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.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


In this morning’s New York Times there was an article about what happened when a bar mitzvah couldn’t be held the way the family had planned.  You know – bar (and bas) mitzvahs (the ceremony where a Jewish young person becomes an adult in the eyes of their society) are a REALLY BIG THING.  There’s always a ceremony – it usually takes a year or more to learn all that the young person will have to do, principally recite a chapter from Scripture, in Hebrew.  And there’s a really big party, with family, friends, maybe a band and dancing, and presents.  Kids look forward to this; parents plan (and pay) for it for years.

And the coronavirus called out a halt.  At first, the author says, they hoped just that their family would be able to fly in from across the US before the lockdown, but then they realized that couldn’t happen.  They faced the postponement of the ceremony – but postponement wasn’t as simple as you’d think,  because the Scripture their son had memorized could only be sung on that day.  For a bar mitzvah on another day, he’d have to learn and sing another portion.  Were they going to have to cancel?

And then their rabbi suggested using the internet.  Normally, they don’t use their phones on the Sabbath, but this time, things were different.  The bar mitzvah went on.  Family and friends from all around the world “attended”.  More people were able to be a part of it than they’d originally expected.  

Like that family, the things we’ve expected and planned for have all been turned upside down, and we continue to scramble to create a new reality.  Like them, we first expected one solution and then went to another.  We have had to try things we’ve never tried before.

We still don’t know how long this will be, though it’s increasingly looking as though we’ll not be back in church before May, at the earliest.  

Children are home from school, doing school from home.  Parents who can, work remotely.  I picture everyone gathered around the dining room table, each on their own computer, shushing one another.  Parents who can’t work remotely go into their jobs, still worrying about how their children will do.  Parents who are out of work because of this crisis are worried about paying bills and feeding their families.

Staying home is still the single most effective thing we can do to fight what’s happening.  We can recognize, as the family celebrating the bar mitzvah did, that in the midst of much loss there is much to gain.  Yes, kids are home, yes they’re not in school as we know it.  But there is more to the story; people reach out to help one another.  We share, even TP!  And we remember that we are never alone.

Today’s Scripture reading is Psalm 130:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! 
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! 
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 
But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. 
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 
my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, 
more than those who watch for the morning. 
O Israel, hope in the Lord! 
For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. 
It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. 

We remember always the essential work our church continues and ask you to send in your regular offering.  You can set up an automatic payment through your bank, or mail your offering to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham.  

Today’s Prayer List:

  • Those who are confused by varying messages as to what’s safe, who needs to worry
  • Those who have children at home
  • Those who will be returning to Wareham from winter homes in the next few weeks
  • Rich Cotton reports that Donald Hall has moved to 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.  Rich reports he doesn’t yet have a phone.

To add a concern to the daily list, email me at pastorchild02914@gmail.com

Blessings always, 
Pastor Virginia

March 25, 2020

Tucked into the news I’m reading today are several stories about people fleeing the coronavirus where they are by heading to their summer place.  It’s understandable.  If you lived in New York City right now, I’d guess that you’d just as soon be somewhere else, at least in the short term.  And if it’d be safer to leave, why not go to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, or one of the islands in Maine or back to Florida?  What the world needs, you might think, is more of that summer time peace and beauty.  

Of course, the problem is… well, it’s two-fold.  The communities where folks want to go, don’t want them.  They have all they can handle with the people who live there year-round.  And the second problem is that the more people move around, the more this virus spreads.   It’s different for those returning from winter homes to summer homes, at least a little, because their permanent homes have space, room, and facilities for them.  But the challenges of migrating at this particular time are just as serious.

When we have to move around – as in returning from Florida in the spring – it’s on us to do so as safely as possible.  Jean Smith and I talked this morning and she was outlining their plans for return – hand sanitizer, lots and lots and lots of hand washing, packing food in the car so they don’t have to stop, plastic gloves for gas pumps (did it occur to you that you could repurpose doggy pickup bags to protect your hands?) – not even driving through New York City, but going over the Tappan Zee/Cuomo bridge – and so on.  Protection runs in two directions – protect yourself against picking up an infection, and protect those whom you meet from catching anything from you,

In a funny (strange funny, not haha funny) way, that’s the work of Christ’s church…. to do what’s right for ourselves at the same time as we do what’s right for others.   At the beginning of the First Letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul writes:  “you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake, and you became imitators of us and of the Lord… so that you became an example to all the believers. . . (1:5-7).  We learn from our teachers and from God, and we then live out our beliefs so that others can learn from us.  Right now, that’s really basic – we wash our hands, use hand sanitizer, stay away from others.  It’s good for us, and the example makes it easier for others to believe this is important.  Paul wrote to people who lived in times as difficult as ours.  He implores us to put our faith in God and live in a way that brings life to all around us.  These days, that’s not metaphorical life; that’s real, physical life.  And as Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York says, “every life matters.”

We remember always the essential work our church continues and ask you to send in your regular offering.  You can set up an automatic payment through your bank, or mail your offering to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham.  

Today’s Prayer List:

  • Those who are confused by varying messages as to what’s safe, who needs to worry
  • Those who have children at home
  • Those who will be returning to Wareham from winter homes in the next few weeks
  • Donald Hall – ill at Tobey Hospital.  Donald can have phone calls; he’s in room 225, and he’d love to have cards.

To add a concern to the daily list, email me at pastorchild02914@gmail.com

Blessings always, 

Pastor Virginia

March 24, 2020

March 24, 2020

Matthew 6:25-34   “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve begun to see threads about what we’ll do next… will all this change our society; how will we do church, can this change our society?

And I don’t want to say that those aren’t important questions.  They are.  At the same time, I can’t help but think we have other questions, most of us, that we’re more focused on each day.

Should I go to the grocery store for food today?  Do I need to wear a mask?  Who is giving out the best information?  And for our folks in Florida. . . should I stay or should I go home?

Jesus is telling his friends, in this story, to do the stuff that has to be done first, first.  He’s saying that worrying – not taking stock of reality and being careful – but worrying does no good.  

As to who to listen to – it looks to me as though the people we should be paying the closest attention to are our Governors… Governor Baker in Massachusetts, Governor Raimondo in Rhode Island, and I’ll throw in Governor Cuomo in New York.  Governors Baker and Raimondo give us the best and most reliable news of what’s going on in our area.  

Governor Cuomo gives us the sermon for the day.  He is a remarkable speaker; I find his daily briefings to almost be sermons on the importance of self-sacrifice, the value of community, and our hope for the future.  Today, he was saying that we are doing all this – staying home, closing stores and businesses to protect the most vulnerable among us.  He said that each one of us matters; we are all important.  What we are doing is hard.  We don’t know what we, as individuals, will face tomorrow.  But, he says, together we will make it to the other side of this.

God bless those leaders who will help us make it to the other side!

Don’t forget to send in your offering.  Nancy slept well last night, but we want to keep that going!!  Mail your offering to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham.  Thanks

Today’s Prayer List:

  • Doctors, nurses, all medical personnel, as they struggle to keep up with the endless flow of patients.
  • People who are worried, who don’t know whether to come or go, who aren’t sure what the best choice is for them to be safe today or tomorrow.
  • Those who were thrown out of work, who wait for unemployment, worry about money for mortgage, rent, or food
  • Donald Hall – ill at Tobey Hospital.  Donald can have phone calls; he’s in room 225, and he’d love to have cards.

To add a concern to the daily list, email me at pastorchild02914@gmail.com

Blessings always, 

Pastor Virginia

March 23, 2020

Psalm 146
Praise the Lord!  
Praise the Lord, O my soul! 
I will praise the Lord as long as I live; 
I will sing praises to my God all my life long. 
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. 
When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. 
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, 
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; 
who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. 
 
The Lord sets the prisoners free; 
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. 
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; 
the Lord loves the righteous. 
The Lord watches over the strangers; 
he upholds the orphan and the widow, 
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 
The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. 
Praise the Lord!
 
Today’s psalm reminds me to keep my focus on what really matters in all this.  And knowing what really matters has opened up possibilities for doing what really matters in ways that work today.
 
For instance, in some parts of the US, church leaders are resisting the tactic of suspending in-person worship.  I read about some who say, “God will protect me!” and try to say that we who use hand sanitizer, who wash our hands, who are not getting together in person, that we are questioning God.  Those folks have priorities that are out of whack with reality. They don’t understand that God works through intermediaries – like physicians, health care people, grocery clerks and whoever invented sanitizer.  God even works through our Governors.  But it’s rude of us to tell God that the only way we will accept God’s presence in our lives is if it happens in direct action.  So, give thanks for all the help God is offering us, no matter how it shows up.
 
Well, enough of that for today, and on to more practical matters:
 

  • Our beloved church is continuing to function, and that means the bills are still coming in.  All of us who are being paid, are being paid.  We’re using utilities and so on.  Money is going out — but without weekly offerings, not so much is coming in.  Nancy MacNeill and I ask you to mail your offerings in to the church, to help keep us going.  So, mail your offerings in to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham.  Help Nancy sleep well at night!
  • Prayers:  I’m going to start adding prayer requests to these daily emails.  If you have a concern to raise, or someone to name in prayer, email me at pastorchild02914@gmail.com and I will add their name.  

 
Today’s Prayer List:

  • Families who are home with kids, while working remotely, that they might have patience and love and joy along with the frustrations.
  • People who are working in grocery stores, trying to keep the TP stocked, and get in more yeast and beans and other good stuff – and who want to stay safe even though they are out there in public.
  • All who are working so hard to get us safe, keep us safe, make our world safe again.
  • Donald Hall – ill at Tobey Hospital.  

 
 
Blessings and love to all of you, 
Pastor Virginia