Church News and Reflections
The Rev. Sally Goodall: Musings in preparation for the Third Sunday of Easter, 4/26/2020
Don't you feel exhausted at the moment? Even if we are just staying at home, isn't it exhausting? Maybe not for you, but for me it is. Maybe it's because nothing is quite the same as it was before. And because in some ways everything is very much the same.
The fact that we have to do very ordinary things differently now makes it exhausting! It is even difficult remembering what day of the week it is! Then, is this trip to the store essential? Do I have my mask with me, and gloves? How close to people will I be if I go to this store rather than that one? The little things we do seem so much more dangerous than before. How much longer is it going to last? What about all my plans for the summer? And what about those who are by themselves? And all the people who are sick? And all those who are taking care of others who are sick? And what if I get sick?
And those who have lost their jobs?
Dangerous times … and who would have thought that it could turn out like this? Just a few weeks ago life was so easy. I guess I did not think so at the time, but looking back,
it was much easier than it is now. Just thinking about all this is exhausting! So much of what we had planned and counted on is gone.
Actually, that must have been pretty much how the disciples felt. They had counted on Jesus. Wasn't he the Messiah? But he wasn't the kind of Messiah they had expected.
And the shocking events of his last week ... Palm Sunday had seemed so joyful.
“We hoped this was the one,” they said, and then – the trial and the crucifixion. Failure.
He had been their leader. So, what were they going to do now? Their hope and beliefs had come to a dead end.
The world around them seemed like a disaster. They were under Roman occupation.
Everything they held onto was threatened or gone. The Roman culture was prosperous and efficient but had no heart for their people. What on earth did the future hold for them? How were they to live the way Jesus had taught them in a world like that?
As the two walked along the road to Emmaus they were despondent. Then this stranger came up beside them. He didn't seem to know what had been going on. How could anyone have escaped the news?
They told him what had happened then he explained everything about himself but they still did not know who he was. When they got to Emmaus he would have gone on ahead
if they hadn't called out to him. He wouldn't have stopped. They would never have known that it was Jesus who had been walking with them.
How often are we not aware that we have Christ with us? I am sure that Christ walks alongside us in many forms but we don't know that until we invite him in, invite him to stay.
Then what did he do? He took bread, blessed it and broke it. It wasn't what he said, it was that action – then they knew - and then he vanished - going on ahead again.
Our faith is all about actions and experiences, like last week when we heard about Thomas who did not believe until he touched Jesus, and put his hand in his side.
It is so easy to get caught up in talking about Jesus, talking about God, talking about Christianity, but Christianity is all about knowing that living presence.
A whole new way of life began for the disciples. They began to look at their world completely differently. They knew the world was going in the wrong direction. They had seen death, and bad things happening around them but they did not try to solve all the problems of society. They did not have hundreds of years of theologians to interpret how they should think, but they did have those experiences and they felt the Spirit working.
They focused on Christ and his message.
In our reading, Peter described life before Christ as futile, ordinary, but what happened is new life through Christ and Christianity is all about living into this new life.
Christ is risen, Alleluia! We are born anew. We have new life. That means we don't have to do things like we used to. So, what new ways can we be the church?
We just heard, that we need to love one another deeply from the heart. That's not conventional. That's not ordinary. That is a whole new way of life. Our new life is freedom. It is imperishable. It is not the usual way of the world, but it is a way of life that helps us make some sense among the crazy things happening in the world around us today.
We cannot set our aim on what we see in the world around us. We have to aim at the promises Jesus gave us. Remember that Christ is always with us, maybe beside us, and maybe walking ahead of us leading us. We may invite him in and he will stay with us as he did with the disciples, then he will be leading us onward again.
Our faith is one that is rooted in the living God who is always active in the world,
and the living Christ who is always leading us on to something new, so let us find radically new ways to love one another deeply from the heart.
How can we reach out to those who may be feeling lost, or afraid, those who feel as if their world has come to an end? How do we share this new life? How do we show that we love others deeply from the heart? I have already heard of some of these ways from people in this congregation so let’s continue to find new ways to show this deep love for each other, for our community and for the world. Amen.
From Rev Sally: Prayer for Pandemic, 3/18/2020
I am afraid I do not have anything exciting to post, but if you want to update anything this is where we are. I wish I had answers to possible things we can be doing with virtual meeting spaces, But for now the only news is that:
Church services are suspended until further notice.
In this time of uncertainty and anxiety, I am still available for pastoral care.
The building is open for support group meetings that wish to continue meeting.
At this point, we hope to serve take out Soups On meals on March 28.
We are currently keeping In touch via email and phone
Here is the prayer I just sent out to the email group
Prayer for a Pandemic
By Cameron Wiggins Belim
May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose between
preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children
when their schools close
remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money
in the tumult of the economic market
remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love during this time when we
cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace
of God to our neighbor. Amen.
From Rev Sally about closing due to COVID-19, 3/16/2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am sorry to say that in light of COVID-19 and following the directives of Bishop Hollingsworth and the Governor of the State of Ohio, we have made the decision to suspend all public worship services at St John’s until further notice.
We will be reassessing as we approach Holy Week and Easter.
There will be opportunities for live streamed, online or downloadable worship in our Diocese and we will make that information available. It is also available via the Diocesan website dohio.org.
We are cancelling nonessential in person meetings at the church during the next few weeks.
As we will not be gathering for bible study, prayer groups and committee meetings, we are looking at ways we can stay connected by email, phone etc. Please let me know if you would like to be part of this.
If possible, we will continue Soups On as a take out ministry. If so, we would appreciate volunteers who are not in the high risk demographic. Regular volunteers who have concerns because of age, illness or immunodeficiency should absent themselves.
At this time we are continuing to make space available for AA meetings.
Please contact me via email or cell phone if you have any questions.
email@example.com or phone 330-608-8085
I ask your prayers for us all, as I pray for you and all who are affected by the coronavirus.