Category: Thursday Thoughts

June 25 Thursday THoughts

June 25 Thursday THoughts

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This week we welcome guest writer, Kim Sexton.

This week’s scripture finds Jesus continuing to walk with and teach the disciples.  He is reminding them that when people welcome them, they are, in turn, welcoming him.  At ERUCC we know how to provide an extravagant welcome from greeters at the welcome table, then fellowship and finally a follow up letter or call.  In March,  that all got turned upside down with stay at home orders, no school or activities,  and no in person worship.  What we thought might be like a few snow days soon became clear it would be a lot longer. If you think it was hard for an adult to figure out,  imagine being a child.  Suddenly all sense of a routine are gone.  What would welcome look like now?

In the coming weeks we would learn welcome would look like streamed worship services, zoom meetings, packets with worship materials including children’s bulletins, actual snail mail and pen pals as well as God’s Kids Club supply kits.

For me, extravagant welcome means knowing my church family is there for me in uncertain times.  I knew if I needed this,  the kids would need it even more.  I set up a schedule of meeting with God’s Kids Club three times a week at  4 p.m.  At first  I thought , this is great! I can really teach something with some content.  Early on It became pretty clear that what the kids needed was community and to be kids.  So we changed up content and now on Mondays we play games: guess who I am, scavenger hunts and of course bingo or we sing.  On Wednesdays we do crafts or science.  On Fridays we do the upcoming Sunday Sunday school lesson.  They wanted to cook,  so we have decorated cupcakes and made pizza.  I also looked to them for suggestions of topics so we have learned about arachnids, Disney, Pokemon, ERUCC history and mythical creatures to name a few. We have even had guest readers and speakers.

We have 9 families who attend regularly with children ranging in age from 2 years to 6th grade. We extended the welcome to friends of ERUCC and have had three families take us up on the welcome. The kids have welcomed our friends just as they would in person.  I wish you could have heard the excitement in both two year old’s voices when they saw each other over Zoom or how important it’s been for us to celebrate birthdays, mile stones (graduating from preschool or 5th grade, lost teeth or learning to ride a bike without training wheels) and even the last day of school.  It’s been equally important to allow them to talk about their fears and what they are grieving.  We end each session just as we end the thought for the day, with a topic for which they are thankful for or worried about and then go into the Lord’s Prayer.

Zoom God’s Kids Club has allowed us to deepen our faith and connect in a new way.

 

June 18 Thursday Thoughts

June 18 Thursday Thoughts

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This week we welcome guest writer, Matt Davis.

Social media is a mixed blessing at best as is Facebook’s so-called “snooze button.” For those that don’t know, this feature allows you to remain friends with someone, but not see anything they post for the next 30 days. I admit it. I’ve used it and those of you that haven’t are probably doing a Google search for it right now.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently, the outbreak of protests and demonstrations against racism and police brutality, things are pretty intense right now. I was recently surprised to see my house and a number of others in my quiet, rural neighborhood targeted with hate literature from the KKK. Like any decent human being, I was outraged, ripped it up and lined my cat litter box with it.

As I continued to think about it in the context of our current events, how certain people in our society are treated fundamentally different than others, I came to a realization. Even here, I have the option to just rip it up and ignore it and go on with my life. After all, they want to “recruit” me and I will gladly tell them to get lost. If I were a member of one of the many groups that are the target of their ire, however, I would have feared what would be coming next. If I were a person of color, however, I could not have so easily ignored it and moved on.

I had a similar realization after Frederick’s March for Justice. It was a wonderful, inspiring, and peaceful march and we were moved by the grief of our fellow citizens for the lives that were lost. We were on our way home after the speakers concluded when we received a text message from the city indicating that some protesters had shut down I-70 in both directions. I said to myself, “Why did they have to ruin a perfectly good march by going out to stop traffic on the highway?” I thought about that in the hours to come and it finally came to me. When they shut down the flow of traffic, the unlucky souls in the traffic jam no longer had the luxury of ignoring the pain those protesters were feeling. They were forced to stop their vehicles to not hit them and saw their pain and anger over injustice firsthand and I think it frightened and angered them. They were forced out of their routines and no longer had the option to look away and ignore these things that have been going on for a long time. Although I still do not think anyone should walk out in traffic on a highway at twilight on a rainy night, for the first time I got why they did it. To do that speaks to a level of desperation that white America does not yet feel. And I wondered why I didn’t see that before.

So my thought for this Thursday is this: our faith calls on us to be faithful witnesses. That requires us to be willing to look. Avoid hitting that snooze button in an effort to avoid discomfort. If you’re confused about why people are upset but want to be part of the solution, a good first step is to not allow yourself the luxury of looking away.

Isaiah 1:15-17 – When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

June 11 Thursday Thoughts

June 11 Thursday Thoughts

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Dear Congregation:

Since the beginning of March, life at and with ERUCC and our community has been a constant barrage of new experiences.  Whether it’s been how to worship or how to conduct the church’s business or how to have fellowship and educational programs, every day brings new challenges in meeting the needs of the congregation and the community.

In this new environment, I have participated in at least 3 webinars or calls every week about COVID, technology, cleaning, mental health in these days, and meeting spiritual needs when we cannot gather or engage in our usual rituals.  I must admit that these resources have been very helpful but so much new information all at the same time is taxing on my brain.

Then we had the murder of George Floyd and the unleashing of anger, frustration, and energy to say, “Enough is enough.”  The past few weeks have engaged our congregation in even deeper work on anti-racism.   This, too, is taxing on the heart as we open ourselves to identifying and dismantling our behaviors as individuals and as a community that contribute to institutional racism.

All this is to say that I recognize the challenges of dealing with COVID will be with us for months.  Our work in dismantling institutional racism will be before us for years.  These challenges are not a sprint, but a long-distance run, and we all need to pace ourselves for this meaningful and hard work.

I am grateful that Ken and I will be able to take some time off to rest, renew, and refresh. I will be leaving for vacation tomorrow, June 12th and returning on July 1st.  Please contact Amy Aguilar at the church office with any questions or concerns. (aaguilar@erucc.org)

This Sunday, June 14th, if the technology works, you will hear a sermon that I recorded.  Rev. Michelle Beadle will be preaching on June 21st and Rev. Carolyn Roberts on June 28th.

I look forward to seeing you upon my return – in person in worship on July 5th or virtually in worship and on zoom calls.  Take care and peace.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor
Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ
15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701
301-662-2762
e-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

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

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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.

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