I can do something to help others and to give back in a meaningful way.

Today, I'm writing from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. I have been here for 10 days. In that time I have had chemo and the transplant and now waiting to see how my body is going to respond to cells of this 24 year old German male that have been put into my body. This is somewhat of an experiment since I will be first at NWM to have had these three transplants - the allostatic (my own cells), the CAR T (reengineered T cells) and now the allogenic (someone else's cells). The experiment is this: my cancer had come back. Since the allogenic transplant is the ultimate immune therapy -  you are having your immune system replaced by this other person's, the hope is his immune system will be able to fight and finally destroy the lymphoma cells that have not been destroyed by other methods. So that is the experiment and I sure hope it works.

When I last wrote we had just entered the COVID stage of life and now we are confronting this and the horrible acts of racial brutality that have coalesced into the protest we are seeing across our nation and even in other parts of the world. It has been a difficult time for many but I pray that from this we come out a better nation and better people.

I believe we are at a tipping point. We can look at the current situation and demand greater security and protection due to the violence that has emerged with the protest or we can demand greater justice - realizing the violence is the act of a few and that the greater message is making our nation more equal under the law and making us look inside ourselves and come to the realization we have much to learn about what it means to treat everyone as equal and not some as equal and some as objects.

I believe too often we allow our unconscious prejudice to override our greater heart qualities. We allow fear and then anger to become our starting positions rather than compassion and empathy. Fear and anger are emotions of our ego trying to protect ourselves. Compassion and empathy are emotions of connection and they are the emotions that have allowed the human race to achieve as much as it has.

Jesus can become our example. There is a painting that depicts the absolute pain, agony and isolation he felt while being nailed to the cross. This picture shows the very human side of Jesus - the pain etched on his face. There is another painting showing Jesus being crucified between two criminals and the crowd below cheering on his death. Jesus could have used his pain as a means of anger to curse the crowd. Instead he demonstrated what it meant to be divine by showing  compassion and empathy in the midst of his pain to prove love was more powerful than death and will always be so.

We have the ability, at this point in our history, to decide how we are to respond. We can respond out of fear or we can respond out of love. Fear will continue the loop of hate and injustice.  Love can help bring us together.

I believe the emotions of love, compassion, empathy, joy, appreciation and the such is the language of the heart because it is these emotions that bring about calm and allow us to access our higher cognitive functions. These emotions renew us. The emotions of fear, anger, anxiety and the such actual drain us of energy and cause dis - ease.


I chose the language of the heart because I believe it is the way God actually speaks to us if we are willing to listen.



june 8, 2020

How can we as “church” respond to the tragic realities in our society today?

God has equipped us and called us to do something.  We cannot ignore what we see, hear and know to be true.  I believe this from my heart.

Are we not called to grieve with people of color over the pain they have experienced for many generations?  I saw a picture of a sign carried in the Winchester peaceful march this week—"I may never understand but I stand with you.”

Are we not called to speak up/protest the crimes and every deep seeded expressions of the racism in our society?  Do we not believe that Black Lives Matter to the Father, to us?  I heard a pastor remind me, All lives matter, of course, but in His parable Jesus left All 99 sheep and sought the one--one mattered.

Are we not called to use our voices and influence to work for changes in our justice system, law enforcement, health care, economic structures, and all other aspects of our common life to replace and correct all policies with equality, justice, fairness and acceptance?

Are we not called to accept the challenge of working to expect moral and ethical values be demonstrated by persons in leadership and decision making positions and the same moral and ethical values extended to all persons in this nation? 

Are we not called to worship together, serve together, pray together, work together and share the vision of changing the tragic realities in our communities-in this nation-so that the vision more closely reflects what Christ would envision? 

Are we not called to pray and work for the promise of God through the prophets Amos and Micah? “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” "What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."   Are we not called to walk in/with the Lordship of Christ?

So let it Be, Lord. So let it Be! 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEtsHWFE6-w


JUNE 7, 2020

Order of Worship:


Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture: Amos 7: 10-18; James 1: 2-8
Prayer
Sermon: How To Cope With the Worst
Closing and Benediction



Believers from 34 countries around the world share this amazing Truth!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4EoLm3_luM&t=1s


june 6, 2020


What the World Needs Now 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QagzdvzzHBQ

JUNE 5, 2020


This is the Minister of Music at First Baptist Church, Winchester,  Lori Pendleton.  With Covid-19 she has to present the bells on her own.  I hope you enjoy. 
www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K1-jdJ7yyI&feature=youtu.be

June 3, 2020


"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.  Be still, and know that I am God... The Lord Almighty is with us."
www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6KPuC9qPdc


June 2, 2020

I was extremely disturbed by the murder of George Floyd last Monday.  He was being arrested for passing a $20 dollar bill which he may or may not have known was counterfeit.  We will never know because his arrest took a violent turn largely because he was a black man.   To often this has happened and to often the peaceful protect turns into a riot, although not as nearly tragic, destructive and widespread as with this death.  The overriding issue of racism in our country must be addressed by those in leadership from the president to the local levels.  As Christians who believe in and are called to follow the model of Christ, we must take a more active role in voicing our concerns and demanding positive dialogue and action.  We must commit to daily pray that the Spirit of God will heal the divisiveness and injustice so prevalent in our society today. 

I share with you below a message from the Executive Director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), John Upton.   

It has been several weeks since Easter, when life was exuberant and expectant. We were so hopeful, even though we worshiped in ways different from our norm because of COVID-19. Now, weeks have passed, and life does not seem as hopeful as it did. The death of George Floyd took our breath away and ignited a rage that has been building with racial tragedies across the country.

I sympathize with those who live on a daily basis with the injustices that plague our society, but I want to do more than sympathize. I want my African-American friends and Latino friends to know how much we are determined to right the wrongs and how much we want to take action in doing so. I am an Anglo male and have not experienced the discrimination and prejudice so many have endured all their lives. I need to hear my neighbors with open, attentive ears and walk alongside them.

When I genuinely hear my African-American friends, I know they are not speaking from philosophy of the way things ought to be or from a different perspective. They are speaking from pain. They are speaking from the realism of pain, from the agonizing knowledge of being brutally mistreated, and from cruelty that is relentless and real. Any claim of faith that tosses that aside and does not carry the ruin and the meanness of the world is not real—at least not in a way that matters.

Let us feel the brokenness and the truthfulness of what is being protested. Let us commit ourselves to equality and dignity of all persons as we grieve the death of George Floyd. Let us grieve the misuse of force while being thankful for those in law enforcement who march with the protestors.

I am so grateful for a faith whose risen Lord still bore the wounds of his brutal treatment. The world is still wounded, so the risen Christ must be wounded. Wounds tell the truth of the world in which we are living and in which the living Christ dwells. Jesus bears all these wounds towards a redemption and ultimately healing.

Let us pray for our country, for our African-American neighbors, and for our local, state, and national leaders as they seek justice and peace. As Virginia Baptists we stand ready to move to that end in the power of the risen Christ.

May God Bless,

Jerry

JUne 1, 2020

Received from Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder & President, Sojourners and Rev. Adam R. Taylor, Executive Director, Sojourners 

June 1, National Day of Mourning and Lament

This week the United States surpassed the grim mark of 100,000 deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this moment, faith leaders from around the country have joined Sojourners in calling on people from all faith traditions to take the time to mourn and lament the loss of our brothers and sisters. As people of faith, we refuse to let these deaths go unnoticed. Our nation needs time and space to truly mourn and lament the loss of our loved ones taken from us by COVID-19.

We are working with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which has endorsed this effort, and have already received commitments from mayors in over three dozen cities and over 15 states to make Monday, June 1, a National Day of Mourning and Lament.

Prayers offered from Sojourners

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”—Romans 12:15
Give us the gift of weeping, O God, for tears of love are always holy. It is not only our loved one who are lost, but our jobs, our neighborhoods, our familiarity with family, and graduations and classes. May our mourning, lamenting, remembering, and learning from these losses not disappear like water in sand, but push us to weep from time to time. Keep us tenderhearted, we pray. Hear our prayer.

“May your way be known upon earth, your saving health among all nations.”--Psalm 67:2
To those who have lost loved ones, we—your fellow citizens—offer you comfort, not condolence, empathy, not sympathy. As a people we have borne this pandemic’s cost in the lives of our families; as a nation we shall honor and mourn them together. Let peace and good health prevail among all the nations, O God, and may it be so in our own families, communities, states, and land on this day and each day to come. These families are your families, O Lord. Hear our prayer.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”— 2 Corinthians 5:17
Jesus knew what we numb ones must always learn again: that weeping must be real because endings are real; and that weeping permits newness. Christ’s weeping with us permits the kingdom to come. The Holy Spirit’s indwelling opens us to envision a new “normal,” to envision an America true to her dreams, true to our native land to have a new birth of freedom and justice for all. Lord, open our eyes to a new and holy vision that your people may be your people in the days to come. Make us brave, O Lord, together. Hear our prayer. Amen.

may 31, 2020

Order of Worship:


Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture: Psalm 78: 1-7, 12-16
Prayer
Sermon: Which Way Are You Leaning
Closing and Benediction


may 29, 2020

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever. Amen.'

Lord, give us the faith and the courage to make this proclamation even in a time of a deadly virus. Give us the “patience in tribulation” that the Apostle Paul calls us to.

Because we know what your kingdom on earth brings, give us the hope of that kingdom in our hearts, lives, communities, and the nations. Let that future we believe in help sustain us in the present, even when things we can’t control seem to dominate our lives. Lord, help us to believe that the virus, the threats, the injustices, and the fears they create are NOT in control and never will be, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.”


may 28, 2020


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzejzO8ag2k&list=RDRY4CW5pte98&index=27

Down in the River - Shenandoah Christian Music Camp - YouTube
‘Down in the River’, arr. Larry Nickel. Sung at the 10th Annual Choral Festival 2015 of Shenandoah Christian Music Camp (VA). Conducted by Wendell Nisly.

may 26, 2020

Written by Leslie Park. Pastor of Warsaw Baptist Church in Warsaw, VA

These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, NRSV

I remember, as a young adult, constantly dreaming and scheming and worrying about what came next in my life. Maybe you did, too. When we were in high school, we thought about college or career after graduation, and what that would be like. In college we thought about what career path we would follow.

Once we got settled in a career path, we would start to think about what it would look like for us to marry and begin a family, have children…

It felt like always being in a state of waiting for what comes next.

I imaging that is what the children of Israel felt like in Babylon as exiles. They wanted what came next. They wanted to get back to Jerusalem where God lived. They wanted to get back to the way things were.

Sound familiar? These last 10 weeks have been strange and scary and unsettling. And sometimes we just want things to be back the way they were–back before this pandemic disrupted our lives–back to normal.

But if you hear God’s words through the prophet Jeremiah, God wants those in exile to live in the moment. God tells them to build houses to live in, plant gardens, get married, live life in your present circumstance–because that is where God is!

Are we missing the blessing of living in the present? Can we see God with us in the midst of what we are experiencing right now? God is not waiting for things to “get back to normal.” God has never waited until things have gotten back to normal. God continues to encourage us to live in the moment.

Planning for what the future will look like is important … , but not at the expense of what God is doing and can do right now in the uncertainty.


may 24, 2020

Order of Worship:


Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture: Ps 51: 10; Eph 4: 22-23; Gal 2: 22; II Cor: 3:18; II Cor 5: 17
Prayer
Sermon: A Heart Transplant
Closing and Benediction

may 22, 2020


A psalm for this day!!
But Thou, O Lord, are shield for me!!!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYqK42PSXb


may 21, 2020


I saw a listing in AARP of things that have changed for good due to the Pandemic.  Things such as: working from home; seeing your doctor virtually; shopping on-line for groceries; wearing a mask; traveling by air; going to the movies; riding a transit system; washing your hands. Yep, that is a listing we can probably identify with, if not in whole, in partl.

I saw another article in which the author was encouraging Christians to choose faith over fear, wisdom over worry and prayer over panic.

All this got me thinking of what changes I hope we will see about Christianity—our faith—as a result of the Pandemic:

That Church may be seen not as a building but a BODY-equipped to serve beyond its walls;

That we become more aware of the needs and conditions around us; those of other nationalities, colors, and faith.  Those who are homeless, lonely, hungry, jobless, depressed;

That Christianity will not be a spectator sport but that we continue to find creative ways to meet the pressing needs, just mentioned, and volunteer, sharing some gifts of ourselves;

That we learn to cherish relationships more—whether family or friends—and in spite of social distancing, stay in touch with genuine expressions of love;

That we pray more earnestly for each other and for those whom we have come to know as “essential,” sacrificing and committed to us in ways we had taken for granted. 

In a Pandemic we may begin to realize that every day is a test of our faith.  And maybe, just maybe we learn that faith is a commitment not a convenience.

The apostle Paul’s advice and direction in Romans 12 may easily apply to Christians faced with a Pandemic.  I invite you to read it and give it some thoughtful reflection.

Be Blessed!  Jerry


may 20, 2020


IS HE WORTHY? - YouTube
Fellowship Bible Church of NWA's Easter Celebration (Quarantine Edition) "And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and ...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs7Kah6wnY8

May 19, 2020


Caitlin Brown, a campus minister at Old Dominion University in Hampton, VA shares these thoughts:

Mark 4: 35-41--Peace, be still; where is your faith? Peace, be still; do not be afraid.

In a quiet little chapel tucked away on a college campus, we used to get away for 30 minutes once a week for a small service, into a few minutes of attempted prayerful peace. Usually at least 20 of those 30 minutes, if not more, were an attempt to forget my chaotic schedule and the noise of the world.

Peace, be still, breathing in as a reminder to trust God in the middle of busy, stressful, pre-COVID-19 days.

This little chant has been in my head these past few weeks. The storm we are in is not one of wind and rain, but one of an invisible enemy.  It is one that has separated us from the routine, the schedule, and whatever our normal is. We are not on dry land, but in the chaotic, crazy boat. Like the disciples, we are finding ourselves in the storm, and we are scared… of how this virus is changing our world, our communities, and our families.

But peace, be still; Jesus is in the boat with us. We have the gift now of being still. Jesus was talking to the storm, but how often in normal life do we too need that reminder?

To be still.

Just as the disciples were asked about their faith, this storm is our opportunity… to re-find our faith. To be replenished whether it be by finally reading that book or tuning into a worship service from a beloved church or just to be still with God. In this time of stillness–this commanded peace–we have the time to find God, to find Christ, standing there in the boat with us.

This is a season of less: no in-person birthday parties, no eating at busy restaurants, no sitting in coffee shops. And while we miss those life-giving things, what voices are you hearing in the quiet?

While Jesus is calming the storm of our lives, what is he speaking to you in this quietness?  What are you learning to not be afraid of?

May 17, 2020

Order of Worship:
Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture: Luke 15: 8-10; Hebrews 12: 2-3; II Timothy 4: 7-8
Prayer
Sermon: Happy to Share the Surprising Joy
Closing and Benediction


May 16, 2020

Feel free to sing along...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=e21Bi86YyZ8


May 15, 2020

Illustration: Providence, Causation, and Correlation

Joel Gregory, noted Baptist preacher and professor, recently wrote: "If I hit my thumb with a hammer and it hurts, that is causation. If I hit my thumb with a hammer and a bird sings, that is correlation. Sometimes God acts in a causative way and sometimes in a correlative way. In that strange passage Exodus 17:8-16 Israelites fight Amalek. When Moses holds up his hands, Israel wins. When Moses gets fatigued and his hands drop, Israel loses. His buddies Aaron and Hur sit him on a rock and hold his hands up. Israel wins. That is correlation, not causation. 

God still does that. College student Gardner C. Taylor wrecks his college president's car, kills a man, and at the inquest is called to preach. Sixteen-year-old Charles Spurgeon gets lost in a Sunday snowstorm, ducks into the wrong church, and is saved. Oswald Chambers dies in an army camp in Egypt and his wife takes his transcribed chaplain's talks back to the UK and divides them up into daily readings, now read by millions daily in My Utmost for His Highest. 

Alexander Fleming forgot to clean his biology lab, came back one day, found mold in a petri dish, and there was penicillin. All of those are correlations. 

Wait a minute. Hands in the air do not win battles. Car wrecks do not lead to historic ministries. Snowstorms do not lead to monumental ministries. And appendicitis in the desert does not create immortal devotional books...unless God says so. Ask the little boy who went to hear a sermon one day carrying five loaves and two fishes for his lunch. 

Somewhere today in your life God will make a strange, unexpected connection and it could change everything. The more you look for it the more it will happen. If you need help, ask the donkey who happened to be standing there doing nothing on Palm Sunday.


may 14, 2020

Learning from Job


The following is from an article by Dr. Michael Lee, the Grace Kea Professor in History at Eastern University

COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, and there is a profound anxiety that lurks deep in our collective psyche. Our confidence and assumptions have been shaken in a matter of a few months. People are dying from a virus we barely understand. The global economy has come to a grinding halt. Our health care systems are pressed to their limits. Our lives and institutions suddenly seem so unstable and insecure. The troubling reality is that COVID-19 did not make our world vulnerable. It was always this fragile.

We, in the modern West, are psychologically ill-equipped to conceptualize a pandemic. Natural threats like plagues or famines seem to be something that only afflicted our distant ancestors. Unlike our ancestors, we don’t fear widespread famine, natural disasters, or disease. Surely, we are beyond that. Or, so we thought.

The Hebrew Bible’s book of Job is arguably the greatest meditation on the nature of suffering in all of world literature. Job, the protagonist, faces one brutal calamity after another. His children are wiped out. All his wealth is destroyed. His body is wracked by disease. The book of Job is remarkably relevant in this moment and speaks to our present condition. 


Job wants to know the meaning of his suffering. Various characters offer him advice. His friends assert that Job is getting what he deserves because he must have offended God. Job rejects this interpretation. Job’s wife, on the other hand, tells him to “curse God and die.” She thinks his suffering is meaningless. In other words, God does not care and is utterly uninvolved. Job rejects this interpretation as well. It is as if he screams to the universe, “My suffering has meaning! I want answers!” Job’s response to pain and loss is universal and transcends time and culture. With Job, we also scream and shake our fists…

Eventually, Job gets an audience with God. God says to Job that the ways of God are far beyond Job’s imagination. God does not logically explain suffering or offer a technique to avoid suffering. God’s answer is himself. God is powerful, and we cannot comprehend or manipulate him. Suffering is a mystery. However, God is in control. We think we are in control of the universe. Ultimately, we are not.

At the end of the book, God demonstrates his transcendent and incomprehensible power. But elsewhere in the Bible, God also offers compassion and empathy for human suffering. The Gospel of John narrates how Jesus reacts to the death of his friend Lazarus: “Jesus wept.” God does not simply remain aloof while all of his creation suffers. In John’s story, God enters our suffering. God weeps, grieves, and mourns with us.

Our ancestors believed that ultimately God is in control. What do we believe? Is there meaning to be found in the current chaos? Is God present? If the ancients were right in their grappling with disease and death, then perhaps we too can find comfort, hope, and even a deeper faith in such trying times.


may 13, 2020

COVID-19: Psalm 23, an adaptation
23:1 The LORD is my wisdom, I know what to do.
23:2 He encourages me to be cautious; he shows me how to love wisely;
23:3 he helps me be patient.
23:4 Even though I know many tensions, I will not despair; you, in my brothers and sisters, are with me; my church family—they comfort me.
23:5 You feed my body and spirit from your table in the midst of great hunger; you bless me as your own; my life goes on.
23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and, in my Spirit, I dwell now and always in the house of the LORD.

Dr. Jeanne Anderson is the Minister with Missions at Fredericksburg Baptist Church, Fredericksburg, VA.


may 11, 2020


In reading an article in Ministry Matters by Jill Johnson, a freelance author in TX, several other articles related to local churches and neighborhoods and even a number of news stories, I was taken by the creativity of people/communities to share thoughts and actions meant to encourage and uplift.  The term used for this was used first in the late 1800s-- collective effervescence.  

Creative expression is exploding in multiple forms.  Painting, writing, videos, music, virtual choirs, photography.  Some people who might have been hesitant several months ago suddenly feel a freedom and even urgency to share their creative senses. 

We can go online and see numerous humorous family and individual videos, musical videos, concerts, shared cooking recipes, someone’s attempt to reenact a famous painting. 

Churches, even our own, have had to find creative ways to worship from live streaming with three to five persons in a sanctuary usually full on Sunday morning, to Zooming together from our respective homes.  I read of one church’s “Lovin the Burg” where they encourage the support of small local businesses, think of ways to thank medical workers and other essential persons, surprise someone with a note or gift card, even sharing toilet paper.  Anything to help others see and feel the love of Jesus. 


Neighborhoods are reaching out expressing through front yard signs, chalk art in the driveway or sidewalk, drive by birthday parties, social distancing singing and dancing.  The children of one depressed father encouraged him to lighten up and tell some jokes.  Now with the help of his children, he has a joke on a sign in his front yard every day.  Another family placed a sign in the yard introducing the “Ministry of Silly Walks.” “Commence silly walking immediately.”  The silly walks are recorded and seen on social media.  

Collective Effervescence –shared expressions capturing humanity at its best.  When there are so many things about our communities and nation that divide and anger us, this is a welcome distraction.  It has been said, “Humans are hyper-social creatures and love to feel a part of something.”  Maybe that “something” is being a part of something beyond ourselves.  Exercising that Spirit of the Lord that is within each of us, if given the opportunity to express itself.

Being more like Jesus through laughter, a smile, a thoughtful word, a kind and unexpected action, through music or even a video just might make the presence of God real to someone who needs a little effervescence in their life.

may 10, 2020

Order of Worship:


Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture: Matt 26: 36-56
Morning Prayer 
Sermon: Gold in the Garbage
Closing thoughts and Benediction

Just to keep you hopeful---
www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk7WPh09Qrw

may 9, 2020


In this global COVID-19 pandemic, we are reeling from individual and collective grief. We are trying to figure out what life looks like on the other side, hoping for something “normal” but unsure of what that even means.

But in the meantime, we can practice the work of solidarity with one another. This means our only way of being is understanding our tie with the collective embrace of others.

This does not mean we can’t individually grieve; we all have things that are happening in our lives that are deeply personal and affect only us in this time. But we also hold a collective reminder of our grief, the grief of the whole, the worldwide grief that acknowledges all that is broken.

We hold solidarity with the inequity of black and people of color populations that are being disproportionately affected by this.

We hold solidarity with parents who are exhausted and feel like they cannot get anything done and with those who are alone and need someone to hug them.

We hold solidarity with high school and college seniors who will not get to walk in graduation ceremonies and with elders who cannot hug their grandchildren.

We hold solidarity with essential workers who are exhausted and scared of getting sick every single day.

We hold solidarity with the heroes who are making masks and raising funds to help others through hard times.

We hold solidarity with those who have lost their friends and family members and were not with loved one who were dying or attend their funerals in person.

We hold solidarity with friends who do not have the option of staying at home.

We grieve, we grieve, we grieve.

We hold collective solidarity with all humans because we are all scared, we are all affected, and we are all asking what’s on the other side of this.

So the question is, as we continue to practice social distancing, as we continue to stay home and take care of ourselves and each other, what is your act of solidarity? What is one thing that you can hold on to as the thing that connects you to others, that reminds you of your own sacred belonging and the sacred belonging of those around you?

Kaitlin Curtice is a Native American Christian author and speaker.

may 8, 2020

Wonder | Gratitude 

In a sermon by Calvin Miller, he uses this story at the beginning of his message: “One day I was walking down the streets of a Montana city with a fellow preacher who had his three-year old son along. As we walked the little boy looked down and saw a penny lying on the sidewalk. The child became so excited, he reached down and grabbed it. He could have been no happier if it were a thousand dollars. 

“Daddy, Daddy,” he cried. “Look what I found -- a penny!” 

“His excitement fascinated me. I could not imagine getting so excited about so little. I ran my hand into my pocket and found I had a whole pocket full of change, mostly pennies. I hurried my step to walk just ahead of the child and for the next few moments I dropped pennies for the sheer joy of watching his excitement as he found them. 

“Pennies buy so little that I didn’t even feel any sense of sacrifice in what I was doing. But to the little boy the retrieval of every one of them was over and again erupting with joy. 

“I doubt if I would even stop to pick up a penny, and yet that which was not to be treasured by me was clearly celebrated by the child. I have been overwhelmed time and again by what seems to be God’s sense of wonder. Treasuring the seemingly worthless is somehow like our God.”

AND for a Smile: Calories | Health

A husband took his young daughter to the grocery store to help him buy groceries. In addition to the healthy items on his wife's carefully prepared list, the two of them returned home with a package of sugar-filled cookies.

"Why in the world did you buy those?" his wife asked. "You know they aren't good for you!"

"Oh, but don't worry, honey, this box of cookies has one-third less calories than usual in them," the husband replied.

The wife questioned that claim and asked, "What makes you think that?"

"We ate about a third of the box on the way home."


(Both of the above taken from The Preaching Magazine)
...

May 5, 2020


Dog Gone Insight


In a Pandemic with its “stay at home,” “shelter in place” orders, what can we learn from dogs?

1. Nothing is more important than feeling loved, and there's no creature on the planet that does it better than a dog. The wagging tail affirms that this is where we belong: This is our home, where we live, where we're safe and where we're loved.

2. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. You know how dogs eat: slobber flying everywhere, and licking the dish clean until every last scent of gravy is gone. Dogs know that eating is a celebration of life. Breaking bread together is holy. To nourish the body is not a chore, but a sacrament. 


3. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree. Relax, slow down and enjoy. Give yourself a time out. Opt out, unplug, and get lazy.

4. Run, romp and play daily. Physical exercise is as important for the soul as it is for the body. No disciple of Christ can be as faithful and effective when the body is run down and health is unnecessarily poor. When we learn how to play and stretch and get in some exercise we'll feel better from the inside out.

5. Be loyal. Loyalty is a good thing, and if your dog is nothing else, he is loyal to fault. Loyalty has fallen on hard times. Loyalty is a critical element of discipleship, for it speaks to our relationship with others: our spouse, our vocation, our community and our friends. 

6. When you're happy, dance around and wag your tail. Thankfulness and celebration are powerful dynamics for successful and healthy living. Gratitude is a gift we give ourselves that enables us to affirm the essential goodness of life. Even when adversity strikes, gratitude helps us maintain our perspective and carries us through the low moments.

7. If someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle gently. We all have bad days. That's why we need encouragement and affirmation. When we are depressed, we know that it takes only a quiet word, a gentle touch to bring us around. A dog has this instinct that tells it when to be dancing and jumping around and when to just be there beside you. Words are not always needed, or even helpful, to convey empathy. A gentle nuzzle will do.

8. No matter how harshly you're scolded, don't pout - run back and make friends. Carrying grudges makes life a drudgery. Make friends and keep them. Overlook faults and assume the best. Don't keep a scorecard of rights and wrongs. Don't take offense. 

9. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. We do not need to injure others by what we say or do. We can be strong with love; firm with kindness.

10. Bark with your buddies. Barking is an act of commonality. Barking says we belong in this together. We are one. 

God put dogs on earth to remind us of some important truths, for on one level dogs seem to do better at displaying human traits than humans. And much more Christlike. Think about it. Consistently more humble, more loving, more grateful, more joyful, more kindhearted, and so on. I will never let my dog be a better Christian than myself.
Amen. Arf. Arf.

Source:
Margot Roosevelt,  "Canine candy stripers." Time. August 6, 2001, 52-53.


May 4, 2020

I am doing a lot more reading each week than usual, for some reason.  In the midst of all this, it reminded me that our grieving is different in the last several months than previously.


We are having to deal with the loss of normalcy.  Things are just not the same: The way we do church, get groceries, visit or greet family and friends, go to work or school.  Most any routine we can think of has been disrupted. Birthday parties, weddings, proms, graduations, vacations, even funerals have not escaped the change. Many have had to adjust to working from home or being out of work, arranging childcare, teach our own children or grandchildren, delaying surgery or treatments that seemed so necessary.  So many have even had to adjust to saying good-bye to a love one or friend without being there with them in their last moments of life.

These adjustments and losses are difficult enough when things are normal, but come on, they create deeper feelings of sorrow, grief, frustration, confusion now, it seems.  Our bodies, minds and hearts can be so overloaded with all we are hearing, seeing and experiencing that it can take us beyond worn out to total fatigue.  We may even live with the thought, even fear, what else can go wrong, what next, what can I do?


Maybe we need to take a deep breath. Perhaps, 3 or 4 deep breaths in and slowly exhale.  Be still and listen.  “Let not your hearts be troubled, trust….I will give you another Comforter…” (John 14)  “I will lift up eyes to the hills, where my help comes from…”  (Ps 121) Read Psalm 23 slowly and listen to those words.  Make time for prayer.  Make time to think of 2 or 3 things for which you are grateful. 

Take a walk or find a quiet place and listen, again, for the Spirit.  Try actually breathing in  the Spirit.  He does not know anything about social distancing.  He is closer than that deep breathe you just enjoyed.  Now there is some Good News!

May 3, 2020

Order of Worship:

Call to Worship
Scripture: Matt 5:8; Ps 73:1; Gal 6:8; Matt 12:43-45
Morning Prayer 
Sermon: Weed and Feed
Closing thoughts and Benediction

Closing thoughts for you to consider today:

What kind of seeds are you planting in your mind and heart?

Would you say you are an optimistic person or negative person?  How do you think that affects you—others in your life?

What would be the benefits of a more Christ-like thought centered life for you?

We have heard, “we are what we eat”---do you believe we are what we think?

You have a freshly prepared garden or field.  Would you ever plant weed seeds on purpose?

Plant the good seeds in your mind and heart and watch them grow!

Choir singing Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjQlW03RPP8

May 1, 2020

The following is taken for an article entitled Staggering by Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners:


Two scriptures have come to mind for me in the last week.


The first is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which begins, “Pray without ceasing.” It’s a line many of us have heard and cited but perhaps never really understood; you really can’t pray all the time! But prayer has become a constant demand for more and more of us as those loved ones closest to us are contracting this potentially lethal disease. I have a notepad beside my computer on my desk with the names of those on my personal prayer vigil list. It grows every day. 

The original Greek meaning of the phrase, “pray without ceasing” does not mean pray “constantly,” which is indeed impossible. It means “continually recurring,” and that has become our experience. One commentator said, “this does not mean, for example, that one prays uninterruptedly but that one prays regularly and frequently.” This pandemic will indeed teach us how to pray in recurring ways — in both words and silence — that will link us ever more closely with loved ones....

The other text is Ephesians 5:16, which says bluntly, “Redeem the time, for the days are evil.”

Realizing that the people who are dying are dying alone makes for very evil days. But I also think the days that preceded the unexpected onslaught of a killer virus were also evil. They had become days of the acceleration of racial bigotry, of fear, hate, and violence....

So I have been asking myself: How do we respond to these evil days of unrest — staying at home, many working digitally, many others who still must go to work, caring for and homeschooling children, changing our schedules, family life, and even how we worship — all in ways that “redeem” this time, perhaps in ways that change us all going forward?

This will indeed be a “staggering” time in all our personal lives and, in part because of that, a deeply reflective time. The choices and decisions we make now will ultimately help shape and determine who and what we will be as people, families, communities, churches, and a nation when the immediate health crisis subsides. This moment will change us; we will not be the same afterward — how it changes us will depend on how we “redeem the time.”

Using these days to make the best use of our time — for doing good — will become more and more necessary as we see people die in such unprecedented numbers.  As we love and care for our own families, let us recall the words of Jesus in that Gospel text when he says that the least of these are “part of my family.”

April 29, 2020

The following was referred to me and offers as a thought we need to confirm each day of the Pandemic.  It was written by:

 William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. This op-ed draws on a commencement address he gave at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014.

 For a would-be Navy SEAL, Hell Week is the worst week of the toughest military training in the world. It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment, and one “special day” at the Mud Flats. The Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, where the water comes together and creates a swampy patch of terrain, a muddy bog that tests your determination to be a SEAL.

The instructors, looking to weed out the weak of mind and body, ordered the entire group of 55 men back into the bog. The mud consumed each man until there was nothing visible but our heads. We were all exhausted, numb and desperate to hold on. The instructors told us that we could all leave the mud — if just five men quit. It was the instructors’ way of turning us against each other.

It was apparent that some of the trainees were about to give up. There were still eight hours of bone-chilling cold to go before the sun rose.  Several of the students started moving to dry ground; ready to quit. And then, one voice began to sing. The song was terribly out of tune but sung with great enthusiasm. One voice became two, and two became three, and before long the entire class was singing. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept singing, but the singing persisted. Those of us stuck in the mud believed that if one of us could start singing when he was up to his neck in mud, then maybe the rest of us could make it through the night. And we did.

Today, the coronavirus has thrown us all in the mud. We are cold, wet and miserable, and the dawn seems a long way off. We should not be cavalier about the dangers, neither should we feel hopeless and paralyzed with fear. Hope abounds.

 We have the greatest scientists in the world working to create a vaccine. Health-care workers are pulling double shifts to care for the sick. National, state and local officials are working to find solutions and address the Pandemic.  The United States has an unmatched ability to mobilize when called to action. More importantly, in times of crisis, Americans are rallying together, caring for one another, showing the compassion and concern that have always characterized this nation of good people.

Nothing in our immediate future will be easy. The number of cases will rise. The losses will increase. The markets will stumble. But make no mistake about it, we will prevail, because the only thing more contagious than a virus is hope. We are all up to our necks in mud. It’s time to start singing.

But those who Hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  Proverbs 40: 31


April 27, 2020


A long-time and very dear friend faced some emergency back surgery two weeks ago after dealing with severe pain for months.  He called shortly after 7AM the next morning, to tell me that he had been walking in the hall 3 times, was experiencing little to no pain and was going home later that day.  The excitement in his voice was almost overwhelming.  He was calling to thank us for our prayerful concern.  I reminded him the Lord is so good that way.  He hears and answers, to which my friend replied, "I have to get off because you are going to make me cry. "   The power of answered prayer was a reality to him.
Later that day I was drawn to an article entitled, What Good Does A Prayer Do?


The author recalled the message in James 2:14, What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?
For James, real faith resulted in loving action, and no doubt, prayer is one of those loving actions/deeds.
Prayer has the power to change the one who offers prayer; the power to change others for whom prayer is offered; and the reality of releasing God's power.
The author writes, "In reality, God can do more in ten minutes than we can do in twenty years. If there was ever a time in the last one hundred years when God’s people needed to humble themselves and pray so our world will be healed, it would be now.


This moment in history is pleading for God’s people to go beyond saying a prayer to fervently praying. When you pray, you are engaging the most specific and potent help anyone could receive. Now is our time to ask God to do the things we cannot do, in places we cannot go, and in situations we cannot control for people and nations that hang in the balance. When we do, God will use our humble prayers to bring about enormous good."

The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. (James 5:16)

Roger Ross, Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church.


april 26, 2020


Order of Worship:
Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture: Hebrews 6:16-19a; Proverbs 12:22; John 8:31-32
Morning Prayer 
Sermon: Nothing But the Truth
Closing thoughts and Benediction

Please contact us here if you would like to join us!


Andrea Bocelli sings Amazing Grace...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb6QVCRHqgk


april 25, 2020


Thoughts shared by Jim Wallis, Editor of Sojourner magazine on The Lord's Prayer:
On earth as it is in heaven.'

The most profound reminders in the Lord's Prayer are true in times of peace and in times of crisis: We believe that the kingdom of God is a place with no more sin, death, disease, suffering, corruption, or evil; and we as God's servants are bringing the kingdom closer as we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy work be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Repeating the Lord’s Prayer week after week keeps that vison and work ever before us. Welcoming the kingdom into our midst is what we most hope for in a time like this.

Oh Lord, we confess our sadness and our fears. We feel stuck, trapped inside, overwhelmed, helpless, and even hopeless. Help us to believe that our present does not control our future, that we can look forward and not just backward. Enable us to change our situation now by bringing the future into it. Only the radical values of your new order — of love and justice — will bring your kingdom into our community right now, lived in this and all moments. Inspire and sustain us to bring your kingdom to earth even right now — in this moment of crisis. 

Lord, in this moment we pray especially for those fighting on the front lines of the pandemic — our first responders, nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals — to save as many lives as they can. Shelter them from this virus and grant your healing mercies to those who will inevitably get sick despite their best efforts to protect themselves. Help our government and society mobilize to provide the protective and medical equipment they need to keep up as best they can with the onslaught of patients that is already here or on its way. And help those of us not in the health care sector to do the most important thing we can to protect them and lessen the severity of the strain they face — help us to stay home. 

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever. Amen.'

Lord, give us the faith and the courage to make this proclamation even in a time of a deadly virus. Give us the “patience in tribulation” that the Apostle Paul calls us to.

Because we know what your kingdom on earth brings, give us the hope of that kingdom in our hearts, lives, communities, and the nations. Let that future we believe in help sustain us in the present, even when things we can’t control seem to dominate our lives. Lord, help us to believe that the virus, the threats, the injustices, and the fears they create are NOT in control and never will be, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.”

april 24, 2020


I sent out an invitation Wednesday, encouraging you to take a couple minutes to list one or two things that made you smile in spite of the pandemic news we see eveyday.  Let me share some of your responses:

Spring beauty as you step out the door in the morning; a blooming cherry tree, cows and calves grazing in a green pasture; a crazy rooster;
the laughter of grandkids; children donating their own money to TOL; a pair of Mallard ducks who live on our pond and waiting for the train of their babies; 
deer playing tags in the yard; birds on the feeder and squirrels picking up left-overs; a neighbor bringing over fresh-out-of-the -oven homemade bread;
quiet time, catching up on little projects, no commute and learning how to Zoom;
time of reflect more on family and friends; realizing what is really important and really matters; thankful the Pandemic didn't come in winter; 
knowing we can no longer take "essential folks" for granted; curbside pick-up with a smile; the sacrifice of grocery store workers; teddy bears in windows;

Taking a moment to see the Glory of God CAN make us SMILE! 

https://youtu.be/HBYTjNQ8ens

April 23, 2020


A prayer by Sharland Sledge, now-retired associate pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church, Waco TX:
Waiting
Look upon us gently, Lord, for waiting is not our forte.  So many other things are. . . things like moving ahead,
fixing what's wrong, planning what's next, 
diagnosing the problem, cramming more into a day than one person can possibly do before the sun goes down.
But waiting. . .
when we are waiting for the sun to shine, when we are waiting for the Word, when we are waiting for the
wound to heal, 
nothing in all the world is harder than waiting.
So, in your mercy, Lord, wait with us.
Be our very present help in waiting.
Heal our frenzy, calm our fears.
Comfort those who at this very your time, while we wait with each other, pray each other into hope,
surrounded by your presence, even in the darkness. . .
especially in the darkness.  Amen.

april 22, 2020


I was reading the Editor's Letter in the latest issue of The Week.  He states, "the coronavirus pandemic is not a drill; it has brought great suffering and death....But if we are to extract any value or meaning from this scourge, it must be in the clarity it can provide about what really matters."
He goes on to write of "a greater sweetness in everything" such as a deeper appreciation of his "cellmate, faces on Zoom, birdsongs in Spring, a wave and a joggers smile, a "HI" from other escaped prisoners trying to bring some joy in a Spring day."  How can we not feel gratitude and not be mindful that nothing should be taken for granted, he asked.  
Well, that got me feeling less sorry for myself and stop long enough to think about his words.  I have enjoyed all those daily walks in our new neighborhood with my own "cellmate:" greeting new neighbors even at a social distance and smiling to see which would make the first move to the grass or street, maintaining that safe space; watching the ducks and robins around the newly landscaped pond; seeing the faces and hearing the voices of my church family even if on my computer screen; Skyping and Facetime with my granddaughters; longer conversations with my sons and dear friends via phone; more time to sit on my porch to read and think.  That's a start.
SO That gave me this idea.  I want to invite you to take a few moments at some point today and consider what has made you smile in spite of the pandemic news of the last month.  AND I would like to ask you to share one or two of those thoughts with me.  Without identifying the sender, I would like to share them with all of you in the hope it brightens each of our days and maybe gets us in a habit of looking for those moments in our lives each day.  
This thought came to me Monday and then yesterday morning I was listening to a friend's sermon.  He ended with "the Glory of God is in each moment, if we but see."
Yep, I thought HE was telling me something

APRIL 21, 2020


I was introduced to a new song that brought me a blessing.  I wanted to share the lyrics of hope with you today.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=So94m-Lp6Pw


April 20, 2020

The following is adapted from an article by  Wes Granberg-Michaelson, author of  Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century 
In these post-resurrection days of celebration and mystery, Christians across time, language, and culture share a common greeting:


“Christ is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
This Easter, a pastor in an Orthodox Christian community, added a third phrase:
“I can see him in your face.”

In this coronavirus pandemic, adding that response seems more essential than ever.
What faces we see, either in person or in our hearts, carry a sacred and saving significance. Those of us with the luxury of being able to shelter in place because we have adequate space, who can maintain physical distance because there’s no need to be crowded, and who can wash our hands because we never have to think about soap and hot water, can exchange post-Easter greetings in safety, probably on Zoom. We treasure those bonds with one another in a socially isolated time.

But so many other faces face stark vulnerability, helpless anxiety, and the dread of death that seems nearer to their communities than to others.

COVID-19 has revealed the pre-existing conditions of U.S. society: a health care system sickened by market forces and heartless profit, excluding millions, and an economic system corrupted by raging income inequality, with 40 percent of adults lacking $400 in savings for an emergency, much less a pandemic. And we lack coverage, as a nation, for these deadly pre-existing conditions.

See the faces of the Navajo family 40 miles from Gallup, N.M., living without running water, making choices between dishes and hands. The African-American postal worker and father of three in Milwaukee who is two to three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than his white coworker. The Latino restaurant worker in Orlando’s Magic Kingdom now without money, health insurance, or hope. He has a bad cough and serious chest pain. If he tests positive, he has no money to pay a hospital bill, even if a bed is available. Can we see Christ in these faces?

Or the migrant in India, where national sheltering in place means crowding into homeless, wandering masses. The Syrian refugee crammed into a tent hoping for a hygiene kit including soap to defend against the onslaught of this indiscriminate virus. The mother in Harare, Zimbabwe, laid off from cleaning at a tourist hotel, now with no money to feed her children, and only prayers left to sustain them. Can we see him in their faces?

But how does the powerful, redemptive, healing promise of the resurrection become real in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic? 


One portal opens when we see the face of Christ in each of those rendered most vulnerable and most likely to be inflicted by the deadly, silent, invisible spread of this virus. We see Christ holding each hand, wanting to lift them out of places of death. We see Christ’s complete identification with all humanity, and his presence with them, his face reflected through them. That is one way the power of the resurrected Christ, breaking free from the tomb, continues to break into the world, so loved by God. “If you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

Of course, this takes aggressive policies and practices, as well as sacrificial service by nurses, doctors, and truck drivers, and massive efforts marshalling financial and human resources in global solidarity. But it begins by what faces we see.

So, our post Easter greeting in these days of COVID-19 can be:

“Christ is risen.”
“He is risen indeed.”
“I can see him in your face.”


april 19, 2020

Order of worship for service held on Zoom tomorrow at 11 am:

Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture Reading--- Matt 17: 1-7; II Cor 3:18
Morning Prayer
Sermon:  A Hungry Focus
Prayer
Closing thoughts and Benediction


Please contact us here if you would like to join us!


It is well with my soul...

www.bing.com/videos/search?q=first+plymouth+church+lincoln+nebraska+it+is+well+with+my+soul&docid=608049102539196879&mid=0596B4773E0F6B2C845B0596B4773E0F6B2C84


april 17, 2020

A friend sent me this 3 minute video this week and offers a good insight to consider given all we, our families, churches and nation are experiencing.


https://youtu.be/zqUJr7rD6V4


Shared by Jerry Turner


april 16, 2020

If you missed Easter, this little girl can surely help you understand in less than 3 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmykT7ednI8&feature=youtu.be


Shared by Rob Plati via Jerry Turner

april 15, 2020


As Dr. William Brown, Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, would suggest, we celebrate the empty tomb. When churches across the country will be empty, we mark the Easter season by remembering the powerful message of the empty tomb. The empty tomb represents life; it is the message that our risen Savior defeats the worse death imaginable, and lives. It is the salvation message that speaks life in our Christian faith. In the same manner, may our empty churches speak to our care for life as an exercise of the very faith.
It is important to reimagine this Easter season in light of the empty tomb in order to help us imagine our efforts to stay at home, and socially distance ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic as an act of faith. Our caring for our lives and the lives of others is an act of holy justice. Our churches are empty in this season so we might live! This is the reality in our Easter season, and a reality in our lives in this unprecedented time. Yes, Easter will be different, but there is nothing about this time in the history of our lives that is the same. We are in unique and unfamiliar times in humanity, and our faith practices must reflect these times.

Rest in the Resurrection. I want to suggest that we rest in the resurrection; in the power of the empty tomb. Let there be an experience of peace in knowing that God is still in control...  life will prevail; resurrection means life … the empty tomb means life, and our empty churches are a sign of life-care and preservation.

Yes, Eastertide is a communal celebration, one that we will celebrate physically apart, but spiritually connected. 

Shared from an article by Khalia J. Williams is assistant dean of worship and music, assistant professor in the practice of worship, Emory School of Theology


april 14, 2020

As devastating as the COVID-19 crisis is, it may be a gift to us in at least one way: It is teaching us the value of private worship. We are forced into isolation and many of us find it disorienting. For now, all of worship is private worship. But we find ourselves exclaiming with the psalmist, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Ps. 84:2, NIV). How long the yearning? How long the fainting and crying out? We don’t know for how long. Perhaps as long as it takes to understand that as it was for Jesus, the consistent rhythm of public and private worship is critical to our spiritual lives. The wonderful day of reuniting for corporate worship may not happen on Easter Day this year, but whenever it happens—April 26th or May 10th or June 7th—that will be Easter Sunday! We will feel like God’s people returning from Babylon to worship in Jerusalem: “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion…Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Ps. 126:1-2, NIV).


If we will embrace the relationship with God to be found when we shelter in place, our first Sunday back together in church, whenever that will be, will become our Easter Sunday 2020. On that day we will find that the greeting of friends will never be more precious....


Constance Cherry is professor of worship and pastoral Ministry, Indiana Wesleyan University

april 13, 2020

Shared by Elizabeth Denbow


How the Virus Stole Easter

By Kristi Bothur


https://www.thissideofheavenblog.com/blog/how-the-virus-stole-easter


april 12, 2020

Welcome to Easter Morning!


Our order of worship at 11 AM:
Welcome
Call to Worship
Scripture Reading---Matt 16:1-11; John 20:10-18
Morning Prayer
Sermon:  Don't Get Stuck on Saturday
Prayer
Closing thought and Benediction    

Ever grateful to worship with you again!!
Special thanks to Joy for coordinating all involved in making this happen.  
We will continue our Zoom connection each Sunday at 11AM until we are able to gather at the church house.  Please contact us here if you would like to join!

Rev. Jerry Turner

April 11, 2020

On Holy Saturday we are called to dwell on the dreadful, uncertain, in between time: after Jesus died and before he resurrected on Easter Sunday. Our lectionary Gospel texts (Matthew 27:57-66, John 19:38-42) describe a time of deep despair: The disciples had no guarantee, and certainly no evidence, that anything good was to come of their teacher’s execution. Jesus was dead…

Their doubt and despair resonate more deeply this year. It’s hard to imagine that things will change when we are in the midst of the most difficult times, when so many of us are now feeling this virus very personally. And there is often very little evidence on which to base hope that things will get better….

But the good news is this: We continue to see each day, around the world and even in parts of this country, that the curve of the epidemic can be flattened, and social distancing is the most powerful tool that can do it. In the days and weeks to come, we will see the evidence that things are changing and improving so long as we stay this course.

And, Easter is still coming.

From an article “Grief  On the Journey Through Holy Week”, by Jim Wallis


Enjoy this virtual choir message today as well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOXnzYPMhWY&list=RDRY4CW5pte98&index=42

April 10, 2020

Enjoy this virtual choir message:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Cvv5uDOzvM&list=RDRY4CW5pte98&index=11


And some words from Paul Smith:


Easter is Coming! Take heart!
 
In his account of Jesus’ teaching before His betrayal and arrest, we read these words written by John and spoken by Jesus just before He prays: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.”
 
Every discussion right now seems to concentrate on the virus and the desperate trouble it is causing to so many across our own community and the global community. Jesus knew of this trouble when He spoke to His followers. He also knew of trouble that would come from every other aspect of life – sickness, relationship problems, bereavement, financial hardship, persecution. The list is long and distressing.
 
But, the very final words He spoke were encouraging words – “Take Heart! I have overcome”. In other words, as followers of Jesus Christ, we can rest at night knowing that He has overcome every conceivable trouble that might ever come our way. He didn’t promise to remove the trouble, He simply promised to overcome and to give peace as we endure it.
 
This past week, our food deliveries have increased by 200% and counting. In the space of 30 minutes in Leesburg, we distributed 150 ‘to-go’ meals. The need is great and the trouble is tangible. I spoke to one lady in her car as she arrived for ‘to go’ meals. She had never asked for help before but she had lost her job and had 3 children to feed. The grateful smile on her face when we handed over the meals was as tangible as the trouble she was experiencing. She was able to ‘take heart.’
 
Food, prayer, financial assistance and counseling are all high on our ministry agenda right now. But…at the very foremost is sharing the love of Jesus Christ. Let’s not forget that. Our Purpose is unchanged during times of trouble – to reach out to the poor and needy in our community with the love of Jesus Christ. Peace comes only through Him. Trouble is only overcome through Him. Take heart!
 
Blessings,
Paul Smith, 
Executive Director (Tree of Life)

april 9, 2020

Found by Elizabeth Denbow: 


After the President’s news conference was over, one of the reporters made the observation that for the first time in our nation’s history we won’t be celebrating Easter. Well let me tell you one thing, he’s dead wrong. We might not celebrate what Easter has become in that there may be no new clothes bought for that Sunday. We might not hide and hunt eggs in mass quantities. We may not travel home to attend church with our family. We might not see some folks at our worship services that we haven’t seen since Christmas, but we’re going to Celebrate Easter. As a matter of fact, every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Every time we assemble for worship we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pilate couldn’t kill Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. You think the Coronavirus is going to stop Easter. More people this year will hear the gospel than any other Easter before.
Easter is not just about special programs, It’s not about the trumpet call or the mass crowds. It’s the fact that we serve a living Savior who is still transforming lives today. Easter is not only about His resurrection, but our ability to rise with Him. Easter is about the hope of tomorrow and the gift of everlasting life. Yes indeed, we will celebrate. We’ll celebrate what God did for all of us at Calvary. How? By remembering Him. By loving Him. By worshipping Him. By praising Him. Easter for us is everyday. Let the celebration begin. 
Sing with me:
I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him He's always near
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart

By: Kathy Shreveport Harris

April 7, 2020


This Easter Celebration

A special hymn written just for this time found by Pam Hutchison


http://www.carolynshymns.com/this_easter_celebration.html


April 6, 2020


With all the bad and sad news reported daily, I wanted to focus on some of the good things we are hearing and seeing.  Let us take some time to focus on these:


Teachers are continuing to teach and care for our students, even car parades through neighborhoods to show their support;
Janitors, bus drivers, trash collectors, mail carriers, store clerks, and others who are still working--"real heroes don't always wear capes;"
Pets are being adopted and serving as company for many "Staying at home:"
Bird and animal pictures are being shared doing what they normally do--eating, flying, running, "yet your heavenly Father feeds them...are you not much more;"
With "social distancing" our social media presents creative ideas to share crafts, baking, gardening, poetry to help past the time;
Increased video, Facetime, Skype and even talk time with family and friends.  One Italian poet published his phone number and got over 100 calls;
Family gathering outside a nursing home window to sing, dance, read, show a grandfather an engagement ring or put a hand on the glass;
Volunteers willing to shop for the seniors or someone with high risk;
Neighbors checking on neighbors to see if they are OK or if there is something they might do to help;
Car parades by the home of a young child or older adult to celebrate their birthday at "a distance," giving a whole new meaning to "drive-by;"
Teddy bears in windows for children to "discover" on their walks;  
Musical artists, Broadway stars, college and high school choirs and bands live-streaming while concerts are cancelled and theaters and schools are closed;
Athletes donating funds for workers in their team cities or for food and homeless shelters;
Historic sights like national parks, zoos, cathedrals, museums in videos that you can tour from your couch;
A husband in tears standing outside an Emergency Room door with a sign thanking the nurses for saving his wife's life.
Let us not forget, 'all things work together for good to those who love the Lord"  

april 5, 2020

The words of a hymn I heard for the first time last Sunday, but the words bring comfort for this day.

In Suffering Love the Thread of Life, from Land of Rest 
In suffering love the thread of life  is woven through our care,  for God is with us;  not alone  our pain and toil we bear. 
There is a rock, a place secure,  within the storm’s cold blast;  concealed within  the suffering night  God’s covenant stands fast. 
In love’s deep womb our fears are held;  there God’s rich tears are sown  and bring to birth,  in hope newborn,  the strength to journey on. 
Lord, to our hearts Your joy commit,  into our hands Your pain,  so send us out  to touch the world  with blessings in Your name. 
In suffering love, our God comes now,  hope’s vision born in gloom;  with tears and laughter   shared and blessed  the desert yet will bloom. 


By: Rob Johns


april 2, 2020

"When this is over may we never again take for granted; 

A handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theater,

Friday night out, the taste of communion, a routine checkup, the school rush each morning, coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring,

coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring, each deep breath! A boring Tuesday, life itself.


When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be and

may we stay that way --- better for each other because of the worst!


- Laura Kelly Fanucci


March 30, 2020

With the extension of "social distancing" through April, I want to share these thoughts I read last week.


Over the last several weeks, the COVID-19 virus has turned the world on its head. The market approaches Great Depression level descent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ushered out the word “pandemic.” Grocery stores looks like a World Wrestling Federation event. And one woman in Memphis wears a self-made, whole-body hazmat suit.

Things are getting weird.

A virus originating in China about three months ago now has spanned the entire world. The globe we once thought massive has become too small, too vulnerable.The term “social distancing” has now entered common conversation. Every time we turn on the news or click a link, the experts tell us the way to slow this virus is through disconnection.  In a world where we’re more interconnected than ever, yet being instructed to distance ourselves from one another, here are a few thoughts on showing Christian hospitality :

Use the “Stay At Home” order for spiritual reflection: Now is the time to pray. Now is the time to sit in silence and meditate. Now is the time to reflect on the nature of Jesus’ identification with the sick, the vulnerable and the sinful. 

Check on your neighbor and stay connected: There are vulnerable people around you who may have been forgotten, ignored, or overlooked who may be lonely, homeless, need a helping hand, someone to call them, to feel someone remembered, and shared love.  Reach out to your neighbors and simply let them know you are praying for them.  Text, Facetime, Skype, email, phone calls, this may be the time to reach out to let someone know you care.

Share the toilet paper: The church was, from the beginning, a community that made sure no one around them lacked basic necessities. They resisted the fear of scarcity and embraced the theological truth that their God can supply all their needs. This is God’s world of abundance, even in a time of scarcity.

Social distancing does not mean we cannot live out the Christian ethic of offering hospitality. We can be creative, compassionate, and even fearless exercising our faith and trust in God to see us through.  Pray for the eyes, ears, feet, hands and heart of the Spirit.  And, hey, we don’t even need a self-made hazmat suit to do any of this.


Adapted from an article by Tom Fuerst –Hospitality in an Age of Social Distancing, March 24, 2020 in Ministry Matters

Rev. Jerry Turner


March 24, 2020


From Homiletics magazine:

Our homebound members have been our minds through this trying time, including those who live alone or are unable to leave their homes due to the ever increasing shelter at home orders.

As a way to try and stay connected, we are providing 4 days worth of devotions and activities to send to the loved ones in your lives. We've also included a template that you may want to send to families in your congregation who would like to color a picture and send a note to those who might feel isolated.

You may download these free resources for unrestricted, re-distributable use.:

https://www.hometouchministry.com/covid19-resources-for-elderly-homebound


March 22, 2020


Take a moment and breathe in these words of Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM, 
written Friday, March 13th 2020:


Lockdown
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing


March 19, 2020

"Social distancing" is the new buzz word. Many restaurants are closed, as are ski resorts, movie theatres and casinos. The NCAA March Madness tournament is gone, the NBA season is suspended, airlines are cutting domestic flights, and weddings have been postponed. 

We are very careful, and rightly so, about stepping into crowds. We don't shake hands with each other. Many wear masks. We wash our hands religiously. So we're hunkering down with at least a slight sense of optimism - we have hand sanitizer and plenty of toilet paper. 

Social distancing is an important strategy. 

But here's the thing: As much as we ought to practice SD, we can be sure of one thing. God quite emphatically does not practice social distancing.

It is not in God's nature to be distant. The central event in the story of salvation - the Incarnation - is all about God entering our experience, not departing from it. Immanuel - God with us! God will not and does not, distance himself from us. God has not done this in the past, God is not doing it now and God will not do it ever.

This is a theme that runs throughout Scripture. God is near us, not distant from us. This is why the apostle Paul can say with authority: 

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

In the weeks and months to come, social distancing will require us to make sacrifices and find new ways of staying connected. But as Paul reminds us, God will be with us no matter where we are.


Credit: Homiletics magazine, editor Timothy Merrill


March 18, 2020


Let us be as one in our prayers for the nation: those already infected by the virus and whose health is endangered; those providing medical response and care and who are themselves putting their lives and that of their families in danger; those evaluating the conditions and making appropraite decisions; those making, supplying the much needed equipment to hospitals; those working in labs to test and create a vaccine to attack this virus; those who health conditions put them in harms way.
Please review the email addresses above.  Some of our church family do not have email.  If you do not see a member's name, please be in contact to inform them of this decision.  I would ask our deacons to use the call tree listings in this regard to make sure everyone is contacted.


This is an extremely critical time in our nation.  It can easily produce stress, sorry, panic and fear, but we believe and trust a loving Father who has promised His children peace and hope.  Let us be ever prayerful and claim His promise, guidance and protection. 

​Rev. Jerry W. Turner