April 2020
From the Pastor

I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the LORD, praise him!  All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!  For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him” (Psalm 22:22-24, NRSV).

 Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

This season of Lent has been like nothing I have experienced before.  From the onset of my Shingles diagnosis, I have felt the love and prayers of so many people.  I have also had moments of feeling isolated and feeling nothing more than the affliction that goes with Shingles.  Yet in the whirlwind of emotions, as I read this text as part of my devotions, I felt the comfort of God who loves me, and has made Himself known to me as I cried out.  “For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.”

Then added to my personal emotions;,  an unknown entity invaded our lives in the form of Covid-19 Coronavirus.  Many have often approached their journey in Lent as time in the wilderness.  But this now, is a time in the wilderness that is unfamiliar to all of us.  The season of Lent calls us to reflect on God’s deep love and desire to restore relationships with each of us. “For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.”   Through Lent, we journey with Jesus and his disciples as Jesus turns his eyes toward Jerusalem and the cross.  Holding on to that promise, and given the circumstances that we now live, this letter needs to take a different approach than any other letter I have written.

We now need to adapt ourselves with the news and how our community may or may not be changing.  When I first sat down to write this letter, it had a particular focus but within the time span of a day, we began to see how being church needed to change with our community.  As soon as I send this letter to be included in the newsletter for printing, I cannot help but wonder how much the world will change overnight.  So how do we adapt or respond?  We respond In prayer with wisdom and with caution.

In a letter that pastors received from Bishop Gonia, he said: “This time of social distancing – or better said, physical distancing – does NOT mean we are suspending being the church!  On the contrary, this means that we become church in new ways. It is ironic but true that the best of who we are as church has always flourished under adversity. How will this moment invite us to reframe who and why and how we are as Christ’s body for the life of the world?”

Throughout history, Christianity has grown the most when times were darkest. Our opportunity is this: people are social beings. We like getting together.  I have said MANY times over, God created us to be in relationship with Him and then with each other.  As many public events are suspended, we are granted the perfect opportunity to deepen our one-on-one relationship with God.  Spend more time in devotion and prayer.  First by yourself, then with someone you love. “For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.”

Then, as long as we are safe and healthy, these next few weeks might be a good time to invite a friend to play games, have a cup of coffee or just a chat at your house.  Just curious?  When was the last time you invited someone over just to play a board game?  Jesse and I took the time this weekend doing just that.  I had forgotten how much I love the game of checkers.  This could be a wonderful time to build or deepen relationships with family and friendships with your neighbors.

Bishop Gonia challenged pastors (I now challenge you) – to imagine new ways to be church for the life of the world.   Every Sunday, right before I send you with a blessing, I proclaim to you that “You are now being sent into God’s mission.”  Consider now, how is God calling you to be church in the community of those who you hold dear in your life?

One last word if I may:  Your continued financial giving is VERY important.  Regular, Faithful.  Please don’t put it off until we are able to gather once again.  Everything that we do as Church and as All Saints depends on our collective generosity.  Please consider mailing  your tithe.

Moving forward, in the midst of it all, we will care for one another, we will pray for one another and we will be Christ’s Church, better together!  Please know that I love you and I am praying with you and for you!

Servants together, Pr. Paul <><

p.s.  Did you know??  We have set up our own “reverse call” system in order to better communicate with you as a congregation.  Please don’t block or hang-up.  On behalf of the council, we will not abuse and overuse to become the despised “robo-call” that we all dislike.  We will use it for times like this to let you know that worship has been cancelled or to highlight a particular event in the congregation.  It is a wonderful tool to help us with communication for the sake of the congregation.  More on this soon.

p.s.s. - Did you know that Luther said. . . . ???  “Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.”