April 3, 2020

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; 

my eye wastes away from grief, 

my soul and body also. 

For my life is spent with sorrow, 

and my years with sighing; 

my strength fails because of my misery,

and my bones waste away.

But I trust in you, O Lord; 

I say, “You are my God.” 

My times are in your hand; 

deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 

Let your face shine upon your servant; 

save me in your steadfast love.

Psalm 31: 9-10, 14-16

So far, I don’t personally know anyone who’s gotten this virus.  I know at least one family here has, but I wonder if most of you aren’t like me.  You don’t yet know anyone who’s been ill.  But, statistics say, we will.  Each of us, all of us will.  And, almost certainly we will personally know someone who didn’t make it.  

If we lived in New York City, that day would be now.  And the people who were sick?  Many would have died.  That’s what we each fear for our own towns.  Planners think Massachusetts might have as many as 9500 people ill in hospitals by mid-April with as many as 100 people dying each day.  That number is for the whole state, by the way, not just our area.

Right now – tedium.  In two weeks?  Sorrow.  Hold on to Psalm 31.  Hold on to the lessons of the Holy Week we’re about to enter.  Remember that we hold on to a God who holds on to us. 

News for today:

Today’s email includes resources for Palm Sunday.  Click here:  https://illustratedmin.s3.amazonaws.com/weekly-resources/PalmSunday.pdf?ck_subscriber_id=136888751

Included is a PDF of a palm branch – you’re invited to print it out, color it, maybe cut it out, and display it.  And there’s also resources for the children you know.  Feel free to forward it to others if you want.

When we next gather together, we’re going to have the real palms, but this will be our safe-to-distribute place holder.  Many thanks to Nancy MacNeill and Elaine Johnson for tracking down the real palms and then to Elaine for getting them to Julie McNeill and her family.  And great thanks to everyone at the McNeills for agreeing to turn our palms into palm crosses!

Many thanks to those of you who have sent your pledge into the church.  Our expenses continue, so we really appreciate your efforts to help us pay our bills.  Checks may be mailed to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham MA  02571.

There will be a meeting of the Church Council, via Zoom, next Wednesday evening at 7pm.

Prayer List:

  • As always, Donald Hall remains in our prayers.  He’s at Nemasket Healthcare Center, 314 Marion Road, Middleboro MA  02346 and his cell phone number is 508-930-0051.  His kidneys are failing and he is on hospice care.  In this holy time, he welcomes your cards.
  • Donald Hall’s sister, Natalie, died on Saturday.  Our love is extended to Donald.
  • Ron and Mary Westgate ask that we pray for Michael Layman, who has the Covid virus.  He is the brother of their daughter-in-law.

If you have a prayer concern feel free to send it in to be included in this daily email. 

Pastor Virginia

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

I see a lot of reports in the papers that “this huge number of people” or “that huge number of people” are going to die as a result of this pandemic.  Some of the articles suggest that since so many will die, all the sacrifices we are making right now are worthless.  Some say those sacrifices aren’t enough.  And I even hear some who say this is a government plot to do destroy churches by telling us we can’t meet. 

What we’re doing is hard, but it’s making a difference.  (and the “we” in this case, is all the US, not just you and I)  We are flattening the curve.  Sure, it’s likely most of us will get this virus, sometime or another.  But we’re delaying what might, or even will, happen, and delaying saves lives, because it spreads out the number of people who need hospitalization.

In other words, what we’re doing, by staying home, giving up big celebrations and so on, is making a difference.  Someone said recently, “if at the end of this, people are saying  ‘you made too big a thing of this virus’, then we will  have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”

It strikes me that what’s happening is a time-compressed version of a life.  Throughout our lives we do small things that don’t seem to make a difference, but by the time we’re in our sixties, we can see the net effects of our choices.  I read this one today in an alumni magazine:  We went on to get Married in 2018 and couldn’t be happier. All because we by chance signed up for the same 9am lecture and lab”  Today, we’re seeing those little choices playing out in just a few weeks, rather than an entire lifetime.

The Bible has a lot to say, in any number of places, about the importance of little choices.  In fact, I don’t think that the authors of the Bible really thought any choice was little.  You go to the town well at 9am instead of  10 and meet your spouse.  You offer a morsel of bread to a beggar, help a sick man to the healing pool at Bethsaida, offer a room at the inn, and the Son of God is born in your barn.  Little choices make a big difference – then and now. 

And now for the local news:

Nancy MacNeill wants to thank those of you who’ve sent in your checks to help keep our church going.  Our building is closed, but we are still operating, and your offerings are welcome.  Ann Marie, our church secretary is no longer coming into the office, but David is still deep cleaning in the Hall.  The building is doing well.

We will NOT be distributing palms at the church on Palm Sunday.  It is simply not safe enough.  However, look for another kind of palm later this week.

Prayer List:

  • As always, Donald Hall remains in our prayers.  He’s at Nemasket Healthcare Center, 314 Marion Road, Middleboro MA  02346 and his cell phone number is 508-930-0051.  His kidneys are failing and he is on hospice care.  In this holy time, he welcomes your cards.
  • Ron and Mary Westgate ask that we pray for Michael Layman, who has the covid virus.  He is the brother of their daughter-in-law.

If you have a prayer concern feel free to send it in to be included in this daily email. 

Blessings, Pastor Virginia 

March 31, 2020

…Dr. Fauci (earlier today) on CNN:  “If you look now, we’re starting to see glimmers than (social distancing) is actually having some dampening effect.”

It’s nice to hear that staying close to home might be having a dampening effect on the spread of this disease.  Because staying at home isn’t easy.  It’s boring, for one thing.  And for those of us who have family, we never planned to be this closely together, all the time.  Even when things are good, they’re hard.  And when they’re not good, they’re really hard.

St. Paul tells us that “suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” .. (Romans 5:3-5)  But the only folks I know who want to grow in this way are athletes.  It’s not our chosen path; however, it turns out it is our path these days.  This time separated from our world is facing us with difficult questions.  We don’t yet know what our answers will be.  So keep on enduring, and hold onto your hope.

Today’s Boston Globe writes of the challenge of “stay or go” for our Florida people.  You might want to read it here:  https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/31/nation/stay-or-go-home-snowbirds-agonizing-dilemma/ but it won’t give anyone a definitive “this is the right answer”.  It will only give you things to think about.  One note:  remember that, if you’re driving north through New Jersey, in that state you can’t fill your own gas tank.  This means you won’t touch the nasty nozzle handle, but you will have to talk with the person who comes out to fill your tank.

We don’t know how long this will go on, but we do know that we’ve carried on through other epidemics and disasters.  Just because our building is closed does not mean we are not a church; in fact, now we are free to see how important each one of us is.  

And now for the local news:

Nancy MacNeill wants to thank those of you who’ve sent in your checks to help keep our church going.  Our building is closed, but we are still operating, and your offerings are welcome.  Ann Marie, our church secretary is no longer coming into the office, but David is still deep cleaning in the Hall.  The building is doing well.

As always, Donald Hall remains in our prayers.  He’s at Nemasket Healthcare Center, 314 Marion Road, Middleboro MA  02346 and his cell phone number is 508-930-0051.  His kidneys are failing and he is on hospice care.  In this holy time, he welcomes your cards.

If you have a prayer concern feel free to send it in to be included in this daily email.  

And to close, a piece of foolishness to lighten our hearts, from a housebound family in England:

https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/videos/quarantined-family-one-day-more-les-mis-parody/

Blessings,

Pastor Virginia

March 30, 2020

What’s going on in  your life today?  Emotionally, that is.  Are you feeling strong and confident?  Or are you, maybe, fearful, worried, not sure what tomorrow will bring?  Or does it change from moment to moment?  And how’s your supply of energy doing?  Mine goes up and down almost unpredictably.

It’s understandable.  We usually say “we don’t know what tomorrow will bring” with a sense of a theoretical statement.  Sure, we say it, but we really do know what tomorrow will bring… until we don’t, not anymore.  And, right now, I don’t even know if I’ll be able to drive to Massachusetts tomorrow <smile> because the Rhode Island governor is so focused on flattening the curve here in Rhode Island.  

Life these days is more like standing on a balance ball, or standing up in a small boat, or maybe balancing on a trampoline than I, for one, like.  But I’m getting used to it.  And I hope you are too.  Not used to it in the sense that we want it to go on forever, but at least to the level that we have created routines that work in this new world, routines that help us know what’s steady in our world, even as we work on adapting to that which changes from day to day.  Something will not change:  God still loves us, we are still community, loving and caring for one another.  

News from our Church Community:  Norma McWilliams reports that Glenn’s been at Tobey being treated for dehydration, but she expects him to come home today.

As always, Donald Hall remains in our prayers.  He’s at Nemasket Healthcare Center, 314 Marion Road, Middleboro MA  02346 and his cell phone number is 508-930-0051.  His kidneys are failing and he is on hospice care.  In this holy time, he welcomes your cards.

The Palm Project is off, at least as it was imagined:  this is one of the places where the daily changes in our world are affecting our decisions.  What seemed pretty safe and reasonable last week, doesn’t seem so much so this week.  I know you were all looking forward to getting out, getting to church, and getting a palm, but it just no longer feels prudent.  So, NO live palms will be distributed this weekend.  However, stay tuned…. there will be palm, in your hands.  Just wait and see!

Usually, I close with a prayer or a spiritual song, but today, it’s cats.  This is what we can do while we are home:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nn7NZI_LN4&feature=youtu.be

Your giving is essential in the continuation of our ministries and supports the on-going work of being church.  Please send in your checks to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham. 

LET’S ALL GET TOGETHER. . not

March 29, 2020

As I settled into my desk chair, tea mug to hand, to participate in the Old South Church’s Sunday service, it was great to see a hello from Pat Bergstrom, and then one from Michelle Sabourin – and then at the end of the service, an Amen from Sandra Belson!  It was almost like being together.  

I’m an introvert; normally, it doesn’t bother me to be alone.  But this morning as I woke up I realized how deeply difficult this would be even for me, if I didn’t have a dog.  I talk to her, she nudges me with her nose to say “it’s breakfast time.”  I let her out and she barks at me when she’s ready to come in.  She’s sleeping in her bed behind me as I type, gently snoring (I told someone the other day that gentle snoring is her super power) and somehow creating a sense that I am not alone, marooned in my house 24/7.

. . . and then I thought of many of you, living alone…. and I imagine folks who aren’t used to spending 24/7 with their spouses sometimes wonder if it’s ok to say that they’d just like a few hours to themselves?  This is difficult.

I can’t say how grateful I am to churches like Old South who can put a worship service on line.  Worshipping, and worshipping together with those of you who were there, grounds me for the week.  

An update:  Nancy MacNeill tells me that our parsonage tenant reported a leak in the basement.  RotoRooter has come and replaced a broken pipe, and all appears well again.  Aren’t we fortunate to have a tenant who noticed the problem?  And Nancy to solve it!

As always, Donald Hall remains in our prayers.  He’s at Nemasket Healthcare Center, 314 Marion Road, Middleboro MA  02346 and his cell phone number is 508-930-0051.  His kidneys are failing and he is on hospice care.  In this holy time, he welcomes your cards.

Today, I offer a prayer of blessing to those of us who are home alone, to those of us who are with family, to those of us who are worried, afraid, concerned, discouraged.  I offer a blessing to those of us who are working as hard as they can, to those who serve the public as state officials, town workers, health care folks.  I offer a blessing to those who are keeping our church going in every way.  Each of you, every one of you lives with the everlasting blessing of God to guide your way.  Amen.

Your giving is essential in the continuation of our ministries and supports the on-going work of being church.  Please send in your checks to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

“For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

Pope Francis

I don’t want to die.  And I bet I’m not alone.  I mean, I really don’t want to die, not now, not yet, and certainly not from this Covid-19.  I hear it over and over and over – we don’t want to die.

Of course, death is inevitable; it is part of life.  But living in the midst of a global pandemic has a way of making the idea of death more immediate, more real, more likely.  Our Christian faith tells us that death is not the end of things, and that promise is comforting.  But death, early death, death from a dread disease, still has the power to destroy all joy and fill all our days with fear.

Here’s the thing:  the promise that in the midst of the worst life has to offer, we can still find goodness and joy gives us the strength to overcome our fear. . not to ignore it, for our fears are reasonable and cause us to take good precautions. . . but to keep those fears from robbing us of peace and joy in the days we now have.  What’s happening now reminds us that what’s really important in our world is love.  The love we show one another, the love we show strangers, the love which transcends our fear of death, that love is what matters in the long run. . . and in the short run too.

Take a deep breath, and then take another one.  Do what you must to protect yourself and your loved ones, but do not let all this steal life from your days.  We are alive, now, and we can love, now.

I Corinthians 4: 16-18 (The Message translation)  So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

We continue to hold Donald Hall in our prayers.  Donald is at Nemasket Healthcare Center, 314 Marion Road, Middleboro MA  02346 and his cell phone number is 508-930-0051.  His kidneys are failing and he is on hospice care.  In this holy time, he welcomes your cards.

Your giving is essential in the continuation of our ministries and supports the on-going work of being church.  Please send in your checks to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Just as we settled into this season of “pause” and began to wrap our minds around the idea that we will not worship together again before May, comes the President of the United States suggesting that we should plan to be together for Easter, that this pandemic will be under control by then and it will be safe to worship.

He’s wrong.

Yesterday, noted Boston Globe veteran Peter Gammons told the story of a small church in Arkansas which believed this Covid-19 was no biggie.  The church was full for their Sunday worship. Yesterday, 34 of those in attendance tested positive.  

Today, the Globe reports that 138 people in Plymouth County have been tested and have the virus.  They also reported that in all of Massachusetts there have been (so far) 352 cases in people over 70.  Of those, 21 have died.  We are not worshipping together until the Governor of Massachusetts tells us it is safe.  This isn’t a political decision; it’s a public health issue.

I’m working with our Deacons on how to do Palm Sunday and Easter this year.  I don’t yet have a sense as to what we might do for Easter but for Palm Sunday, here’s what going to happen:  On that day, between 10 and 11 in the morning, when we usually worship, you’re invited to drive over to church and go into the parking lot behind the Hall.  There we’ll have palms laid out on tables for you to pick up.  I’ll be there, along with Chris Markola and Elaine Johnson, who will set things up.  We’ll all stand at least six feet from each other and wear gloves… but for a moment, at least, we will be together, and you will get a palm.  (For our planning, it’d be really helpful if you told us that you plan to come over by replying to this message.  We want to have palms enough for everyone.)

News for today:

Governor Baker has just announced that travelers (those of you coming home from wherever) to self-quarantine when you return.  Be prepared to stay home… check out the Boston Globe website for more details.

Donald Hall now has a cell phone and his number is 508-930-0051.  You can send cards to him at Nemasket Healthcare Center, 314 Marion Road, Middleboro MA  02346.  Donald’s kidneys are failing, and he is on hospice care.  In this holy time, he welcomes your cards.  

Your giving is essential in the continuation of our ministries and supports the on-going work of being church.  Please send in your checks to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham. 

Today’s song is “Lift Your Glad Voices” by the Oasis Chorale.  I’ve included not only the YouTube link, but the words.  As you listen remember, “the Savior has risen and we shall not die.”

Blessings, Pastor Virginia

Lift your glad voices in triumph on high,
For Jesus hath risen, and man cannot die.
Vain were the terrors that gathered around him,
And short the dominion of death and the grave;

He burst from the fetters of darkness that bound him,
Resplendent in glory, to live and to save.
Loud was the chorus of angels on high,
“The Savior hath risen, and man shall not die.”

Glory to God in full anthems of joy!
The being he gave us, death cannot destroy.
Sad were the life we must part with tomorrow
If tears were our birthright and death were our end;

But Jesus hath cheered the dark valley of sorrow;
We’ll rise from the dead and immortal ascend.
Lift then your voices in triumph on high,
For Jesus hath risen, and man shall not die.