Saturday Spirituality from Carol

A message of encouragement

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

Let us remember during this crazy, stressful time that God is in control.  It is Him in whom I trust!
I attended a Bible study on Thursday, March 12,  just before the insanity hit.  The woman leading the study said these words, which little did I know would have a huge impact on me:  “Fear is a controlling spirit.”

I had no idea when I left the study and proceeded with my errands for the day, that Costco, Stop & Shop and Target would be filled with many people carrying that burden of fear.  I made a conscious effort NOT to let fear control me.

Psalm 29:11 says, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”  I pray that during this time of so much uncertainty, we would all draw closer to our Lord in prayer.  Prayer is giving the impossible to a God who can make all things possible.Be that light to those who don’t know the light of Christ.  Jesus says in John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Be that light to those who don’t know the light of Christ.  Jesus says in John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Peace and God bless you ~ Carol

Friday is the first day of spring!

Happy spring!  Does that sound strange?
I’ve just come in from taking a walk and it is beautiful outside.  Businesses are closing down, but the opposite is true in nature.  On the church and parsonage lawns, the crocuses and daffodils just couldn’t wait anymore ~ they are up, bursting in purple and yellow.  The birds were out in full force this morning, singing about the warmth and the worms.  The ocean is beautiful with the late afternoon sun sparkling off the waves.

But there’s more.  I heard that it was “bad out there,” so I went to look for myself.  It wasn’t that bad.  In fact, I spoke with a lot of people today who told me encouraging stories about how they were coping.  Families were remembering board games and family meals.  Young people were shopping for the elderly.  Neighbors were watching over neighbors.  No one was at the salon, so I got a haircut.  (You won’t notice.)  I saw three people from the church at Stop & Shop.  I got there just as they were restocking the Eggos!  I even spoke with some strangers.  Since we’re all in this together, we all have something in common.  Ironically, it seems that a sense of connection is developing at the same time as we are physically drawing apart.  “Social distancing is not social isolation.”

(As an aside, did you know that there is an Eggos card game inspired by Netflix?
It’s three things in one!  And some people still say there is no God!)

God does not shutter His doors, or limit His hours.  God does not run out of supplies.  I imagine God is also thinking that when we finish watching Netflix, we might finally finish reading His book.  But God is also speaking to us through the spring, reminding us that all things are being made new; that life is sprouting from what looks like death; that darkness is being pushed back by light; that life is a cycle; and that even though we can’t seem
to stop bad things from happening, we can’t stop good things from happening either.  God is good.

So get out there if you can.  Direct sunlight is good for the body and the soul.
What do the trees know of our troubles?  They are showing forth their buds.  What do the birds know of hoarding?  They are preparing their nests.  What does the rain know of want?  It waters a thirsty earth.
So yes ~ happy spring!  Look for bad and you will find it ~ look for good and you will find it as well.
Look for anxiety and you will find it.  Look for encouragement and you will find it as well.

What’s on your shopping list?

Thursday Treasure: The Value of the Elderly

Proverbs 3:13-18 New International Version (NIV)

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

At the age of 97, Ruth is our oldest member.  A couple weeks ago, she shared some perspective with the other members of our Wednesday morning Bible study group.  Ruth has seen snowstorms as high as the second story; she has lived through the Great Depression; she served in the Navy during WWII and watched our nation come together then to face a common enemy, and in the years afterward to rebuild the economy.  She’s seen stock markets crash and the smallpox epidemic eradicated.  She’s lived through the threat of nuclear war.  A sign on her door reads, “There’s nothing that happens today that the Lord and I together can’t handle.”

Ruth’s wisdom, and the cumulative wisdom of a generation, are what we are protecting today.  She’s not worried about the current crisis.  “I’ve gotten through everything else,” she says.  “And we will get through this, with the Lord’s help.”  Many younger people (and in comparison with Ruth, this means almost everyone!) have not had the experience of living through such things, so they receive every news story with panic and fear.  But we have a lot to learn from our oldest citizens, if we are willing to listen.  In the coming months, their words will prove invaluable.

We did not ask to make the sacrifices that are imposed on us now, but these sacrifices are all for a good cause: the protection of life, of history, of wisdom, of knowledge, of experience.  The coronavirus affects people of all ages, but the elderly are especially vulnerable.  They raised us; they taught us; they shaped our faith; and they are teaching us still.  May we cherish this treasure that is “more precious than silver, more costly than gold.”

Wednesday Wisdom from Our Lay Leader

Thank you to Fred Seeba for contributing this guest post!
These are the words that Fred shared with Church Council this past Monday night (plus pictures).

What does the coronavirus issue have to do with our faith, and where is God in all of this?  I remembered an exercise we did with Pastor Rich a while back where we drew a timeline of our lives and marked the good and difficult periods we had been through.  Then we drew a timeline of our spiritual growth.  Amazingly, the periods when we grew closest to God were the most difficult periods of our lives, which is the point of the exercise.
It is kind of like the Footprints prayer, where Jesus said, “It was then that I carried you.”

When you want to get to know someone better, you talk with them to find out what is going on in their lives.  And when we pray due to a big issue in our lives (Like a coronavirus pandemic), that is exactly what happens with
our relationship with God.  We talk to Him about our fears and concerns, and we grow closer to Him.

Where is God in all of this?  He is right here!  He hasn’t gone anywhere.  In Hebrews 13, Jesus says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  He doesn’t say, “Unless there is a pandemic, and then all bets are off!”
He is right next to us as we navigate through these uncharted waters.  

Is Jesus here at this meeting tonight with us?  In Matthew 18, He stated that “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there with them.”  There are certainly more than two of us here (although maybe that’s
a bad thing 😊), so Jesus has promised that He is here as well.

At times like these I think about the saying, “I do not know what my future holds,
but I do know who holds my future.”

So, let’s try to not make ourselves crazy by letting the worst-case scenarios dominate our thoughts.
I know I do at times, and it’s not helpful.

In Matthew 6, Jesus says, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  And in John 14 He says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”

We have a God who is way bigger than the coronavirus.  Let us continue to trust in Him
and allow Him to give us that peace that passes all human understanding.  ~ Fred

Tuesday Meditation ~ When Is Easter?

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 145:1-2, New International Version

I will proclaim your greatness, my God and king;
    I will thank you forever and ever.
Every day I will thank you;
    I will praise you forever and ever.

WHEN IS EASTER?

We don’t know!

That’s the simple answer.  Our church ancestors decided that Easter was the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, which is why it keeps changing dates.  This year Easter officially falls on April 12, although the Eastern Orthodox Church will celebrate it a week later.  Easter can land on any date from March 22 to April 25.  We also don’t know when Jesus was actually born, but that’s a different story.

But we do know this, and proclaim it: that Jesus was born, died and resurrected, and that Jesus is alive today.  It has been said that every Sunday is a little Easter, because it proclaims the living Lord.

On Monday, “the CDC recommended that no gatherings with 50 people or more take place for the next eight weeks.”  Our president lowered the number to 10.  The Catholic Churches of Long Island have officially cancelled services for the next month, including Easter.

Easter?  We can’t miss Easter!

Well, we can’t miss Easter, because we’re not exactly sure when Easter is supposed to be.

Here’s a story I shared with Church Council on Monday night.  When I was in my 20s, I visited a remote outpost of Kenya at Thanksgiving.  I was really looking forward to see how they celebrated Thanksgiving in Africa.  (This shows you how smart I was back then.)  I was heartbroken when no one there even knew what Thanksgiving was!  My meal that night was beans.

After I returned home, a couple in my church invited me over for dinner.  I was expecting a normal dinner, but when I got to their house, I realized that it was a full Thanksgiving dinner, with all the trimmings!  It was one of the best meals I ever had, even before I took a bite.  I was even more thankful than I would have been on the official Thanksgiving Day!

Our Church Council decided that we are not going to miss Easter.  We are in fact going to celebrate all of our Holy Week services: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday (including the sunrise service).  We just might have them later than April 12.  I’m really psyched about this and hope that you are too!  So if we’re still under lockdown in mid-April, we’ll have TWO Holy Weeks ~ one at home that week and one with each other later.

Many churches celebrate an event called “Christmas in July,” which has the same premise: every day we live in the light of God’s love.  We know Jesus was born, died and was resurrected.  We know that the living Christ walks with us, and talks with us, along life’s narrow way.  Every day can be Christmas and Easter for a person of faith.  We also know Jesus walks with us in our valleys, and often carries us.  He carries his own cross, and bears the weight of our sin.  Every day we live in the knowledge that he suffered and died out of love for us ~ so every day is Holy Thursday and Good Friday as well.

I hope this gives you something to look forward to in this time of uncertainty.  We will not miss Easter; in fact, we’ll double it!  May the Lord bless us as we walk forward in faith.

Monday Meditation: We Are All Shepherds

Monday’s Scripture

As Jesus saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. So he said to his disciples, “The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.” ~ Matthew 9: 35-40, Good News Bible

Monday Meditation

I spent much of Sunday in conversation at home and in town.  I asked the same question of everyone: “How you holding up?”  No one said “fine,” “well,” or “good.”  Cashiers were harried.  Many had been berated by customers over circumstances they had no control over.  Shopkeepers were worried about the potential of lost income.  Parents were worried about how to speak with their kids.  Older people were “just trying to make it through.”

But I also noticed how large an impact a single sentence or action can make.  I held a door for a stranger and from the amount of gratitude they showed, one would think I had rushed into a building to save their child from a fire.  I offered to bring someone a coffee and it was as if I had given them a winning Lotto ticket.  This experience was not unique to me; many people told me about small acts of kindness that had made a big difference in the middle of a stressful, confusing day.  Some had received a call or text from a person they hadn’t heard from for a while.  Others remembered the one nice customer who patiently waited while others complained.

Jesus looks at the crowds, who seem worried and helpless.  He yearns for “workers to gather in the harvest.”

Edward Everett Hale once wrote, “I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”  Many people are feeling powerless in the wake of more and more shutdowns as the virus continues to spread.  And yet, God gives us the power to do something.  

Paul writes, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7, New King James Version).  We have the power to make a difference in someone’s day.  We have the power to create a ripple effect of calm, tranquility and peace.  Christ gives us this power through the Holy Spirit.

I am a pastor, but every Christian is a minister.  And today, we are all shepherds.  Our job is humble.  We don’t need to do anything big, just look around to see if a sheep is feeling anxious, has wandered off or is heading for a cliff ~ and use our shepherd’s staff (our words, our love, our company) to gently retrieve them, to call them back to the green pastures of hope, the still waters of tranquil thought.  May someone (Jesus or another person) do this for you today ~ and may we each do this for each other.  In so doing, we will fulfill the words of Christ.  Amen.

Worship for Sunday, March 15 ~ Peace Be With You

Good morning, everyone!  Welcome to our very first online worship service!  We are worshipping at home this morning because all United Methodist Churches and Episcopal churches on Long Island are closed as a protective measure against the coronavirus.  But remember ~ the church is not a building!  We hope this service is a blessing to you.  If you’d like to say hi to everyone, you can do so through the comment section at the bottom of the page.  All comments are screened before being posted, so no need to worry if you don’t see it pop up right away.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Church Council meets tomorrow night (Monday) at 7:30 to receive brief reports and to discuss our response to the coronavirus.  We have already activated our Disaster Response Protocol and reached out to all members by phone to determine if there are any needs.  At this meeting, we will also discuss how to be in touch, what else to keep open or closed, and if we can help in any positive fashion (such as food drives).

Still open until otherwise announced: our office, Thrift Shop, Sharing a Meal, and all small group meetings such as Bible studies.  No trustees or choir rehearsal this week; dinner and worship with Bayport on March 24 is postponed until Advent; the youth meeting for March 25 is postponed until after Easter.  Worship will be online next week and we hope to reopen for worship on Sunday, March 29.  At that point our March Madness hymn tournament will also resume!

CALL TO WORSHIP
(If you are worshipping with two or more people,
choose one to lead.)

Let there be peace on earth:
PEACE IN OUR HEARTS,
PEACE IN OUR MINDS,

PEACE IN OUR SOULS.
Let there be peace on earth:
PEACE IN OUR HOMES,
PEACE IN OUR CHURCHES,
PEACE IN OUR TOWNS.
In every nation, in every land,
LET THERE BE PEACE.

UNISON PRAYER:  The Prayer of St. Francis

WORDS OF ASSURANCE: Philippians 4:6-7

THE LORD’S PRAYER

HYMN: “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

The first of four hymns today that are also part of our church’s Sweet Sixteen, “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” is a modern take on an old classic, featuring a second chorus.  When asked to write a new version for the movie of the same name, Chris Tomlin laughed and expressed doubt that he could ever add anything to “the greatest hymn of all time.”  And yet, his version not only adds to the appreciation of the original, but restores one of its classic verses.  Read the full story here.

CHILDREN’S MESSAGE

Ask your children to bring in a toy with a face (such as a stuffed animal).
Has your (animal, truck, doll, robot) ever been sick?
Have you ever been sick?  How did it feel?
If you were sick, and your (animal, truck, doll, robot) wanted to play with you,
how would you keep it from getting sick?
(They will probably say that toys don’t get sick ~ smart kids!)
Okay, let’s pretend toys can get sick.
Pretend your (animal, truck, doll, robot) has a cold and it’s sad and lonely.
How would you cheer it up?
Would you play with it?  How would you keep from getting sick?
(Potential answers: wash your toy, wash your own hands.)
A lot of people have been getting sick lately.  You’ve probably heard about it.
So we all have a job to do – grown-ups AND kids!
We have to protect everyone, especially older people like grandmas and grandpas.
So remember to wash your hands and tell your whole family to wash their hands!
And if you hear about someone who is sick and sad,
call them on the phone or send them a happy card or make them cookies!
This way we can be like Jesus, who cares for us and loves us.
Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, help us to stay healthy
And to help other people to stay healthy.

Help us to love others as you have loved us,
And to spread happiness wherever we go.  Amen.

PRAYER
(Note: Add your own prayers at the beginning or end)

Today we pray for the health and safety of the entire world:
For a cure to the coronavirus;
For the doctors, nurses and technicians working with patients and the disease;
For all persons overwhelmed with work, whether on the job or at home;
For all people trying to make ends meet, who are stretched thin by the crisis;
For parents who suddenly need to find child care;
For the isolated elderly and those in extended care facilities;
For all persons struggling with anxiety over the days to come;
and for all government officials as they make decisions.

Lord, may your peace wash over us all.
May we remember that you are in control;
That we have gotten through worse than this;
That you are always listening, always loving, always helping.
May we respond by helping others as well.
May they know we are Christians by our love.
May we feel empowered by your Spirit not to turn in but to reach out.
May we remember your miracles of old,
And know that you are the God of healing, intervention and grace.

We pray for those in our church family who are going through times of need:
For Louise, Amy, Pat, Jim, Dolores, Janet, Sue, Joe & Joan, Lois, Brian & Dannie, Kathleen & Marilyn, Ken, Bunny & Marty, Harriet, Diane, Laurie & Steve, Deborah, Paul, Ruth; for Miki & Larry’s granddaughter Kirstin, who is recovering from thyroid removal surgery, that her test results will be encouraging; for all others in need, even if unexpressed; for the members of our extended family who are suffering; for this nation and for the world.

We thank you, Lord, for every good gift and sign of blessing:
For the warm weather, for the crocus and daffodil,
For the returning birds, for the spring rain,
For the love of those who reach out to others,
For the unexpected kindness and act of love;
For answered prayer; for your life and death;
And for your promise of eternal life.
Through it all, we are truly blessed;
Thank you, Jesus; thank you, Holy Spirit; thank you, God.

We come to you now in silent prayer …

Lord, as you know what is written in our hearts,
Attend now to our spirits, we pray in your name, Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSONS

“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
If you have love for one another, then everyone will know
that you are my disciples.” ~ John 13:34-35, Good News Bible

The wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly;
it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds;
it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy.
And goodness is the harvest that is produced
from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace. ~ James 3:17-18, Good News Bible

HYMN: “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love”

One of our church’s Sweet Sixteen hymns, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” has seen a surge in popularity thanks to a new version by for KING & COUNTRY from the TV series AD: the Bible continues.  Another popular modern version comes from Jars of Clay, with banjo and a slower tempo.  The song was written by a priest in 1966 “when he could not find a suitable song to accompany a series of ecumenical and interracial events for which the youth choir he led was to sing.”  It later became “the anthem of the Jesus movement.”  Read the full story here.

INTERACTIVE SUNDAY SERMON
(With discussion questions if you are reading with others)

How are you?  No really, how are you?  As Pastor David asked on Tuesday, “is it well with your soul?”  On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being “OHMYGOD, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” and 1 being “God has me in the palm of his hand,” where would you rank?

These are crazy times, in many ways surreal.  We’ve never closed our church doors on a Sunday morning, even for a blizzard!  But I was thinking today how much what we are going through relates to Lent.  In some ways, this is the most fitting time for such a crisis.  While the current restrictions are nothing compared to the rationing of WWII or the Great Depression, they remind us of the meaning of sacrifice.

Traditionally, Lent is about giving something up ~ in modern years it has also become a season of taking something on.  Here are some of the things we’ve already had to give up: social gatherings, church worship, unessential surgeries, sports, concerts, plays, and vacations.  We’ve seen temporary shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Twinkies and Ding Dongs.  The movies we want to see have been delayed.  Some of our college students are already home, and we are likely to see school closures on a wide level.  We’re not allowed to visit people in nursing homes.  We’re not supposed to shake hands.  We can’t go to the Apple store.

How has your life changed in the last week?  What are you missing the most?

In many ways, we’re just like Jesus in the desert ~ if Jesus had a house, electricity, indoor plumbing, heat, furniture, food and drink, a TV, stereo, books and a whole lot of clothes, toys and other distractions.  Okay, maybe we’re not like Jesus in the desert.

What blessing do you love the most?  What luxury cheers you the most?

A beautiful essay on the music website NewRelease Today underlined the fact that fear is the real enemy.  Franklin Roosevelt said the same thing in 1933, calling fear that “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  Fear makes us forget the facts ~ for example, that the current risk of contracting the virus is real, but low, and that the virus is dangerous, but only 3.4% deadly.  Or that if we run out of bottled water, we have tap water, and that most bottled water comes from taps anyway.  Or that 7-11 has most of the items that are sold out at Costco.  Or that we can shop during off-peak hours.

Adding to the fear are stories that are just plain irresponsible, such as one telling us that drinking water is dangerous and another that hand sanitizer is dangerous.  It’s enough to make one throw up one’s hands in despair!

So let’s look at some actual, up-to-date numbers as of Saturday evening, March 14:
Suffolk County:  33 confirmed cases, population 1.493 million
Percentage affected: 0.00002210314
New York State:  613 confirmed cases, population 19.54 million
Percentage affected: 0.00003137154
United States:  2655 confirmed cases, population 327.2 million
Percentage affected: 0.0000081143
Planet Earth: 156,433 confirmed cases, population 7.53 billion
Percentage affected: 0.00002077463

How do these statistics make you feel?
How does watching the news make you feel?
Are you watching too much news?
How much do we need to watch to stay informed?
Do you trust what you hear?  If not, do you fact check it?

So take a breath ~ your current chances of getting the coronavirus are still statistically zero, meaning so close to zero they may as well be zero.  You are still more likely to die by pretty much any other cause.

Let’s return to the article I mentioned: “As Christians, as we live in this world that’s so full of darkness and fear, we need to look different. We need to be the ones that have peace. The ones people can go to if they have questions. The ones that look completely different from everyone else. Many of my brothers and sisters are currently looking like the rest of the world. I’m seeing them dominated by fear and grief, acting like hope is quickly disappearing. And I get it. The coronavirus that’s going around is serious, the fact is the large majority of people who conceive the virus has a full and healthy recovery.  So, have hope and fight hard to tell a different story than what fear and uncertainty are breeding all around us.”  Read the full article here.

Or to quote today’s songs (which were all inspired by Scriptures), let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us.  Let them know we are Christians by our love.

One of the saddest things about the virus is the new trend of social distancing, which is understandable for health purposes but seems to stand against everything it means to be human and a person of faith.  It’s especially lonely for a person in a nursing home not to be touched.  Or for us to avoid social gatherings at the time we need them the most.

What do you think of social distancing?
Have you become afraid of human contact?
Do you look at other people differently now (especially strangers)?

Let’s remember a few things:
1) This is temporary;
2) Social distancing can be a spiritual discipline; and
3) There are other ways to be social.

The first point is obvious ~ these restrictions are not forever.  In the best case scenario, they end before Easter.  And this is Lent, a time in which we remember Jesus in the desert, experiencing solitude, silence, slowness and space.  He used this time to grow strong in the Spirit, and we can as well, as long as we use it wisely.  Didn’t we just say, only 18 days ago on Ash Wednesday, that the world was moving too fast, that Lent was a season to appreciate the value of introspection, reflection, and a slower pace; that maybe we were buying too much, consuming too much, confusing our wants with our needs; that this year we might try giving up something more than chocolate?  Be careful what you wish for ~ because now, like it or not, we are learning how to do without.  But there’s another side to Lent as well.

Do you know people who live alone and don’t get out much, who may be feeling isolated, who might appreciate a call, a card, a cake or another expression of caring?  This is our time to let them know we’re Christians by our love.  Don’t know anyone like that?  There are plenty of worried strangers out there, plenty of overworked people at restaurants, hospitals, and stores.  Food pantries need food, and if you’re buying food to give it away, the wait on line seems a lot shorter.  Wherever we are, let’s radiate peace.  As one of today’s hymns goes, together we’ll spread the word that God is in our land.  To quote another, let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.  Yes, we could cocoon ourselves in our homes, watching Netflix, eating Twinkies and conserving toilet paper, hunkered down until the storm passes.  But Jesus never hid from a storm.

Is there something you can do as a person, couple or family that would make a positive difference?  Seize the day!

Finally, my friends, remember that light shines brightest where there is darkness, and that love makes the greatest difference when it is in short supply.  This is the greatest opportunity in a generation for Christians to make a difference.  Let this be the moment now.  Amen.

OFFERING

Please use this time to make out a check to the church.  As you prepare your offering, play the song below ~ a modern version of “Be Still My Soul” by Kari Jobe featuring a new injection of lyrics.  

Now please rise for the Doxology!  🙂
Note: this may be the best Doxology I’ve ever heard!

OFFERTORY PRAYER

Lord Jesus, every good and perfect gift comes from you.
Please use what we have given in return to glorify your Kingdom:
To spread your word, to help those in need, to serve as thanksgiving and praise.
In your name we consecrate this offering.  Amen.

HYMN:  “Let There Be Peace On Earth”

This is another beautiful hymn that is currently in our church’s Sweet Sixteen!!  The was first sung on a youth retreat, with people of all different backgrounds and races standing on a literal mountaintop.  (You can read the full history here.)  The rendition below uses perfect harmony (just like in the song!) and is juxtaposed of images of people helping others in need.  May it bring you peace!

BENEDICTION: An Irish Blessing

Amen!  And now please enjoy this choral version of
“Blest Be the Tie That Binds!”

This hymn has a special meaning to me as a long-term pastor.  It was written by a pastor with a loving congregation who could only afford to pay him with “wool and potatoes.”  He received a call to a wealthier parish, but as he loaded his cart to go, the parishioners gathered to say goodbye, everyone started crying and he changed his mind.  He ended up being the church’s pastor for 54 years!  Read the full story here.

A happy St. Patty’s Day to our Irish friends!

State of Emergency ~ Churches Closed for Worship

Image result for coronavirus banner

Greetings in the name of Christ during this most difficult time.

This afternoon we received an email from our Bishop asking all United Methodist Churches not to hold public worship services for the next two weeks.  While it is a slight relief to have such a decision taken out of our hands, it is a distressing thought not to have Sunday worship at our church.

As of this afternoon, our country is in a state of national emergency.  We are not the only branch of the church to be taking such action ~ according to Father Hugh at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, they have received orders to close for worship as well.

However, please remember that “a church is not a building.”  I encourage you to worship at home this Sunday at 10 a.m. (or whenever is convenient for you) by using the worship service that will be online right here at our website.  You will have no trouble finding it although for obvious reasons it’s not here yet!  All the prayers, songs, Scriptures and sermon will be here.  If you have a prayer request, simply send it to RevRichA@aol.com to be included.  If you are on our church’s Facebook or have subscribed directly to our website, every new post will automatically end up in your inbox.  Expect regular posts (not just Sundays) for a while beginning this weekend.

I will be activating our Prayer Team phone chain in a few minutes (which is part of our Disaster Protocol).  You should receive a call from a member of our church who has called you before.  Please let them know of any needs you might have during this crisis and how the church can help.  On Monday, the Church Council will discuss ways in which the church can band together during this time.

A couple other things to note:

1) Things that are NOT cancelled at this time:  Monday’s Church Council meeting and all regular small meetings including Bible studies.  Sunday’s trustees meeting will be postponed and rescheduled for a later date.  Our second dinner with Bayport (March 24) is cancelled, and our youth meeting (March 25) will be rescheduled.

2) You can reach me easily by email (RevRichA@aol.com) as I am typically online many hours each day whether home or at church.  Do not hesitate to reach out!

3) While this seems like a time of panic, please let this be a time of peace and reconnection with each other and the Lord.  Reach out to those in need, rely on God in prayer, and know that He will see us through.  Most of us have been through far worse times than this.  May God surround you with His Spirit and His care.

Blessings and peace, Rich

Welcome to the Sayville United Methodist Church!

IMG_3614The Sayville United Methodist Church is a community of faith that celebrates the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Our church welcomes people of all ages and stages of faith.  We offer many Bible studies as well as programs for youth, senior citizens and everyone in between. We are located at 164 Greene Avenue in Sayville, NY, at the intersection of Greene Avenue and Montauk Highway, across from Dunkin Donuts.  Parking is available in the lot across the street on the Greene Avenue side.  The church also has a small lot reserved for our seniors and others who may need assistance.

Main Street entrance.To the left is our annual Clamfest, part of Sayville’s Summerfest. On this day, we get together to raise funds for local and global outreach. To the right is the Main Street view.

You are invited to join us Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. (9:30 from July 1 through Labor Day Weekend).   Our average attendance is 100.  Be sure to pick up a visitor’s packet while you’re here!  Feel free to call us at (631) 589-0624 or email us at umcsayville@optonline.net with any further questions!  May God bless you this day!