I’m writing this because I fear there will be an ugly development in any possible Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic. That ugliness will be a fear that abandons rather than helps the afflicted. We’re already seeing this as cities go to court to block victims from being quarantined within their boundaries. I fear that this type of unchristian response will become even more contagious than the disease.
One of the things the ancient Christians were known for was their care of the sick. Indeed, Christians have done this throughout the ages, whenever and wherever we have been at our best. At our best, we have overcome our fear of sickness and death through our faith in the one who went through death and came out triumphant on the other side. The outbreak of Covid-19 is a chance for us to be at our best. That doesn’t mean we won’t take recommended precautions when visiting and caring for the sick, it will mean that we treat everyone who is afflicted as if they were a beloved member of our biological family. It means we will not fear monger—and that means we double-check that anything we share on facebook or other social networks comes from a reliable source.  It means we won’t stereotype and single out a particular group of people for having the disease. It means we won’t engage in NIMBYism  as some municipalities already have.
I would ask you to remember that, like the seasonal flu, not everyone who contracts Covid-19 dies. Also, I would remind you, that unless Jesus comes back sooner rather than later, we’re all going to die of something. (I’m hoping I’ll die of pneumonia, “the old man’s friend.”) I urge you to take heart in the knowledge that our Lord and Savior conquered death and we need not fear it. I urge you to hold fast to the faith. I urge you not to shun the afflicted. I urge you to visit and care for the sick if and when that is called for. In short I urge you to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to demonstrate your love for God by displaying your love for your neighbor in real and concrete ways. I urge you to hold me to the same standard.
 Dr. Brian Holmes recommends using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website: https://www.cdc.gov
 NIMBY means Not-in-my-back-yard.
Any donation made to the First United Methodist Church Endowed Fund at the Dickinson County Community Foundation will be matched on Friday, March 20, 2020. You can make your donation from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in person at The Elk’s Club or online at http://www.donatedickinson.com. If you want to give, but can’t make it to the Elks on Friday, March 20, feel free to put your check in the offering plate, or bring it by the office.
Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday (February 26, 2020). We’ll have two services. The first will be at 12:15 p.m. and the second will be at 5:45 p.m. The second service will include communion. Neither service should last more than 30 minutes.
Yesterday I lied (unintentionally) when I announced that we’ll be having communion every Sunday during Lent. Jenny and I will be taking a week and a Sunday off during Spring Break, that means there will not be communion on March 22, 2020. Sorry.
Any donation made to the First United Methodist Church Endowed Fund at the Dickinson County Community Foundation will be matched on Friday, March 20, 2020. You can make your donation from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in person at The Elk’s Club or online at http://www.donatedickinson.com. If you want to give, but can’t make it to the Elks on Friday, March 20, feel free to put your check in the offering plate, or bring it by the office before then.
“It is time to be loudly kind, to be obnoxiously compassionate, to be irritatingly loving. To say no to the corrosive power of contempt and to answer hatred with the strength of love. To stand up for each other. To refuse to return evil for evil and to say why that is. To have good courage and to proclaim that often. To be the strongly flavored salt we are and the beautifully bright light we are, not only on Sundays when we are all together, but even more importantly in all of those other quiet, normal times and places in our lives during the week. For being salt and light is not just what we are called to do. It is who we are. So let us live fully and loudly and publicly as who we are, for God will use our witness. And our world will change. We will be changed. That is our promise. That is our truth. Amen.” — Shannon J. Kershner 
 Kershner, Shannon J. “Adding and Shining.” Fourth Presbyterian Church, February 9, 2020. https://www.fourthchurch.org.
The deadline to apply for First United Methodist Church Scholarships for the 2020-2021 Academic Year is April 8, 2020. Applications can be found at abilenefirstumc.org/downloads/.
Received from Joan Anderson, USD 435 Board Clerk:
“Thank you so much for the hats, gloves, socks, and underwear that were donated to our district for our students. I never would have thought of socks and underwear, but they were the first things to go. Your kindness and generosity is greatly appreciated. On behalf of the USD 435 Board of Education, staff, and students, THANK YOU!”
Mary Jones has died. On Thursday, February 20, 2020, there will be a visitation in the narthex at 9:30 a.m. and a Service of Death and Resurrection in the sanctuary at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow at Abilene Cemetery. Many of you have fond memories of Mary, and I would love to read about them. Drop me a line at email@example.com.
The Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) is looking to hire a Parish Visitor as Pastor Jenny Collins moves to become a District Superintendent. This will be a paid position of fewer than eight hours per week directly under the pastor’s supervision. You may submit your name (and, if you want, a brief statement of interest) to John Collins or Stacy Gonzales by Wednesday, February 26, 2020. The SPRC will consider applicants at their regular meeting on Monday, March 2, 2020.
The Board of Trustees encourages able-bodied members to park further away from the church on Sunday mornings. This way those who have difficulty getting around will be able to park in the front row.
Update: This also has the effect of leaving a space close to the building for first-time visitors and guests.
The work of salvation, in its full sense, is (1) about whole human beings, not merely souls; (2) about the present, not simply the future; and (3) about what God does through us, not merely what God does in and for us. If we can get this straight, we will rediscover the historic basis for the full-orbed mission of the church.— N. T. Wright 
We need to get this right for our own sake, for the sake of the church, and for the sake of the world. When they founded the Methodist movement, John and Charles Wesley got this right.
 N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 200.