Music & Hope...(from Russ Wynn, Jr.)
August 19, 2020
Dear Church Family,
To say I am blessed to be in ministry with wonderful people is an understatement. One of the many blessings I receive is to get to serve with our Minister of Music, Russ Wynn. This past week, Russ sent out an email to the Chancel Choir about special music and soloists, however before he got to the part of the email that was about asking for musicians, he wrote a beautiful devotion of encouragement, which I want to share with you this week. Russ is so much more than our organist or “music person” or “Director of Music” - he is a part of our ministry team and that blesses my heart. I pray his note will bless yours as much as it did mine. Thank you, Russ! Here is his entire email (including the part where he asks for soloist or special music, because I thought well maybe someone seeing this might offer to participate):
So. Here it is August 15....Pa. shut down for Covid began March 17. Pa. Stay at home order went into effect April 1st. Since then, we have had mandates and restrictions put in place, and lifted, and put in place again! And we're still struggling to find what we can and can't do...even on a daily basis. It's frustrating. It's maddening. Everyone has an opinion, (and is not afraid to share it!), which only adds to the frustration...and sadly, the divide.
It's very easy to relate to the Israelites in Psalm 137, "Alongside Babylon's rivers we sat on the banks; we cried and cried, remembering the good old days in Zion. Alongside the quaking aspens we stacked our uplayed harps; that's where our captors demanded songs, sarcastic and mocking:"Sing us a happy Zion song!"
Oh, how could we ever sing God's song in this wasteland?"
I love comparing translations...this one being the NIV. One of my favorites is the Message. But I was looking in an old book I had from college called "Psalms Now" by Leslie Brandt. He takes the Psalms and gives them a more contemporary feel and wording...meaningful to today (1973!!) In it, this Psalm becomes somewhat prophetic:
"How grateful we are, O God, for this great country, for the blessings you lavish upon our land!
How concerned we are, O God, that our very nation may become our god, and that we worship the gifts rather than the giver!"
But, as is often stated in the Bible..."Fear not!"...because immediately following, in Psalm 138 we read, "I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the "gods" I will sing your praise. I will bow down towards your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness..."
In the midst of sorrow, in the midst of confusion, in the midst of uncertainty, in the midst of anger, in the midst of hate, in the midst of our own selves...."Sing and Praise His name for His UNFAILING love"!! Is there anything greater? Is there anything we should focus on more? God loves us, and His love IS UNFAILING! Remember that when someone has an opinion different than yours. Remember that when you think we should be gathering as others are doing. Remember that when you are confused, lonely, and ready to just give in. God's love...FOR YOU...is unfailing! Never-ending! Forever! (Oh, and that person you are disagreeing with? God loves them the same way!)
So, I say all this to say...be encouraged! Can I give you a date when we will all gather again? No. Can I tell you when it will be safe to sing together again? No. But I can tell you, I will always err on the side of caution for when to start choir again...because I do love you, and care about each of you, and don't want to put any of you at risk. (And my love is very human, failing at times, forgetting at times. But it's OK...because God's got this...and His love will never fail!)
At any rate...I do miss you! I miss our times together...and the music and worship we create together. I am SO appreciative of those who have offered to use your talents for special music on Sunday mornings. You have truly enhanced our online worship.
BUT...we are not done, and I still need your help! I would like to have music scheduled at least a month out...and right now I have THIS Sunday covered...then that's it!! So....those of you who have sung or played...we still need you! Those of you who don't do the "solo thing"...maybe you know someone who could come share with us.
Please, please, please help me get music scheduled up through the end of September! (And beyond is ok too!)
Please get back to me with your name and a date you would be available....or someone you know would be available! You can do one or two numbers per service...your choice!
Hope to hear from MANY of you REAL SOON!!!
In His Grip,
See what I mean…to be in ministry with Russ, we are truly blessed. Thank you God and thank you Russ for your gifts, talents, words of encouragement and ministry you share.
Peace and Blessings,
In our daily prayers…
I opened the paper this morning to discover the headline telling us that 13 patients at the Milton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center have died over the past week. The article went on to say there were 73 resident cases and 36 staff members who have tested positive for the virus at the Center. I know there are so many who are hurting and so much on our hearts to pray for, would you join me in adding all these families and those impacted through this facility in our prayers? Additionally, I, too, want to ask you to continue to remember Fred and Tess Groover. Fred is now at home resting; remember Paula and Eileen both fighting medical battles as well as Eric Powell. There are many to be in prayer for and I believe prayer brings us closer to the one we follow, so I ask you to join me in prayer for the known and unknown requests.
Please, if you are able and would be willing, add prayer concerns to our private Facebook Group, St. Paul’s UCC Love and Prayers Page. If you are not a member you may ask to join via the group page. We have 86 members and friends there that receive notices of prayer posts and offer a powerful way to stay connected through prayer in our faith community.
Announcements, announcements, announcements…
Coming in September! A new family style Sunday School / Devotion, the Adult Sunday School hour returns, and mission opportunities to help our neighbors. Stay tuned, there is something for everyone!
Coming in October! A very special celebration for our 120th Anniversary! We will welcome Rev. Dr. Carrie Call who will be bringing the message to Saint Paul’s on October 4 and, of course, have some great special music as we explore ways for everyone to participate in this wonderful celebration! Watch for announcements of how you can help be a part of this great day!
Adult size new (unlaundered) wash cloths needed. The Penn Central Conference of the UCC is collecting adult size, new (unlaundered) wash cloths to be used as a part of hygiene kits being put together by Mission Central in Mechanicsburg. Each Association is gathering items. Our Central Association has been asked for wash cloths. If you would like to donate wash cloths please contact the church office or drop them by the church office by today’s 3 p.m. deadline!
Monday Morning Preacher, 10:30 a.m. each Monday. We gather via Zoom and all are welcome to this Monday morning Bible Study. Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5705681433
Midweek Musings and Theology, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, continues through the Summer. “Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism”. Please contact the church office to get a book and learn more. We move into Chapter 3 this evening. Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5705681433
What’s your sign? Saint Paul’s Yard Signs are here! Yard signs are available at the church during office hours. Help us spread the word “Welcome home to…Saint Paul’s…Welcoming Saints and Sinners since 1900” (and they include our web address).
Please note: Following approved Church guidelines, established by the Consistory, we ask that if you are coming to the church, you sign-in and wear a mask, your temperature will also be taken.
Ways to connect to worship:
Join us LIVE on Facebook or on YouTube for worship every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. We are now broadcasting live to both platforms Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Aren't sure how to subscribe and get connected on YouTube? Contact the church office for details or just click on the button via our website at www.spuccwm.org. See step by step instructions below.
Not been on YouTube or not a subscriber? While you don’t have to subscribe to watch via YouTube, you can if you’d like. The more subscribers the church has the better opportunity we have to reach out.
Here’s what to do:
1. Go to the church website www.spuccwm.org.
2. Click on the YouTube “Come join us live.”
3. If you are watching us via YouTube and you are willing or want to subscribe to our “channel” click on the “Subscribe” button below the video.
4. If you have questions, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Geri will get the question to the right person to help.
For questions or suggestions as to how we can better serve you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are continually trying to improve our online offerings and appreciate, very much your support and help.
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May grace, hope, peace and love abound.