June 24, 2020
On Tuesday evening, I was on a ministry review call and was asked a question: “What makes your heart sing? / What brings your heart joy?” The answer seemed hard to put into words at first for there were so many examples, so many feelings about how we come together as a faith family to serve the community and one another. How do you put being in community, seeing members and friends and neighbors coming together to love and support one another on our journeys into words? What’s that one story that describes it best?
As the Holy Spirit would have it, an hour or so after the call, something happened. That ‘something’ was the most amazing example of what makes my heart happy.
I received a phone call from a dear friend and member of our community who shared a story with me of how she had connected with another family member in our community, two people that really didn’t know one another well, however they made a connection and they had made the connection via our prayer page. They both had children who had serious medical issues, one mother had been through it for almost six years now, while the other mother was new to the health challenges her child was facing. As the story was being shared, my heart became overjoyed. Here is one mother who has found a commonality with another mother and is working to encourage a new mother and give her hope. This was it, the stories and advice and encouragement and offers of help from one to another. That’s it. That’s what gives my heart joy. To see people helping people, no boundaries of politics or beliefs or color of skin or any other dividing factors, just there to help one another on the journey together.
This is what gives my heart joy. To know what one parent has gone through, to know how she has received help and support and to see her freely diving in and sharing love and support to another mother, this is what God calls us to do. In the midst of adversity, in the midst of pain and struggles, God calls us to be kind and gentle and loving and grace-filled with one another. This is what makes the world a better place to be and live. This unrestrictive love and deep concern for others.
That is the answer! This is the story and stories like this that brings joy to my heart, that makes my heart sing!
For me, and the only way to describe it is, that’s the Holy Spirit coming through, in vulnerable places of fear and angst, the Holy Spirit enters the situation and leads us to find or share the light in the darkness, hope in times of anxiousness and love in the place of loneliness. To see and hear this happen for people in community. This is joy.
I would encourage you to look for joy this week, ask yourself the question, “what brings my heart joy?” And then keep your eyes and ears open and watch how the Holy Spirit moves around you and even through you.
And once again, I go back to the song I mentioned a few weeks ago. “Until Then” with the refrain: “Until then my heart will go on singing, Until then my life will carry on, Until the day my eyes behold the city, Until the day God calls me home.” Because as long as we are living this life, we have work to do, people to serve, love to share and grace to show. And until then, those things will always make your heart sing.
Until then, may you find joy in your heart, and often.
In grateful service,
In our prayers…
Would you join me in continued prayers for Tom Lanks, Tom is in rehab at the former Health South Geisinger Danville and hopes to be released to come home Friday. Please hold his lovely bride Priscilla Lanks in your prayers as she faces surgery today and will be meeting with the oncologist on Friday. The Lanks’ son, Eric, is here with them to assist in their care, so we give thanks for him. Additionally, Carolyn Wuerdeman will be having knee surgery today at Evangelical Hospital so we ask for prayers for her surgery and for fast healing. Please keep Mary Rose Knelly, Fred Greenawalt and Greyson Greenawalt Sauter in your prayers, as well as traveling mercies for Earl and Terry Fisher heading off on vacation. Please pray for one another as we seek to do what we can to love one another and show grace to all those we meet, in ways to intentionally make a difference in their lives. Continue to remember the families of all those impacted by the COVID-19 virus including our brothers and sisters at sister churches. Thank you for joining me in daily prayers for all those lifted up in our prayer list and for all those unspoken we hold in our hearts.
As we move forward, the Church is busy being the Church and planning and sharing in new and exciting ways to be Church. This week is no different with the Fresh Express Food Distribution Program, Virtual Vacation Bible School starting and soft openings as we invite one of our small groups to return to church.
Please note: beginning this Monday, we will begin offering a hybrid version of Monday Morning Preacher Bible Study. The group will gather online via Zoom AND for those of us who are well, in Fellowship Hall at the Church. We will be set up for Social Distance gathering, all who decide to take the option of meeting at the church will be welcomed (limit 10). Please reach out to Pastor Tim and let him know of your plans. You must sign in when you arrive and sign out when you leave. You will be asked to sanitize your hands upon entering, have your temperature taken and be asked to wear a mask during your time at the church. One restroom will be open for your use and you will be asked to sanitize going in and coming out.
I want to express a special thanks for all the love, support and grace as we move forward during this time. While we may not yet be ready to have everyone meet in person, we are going to begin some soft opening options for people to gather.
For our Confirmands, they will spend some time this Summer in “active duty” as we invite them in to ways of being the church and helping serve the broader community. We will gather and serve beginning with Fresh Express tomorrow, June 25.
For our Youth Grades 4-8, we will gather once a month, date and time to be determined awaiting family feedback.
For all, we are planning an Intergenerational Vacation Bible / Summer Sunday School that will take place the last Sunday evening of each of the next four months. Our first one starts this coming Sunday, June 28 at 6:30 p.m. in a local park setting with activities and lessons for the entire family, young and old. If you and your family are able to join us, please do, please invite others to a socially distance outdoor event.
Summer Fun events are also being planned include a Sunday evening hike, July 12 at Dale’s Ridge and an Outdoor Movie Night, Sunday, August 17, location TBD. Other Christian Education offerings this Summer will include Monday Morning Preacher Bible Study at 10:30 a.m. (in the style mentioned above) where we will dig a little deeper into Sunday’s texts, and our Midweek Musings and Theology, Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., will continue through the Summer. Our next book begins July 1, and will be: “Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism”. Please join us for this read and discussion as we continue our journey together. Books have been ordered and will be available at the office for pick up.
***New*** We are researching options for an outdoor church service. This will take place in a way to allow as many people to attend as possible and still social distance. The service will be held at a time other than 10:30 a.m. on Sunday as this time will continue to be reserved for our regular worship via Facebook LIVE.
If you have not joined St. Paul’s Prayers and Love Facebook Page, you are welcome to do so via Facebook and you may reach out to Jen Arnold to connect in this manner as well. This is a closed group where only members of the group may see your posts and prayer requests.
Finally, just another reminder, if you or your family have not updated your information in the new Church Directory via “CTRN Online” you may link to the directory via the church website, www.spuccwm.org and request your login authorization and update any information. We would also love to have you upload your favorite picture. Please call the office if you have questions. (570) 568-1433.
Please be good to yourself and kind to one another.
Above all know you are loved and grace covered and filled. May you find joy within and all around you.