Sunday, March 15, 11:00 AM COVID-19 version

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A special message about maintaining peace and loving our neighbor during a time when the congregation was unable to gather physically due to caution over COVID-19.

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good morning, everyone and welcome to A very different worship. We're not gather together. In our Sanctuary this morning, we're gathered together online. And so passing the peace is not a way that we normally do it. We can't hug or shake hands with one another we can even do it the way that we've been doing it this cold and flu season by using sign language or giving away of a crossed the aisle. So instead I invite you if your online now to leave a comment that says hello to everyone or if you're online at a later time to leave a comment that says hello to everyone or even just to hit a like button or smile emoji. In the app just to let us know that you're here and that you're sending well wishes to all who are gathered with us at this time.

Next Sunday. We were supposed to have a special offering we're going to put that off one more week is that offering is for uncle or who helps in so many different ways. So that's just one more announcement for you to be aware of.

As I'm sure you figured out by now. The church is closed all search activities in the building are canceled for the next two weeks groups are encouraged to continue to meet in other ways over the phone or using the internet free conference call and zoom are both great ways to do that. If you need help with those let me know and I can help you set those up are Lenten book study that normally meets in the office on Monday afternoons is going to meet tomorrow via a zoom call. So our Monday lent study is going to meet on the internet with zoom and the folks who are in that study should have received in their email box and invitation to that Zoom meeting. We are hoping and praying that are restricted time. Copart will be listed in time for our United service on March 29th. If that happens we will be coming together for one service on March 29th at 10 a.m. We won't have a pot last bad day because we're hoping to have one the following week on Palm Sunday, but stay stay connected to your email and to your friends who have email who will know what's going on with the church so that we can let you know is plans changed. There is always the possibility that this. Pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better here in the US and that we may need to extend the time that the church building is closed. So there is a possibility that sat March 28th have to become an online worship service as well. But at this point in time we are hoping and praying that we can meet together on the 29th for our United service at 10 a.m. We are also hoping that on April 5th Palm Sunday, we can meet together at our normal service times and then have a potluck following the 11:00 service at an Easter egg hunt for the kids. And then of course on April 12th, we have Easter and we are hoping that we will have three worship services that day. 6:30 will be our Sunrise Service at will be outdoors at 9 and 11 a.m. We will have our regular Services indoors and there will be a breakfast after the sunrise service if all goes according to the current plan stage for any changes. I'd like to invite you now to sing one song with me. We're going to have to do this acapella since we have no musician at this time. So if you're brave and you should all be in your own home, so you should be pretty brave. Nobody else is around to hear you. I'd like to invite you to join me in singing Christ for the world. We sing pricefalls same time.

Price for sweep ring by Restless time does cost from Josh pricefalls sweep ring. 12 Balfour price price for bring home a little Christ

I thought that was a good song for us to sing because we are indeed praying for the whole world today as we are faced with this pandemic and we know that Christ has the whole world in Christ heart. And so we carry that that prayer for thin song.

Now we have a call to worship so you can join me from home in this call to Worship in Luke's gospel. Jesus called together the disciples and a great multitude to a level place there. He touched shield and hot there. He spoke blessed are. Bear he names the Blessed the Saints of the face. Oh God, call us together as you did those so long ago to discover your blessed people today in this place. MCS computers Christ gather us let us remember confess celebrate and embody the Blessed saints of God.

Christ, Mamas and now please join me in our opening prayer. We joined together today from distant places. We mourn the fact that we cannot gather together with our neighbors and sit side-by-side with our siblings in Christ. But Lord, you have told us that whenever we Gather in your name you are among us. And so we have faith that you are among us here today in our virtual Gathering. We trust that your spirit is powerful enough to touch each person no matter where they are. Move Among Us now call us together now to be in your presence help us to know that even when we are not together physically our hearts and souls still Gather in your name. Oh, man.

This time we would normally invite the congregation to lift up prayers and praises. Since this is not live. It's not something that I can offer lie, but I'm going to pause for a moment. And those of you who are watching us all at the same time can put in the comments and he Praises or prayers that you have that you'd like to share with the church family.

And well folks are taking time to do that. I'm going to lift up prayers that we know about. We know that there are. Now over 50 people in the United States who have died from disc-o-bed 19 coronavirus. And so we lift up those people and their loved ones those who are mourning their loss. and we lift up all of those who are In Harm's Way with this virus here in the US and around the world the doctors the nurses the First Responders National Guard have been called in to help with testing and with setting up containment units all of those who are Really not able to just avoid the virus because they truly are called and offer a way of serving and protecting others from this virus. So we left those Folks up to you today. Oh Lord. We offer praise that so far. This virus has not claimed any one that we know personally. Matt as far as we know everyone in our congregation is still healthy. There have been other viruses and other illnesses that has struck people down. We know folks are still struggling with the usual.

complications in illnesses Cancers and the flu and other problems that we normally have to worry about. And that's always a concern for the Praises that so far. This pandemic has not. Anyone that we know personally? I'm so we lift up that praise.

Hayes Dodge at this week. We had some beautiful weather but the Sun was shining and the birds were singing and the flowers were blooming and amidst all the fear and the there were signs of Hope and signs of lice.

And speaking of fear and Chaos. We lift up all of those who have so much anxiety Lord. It only took stepping into a grocery store or Walmart or any other store this week Lord to see that this is a world. This is a country where people are panicking.

where toilet paper is for some reason one of the hottest Commodities out there and we are just amazed at How selfish some people have become. Because we are also so thankful for her generous others. Happy come. The God we lift up Praises for generosity of Neighbors. phrases for the patients for all of those who are working cash registers from Costco to Weis to Walmart and all the little mom-and-pop stores.

and Lord we thank you for 2 are willing to pick up groceries and supplies for their neighbors to maybe in a higher risk category and may not.

Feel safe going to the store themselves.

So we lift up all of these Joys and concerns before God. together today

we listen of all of the joys and concerns that have been mentioned on our Facebook page. And those that are in our hearts that we're unable to share in a public place.

God we lift up all of these concerns to you.

Together we pray in the words that your son taught us to pray Our Father who art in heaven Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation. But Deliver Us from Evil sign is the kingdom and the power and the glory Now and Forever on then.

We can take an offering in our usual way. I've spoken with our Treasurer and he has advised me that you can still mail your offering into the church. If you want. We have a locked mailbox and we will be checking the mail throughout the week. So that is one safe way you can get your offering to us or you can simply hold onto your offering for a week or two and male bring a big check the next time you're at church. Either of those options Works. Send a big check now or bring a big check with you the next time you come to cover a couple of weeks worth of offering whatever works best for you and your family. Just know that the offering is still important but know that is also understandable that if you are. Skinny without income over these weeks that we understand that it's giving to church may be the least of your priorities at this time. if you are in need because of All that is going on with this epidemic if your financial situation is taking a hit because of this. Please contact the church and let us know so that we can help you.

you are encouraged to keep giving and in whatever way that you can during this time or as soon as our our little quarantine situation is lifted.

We always appreciate all the gifts that we are given in Jesus name.

now it's time for our Bible readings for today the first reading comes from Book of Psalms or reading from Psalm 107 selected verses Give thanks to the Lord for he is good his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story those he redeemed from the hands of those he gathered from the hands from Lambs from east and west from North and South. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm and he guided them to their desired Haven. What's up, give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful Deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the Assembly of the people and praise him in the Council of the elders.

And our second reading comes from the Gospel of Luke.

Looking out as his disciples. Jesus said blessed. Are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God blessed. Are you who hunger now or you will be satisfied blessed? Are you who weep now for you will laugh blessed are you when people hate you when they squeeze you and then insult you and reject your name as evil because of the son of man rejoice in that day and leap for Joy because great is your reward in heaven. That is how their ancestors treated the prophets. Willow to you who are rich or you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well-fed now for you will go hungry. Go to you who laugh now for you will mourn and weep woe to you when everyone speaks well of you for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

We're going to take a break from our sermon series this week.

we will pick it up again next week and I'll talk a little bit more about that in a bit, but

We're going to we're going to do something a little bit different this week for for our sermons. So as I mentioned. In the letter that I sent out to the church the other day and demyx and natural disasters. Have a great equalizing effect on Humanity. They do not discriminate based on race religion geographic location or social status. For those of us that are very accustomed to being self reliance or to being the best country in the world. This can come as quite a shock. You can take some getting used to it can remind us of our own mortality. So isn't it ironic that this covid 918 outbreak has hit our area right in the middle of Lent a time when we are meant to be slowing down and focusing lasts on all the distractions of life and more on what's really important. Pandemics expose our vulnerabilities and our weaknesses in this case The Cove in 19 virus has expose weaknesses in our country's healthcare system, which island has inequalities which leave the most vulnerable people with the least access to healthcare. Is also exposed our lack of paid sick leave for workers in service Industries and others who in this case are either most likely to be exposed to the virus or most likely to be out of work for an extended. Of time without pay because of the virus. In a country that claims to have Christian values we often forget about the least of these but that's a sermon for another time. In fact, that's the sermon we were supposed to have this week and it was supposed to be about house and have nots in the kingdom of God part of art what makes a hero sermon series, but we're going to take a break from that Series this week. I promise we'll get back to it next week and next week was supposed to be our Pulpit swap. It was planned that Reverend Heath Wilson from Toms Creek UMC. Yes. That is my husband. He and I were supposed to swap Whole Pets. So instead we're going to look for a way for our two congregations to worship together remotely. And we're going to combine the two topics have Have Nots and us and down and explore those two Choppers together both congregations together online next week.

But let's get back to today's message. And before we do that, please pray with me. Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on me

Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on me melt me mold me fill me use me Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on me. Lettuce is meant to be a season of soul-searching of repentance and a spiritual renewal many of us are so busy with all these things that we need to do from day to day and we have not actually carved out a lot of time and our schedules to purposefully engage in some special set apart practice each day during this Lenten season, but with all the different events that have been canceled and the buildings that have been closed including our own church building many of us now have some extra time in our schedules.

Maybe we have a little extra time for Lent. I want to make sure that we're all on the same page about where this covet 19 virus came from please understand that the current situation is not your fault. It's not anyone's fault. This virus is spreading worldwide and everyone must take precautionary measures to help slow. The spread. God did not send a virus to punish us or anyone else. And all those conspiracy theories that are out there are just sat there conspiracy. Theories are not based in fact. God is not going to give this virus to certain people and spare others like some Twisted game of roulette. That's not how God operates.

Martin Luther once wrote in his message one may see a deadly plague. That the enemy has sent us poison and deadly awful. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate help purify the air administer medicine and take it I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and that's perchance in fact and pollute others and so caused their deaths as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me he will surely find me and I will have done what he has expected of me. So I am not responsible for either my own desk or the death of others if my neighbor needs me. However, I shall not avoid place or person but we'll go freely. God has given us the tools to combat this virus. Just as God has given us tools to combat other diseases throughout the years those tools include our intellect and out of the doctors nurses and research scientist who are working on test treatments and vaccines for this virus those tools also include things like chemical disinfectants and good hygiene practices, which we have developed over the years trust in Jesus, but trust also in the advice of the CDC. So now that we have established that committed 19 is not a punishment from God and it's not a faceless response to take precautions. I also want to make sure that you understand that even though it is awful and thousands of people have died from it. We should make the most of our current situation of social distancing. And ask God to use this tragedy for something good. Which gets me back to my comment about how we all have a bit more free time in our schedules now. If we can move past the anxiety that this virus has caused we can spend some of that time in communion with Christ. But even if we can't move past the anxiety which this virus causes in so many of us we can still take some time. Some of that time that is opened up in our calendars and span of little extra time in communion with Christ and perhaps a time will reduce our anxiety. So here's some suggestions of ways to be in communion with Christ during this time. Read a song or two or more each day. Go for a walk outside. Kyle walking meditation with each step offer a simple prayer or simply look around and enjoy the beauty of God's creation while you are out. See how many wildflowers you can find how many different bird calls you can identify.

Call a friend. Checking on them, see how they're doing and then offer to pray with them. Listen to some Christian music on the radio online or in your favorite app on your phone. Try meditation. There are videos online to guide you through various forms of meditation, or you can do a simple breast prayer. Let's try one right now. We can use the song from today. I want you all to breathe in. Sing the Lord is good. And then breathe out and say God's love endures forever.

Preventing the Lord is good. Breathe out God's love endures forever.

She do that a few times a day. You'll be amazed at the benefits that I can have.

Now for those who are healthy and not in the high-risk category now is also a time to practice loving our neighbors. So here's some simple ways we can do that. Check in on your literal physical neighbors. How are they doing? Do they have enough food? What about toilet paper? Apparently that's pretty hard to find right now. How are they doing on their medication?

Call someone who's in a high-risk category and check on them. Did they need any errands run? You could offer to pick up their groceries for them. Just make sure to disinfect your hands and anything else that you bring them before you drop off their items. Check in with Darius area homeless shelters there in need of extra disinfectant and other supplies. You can check their Facebook page or give them a call and see how you can help. Teacher neighbor had to use telemedicine or other online tools. If they have serious medical needs they may not want to risk exposure to the virus. But if you have something like a simple sinus infection, you can easily go online and chat with a doctor there and get prescribed some antibiotics and never have to set foot in a doctor's office where there are so many more germs to be exposed to You can also use this time to spend extra quality time with your loved ones do this in person with those two are actually in your household or reach out to those who are further away using some of those online schools that I mentioned. You can use FaceTime. If you all have the same kind of phones or there's other tools if you have different phones, Google Hangouts to resume our Skype are all sorts of different technology that can be used. You can play a game with each other from thousands of miles away or from just a few doors over if one of you is sick and the other is healthy. All of these are ways that we can continue to offer Christ in our community at this point. We're not in complete quarantine as they are in some areas. So it's okay for us to check on her physical Neighbors. And even in places were full quarantine isn't affect people were still allowed to go to the grocery store and the pharmacy. So running those errands for your neighbor would still be possible as well. We just need to remember to keep a level head during this time and remain as calm and rational as we can. Hoarding and mass hysteria song nothing now is the time for compassion and caring for others in whatever Safeway we can form. Any this means offering words of comfort for a from a distance for some if you mean more direct support for our neighbors in higher risk categories, no matter what we have a responsibility to one another to keep connected. While also keeping one another safe from the virus. We have a responsibility to keep one another lifted up in prayer. If you know someone from our church Community who has needs that you can't personally help with please let us know phone calls and emails to my personal number and email address will be checked daily. And Anna will be checking the church email and phone number regularly as well. You can see them on the screen now. And of course as you get the tidbits, they're always in there. Our schedules may look different this lunch, but that's okay. I was watching over us and inviting us to use this unplanned breaking our schedule is changing our routines as a time to remember what the kingdom of God's Beloved Community is all about

I want to end today's. sermon with a special prayer for a pandemic written by whom

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 house or making their rent may we will have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools closed remember those that have no option? May we who have to cancel our trips? Remember those who have no safe place to go? Babies who are losing our margin money in the two malls of the economic Market. Remember those who have no margin at all. Maybe we should settle in for a quarantine at home. Remember those who have no home. 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.

This is the end of our time of worship together. I invite you to continue to find ways to reach out to your neighbors are out this week. Continue to be the hands and feets and voice of Christ. In whatever way you can while still trying to reduce the spread of the virus.

Go forth with God. And may you be blessed?

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