Friday from First! 3.6.2020
Second Sunday in Lent
9:30 AM Worship & KidsConnect!
“God didn't send the Son into the world to condemn it, but to save the world through him." – John 3:17
I love that the gospel readings for Lent this year give us Nicodemus at Night this week, and the Woman at the Well at Noon next week. I love that we hear these stories of polar opposites back to back. He's about as righteous as it gets, but he comes to Jesus under cover of darkness. Yet the woman of Samaria who's had five husbands (that's three strikes against her, if you count like a Pharisee) meets Jesus in broad daylight. What do they have in common? They both are looking for Messiah. Jesus has something life-changing to say to each of them. These two stories are so rich, I love hearing them again and again. Maybe Jesus has something life-changing to say to you, too. See you in church?
Coming to Our Senses in Lent
Wednesdays through April 1, 2020
5:30 PM supper
6:00 PM multigenerational worship
We bit into lemons to taste the sourness of our sin, and the sweetness of God's forgiveness on Wednesday. We heard how Jesus kept multiplying bread and fish until there was an abundance of food left over. We guessed how many women and children there might have been besides the 5000 men the disciples counted (12,000? 90,000? Who knows?).
And we shared the Bread and Cup around the table with each other, young and old.
We talked about what it means to fast - maybe from food for one day a week, but maybe there is something else that keeps us from spending time with God - social media? TV? some habit we'd like to break? Bruce and I agreed together to observe a 'Wesley Fast' - from sundown on Thursday to 3 pm Friday we'll be praying instead of eating. You are welcome to join us, if only for a week, to see how God might be more present in your life when you make a conscious effort to draw near to the Lord.
If you missed the first week of Coming to Our Senses, you can pick up a study sheet in the church lobby on Sunday, or follow this link. Next Wednesday, we'll explore the Sense of Touch and the healing of a young girl and an older woman. We'll consider how the sense of touch empowers us to serve. Here's the study sheet for March 11th
if you want a head start. Supper is at 5:30, and we will begin the worship/learning time a little after 6:00, or whenever it seems everyone has finished eating. We'll be done by 7:00. Come join us?
The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. - James 5:16
Keep praying at 5:16 every day, Church!
Holy and loving God, we ask your blessing on the pastor you are preparing to lead this church, starting in July! Give the new pastor courage and wisdom to lead well, and make us willing to follow where you lead us together, so that we can see Jesus, show Jesus, and share Jesus with the community of New Ulm. By your Holy Spirit, guide us as we grow in faith, making disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world. We ask these things in the strong name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Here's a prayer for those affected by the coronavirus outbreaks around the world, along with some other considerations as we respond to COVID-19:
Don’t panic, but prepare. Stay informed and thoughtfully consider how you might wisely prepare for this new public health reality. Our church will be sharing ideas for how to stay informed and prepared. Remember to talk about your questions, worries, and concerns with others, learn and adjust your activity as needed, but do not be overwhelmed or driven by fear or worry. Reject anxiety and racism even as there is growing concern and heightened awareness around the way this particular virus can spread. Know that the targeting of Chinese Americans, Asian Americans, and those who have traveled to Asia and more broadly is already occurring. This harms our church and our community. Speak out and pray against this reality and injustice intentionally. Proactively learn about what the risks are and are not at this point; remember that COVID-19 overall is not thought to be especially aggressive or deadly, although it does seem to be easily spread, stay on hard surfaces for a long time, and impact certain high risk populations who have already been advised to protect their health and exposure. Consider how these facts might impact you, your family, and your community. Keep an eye on how to care for those most at risk in this season, including those without access to health care, those with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions, those who are struggling with housing or poverty, or those without regular sanitization and health care. Watch out for and pray for those more vulnerable to public health concerns. Consider what might be needed in these communities and how to respond - donating sanitizer to your local homeless shelter, or calling and checking in on older congregants, etc. Practice smart hygiene and help prevent the spread of germs for the sake of the wider community and public health. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer with high alcohol content as a good second option. Clean public/hard surfaces you use more frequently, and at your church/public space. Refrain from touching your face or mouth regularly, and always wash your hands before eating. Stay home if you have a cough or a fever. Think about how to share concise and accurate health information with your church and a community to help people feel prepared. Consider wise and measured lifestyle adjustments - but still live! It is wise to pay attention to these health realities, especially when you are part of communal gatherings and in public spaces. There are some good resources out there now regarding church and individual/family adjustments that are recommended - share these widely to help normalize proactive and wide public health behaviors. Continue to listen to medical professionals and public health leaders so that we can accurately adjust behavior to match the risk and reality of our public health, and also reject any sense of panic, fear, racism, or stockpiling supplies, all of which damage public health in the long run. (from Rev. Liz Mosbo VerHage, a pastor at Quest Church, Seattle, Washington)
Sharing the peace of Christ during flu season has always been a challenge, but District Superintendent Fred Vanderwerf has a suggestion that you can view in this brief YouTube video. If you aren't into 'shaking feet' you might try 'shaking elbows.' And here's another idea: use sign language to say "peace be with you!" However you choose to greet one another with the peace of Christ, know that I'm praying for you, Church! See you Sunday!
- Pastor Jo Anne