In this time of high anxiety, I wanted to share a prayer from one of my favorite theologians, Soren Kierkegaard:
“Teach me, O God, not to torture myself, not to make a martyr out of myself through stifling reflection, but rather teach me to breathe deeply in faith.” 
May you breath deeply in faith.
 Soren Kierkegaard, The Prayers of Kierkegaard, Edited and with a New Interpretation of His Life and Thought (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1956), 36.
Yesterday, March 25, 2020, the Youth Group met together remotely via Zoom. Zoom is a service that allows for a group of up to 100 people to video conference via their computers, tablets, or phones. Those without internet access can call in from a touch-tone phone. The youth all had a good time and will meet this way while the COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Wendy Robinson is looking at doing the same thing with the children who normally attend Power and Light. Stay tuned.
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.
If you took the “This Holy Mystery” study on Holy Communion a while back, you might remember that there are certain specific requirements for celebrating Holy Communion and that some of these requirements cannot be met with online communion.
Well, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Following the lead of our Bishop, we’ll be celebrating communion via the livestream, not this Sunday (March 29, 2020), but the first Sunday of next month (April 5, 2020).
I’m giving you this heads up so that you can make arrangements for bread and grape juice, if possible. If you can’t make arrangements for bread and grape juice, then bread and water or crackers and water will work just fine. If you would like some delivered, let me know, and I’ll see what we can do. I plan to talk more about the theology and the logistics in this Sunday’s livestream and radio broadcast.
Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there will be no prayer vigil on Thursday this week (March 26, 2020). I do not anticipate the vigil beginning again until we can reopen the church office to the public. I would encourage participants to pray from their homes.
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/.
I’ve know Pastor Neil Gately since his beard was brown. He and his wife (and co-pastor), Bridget Gately pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Norfolk, Nebraska. They are doing a hymn of the day. In this case, he’s singing the hymn “When We Are Called to Sing Your Praise” to the tune “House of the Rising Sun.” The combination works exceptionally well.
We’re live streaming “The United Methodist Home Companion” this Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. You can watch via our facebook page, listen on KABI 1560 AM, or try going to bit.ly/3b6snWi. This new website will mirror the facebook live feed, but will do so on a webpage that is easier to get to (hopefully).
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.