A weekly newsletter from United Methodist Church of Lenox
A NOTE FROM THE PASTOR
April 1, 2021
Dear Beloved in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we enter the month of April during the Holy Week, I pray it is a powerfully spiritual experience for all of us. As we all know, we have a liturgical celebration on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter! Except those who observe Easter Vigil, normally we do not have special observations and celebrations on Holy Saturday.
In our household, my dad, who was clergy, was busy preparing his sermon for Easter Sunday. My mom, a great mother and outstanding cook, was busy preparing a variety of dishes for Easter breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We children had many chores to do in preparing for Easter!
As I started my ministry, my Holy Saturdays were consumed with preparation for Easter, making sure all things were in order for Easter celebration! I was busy doing this or that, preparing for Easter. Confession time: Many times we had been so busy, all we felt by Sunday was fatigue.
The first Holy Saturday of Easter was different; it did not involve sermons, meals, or decorations. For Jesus’ family and disciples, it was a day of mourning and deep loss. As I was reflecting on that first Holy Saturday and comparing it to our present traditions, I noted the vast difference between the atmosphere of that day and today. My attention was drawn to the following poem by Theologian S.J. Samartha from his book The Pilgrim Christ: Sermons, Poems, Bible Stories, which offers new insight into my own observation of Holy Saturday.
Even as we prepare for our Easter celebrations, there are many in our world who do not know the joy of the Easter Resurrection. This poem seems even more relevant in our nation and world today.
To look at the promised land from afar
And not to set foot on its soil,
To dream of milk and honey
And not to taste the mixture –
This was the lot of Israel’s greatest prophet.
There are many prophets in the wilderness
Who die outside the Promised Land.
Squeezed between Good Friday and Easter,
Ignored by preachers and painters and poets,
Saturday lies cold and dark and silent –
An unbearable pause between death and life.
There are many Saturday people
to whom Easter does not come.
There are no angels to roll the stones away.
There are many Saturday people in the world today:
Children dying for want
of food and affection
brides who bring little or no dowry
mothers who break stones and carry bricks
boat people waiting for the end
of the right-to-asylum debate
prisoners who die in custody
and those killed while trying to escape
hostages who do not see the light of day
and detainees who do not see a courtroom
tribals evicted from forests
and fisherfolk separated from the sea
generations within nations and peoples
and tribes doomed to die without hope …
The prophets who lead the Saturday people
Die with them outside the Promised Land.
There is a Cross in every resurrection.
Is there a Resurrection in every cross?
What a challenging question to ponder! Who are the Saturday people in our midst? This Saturday and throughout the Easter Season, may we take time to reflect on this question.
May we brainstorm ways to help all Saturday people find their way to the Promised Land, to discovering the joy of the empty tomb and all its promises, to a Resurrection! May we continuously contemplate the possibilities of a world where there is a Resurrection in every cross. As Easter people, may we always work toward justice – once and for all.
Also, may we think more deeply about the people in our own faith communities who do the work of Holy Saturday day in and day out, yet are rarely or never recognized, appreciated, or thanked for their faithful ministry. Sadly, many times they get our criticism instead of appreciation.
These servants may not have titles or prestige, and while they do not yearn for such, they keep doing the work Christ calls us to do as "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). These people are the unsung heroes in our churches, communities, nation, and world. May we take time to write a thank you note to these laborers, these Saturday people.
May the power of our Creator God, the love of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit lead us forward as Easter people!
In Christ's love,
Bp Sudarshana Devadhar
*Taken from Stanley J. Samartha, The Pilgrim Christ, published 1994, Bangalore, India. Asian Trading Corporation, pp. 137-138
Easter Sunday Worship Service
It’s Easter!Suffice it to say, this year may be different too. So how do you celebrate Easter in all its glory, despite the restrictions? The first thing to keep in mind is that attitude, not accessories, makes Easter the celebration that it needs to be. Perhaps the first questions are, “Who will bring this great good news to the congregation? Who can express the joy of this moment? Who can bring enthusiasm to the proclamation of the Word? Who will speak into the glory of this moment?”
The UMC invites all of you to share our joy of Easter!!
So, let there be joy – however it takes to project it, whether in person or through a screen or even in print. Tell jokes, funny stories; let there be laughter. Easter is a day to feel, even more than to understand. It is a day to accept more than a day to explain. Even though our foundations have been shaken, we move forward, because that is where the Risen one is going. He is going ahead of you. Let’s keep moving forward.
Easter flowers were donated and will be presented in memory of all who were lost to Covid in the last year.
. Pastor Nami working from home ( Tue-Fri, 9am-5pm and Sat 9am-2pm) - available to reach out phone call (442-6314) or email ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
.Kathy, Administration Assistant working in the church office Tue (11am – 2pm) and Fri (9am – 12pm) Hours are flexible so please call church office (445-5918) or email (email@example.com) to make sure she is working
Due to the Corona Virus we are changing how in-person services will be conducted. These are being called the Covid Commandments.
1) Thou shall wear a mask while on church grounds and inside church. Only exception will be people in the altar area.
2) Thou shall have a temperature check before entering church for service. Anyone with elevated temp greater than 100.4 will be sent home.
3) Thou shall maintain social distancing while entering/exiting and during service. Minimum 6ft apart from others.
4) Thou shall be provided hand sanitizer upon entry to church.
5) Thou shall sit where the usher escorts you to. Social distancing can be maintained by sitting in marked spots.
6) Thou shall not sing but enjoy the person at altar singing.
7) No communion will be performed until the pandemic is over.
8) The offertory will be set up to collect contributions when entering/exiting church.
9) There will be no children’s moment, Sunday school, or babysitting.
10) Thou shall not shake hands or hug our brothers/sisters in Christ.
These safety measures are required to keep everyone safe at church. Hopefully we can return to normal sometime in the future but we thank you for your cooperation during this time. People not comfortable attending in person will be able to continue to partake in on-line services currently offered.
Church Schedule for the Holy Week
. Bible Study: Wed Morning at 10am ( Read the gospel of Mark)
. Church Council: Thursday at 6:30pm
. Good Friday Service: Friday ( April 2) at 7pm via zoom ( Same zoom link with Sunday worship )
. Easter Sunrise Service : Sunday at 6:30am only in person ( if whether permitting, outdoor service)
. Easter Sunday service : 10am in Hybrid ( in person and via zoom)
PROTOCOL FOR CHURCH RE-OPENING
DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
I. WORSHIP SERVICE
Prior to Opening
· Prior to the church re-opening the sanctuary pews will be designated (marked) to accomplish social distancing.
· All pew cushions and tissue containers will be removed and stored.
· The fellowship hall will be arranged with chairs following social distancing guidelines, as needed.
· Face masks and hand sanitizer will be purchased and be available at entrance to church.
· Entering and seating - Traffic cones will be arranged at the entrance to the church to direct people to the sanctuary. There will also be a designated person to direct attendees into the sanctuary. When the sanctuary is full then the doors to the sanctuary will be closed and the traffic cones be will arranged to direct people to the fellowship hall.
· Close of service - At the close of service a procedure will be followed to exit the church in a manner which will minimize contact.
o The fellowship hall will exit first starting with the row closest to the sanctuary and ending with the row at the back of the hall.
o The sanctuary will then exit beginning with the last row and ending with the frontmost row.
· Hand Sanitizer – Hand sanitizer will be dispensed at the entrance.
· Temperature Checks -Temperatures will be taken of all entering the church.
· Face masks – Face masks will be required and worn in order to attend service. Masks will be available for attendees if needed.
· Social distancing – Social distancing will also be required.
o There will be no hand shaking or hugging.
o Social distancing must also be maintained in the altar area between pastor, the pianist, and any others participating in the worship service. The lecterns will have transparent face shields.
· Worship service program - All those seated in the sanctuary and fellowship hall can follow the worship service program via the overhead projection.
· Offering – The offering will not be collected during worship service, instead, an offering plate will be placed on the table outside the sanctuary into which offerings may be made. Those tallying the offering must wear face masks and gloves.
· Children’s time – There will be no children’s time nor Sunday school.
· Music -To maintain social distancing in the altar area with the pastor, organist, liturgist, and audio/visual person there will be no choir in the initial re-opening.
Special music can be part of the service if it is performed by a single person who comes to the altar only to perform. There must a minimum of 17 feet between the performer and the first row of congregation.
Congregational singing is not encouraged per guidelines.
· Liturgist and reader - The liturgist will also be the reader.
· Communion – There will be no communion during the initial re-opening.
· Fellowship time – There will be no coffee service or fellowship time following worship service during the initial re-opening.
· Offering Deposit – The offering collection will be counted in the fellowship hall. Two 8’ banquet tables will be placed in the fellowship hall on the windowed side. The tables will be 10’ apart and each table will have 1 chair at either end to maintain social distancing.
· Cleaning and disinfecting - All public restrooms will be disinfected following the service. All pews will be disinfected following the service.
· Space usage - To minimize the potential for contamination throughout the church and to minimize the cleaning and disinfecting process, only the sanctuary, fellowship hall, and restrooms will be available for use on Sundays. It is recommended that any space should be used only once per day if possible. If it is necessary to use a space twice in the same day then a period of 4 hours between meetings should be maintained to provide sufficient time for disinfecting as needed.
· On-Line services – Worship services will continue to be offered on-line for those who choose not to attend in person.
II. Use of Ancillary Spaces
Ancillary spaces include the choir room, youth room, library, classrooms, nursery, and kitchen.
To minimize the need for special cleaning and disinfecting during the covid-19 pandemic the use of ancillary spaces will be limited.
The only gatherings that will be allowed at this time are internal committee meetings and bible studies. Until further notice the fellowship hall will be the only space used for the meetings and bible studies.
· Attendance – Attendance is limited to no more than 25 people.
· Face coverings – Face coverings must be worn at all times.
· Social distancing – Social distancing is mandatory.
· Cleaning and disinfecting – It is the responsibility of the meeting coordinator to assure that all areas and surfaces that have been used and all touch points, ie door knobs, etc. will be disinfected after each meeting and before leaving the building. This includes the entry and foyer area. Cleaning products will be available within the hall.
· Scheduling – It is the responsibility of the activity coordinator to assure there is no more than one gathering scheduled at a time and that there is adequate time between meetings for the area to be disinfected.
III. Church Offices
Cleaning products will be placed in the pastor’s office and the administrative assistant’s office for disinfecting following the use of the offices.
IV. Food Pantry
This community effort will continue to function on Saturdays from 10am – 11am. We encourage minimal foot traffic within the building.
· Face coverings – Face coverings must be worn at all times.
· Social distancing – Social distancing is mandatory.
· Cleaning and disinfecting – The foyer area, entry, and restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected after the food pantry is closed each Saturday.
We discourage any use or entry into the church any time after the Saturday cleaning and disinfecting as it has been readied for Sunday morning worship service.
Pastor will take a vacation after Easter, April 5 -12. For pastoral emergency, you may call 442-6314. On April 11th, Charlene Patton will give you a testimony instead of the pastor's sermon.
A prayer for Healing After a Hate Crime
Our God and God of our ancestors,
Hate has been visited upon our community
Our sacred space has been violated.
We feel vulnerable, afraid, angry and broken.
God and God of our ancestors,
We pray to You:
May strength come from our vulnerability,
so we can support one another,
and receive the support of others with gratitude and humility.
May compassion come from our fear,
so we do not act from that fear,
and we can pursue justice not revenge, peace not more violence.
May wisdom come from our anger,
so we are able to see that an attack against us is an attack against all,
and we are able to join in common cause with those who are similarly oppressed and targeted.
And may healing come from our brokenness,
so we are able to rise from this challenge with renewed life, commitment and connection.
God and God of our ancestors,
In light of this act of violence and hatred,
We maintain our commitment to be shearit Yisrael, the remnant of Israel,
Continually upholding the teachings and traditions of Your covenant,
Pursuing righteousness and compassion,
Justice and mercy,
Peace and understanding,
Love and friendship.
May You frustrate those who seek to do harm
And uphold those who seek to do good.
May the shelter of Your peace spread over us and over all who dwell on earth.