Category: Thursday Thoughts

June 4, 2020 Thursday Thoughts

June 4, 2020 Thursday Thoughts

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Dear Congregation:

We know that we are dealing with two viruses.  COVID 19 and the virus of racism.  We have been living in fear and anxiety with a virus that can lurk inside some of us without symptoms.  A virus that preys upon the most vulnerable.  A virus that keeps manifesting itself in new ways and with new symptoms.

We already knew that black and brown communities are disproportionately  affected by the virus.  We also know that  black and brown communities are disproportionately affected by police brutality.  Those communities are disproportionately represented in the prisons of our country.  We know that black and brown communities face institutional racism in education, government, business, and the faith communities.  Truth is that those communities face racism everywhere.

It has not gone unnoticed that the confluence of COVID 19 and the response to the death of George Floyd has pushed our country to a deeper conversation about racism.  I am grateful for t your willingness to go deeper into that conversation.  The response to the classes Rev. Michelle Beadle led earlier this year demonstrated a willingness to become vulnerable and examine our own prejudices.  That has broadened more in these recent weeks.

Thank you for taking this journey of faith.  We all have prejudices and it is important that we identify them.  It is important for us to examine how our white privilege has socialized us in ways that have given us advantages that our black and brown siblings do not have.  This is our work to do and I am grateful for our friends of color who have been so patient with us.

If we stay on this path of learning and understanding and dismantling what is getting in the way for all people to live in security and peace, we can be the change.  Our friends of color are tired, fed up, and asking us, “How long?”  Do you hear them?  Are we willing to take the difficult, painful journey of examining our own lives and what we may be doing that contributes to racism?  Jesus said to us, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Change is challenging.  Change can be painful.  But imagine with me, a country where we really do live up to all that we say that we value.

Thursday Thoughts May 28, 2020

Thursday Thoughts May 28, 2020

CLICK HERE for the Full May 28, 2020 Thursday Thoughts. 

 

Dear Congregation:

I greatly appreciate the resources, prayers, and reflections my colleagues are sharing during these challenging times.  This morning, Michel Caine, Pastor of Old First Reformed UCC, Philadelphia shared this prayer with his congregation.  As he writes, “In light of all the missed or at least postponed rituals and life cycle events, I offer you a Postponement Prayer created by a Reconstructionist Rabbi, Heather Paul:”

“Holy One of Blessing,

I stand before You today

ready to embrace Your unending love

and ready to respond with love in return

 

Today is not the day I imagined

and yet I am still here, standing with You,

understanding that sometimes plans overturn

and all that we yearned for

remains undone.

 

Holy One of Blessing,

my heart breaks for what should have been

and longs for what’s yet to come

Help me find holiness

in this in-between time, waiting.

 

Bless me with savlanut (patience),

tikvah (hope), and koakh (strength).

Sit beside me in time’s waiting room

where I pray the day may soon arrive

when I can stand before You again

ready to welcome a new beginning

 

Blessed are You, Arranger of Time and Space,

Who blesses every season, and Who blesses Your people forever.”

Thursday Thoughts, May 21

Thursday Thoughts, May 21

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Dear Congregation:
Today is Ascension Day. Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter and commemorates the ascension of Jesus into heaven 39 days after resurrection on Easter Sunday. You will find the Biblical accounts of the Ascension in Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:6-11.

During the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension, it is believed that Jesus preached and spent time with the apostles and his followers. Ten days after Ascension Day is Pentecost when we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus.

In the beginning of Acts, the risen Lord instructs the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. This they do for 40 days, recalling Moses on the mountain, receiving the law and experiencing the glory of the Lord. “Lord,” they ask Jesus, “is this the time that your kingdom is going to come?” “No,” Jesus says, “it is not for you to know that. . . . But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses.”

Then Jesus ascends to heaven, and two men in white robes ask the disciples, “Why are you looking up to heaven? He is going to come back!”

There was a time when the Ascension of Jesus was a big deal at Evangelical Reformed Church. In the narthex of our main sanctuary, you can see this photo of the chancel, elaborately decorated for worship in marking the Ascension of Jesus. In reading the bulletins from the ministry of Rev. Kieffer, our pastor from 1910-1946, you find announcements such as this one from 1919, “The annual Sunday School Festival will be held on Ascension Day (Thursday of this week), 7 o’clock. This is one of the most important services of the year and all members of the congregation are invited to be present.”

Thursday Thoughts, May 14, 2020

Thursday Thoughts, May 14, 2020

Click Here for your May 7, 2020 Thursday Thoughts

Dear Congregation:

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Larry Hogan held a press conference announcing that our state was moving into Phase 1 of Maryland Strong: The Roadmap to Recovery.  In Phase 1 more retail and manufacturing operations may be open.  For many of us, the news that hair salons and barber shops can open is one of the best pieces of news we have heard in a while.

As the Governor stated, in Phase 1, houses of worship may open with 50% capacity but there is a strong recommendation to meet outside.  I have to admit that the 50% was confusing – 50% of what?  The 300 + our sanctuary holds?  We are certainly not there yet and those kinds of numbers do not appear in the plan until Phase 3.

Alongside the Governor’s announcement, we also received an announcement that the Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and the mayors and burgesses of every municipality in Frederick County have agreed to coordinate how and when to implement any proposed changes to the current stay-at-home order.   “The mayors, burgesses and County Executive will need time to evaluate the options and capability to thoughtfully and effectively implement whatever the Governor proposes at his 5 p.m. press conference today. There is agreement that local health data will guide decision-making.”

Thursday Thoughts, May 7,2020

Thursday Thoughts, May 7,2020

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***Please note that the 8:30 Service and 9:30 Educational Classes are suspended.
The 10:30 service can be viewed online at:https://boxcast.tv/channel/bzioh0xyyacgq5fmjnoi
11:30 a.m. Virtual Fellowship: https://zoom.us/j/153605864?pwd=M2VSRjZsRDdFd1Q4bms0RExzam5SUT09&status=success PW:  007681

Dear Congregation:

Thanks to all of you who were able to participate in last Sunday’s annual meeting via Zoom Call.  It was great to see your faces, watch you greet one another, and see how we could interact with this technology.

As I shared in my sermon on Sunday, we are in what some call a “liminal” or threshold time. Susan Beamont, author of How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going describes these days as a liminal season.  “Liminality refers to a quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs during transition, when a person or group of people is in between something that has ended and something else that is not yet ready to begin.   She refers to liminal seasons in the Bible such as the journey of the people of Israel through the wilderness, Jesus’ time in the desert, the time between Easter and Pentecost.

Thursday Thoughts – April 30, 2020

Thursday Thoughts – April 30, 2020

Dear Congregation:

We are entering a new world on Sunday with our annual congregational meeting being held online via Zoom.  Here are the details for the meeting that will begin at noon on Sunday:
Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/355462527?pwd=LzdBbmdraVp4V2F5c1Q4TGVvTEwyUT09 
Meeting ID: 355 462 527
Password: 360547

Download Zoom on your preferred device before the meeting.

If you’ve never used Zoom before, check out this Zoom video tutorial https://youtu.be/hIkCmbvAHQQ

Try and sign on at 11:45 so that we can help you troubleshoot any difficulties you have with sound.
A few more quick notes:

  1. Everyone will be muted upon entry into the Zoom Meeting Room
  2. You won’t be able to unmute yourself
  3. You can control whether your video is on or off – the choice is yours
Please be patient and understand that your Wi-Fi connection is big factor in how the meeting looks and any lag or delays experienced.

If you have a question, you can use the chat box feature at the bottom of your screen.  Or raise your hand.  I will be helping our Consistory leaders monitoring the chat box, questions, and flow of the meeting.

Looking forward to “seeing”” you on Sunday.

Thursday Thoughts: April 23, 2020

Thursday Thoughts: April 23, 2020

Dear Congregation:

This Sunday we will read from Luke 24: 13-35, the story we name as the Road to Emmaus, when two disciples encounter Jesus on the road.  At first Jesus is a stranger but when he breaks bread with them, their hearts are open and they “ate their food with glad and generous hearts.”

Where has your heart been opened in these “stay-at-home” weeks?  How have you been experiencing your meals differently now that you are eating more meals at home?  Are you enjoying cooking more and eating meals with your family?  Does the food taste any different?

This weekend, I invite you to make some bread and add it to your worship center as we remember the meal Jesus shared with his disciples on the road to Emmaus.  Yes, you’ll also need bread for communion on May 3rd.  But who doesn’t enjoy bread?

Share the photos of your bread projects with us on Facebook or via email.

https://mailchi.mp/5990f24989a4/stay-informed-4029693

Thursday Thoughts April 16, 2020

Thursday Thoughts April 16, 2020

April 16, 2020

***Please note that the 8:30 Service and 9:30 Educational Classes are suspended.
The 10:30 service can be viewed online at:https://boxcast.tv/channel/bzioh0xyyacgq5fmjnoi
11:30 a.m. Virtual Fellowship: https://zoom.us/j/153605864?pwd=M2VSRjZsRDdFd1Q4bms0RExzam5SUT09&status=success

Dear Congregation:

Monday night, parents of our youth group members and adults working with youth gathered for a call on Zoom.  We were getting together to talk about how we can assist our kids in navigating these challenging days.  We spoke of the losses for some of our kids – especially the seniors.  We grieved how we were having to spend so much time with screens just to see the people we love.  While we are grateful to have technology that allows us to connect, truth is that many of us are tired of staring at screens.  Every time we log in to yet another Zoom call get-together or meeting, it is a reminder of the reality in which we live.

Click Here for the full details