Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
October 6, 2020
Happy Fall! Each month I am so surprised that it is the next one. That sounds absurd, since I keep a calendar, but during these seven months of pandemic, where things are so different for us individually and as a church, the cancellation culture has taken hold. We used the term “suspended” in the early days, but based on the number of cases, flu season and winter indoor life approaching, our leadership (as in most churches) has had to “cancel” previously loved events and activities. Although 14+/- have been gathering on Sundays, our building is still closed to the public and groups. This was our first communal loss in September, when we are usually “gearing up” and planning for the holidays.
Our second, third and fourth community losses were what Debbie Caffrey called in her prayer “Three Sisters of Faith:” Odette Mueller, Hester DePue and Evelyn Evans within a week and a half. We honored Hester and Evelyn with abbreviated COVID-compliant services, and their families were appreciative. I am particularly grateful for you who could attend and represent our whole church family. Odette’s celebration of her life will be in the future (no photo available yet), as her family is organizing a safe musical, family and friends tribute. September brought another loss for our leader, Debbie Caffrey, whose brother Richard Klotz lost his battle with cancer. Details are on the prayer page. Our nation has lost key leaders (John Lewis, CT Vivian and Ruth Bader Ginsberg), yet the personal and isolated deaths to COVID-19 are most painful: 210,195 as of this morning.
Despite the stressors of
homeschooling, virtual teaching, working from home with pets and people “helping,”
and defensive, masked grocery shopping trips, we have the joys of the season and our faith
to fortify us. For you it might be digging in the dirt, clearing flower beds;
adding seasonal plants; apple picking; grilling outside; serving families
during times of grief; safe day trips for a change of scenery; excitement when
that Amazon, grocery or restaurant delivery comes; the beginning of cool crisp
air; the smell of chili cooking; or finally, some football! Please know that we
are in this together, praying for one another, our country and our world. Find
your silver linings each day; it helps! Our worship focuses on the early
church(es), Peter and Paul’s ministries from Acts of the Apostles: the
disciples after Jesus’ Ascension, the windstorm of fire at Pentecost, the right
hand of God, sharing the work and this week we will be “Standing on Holy Ground”
(Moses & Stephen).
September 1, 2020
In spite of all the new regulations, Re-gathering has been a balm to my soul and to many others as we have reconnected both physically and spiritually as a stalwart faith community. The Vision, mailings and phone calls have helped us stay in touch, while I commend you on your creative forms of worship and devotions at home over these several months! I have also heard accounts of how you have been serving each other and neighbors, being the hands and feet of Christ! Well done! Let us know how you find opportunities to live out your faith, sharing the fruits of the Holy Spirit from Galatians 5:22. There may be new ministries that develop during this time. See the notes about Stuff the Bus and CROP Walk, among them. Alma Hunt collections begin later this month for Virginia (BGAV) state missions not covered under their budget.
As a fairly new pastor, I find that your vigorous commitment to the Lord and this community is encouraging during this time. I am grateful and frankly, inspired, by your determination and tenacity. It has probably always been thus, so please know the pandemic revelations (silver linings) have been added to our legacy and history as a church, and will define our future vision.
Grandparents Day (including Great Grands) is September 13th, and after many conversations, we will offer Communion then, but a little differently. Due to safety guidelines, wearing gloves, a disposable communion set will be placed on the pew with your bulletin. Because they are hard to open, we ask you to take it home and join us at 1 pm as a churchwide Lord’s Supper. This will be a fitting day to share the ordinance of communion together while apart; we will pray the liturgy at the 9:30 am service, while the partaking of the elements will be done by us all at home at 1 pm. If you worship at home, please plan to have bread and juice available, and on Facebook, I will schedule a post for 1 pm, Sept. 13. You may read Luke 22:14-23 or 1 Corinthians 23-26 to participate.
August services used John 17, the “Priestly Prayer.” Jesus first prayed for his own glory to be shown to the disciples through the Cross and Resurrection, then prayed for protection, encouragement, sanctification and commitment of his disciples, to whom he had poured out his life in a short time of ministry. Lastly, he prayed for us and for all future believers to have perfect unity with God and each other through holy intimacy and courageous sharing of Scripture. How timely a message about unity is, when we have been separated from one another physically for months and our nation’s citizens have been torn apart by racism, poverty, and politics. Sharing our faith stories is even more signifcant in this pandemic and crisis time of fear and confusion.
Will you join me in this
re-commitment of our calling? For the next several weeks, our worship will
engage Acts of the Apostles. We’ll
look at the early church through Luke’s eyes to see what and how we might be church
August 4, 2020
What’s new this month? We’re baaaack! In a cautious soft re-opening, 14 of us re-gathered together (Melissa played that Thanksgiving hymn as prelude) on Sunday, August 2nd at 9:30 am in the Sanctuary, masked and 6-10 feet apart. Lee Ann helped us set up by taping off every 2 pews and I collected pencils, cards and placed ½ sheet bulletins and signs where we wanted people to sit safely. Pedro’s team deep cleaned pews and floors, while Debbie and Dot cleaned railings and doorknobs before and after. David cleaned microphones and hearing sets with alcohol earlier in the week and again after the service. It looked different but not too much; there was an anxiety in the air at first, not knowing what to expect, but our faithful “more than expected” loosened up as we went along and worshipped while respecting the CDC guidelines. If you do email and wish to get the bulletin and sermon, let the office know. Hopefully, we’ll be recording later in the month. Pray for that please!
Our study passages were from Nehemiah 8:9b-10 GNT and James 1:1-8, 12 NIV. Both deal with change, adaptation and resilience of a people dispersed and living apart from their faith community. Sound familiar? Most of us have experienced disruption, confusion, lament, grief, health or income anxiety while still having moments of joy, celebration, new hobbies and Sabbath rest. How do we grow from these experiences, or as James calls them “trials” or “struggles”? We have many congregants you can talk to about overcoming adversity.
We must remind ourselves not to blame God! He does not cause trials or use them to judge us. Humans have free will, choice and accountability. Sometimes our decisions are made without discernment. In our arrogance, we don’t ask God for input. His word and prayer support can influence choices, but solutions are not magic! James reminds us to seek God’s wisdom on our knees through prayer and Scripture; yes, in our frailty, we sometimes doubt the power of the Holy Spirit. A friend keeps asking me to make the virus go away, as if any minister could!
We have an important role of
prayer and responsible distancing and mask wearing. Can we find joy during this
trial? Ask Debbie about her pink flamingo mask! If we love God and one another
here on earth, we are assured a “crown of life.” That crown is a spiritual
maturity to persevere in any situation. It is available now, if we are united
in spirit and service. What new ways have you been or observed others being
Christ to one another? I’d love to hear about it. Your neighbors could use the
encouragement; unbelieving adult children or grandkids need to hear your
stories and legacy of faith through struggle. Amen? See you Sunday! Amen!
July 7, 2020
I hope you had a safe, socially distanced (and fun) 4th of July celebration with family or friends. For some this year, it does not feel like Independence Day. Either they have been sick, lost someone close to them, feel isolated and lonely or the protesters reminded us not all ancestors were free. Watching an old favorite, 1776 (the musical), reminded me that our country compromised on the “slavery” issue in our Declaration. I read the July 5, 1852 speech [https://freemaninstitute.com/douglass.htm] given by former slave and abolitionist orator Frederick Douglass to the citizens of Rochester, NY, where he explains in horrid detail why Independence (from Great Britain) Day was not a holiday for slaves. Can we learn?
Traditionally, it is a holiday of grilling, eating, playing games outdoors and fireworks. This year things were very different on the National Mall, so our neighborhood put on a sight and sound display until midnight! That created anxiety for pets and people, not to mention many injuries. The elephant in the room is still COVID-19. People have turned mask wearing into a political issue or are rationalizing not wearing one. Are you washing your hands often, sanitizing and using wipes on everything? We must if we hope to beat this thing. We must also stay at home if we fall into the high risk categories.
Despite those who choose not to comply, we are a very creative human race. Parents have found ways to home school. UBC, other churches and businesses have improvised how they serve. Impressive how various schools held safe graduations with car parades, signs, cap and gowns, balloons and individual photo shoots. Those seniors did not get a typical graduation experience, but some got more recognition from neighbors than ever before! Love thy neighbor, we are taught. So, what other silver linings have you discovered? What gratitude have you acknowledged to God, self and others? “. . . those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 9:10 NRSV).” Hang in there.
Perhaps you are the one who was in need of service recently; isn’t it difficult to receive when we are so accustomed to giving to others? Generosity is a fruit of the Spirit, and it must be for self as well as for others. Not all people are “out for themselves” in spite of drivers I see breaking the law. I am learning forgiveness, kindness and patience during this time. Thanks to my house mate and horticulturalist, we have been gardening at home and at church: pruning, weeding, planting, feeding and watering. Sounds like a pastor’s spiritual duties with people! We are being pruned, fed and watered now; soon it will be a time for planting, growing and blooming. God is preparing us all for new life.