Category: Thursday Thoughts

JULY 16 Thursday Thoughts

JULY 16 Thursday Thoughts

CLICK HERE TO READY THURSDAY, JULY 16 THURSDAY THOUGHTS

 

July 16, 2020

***Please note that the 9:30 Educational Classes are suspended.
The 10:30 service can be viewed online at:https://boxcast.tv/channel/bzioh0xyyacgq5fmjnoi

If you are interested in attending in person go online to EventBrite to reserve your place: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/109158933308

11:30 a.m. Virtual Fellowship: https://zoom.us/j/153605864?pwd=M2VSRjZsRDdFd1Q4bms0RExzam5SUT09&status=success PW: 007681

Dear Congregation:

Last week, I realized that this was likely going to be the first year since 1999 that I would not be traveling to Europe to visit with church partners and friends.

Next week our youth and adults, along with our German partners, were scheduled to travel to the UCC National Youth Event at Purdue University. Due to COVID-19, this national event has been postponed to the summer of 2022.

Yesterday, I realized that this is the first year since I was 21 years old that I will not be attending a national gathering of the United Church of Christ. For over 40 years, youth events, General Synod, Faith Works, and other gatherings have been foundational in my formation as a Christian and as a clergy person. While I know in the scheme of things missing these gatherings for the health and safety of participants is critical, like other events that are being canceled or postponed there is grief. My faith and leadership was nurtured and formed through those national gatherings. The conversations, worship, Bible studies, and speakers have nurtured and challenged me personally and professionally.

The young people and adults of ERUCC have attended a national gathering of the UCC for the past 12 years. As General Synod in July of 2021 will be virtual, I am coming to terms with the fact that it will be two years before our youth have an in-person experience of the diversity of the UCC and be challenged, formed, and nurtured by these experiences of the national setting of the UCC.

I’m pondering how we will fill that void. The national setting of the UCC is working hard to provide virtual experiences for the wider church but we know that it is not the same. Just like the difference between live streaming the worship service from your home and gathering in the sanctuary in-person, it’s just different.

There are a lot of experiences these days that we can say are not the same or just different. Sunday worship in our Sanctuary, sitting with masks on and not singing. Visiting with family members and friends with masks on and sitting six feet apart. Zoom happy hours. Facebook live parties. It’s not the same and so we grieve what we once had.

Once I have named the loss and understand that it is okay to grieve and give myself the time to grieve, space opens in my heart and mind for a new way of nurturing my life and that of our young people. While I know that youth groups gel when they have experiences away from home, we will need to discover new ways of coming together here at home. While we may not hear national and international leaders speaking live in a huge convention center and experience the energy that comes with a crowd, we can listen to speakers and have a thoughtful conversation about what we have heard. We can take the time to look around us and see where we may engage our time and energy locally, participating in events and marches as safely as we can.

Perhaps, in these months ahead, these new ways of learning, meeting, and growing will prove to be more than measures to fill in a gap. I anticipate that some of these new ways may become just as meaningful and fulfilling as attending a national youth event or General Synod. It will just be “different.”

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

July 2 Thursday Thoughts

July 2 Thursday Thoughts

CLICK HERE to read the July 2, Thursday  Thoughts.

July 2, 2020

Dear Congregation:

It’s been twelve weeks since we last gathered as a congregation in our sanctuary.  This Sunday, some of us will share worship in the sanctuary and some of us will share worship via the livestream.  Wherever and however you choose to worship, your decision is honored as I hope you will honor the decisions of others.

As you know, reopening the buildings has not been an easy decision.  Besides researching all the science and data concerning the spread of the virus, we have been navigating the emotional toll this has taken on so many in our congregation.  For some of us, gathering at the church for worship has been not only a regular practice but critical for overcoming isolation.  Being with the church family brings meaning and purpose in ways that other group gatherings do not.  I have heard the pain and the heartbreak as week after week went by and we could not gather even as we all admitted we needed more time to consider how to gather as safely as possible.

The reopening team seriously reviewed the scientific data from the CDC and recommendations from the Frederick County Health Department.  These are reflected in how we will be worshipping.  When some of us do gather in the sanctuary this Sunday, we know that this pandemic is far from over.  We are not returning to life as usual or as we knew it prior to the beginning of March.  We will be wearing masks and sitting far apart from each other.  We will not be able to hug or shake hands.  We will not be singing as a congregation nor will we have the senior choir.   We will be surrounded by the smell of cleaning fluids and hand sanitizer.

It will be different.  We will feel the difference not only because of the masks but also, we will feel the physical absence of some of our friends.  And to  reinforce a key element of our path forward, we respect the decisions of one another who choose to come to worship in the building and those who choose to participate at home. Each person must make their own assessment as to how and when they choose to worship.

We will need to continue to be vigilant in keeping connected with one another with all the ways we have been doing that over these past twelve weeks, focusing on what we have learned as a congregation, including:

  • How people have become engaged with worship in ways they never had before.
  • How we came to appreciate the depth of care within our church family.
  • How we needed to invest in new equipment to upgrade the online experience.
  • How we continued to be the church even as we had to figure out new ways to do that.

I am sure there is other knowledge we have gained, and I welcome hearing from you about your insights.

I thank those who  served on the Worship Team throughout these twelve weeks, the AV tech crew, and the church staff.  We know that until there is a vaccine, this virus will have an impact on us, for many months ahead. Patience, flexibility, and faith must be our guides, always erring on the side of safety.

 

 

 

Worship Notes  

Jesus offers a relationship that leads to fullness of life, yet Matthew 11:16–19, 25–30 reports that many resist Jesus’ hospitality. Jesus likens them to two groups of children at play who can’t agree on a game and find fault with all that is offered. Today we will reopen the doors of the church for Sunday morning worship.  As a small group meets in the sanctuary, we know that we will continue to be gathered in many homes across Frederick and the United States as well as Germany. For your worship center, you have a little sparkly thing to add as a reminder of the joy we share as a community in Christ.

Food for Thought:   

           

 

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

 

Sunday, June 28 Bulletin

Sunday, June 28 Bulletin

Join us for worship on Sunday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. at https://boxcast.tv/view/sunday-1030-service-654874 

CLICK HERE for the Bulletin

June 28

Genesis 22:1–14, one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible, when read carefully, seems to have the message of trust in a God of goodness. Many find this story harsh: Abraham hears a command to sacrifice his own son Isaac, Abraham prepares to do so and is stopped in the last second.  Matthew 10:40–42, Jesus’ words provide a simple but difficult charge to those who wish to be disciples: to recognize Jesus and other prophetic voices in the most marginalized people in society, and to choose generosity.

 

The Rev. Carolyn Roberts will be preaching

June 25 Thursday THoughts

June 25 Thursday THoughts

CLICK HERE to read the June 25th Thursday Thoughts

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

CLICK HERE FOR JUNE 18 THursday Thoughts

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.”