This coming Sunday (April 5, 2020) is Palm/Passion Sunday. The United Methodist Home Companion will be led by Jenny Collins (Holy Communion) and John Collins (Preaching). In addition to the two of us, Angie Hoerner will accompany hymns on the Piano (recorded), Jason Vinduska will be reading scripture (recorded), and Anna Gugler and Carson Woodworth will be our special musical guests (also recorded). Liz Collins will be in the control booth. We hope you can join us via 1560 AM on your radio or Facebook Live via abilenefirstumc.org/live/.
Jenny and I weren’t planning on opening up the sanctuary for worship anytime soon, but we have now been asked by the Annual Conference to suspend all in-person worship and meetings until further notice. We’re happy to comply with that request. Part of the reason for doing so has to do with the first general rule authored by John Wesley for the people called Methodists: do no harm.
I’m happy to report that both Power & Light (the after-school program for children) and the Youth Group will be meeting today by Zoom. Jenny and I can arrange Zoom meetings for any other small group in the church as well. Please let us know if your group wants to give it a try.
Jenny and I have been concerned about someone in the church falling through the cracks during this crisis. We have therefore asked Clark Williamson to call everyone whose phone number appears in the church’s contacts directory. Be sure to let him know if there is something you need.
Correction: I corrected the spelling of Clark’s last name.
A theological reminder to everyone reading this blog (and also true of everyone who isn’t). You are of infinite worth in the eyes of God. God created you in God’s own image, the Holy Spirit breathed into you the breath of life, Jesus lived and died for you. The Father raised Jesus from the dead for you. Christ will come again for you. Stocks and bonds are of no value to God, but your value to God cannot be measured. You are beloved. You are priceless.
I’ll be absent from this blog tomorrow as I try to observe a Sabbath. I’m sharing this as a reminder to take care of yourselves in the midst of all that is going on with COVID-19. A stressed-out person is a person with a less effective immune system. I’ll continue to keep the church and all of you in my prayers and I would ask you to do the same.
An update on groceries. West’s Country Mart delivers (there is a charge), Zey’s does curbside, but we have a lot of young volunteers willing to do shopping for you (with free delivery). I would encourage those of you who are at risk to let other members of the congregation do your shopping for you and practice Christian service. I don’t want to put volunteers’ phone numbers here on the web, but if you contact Jenny or I we’ll put you in touch.
Because of COVID-19 and the subsequent prohibition on gatherings of more than ten people, the church will not be open tomorrow (Sunday, March 22, 2020). You can listen to “The United Methodist Home Companion” on KABI 1560 AM or listen and watch by following the links at https://abilenefirstumc.org/live/.
This is not a serious post, but I enjoyed it and wanted to share it with you. You may remember VeggieTales for their use of computer animation in telling biblical, and non-biblical, stories. Well, someone has repurposed a VeggieTales classic, “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill.” In this adaptation, the bananas have been replaced with hand sanitizer and the strawberries with toilet paper.
God calls us to share what we have. Thanks to all of you for your generosity.
One of my favorite Bible scholars, N. T. Wright, is offering a $150 Bible Study for free during this crisis. The study is title “Paul and His Letter to the Philippians.” I haven’t taken this one, but I have take another one that was excellent. If enough of you sign up we can work through it as a group. But for $0 it’s well worth trying it out on your own. I would love to know if you sign up.
Note: While N. T. Wright and I are of opposite minds on LGBTQ+ inclusion, he is brilliant and insightful and a reminder to me that I don’t have to be in complete agreement with someone in order to learn from them.
The Community Foundation has changed the location for Donate Dickinson County Matchday. Instead of the Elk’s Club, the event will be held at the Community Foundation office (418 NW Third Street, Abilene, Kansas) with no public gathering. The drive-through window will be available. You can also give online at http://www.donatedickinson.com or call the Community Foundation at 785-263-1863. The foundation will match all donations (up to $5,000).
The church office will be closed today (Tuesday, March 17, 2020) and tomorrow (Wednesday, March 18, 2020). Pam Simpson requested these two days off weeks ago. At present we intend to reopen the office on Thursday.