Friday from First!
May 1, 2020
See Jesus. Show Jesus. Share Jesus.
Fourth Sunday of Easter - The Good Shepherd
The fourth Sunday of Eastertide always brings us to the tenth chapter of John's gospel, where Jesus describes himself as both 'good shepherd' and 'the gate' for the sheep. This week, you will hear a new song written by Michael Joncas (composer of "On Eagles' Wings"), inspired by the 23rd Psalm. You might remember we heard Psalm 23 on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, too. That was our first Sunday of online-only worship, and a lot has changed since March 22! As we get to the 'heart of the matter' this week, you will want to have a cup or small glass brim-full of water, and a bowl to set it in as we consider the abundance Christ offers us. "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).
Some of you have sent me photos of your hearts on display throughout this worship series, and I share these with everyone as a way to encourage you all. From Marilyn's heart stone displayed as she participated in online worship this week, to Linda and Louie's front windows, to Natalie's hand-drawn hearts and Sue's heart stones arranged around her burning candle, these are symbols of more than the way our hearts are being broken open. They also show how we are connected to each other in the Body of Christ, shining Christ's love into the world around us. Do you have a photo to share? Please send it to me by email or text. Let's encourage one another this way!
Bishop Ough Extends 'Online Worship Only' through May 30 Governor Walz extends 'stay home' order through May 18
We are developing new patterns of worship and discipleship through this time of loving one another by maintaining social distance from each other. How many of these new patterns will help shape the way we are the church once the pandemic has eased, and restrictions are lifted? Your Leadership Board will be considering this question and others next Thursday, as they meet via Zoom to begin the hard work of planning for re-opening. Would you please pray for them, and for Pastor Nick, as they work together to see God's vision for the future of First UMC New Ulm?
I am an optimistic realist, hoping for the best while strategizing for every other possibility as we move forward. But know this: we are moving forward. Things will never go 'back to the way they were.' It is okay to grieve this loss - I have shed more than a few tears this week myself, as I faced the reality that I may not get to say goodbye to you in person. However, my personal loss is nothing if it ensures your safety in the weeks and months to come.
More than likely, reopening the church will happen gradually, just as businesses will reopen gradually over the next few weeks. The most vulnerable among us will continue to stay at home until the virus has run its course, a vaccine is available, and enough people have developed natural antibodies from surviving the virus to create 'herd immunity'. Gatherings will be in small groups at first, and we will need to practice new protocols of maintaining distance, wearing masks, and keeping our hands clean. There are many details needing consideration before the church can reconvene for worship in person.
But this does not mean the church is closed. The church has been deployed! I've seen T-shirts giving a new twist to that famous Elvis Presley line: "the Church has left the building!" Let us live into our call to share with one another, provide for the needs of others, and encourage each other toward Christ-likeness. This is how the early church attracted people into its fellowship: they were generous in loving one another. So let's build one another up in love, and put away any fear or worry. God is with us! God is for us. The bishop shared this video with pastors this week. I hope you find it encouraging.
Graduating Senior Recognition May 17
Let’s have a parade to honor our graduates! Plan now to join us in a drive-by parade at 1PM on Sunday, May 17th. We will meet in the Library parking lot, then drive past each graduating senior’s house to cheer for them and bring them our good wishes for the future! Decorate your vehicle in Eagle purple and white! Let's make this a drive-by party they will always remember! Our four high school seniors are:
I’ll share a little about each of these amazing young women next week, and you will learn more about their plans for the future during worship on May 17th. Keep them in your prayers as they navigate this major life transition, and plan now to help us honor them on May 17th!
I'm praying for you, Church!
Pastor Jo Anne