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The Connection

A weekly newsletter from United Methodist Church of Lenox
A NOTE FROM THE PASTOR

                                  Today’s prayer

Inspired by Isaiah 40:9
 
Get up to a high mountain!
Be the herald of good tidings.
Lift up your voice with strength.
Be the herald of good tidings.
Lift up your voice.
Do not fear.
Be the herald of good tidings.
 
Sheri Smith, Deacon: Art, Faith, & Nature Network; Green Mountain District
 
Inspired by Mark 1:1-8
Thank you God
for modern day communication,
for pets,
for toys,
for food,
for clean, running water,
for toilet paper,
for clothing,
for art supplies,
for trees and plants that give us oxygen,
and for family.

 Taylor and Rose Smith, youth, Lebanon UMC, Lebanon NH

Together in Christ December 2020

Beloved in Christ:
 
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
One of the pressing questions people have been asking me since the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic is if I think we are in the end times. Of course, this is not the first time I have heard this; people have been asking this question for centuries. I remember a day during my elementary school years in India when students heard people saying that none of us would be in school the next day because the end of the world was occurring that night. Though we all hunkered down in our houses, nothing happened that night, and we were all back in school the next day.
 
In Sunday’s lectionary gospel passage, Mark 13: 24-37, we hear Jesus talking about the revelation of the end times. Describing those days and signs to come, Jesus says that no one, not even he, knows when that will occur. Only God knows such things.
 
During St. Paul's ministry, when some Thessalonians believed they should quit their jobs and remain idle in anticipation of Christ's coming, Paul answered their concerns saying, "For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work." (II Thessalonians 3:10-11). 
 
Throughout history, questions related to end times have been asked of reformer Martin Luther, Bible translator John Wycliffe, founder of Methodism John Wesley, and others. To put it simply, the second coming of Jesus will be a Kairos moment (meaning God's time), not a Chronos moment (according to a human timetable).
 
Does this mean that, as Christians, we should not worry? As Jesus explained, we must take it seriously and as Eugene Peterson paraphrased the words of Jesus, "Stay at your post. Keep watch!" (Mark 13:37).
 
“Stay at your post. Keep watch!" What do these sentences mean to us? Though this question can be looked at from different angles, it reminds me of the words of famous theologian Karl Barth, who said, "Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible."
 
As Christians, it is our bounden duty to make sure we are deeply grounded in Scripture. We are called to engage our Bibles with deep serious theological and contextual study. 
 
Doing so gives us the solid foundation needed to interpret and reinterpret what we read in the newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. As United Methodists, we need to consider to examine all information and topics, by using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral* of Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience.
 
During my final year at United Theological College, Bangalore, in southern India, a bright and gifted student died of hydrophobia. Since he was from the northeastern part of India, he did not have relatives in the area, so another student and I were by his bedside when he died.
 
I had to share the news of his death with our principal, Rev. Dr. J. R. Chandran. A few days later, I confided with Dr. Chandran, that I did not understand why God would take the life of such a bright young person. I will never forget the words Dr. Chandran said, "Sudarshan, do not blame God. God had no part in it.”
 
He went on to say, “The person knew he had to take proper treatment and get a rabies shot when a dog licked his open wound. As a result of his irresponsibility, he died." These words really opened my eyes and made me confess how literally I was interpreting Scripture.
 
So, friends, what does it mean to us as Christians when we hear, "Stay at your post.  Keep watch!" in the midst of challenges such as COVID-19? What does it mean when we hear of happenings in society such as, but not limited to, racism, selfishness, hatred, neglect of the poor, victimization, and marginalization? 
 
My answer would be that the actual moment of Christ's second coming does not matter. What does matter is if we are reading the signs of the times and interpreting them with our own biases and self-interpretation of the Scriptures without serious Biblical study and theological depth. Are we aware of what Methodists mean when we talk about our doctrinal and theological understandings?
 
During a church conference at the beginning of my ministry, my district superintendent asked the Church school superintendent why they were using a particular brand of educational materials that did not reflect Wesleyan theology. The superintendent replied that it was easy to follow. 
 
The district superintendent explained that as United Methodists, we have a understanding of theology and need to teach our children what we stand for as United Methodists. I was very appreciative of his ability to use that situation as a teaching moment, so we are faithful in interpreting to others what we stand for as United Methodists.
 
As I write this letter, I hear all kinds of advertising of Christmas sales. We are encouraged to pay attention and stay tuned for upcoming bargains. As Christians, we are challenged to stay at our post and to keep watch for something different: the children in our neighborhoods who are hungry, parents who are struggling to help their children with online education, and those worry whether they will have a place to stay tonight. 
 
If COVID-19 continues to spread, we may be looking at continuing to wear masks, to maintain physical distance, to take hygienic precautions, and even to decide not to worship as a community for the sake of protecting the vulnerable among us for quite some time to come. It is important we do these things not as a political statement, but as loving, responsible, and discerning Christians,  who examine ourselves prayerfully and scripturally.
 
Those who among us who are  financially able  and with all the facilities of life,  need to look at our own resources and ask what it means to “Stay at your post. Keep watch!" We should discern how we can help those in our churches, communities, nation, and world who are in need. 
 
As we stay at our post and keep watch and as we light the candles of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, may we pray, sing, and exhibit these words from a Taizé song through our actions:
 
            "Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.
             Wait for the Lord: keep watch, take heart!"**
 
As I am finishing this letter, the Nov. 29 Daily Prayer during this COVID-19 crisis appeared on my computer screen. Rev. Lynn Mentzer composed it for us so beautifully. May we use this prayer regularly during this Advent season.
 
Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and prayerful Advent season.
 
In Christ's love,




Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar

Closing the in-person worship service Temporarily

The church council at the United Methodist Church of Lenox makes tough decisions again to keep all the congregation safe, especially related to the holidays.
We are going to close the in-person worship service temporarily and after a few weeks incubation period we will see if infection rates increase or stabilize in the local area, and we can revisit the decision. We hope to see you all on Zoom this Sunday!!

Second Sunday of Advent and Virtual Communion at 10am

On the first Sunday of December, we are going to have a Virtual Communion during the worship service. For the Virtual Communion, if possible, you may prepare the bread and the grape juice in your home to join breaking bread and drinking juice together as one body of Christ. 

Worship cannot begin and end in the sanctuary or online stream. It has to grow out of real needs in the lives of the worshipers and the communities in which they live, and then it has to feed out into those communities, even as it continues to work on those who shared the worship experience. Let it begin with the lighting of the Advent wreath. Communicate that the light isn’t to be kept inside only for those gathered in person or online. But it is hoped that this flame will bring light to the whole world. Because we are the ones who know that company’s coming.

If you visit the link below or dial this number by your phone, you can join the worship service at 10am

*Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/5827712073
 

Meeting ID: 582 771 2073
Password: 298223

*Dial by your location
        +1 646 558 8656 US 

Meeting ID: 582 771 2073 






These pictures were taken from last Sunday worship service via Zoom. Thanks to our musicians Tom Cairns and Tom Giovanetti. Also thanks to our technicians Geoff Simpson and Carl Olson who worked on the camera and zoom. Without their support and dedication, this worship would be impossible

Weekly Church Calendar

 

* Wed (2nd) morning bible study at 10am

* Thursday(3rd) at 6:30pm, Hospitality Committee Meeting

* Book study following the Sunday worship service at 11:15am

 

If you like to join us anything above, you may use the same link above for the worship service.






 

 Wreath Decorating with Youth Group
 

 Youth group ( Lisa Turner's grandchildren) was decorating the wreath at the church to be ready for sale!!

 Thank you for their talents and commitment.




Arts and Faith: Virtual Advent Gathering for 4 weeks of December
               

 

During the four weeks of Advent, we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth through prayer and reflection. We contemplate the First Coming of Jesus as Savior, and anticipate his promised Second Coming. And amid the flurry of Christmas preparations, we look for practical ways to observe the holiness of the season in our everyday lives.

Ignatian contemplation and reflective prayer encourage us in the season of Advent. 
We will Enjoy video commentary about works of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures of Advent. Use videos to take a new look at this season of preparation through the lens of sacred art. Accompanying reflections on using the art as a means of Ignatian prayer and we will share our own reflections together.


If you are an artistic person who likes  to appreciate artwork, you will love this group!
 Next gathering will be held on Tuesday evening at 6:30pm


*2 week- Dec 8th: The video and prayer for the Second Week of Advent, Cycle B, is based on Mark 1:1–8. The art is Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s St. John the Baptist Preaching.

*3 week- Dec 15th:  The video and prayer for the Third Week of Advent, Cycle B, is based on John 1:6–8, 19–28. The art is Saint John the Baptist Preaching by Anton Raphael Mengs.

 

*4 week- Dec 22nd : The video and prayer for the Fourth Week of Advent, Cycle B, are based on Luke 1:26–38. The art is John Collier’s The Annunciation.


You will join us via Zoom and you may use the same link used for the worship service. If you like to join this 4 weeks session, please Contact the pastor.
(442-6314 / lenoxumc@gmail.com)

Christmas Eve Worship Service at 6pm via Zoom

Although Christmas Services may look and feel different this year it's important to stay connected each other.  It's more important now during these uncertain times that we need to feel connected with our church community. 

Gratefully, the Bishop and Cabinet with local churches will offer the virtual worship service to celebrate Christmas Eve. Thankfully, the service is shaping up to be a wonderful telling of the holy story and celebration of the gift of the Christ child.  There will be a variety of music played by clergy and parishioners. 

so we will enjoy it together via Zoom by lighting the candle together at our own places. If possible, I encourage you to wear the red outfit or accessories and so on for the worship service.

Urgent Prayer Request

*Shirley perkins ( correction to sunday prayer) :  ask prayers for my good friend Deana Fitch's mom.  Elaine Folan is in Kimball Farms and has COVID. 

 

*Laurie Sturma: Cathy Myer went to the hospital by ambulance last night. She fell. I will keep you posted when I learn something. Ask for prayers for a diagnosis. Thanks.

 

* Ann Tricca :  Angelo is still having difficulty with his stomach, pneumonia, and breathing.  als asking prayer for My sister, Carol, has covid and was taken to BMC by ambulance.  She is in intensive care and on a ventilator. 

Lets take a moment to say Happy Birthday to our Pastor Nami! She is the person that spreads the hope and the spirit of the lord so let's spead the cheer by saying Happy Birthday in our prayes or by call or by card. We all hope you have a beautiful birthday. May all your wishes come true through the spirit within you!
                  

Covid-19 In Our Communities: Update 12/4/20


According to the Tri Town Health Department’s report, Lenox was categorized as high-risk on 11/27/20 and has remained RED for two consecutive weeks. They are asking everyone and their teams to remain vigilant in their efforts to minimize the spread. This report affirms closing the in-person worship was appropriate decision after Thanksgiving. We encourage everyone to stay safe and follow the guidelines well to protect one another. Double check the Sector Specific Protocols to be sure you are up to date on the most current guidelines and best practices. Thanks
 
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United Methodist Church of Lenox, 6 Holmes Road, Lenox, MA 01240, 413-445-5918
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United Methodist Church of Lenox · 6 Holmes Road · Lenox, MA 01240 · USA

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