I have been reflecting on Romans 12:1-2 this week. This is Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.
Dear Friends of Faith,
This is a week for lament; crying out to God. Hearts are breaking. Our nation is in pain. Anger is lashing out uncontrollably, expressing years of injustice. Our Black brothers and sisters are crying. A cry they have been singing for centuries and we only hear in muted tones. But this week is different. It feels like we who are White, who walk in privilege every day, are beginning to hear more clearly. We are collectively awakening to the deep-seated racism in our nation. And it is time for us to do our work. It is time for us to listen deeply to our Black brothers and sisters. It is time for us to re-learn our history about how racism has been rooted into the very fibers of our culture. It is time for us to reflect deeply on how we participate in racism. This listening, learning, and reflection will guide to the ways we can work together for real change.
In Romans Paul writes, “We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV) This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all believers. The Holy Spirit pours love into our hearts every single day! We all have to endure tough times in our lives. And this unusual season of COVID19 is one of those. Each day brings new developments, new data, new things to adapt to. As well as the stress of an invisible threat. It is exhausting. There is a bright side for each of us too. We are still finding ways to connect with one another. And amidst it all, God is the solid rock on which we stand. God’s love is being poured into our hearts every day. Hold on to that promise in these chaotic days and we will experience the glory of God. Join us Sunday to celebrate the Holy Spirit this Pentecost. We’re going to flood our screens with red. Get creative and show your red!
I continue to lift you all up in prayer as we navigate this new reality together. You are each in my heart as I write this letter.
I find lessons of faith in creation. Today I was thinking of the hydrangea. The hydrangea teaches us that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Each individual petal is simple. Each is beautiful but not very impressive. Each one a slightly different size, shape, and coloration. However, all together they create a spectacular blossom! The hydrangea is a picture of the power of human community. We need each other and we are stronger together, even when we are sheltering-at-home and physical distancing. As we connect with one another in different ways, we encourage one another, lift each other up, and give strength to others. I am grateful for our church family that binds us together and reminds us we are not alone. The hydrangea teaches us that a cluster of souls banded together is a beautiful thing. God is holding us all together, even as we are distanced in these days. Hang in there!
Last week Zoom crashed internationally and impacted our worship service. Sorry if you tried to connect and couldn’t see or hear. It wasn’t you! Zoom was fixed by mid-morning Sunday and is working fine now. I recorded my sermon and you can find it by clicking here. If it speaks to you, share it with someone.
Join us this Sunday for worship at 9 am. Email us to get the Zoom link information. I will finish my series on Emerging Stronger. Next week, May 31, is Pentecost! Let’s flood our screens with red. Get creative, wear red clothes, put red in your background, or create a red virtual background. All the red will remind us that the Holy Spirit is everywhere!
As we continue to read scripture together here are our daily texts for this week:
I Peter 1:3-7
All these scriptures talk about “new” things. We are phasing into a new normal. And life won’t be exactly the same as it was before. What do you celebrate about the new? What do you grieve of the old? We find hope in God, who walks with us into the new, and creates new life from old.
Our Parish Council meets on May 26th, and will begin outlining a process to phase in in-person worship. You will be hearing more about our timeline and process soon.
I close with this benediction I shared in worship Sunday. It was written by James Dillet Freeman and carried to the moon by “Buzz” Aldrin on Apollo 11. It is called the prayer of protection.
May the light of God surround us.
May the love of God enfold us.
May the power of God protect us.
May the presence of God watch over us.
Now and forevermore. Amen.
Peace and light,
This week in my devotions, The Upper Room led me to Colossians 1:1-14 and this verse jumped right off the page into my heart. “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints of the light.” Currently we are needing to “endure everything with patience.” This pandemic has long lasting implications for how we live day to day. Everything has been disrupted and is requiring us to adapt. And we need strength from God to help us! The author went on to describe patience. “The word patience refers to being able to accept or tolerate delay without getting angry or upset. It can also mean cheerful or hopeful endurance.” (The Upper Room May, May-June 2020, p.15) In these days it is natural to feel anxious or irritable. How are you managing your irritability and temper? How are you maintaining hopeful endurance? Remember you are not alone. We have one another. And, the Spirit of God is with you every moment of every day. As close as your next breath.
This Sunday we will gather for worship on Zoom at 9 am. We will explore how we can continue to deepen our relationships and connections so that we can emerge stronger from our covid-19 experience. Feel free to invite others to join us via Zoom. Note: they have put out an update, 5.0.2 which has stronger security. I recommend updating your app to this newest version. Be assured that I have added security measures to assure our worship time is not compromised.
We are also gathering at noon for lunch and conversation on Wednesdays. As well as Thursday evenings at 7:00 for Hymns and Prayers. Join us anytime as we journey with one another virtually through this pandemic. Email Pastor Patti for the Zoom link information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for my sermon from last week, Emerging Stronger: Perfect Love Casts Out Fear. Here is a link to the song I shared, The Blessing (UK) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtll3mNj5U
Sending my prayers with this greeting,
Are you in need of help during these uncertain times? Do you want to help those in need? Head over to coronahelplivingston.com to see how.
My friends and family of faith here in Livingston and beyond,
I am sitting here lifting each of you in prayer this morning. These are anxious times. I remember hearing a month or more ago, “life will be disrupted by Covid19.” At the time I didn’t really comprehend what that might mean. But now we are living into this new reality of increased hygiene and social distancing. I am committed to both in order to prevent the spread of the disease and ease the load on our medical system. Therefore, all in-person meetings and worship gatherings are suspended until our situation changes. We can expect this to last through Easter, so we will have to adapt and get creative. When we do get to gather in person together, it will be a grand celebration!
Meanwhile, we will gather for worship via video conferencing this Sunday at 9:00 am. We will be using the Zoom platform. It is safe and simple. If you have a phone or a computer, you can join us! The instructions are at the end of this letter. Many churches are broadcasting livestream worship through Facebook, YouTube and other means. We may move to that, but for now I like the interactive feature Zoom allows for us. If you want to enjoy a full service, this link lists United Methodist Churches in our conference doing livestream worship. https://www.mtnskyumc.org/worship-resources-in-crisis Bozeman UMC services can be found anytime at https://www.bozemanumc.org/live/
In anxious times, I am reminded of Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7 NLT He writes, “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” It is natural to be consumed with worry and fear for these are difficult times. Paul reminds us to turn those worries into prayers. Then the peace of God can soothe us.
I volunteered at the Food Resource Center yesterday. They have simplified and adapted their systems in order to make food available for anyone who needs it in a safe manner. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5pm, anyone can drive up and receive food. The Pantry Supper Club provides frozen meals for seniors. This is now open to anyone over the age of 60. Meals are delivered to your home. To sign up or get more information on any of their resources, call 222-5335. I am also happy to run errands, go to the grocery story, pick up medications for any of you. Feel free to call me for anything at (406)333-1388.
Also, a friendly reminder, while we are not gathering physically for worship, our expenses remain the same. Please mail in your financial gifts as you are able. We will adapt and find new ways to be the church in these days.
Grace and love,
On Friday, Feb. 28, Holbrook United Methodist Church completed its tree removal and wood collection project. Pine Creek United Methodist Church was also on-hand to help with the project. Lunch and snacks were served.
Donations are still being accepted to cover the project and a big thank you goes out to all of those who donated funds. Holbrook will be paying the tree service following the removal of the tree stump taking place here soon.
Park County United Methodist Ministries
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