Prosser UMC

Prosser UMC
Please Join us for Sunday Morning Worship, 10:00 AM at 824 6th St, Prosser, WA 99350

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Note from Bo

“Be not afraid.”
These words are not just a minor part of a few Christmas stories.  They run throughout the Bible, as God, Jesus, and angels try to reassure the people of God.  God addresses the fears of Abram (Genesis 15), Moses (Exodus 3), and Elijah (I Kings 19).  Jesus seeks to calm the fears of his disciples when they see him walking on water (Matthew 14:27, Mark 6:50, John 6:20), and when they first see him after the resurrection in Luke and John.  Angels use these words to begin their announcements to Zechariah (John the Baptist’s dad), Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds in the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke, and to the women at the tomb in Matthew and Mark.  Humans being afraid, and God responding “Be not afraid,” is more a consistent theme in the Bible than a single incident.
This phrase is about more than reassurance, though.  It is also a request for trust.  God, Jesus, and the angels do not change the perceived danger, scariness, or anxiety in the situation.  They simply say “Be not afraid” in spite of the continuation of the experience.  God desires our trust in all manner of times, places, and events.
There are a lot of things we can fear about our current situation.  We have begun a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” way of living for the next few weeks, which means our office will now be closed.  Our bishop has extended the cancellation of worship services, meetings, and gatherings until the end of April (see message below).  This continues to be new territory for us.  We worry about getting the virus.  We worry about friends and neighbors.  We wonder what life will be like in these conditions, and what further changes may be ahead.  We wonder when things will return to “normal,” and what the effect will be on people, businesses, our church, and our community.  We wonder what we can do about any of this.
Be not afraid.  Trust in God.  That doesn’t mean expect a miraculous end to the situation, although with God anything can happen.  It means that no matter what happens, know that God is with you.  Let the knowledge of God’s presence bring you peace.  Let that peace calm your heart and mind.  Let that calmness guide your thoughts and prayers.  Then you will know what you can do.
To put it in terms of our church membership vows, we can still find ways to be in service and to witness to those around us.  I mentioned phone calls last week.  Keeping in touch with others will help us as well as them. Maintaining physical distance from others when we’re at the store shows respect for them.  Making soup available for people to pick up helps our community.  You may think of more ways to be in service or witness.
We can also continue to support our church through our gifts, even if we aren’t taking up an offering on Sunday mornings.  They can be mailed to the church, or you can set up payment with your bank on-line.  If you have questions about how to do that, you can give me a call.
As I also wrote last week, we can continue to support ourselves, our families, our church community, and the world through our prayers.  And, although we cannot gather together in person, we can be present in spirit with our church family simply by thinking of them.
Be not afraid.  It is in God that we trust.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Note from Bo

When I was talking with you in worship a few weeks ago about the tradition of giving something up for Lent, I doubt many of us were thinking about giving up church services.  Yet here we are, approaching our second consecutive Sunday of not worshiping together, not having coffee hour afterwards.  It seems so strange!  And it’s likely to continue until after Easter (see our bishop’s message, below).  Like you, I will continue to miss the experiences of Sunday morning together, and I wonder how to fill the void.

We will miss the greetings, the being together, the singing, the liturgies, the talking, the listening, the sharing, the holding hands, the feeling of being in God’s presence with each other, the blessings of each other’s grace.  We will miss the smell of food and coffee, the conversations, sitting at table with friends we’ve known for decades or just under a year, cleaning up together.  Somehow, watching a video of a worship service just can’t replace the experience of being there.
Yet we also know it is what we must give up to protect our own health, the health of each other, and the health of our community.  So we must look for other ways to at least partially fill the void of not being together on Sundays.

We can seek to place ourselves in the presence of God in our own homes, through prayer, reading the Bible, using devotionals like the Upper Room sent out each day.  With the nice weather recently, and likely to continue in the coming weeks, it’s a good time to get out into God’s creation, cleaning up the yard, getting the garden planted, sitting in the sun to warm our bodies, setting up bird feeders, watching nature, and more.  You are welcome to come and sit in the sanctuary, to pray, sing a hymn (Donna and I promise not to listen in), watch the sunlight come through our stained-glass windows, read, or just sit and imagine all the saints who have worshiped God in that space during the past 100 years.

We can practice physical distancing and social connecting at the same time by reviving the old practice of chatting on the phone.  We’ve made our lives so busy that we tend to only use our phones for asking a quick question, or for setting up a time to meet in person.  There are so many ways we can use our phones to connect with each other nowadays and keep up on the news, whether it’s by video, text, or just a plain old-fashioned chat.

We are a church family.  Perhaps this is a good time for us to learn how many other ways there are for us to be family, a family in God, that will stay with us beyond this short time of physical separation.

Local Church Responses to COVID-19

Saturday, March 14, 2020

No Church March 15 & 22

Out of an abundance of caution, and in the hope of slowing the spread of the Covid 19 virus, our bishop has advised United Methodist churches to not gather for worship the next 2 Sundays-March 15 and 22.  The condition of the pandemic will determine how soon after the 22nd worship services will resume.

Pastoral letter: New Coronavirus guidelines call for suspending worship

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for faith communities: