The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in one form or another. Numerous businesses have closed temporarily leaving many people out of work. In these tough times extra money can be a blessing. The US Census Bureau is offering temporary employment in Westmoreland Country for the 2020 Census. Check out the poster or contact Pastor Justin Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-594-4073 if you are interested in learning more about this job opportunity.
To Trafford and Manor UMCs,
How are all of you holding up? I have been praying for the church during this time. One of the big challenges of this physical isolation has been the difficulty of making plans. When I have spoken with people in the past about how things are going, it is not uncommon to hear, “It’s tough, but I am taking things one day at a time.” That phrase, one day at a time, seems like such a no-brainer. We are a people that cannot experience tomorrow today. We can only tackle the problems that are right before us. But I have recently realized just how much I lived in the future. Being a pastor requires trying to figure out what tomorrow will be. Planning worship services and meetings becomes a normal part of the routine. That routine seeps into everyday life. Planning an outing with my family, wanting to know the weather for the next 10 days, needing an itinerary for tomorrow.
We now live in a time where many of us are experiencing a less predictable future. Sunday is worship, Tuesday is council meeting, Wednesday is Bible Study, Thursday is Choir, and Friday is craft night. That was something I could count on most of the time. But now it is no longer reliable. I have been trying to plan our next gatherings, but it seems I have been doing more postponing than anything. That is the time we are in. I have no idea how long this is going to last. I thought I was a person that took things a day at a time. Not having a set schedule has been challenging.
I have found that God often speaks to me in the middle of my complaining. Our scripture today is from Romans 8:1-17. Paul is teaching the Romans about the power and glory of God as seen through Jesus. Early in this text he speaks of the hope God’s power brings to us in our lives, then moves into the responsibility that hope challenges us with. I got stuck on 8:6. It reminded me of a sermon I had heard last week from a church that was streaming their service. The pastor closed his message with a quote from Max Lucado, “Feed your fears and your faith will starve. Feed you faith and your fears will starve.” There was a certain immediacy about the quote. It spoke about the future, but as a ramification of what we are doing today. Romans 8:6 says it another way, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” I have been so hung up on the fact that I cannot make a decent plan for a future that I have no idea about, that I have been neglectful of today.
The truth is clear. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I am not sure if we will be able to gather in person on Palm Sunday or even on Easter Sunday. But we serve a God that is so much bigger than those days. We serve the God of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. I encourage all of us to do what we can this day to feed our faith, to set our mind on the Spirit. In doing this we will be ready for tomorrow, we will have what we need to worship the Lord wherever we may find ourselves. And we will have such a celebration when we can gather together once again. I look forward to that day. In the meantime, keep praying, reading, growing and connecting with God and one another.
I love you and miss you.
Pastor Justin Judy
This past week has been very new to me. I know I am not the most social person in the world, but not being able to see you, at least on Sunday, has been saddening to me. I miss yinz all. But we do this so we can protect one another during this pandemic. We do this out of love. Both Manor and Trinity have been using their phone trees to keep in touch and give announcements. I appreciate that we all have been taking advantage of the telephone and are holding each other in our prayers and having conversations as much as we can. Each church also has people willing to shop for those who may not be able to go out. We are all worshiping God through our service to one another.
Our scripture today is John 9. Please take a moment to read it. This is one of my very favorite stories from the book of John. Jesus’ encounter with the blind man starts with a teachable moment and a gesture of power and good will. The ancient’s thought that if someone was born blind then that must have been a punishment from God, either on the parents or on the boy himself. They questioned Jesus in this fashion. But as Jesus usually does, he redirects the attention to something more worthwhile. He says that instead of asking what went wrong, ask what is it that can be accomplished because of the way it is. Instead of seeing a potential punishment Jesus saw an opportunity to show the power and love of God.
This scripture challenges us to look at our present situation with a trust in the provisions and activity of God. We are often tempted to frame situations in a dichotomy; this is a good situation or that is a bad situation. We ask, who’s to blame? What went wrong? How awful are things? This can sometimes be helpful to learn what not to do in the future, but all too often we get hung up on these questions and get stuck. Jesus nudges us to the next steps of the journey with Him. He pushes us to find ways to serve God amid unfavorable happenings. In doing that we can praise God for moments of love, peace, and possibly even joy at times we thought we could find none.
The pandemic we find ourselves in the middle of is pretty bad. There is too much media coverage that seeks to lay blame. I am not sure how that is helpful when people are in need, afraid, and find it difficult to provide for themselves. The Church is called to show love for all those whom God loves and all those for whom Jesus died. That I think we can do. That is where our attention can be placed.
When the going gets tough, the church gets to loving. I understand this is not easy and can be scary. We have Christ encouraging us and giving us one another to rely on for strength. I thank God we are a part of a church that loves well. Let us not quit but keep on finding ways to share in the activity of God.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The coronavirus has touched the lives of almost each person in the world one way or another. This virus has entered each of the continents except for Antarctica. Many of us have watched some media outlet, tv or internet, and have watched as it started in China and moved to Iran, Italy, and South Korea. Each of these being the hardest hit.
My house has a special connection with Italy. My wife has been talking to several people whose lives have been placed on hold as the government has taken extreme measures to slow the spread of the virus. These countries are finding out that the hardest hit in the population are the older folks, 60 and over. As such it has been imperative that the hospitals remain ready to treat as many in that age group as possible. But choices must be made because of limited resources. If both a young person and an older person need the same treatment and there isn’t enough to go around the hospital will treat the younger person. Knowing this, many young people are self-isolating so they do not risk getting sick and taking a place that an older person may need. What we find in Italy is that the country is willing to go to extremes in order to take care of the more vulnerable.
This virus has scared many throughout the world. But it has also brought out the best in many. Our scripture is Romans 5:6-11. This scripture reminds us just how far Jesus was willing to go on our behalf. For many the fact of Jesus’ death for us is not a surprise anymore. This scripture shows that he did not die for his followers, but for all the world. The righteous and unrighteous alike, those in the know and those who were ignorant, the powerful and the powerless. All are sinners and through Jesus all can find forgiveness.
Though we cannot save souls as our Savior did, we can live in such a way to help provide love, safety, and peace for as many as possible. March 15 to March 22 we have cancelled all church related activities to try and protect those who serve with us as best as we can. But we have not truly cancelled church because WE are the church. Wherever we find ourselves, we can share God’s love with those we encounter.
Join us Saturday, April 11 from 10:30 to noon for Trinity’s annual indoor egg hunt. The egg hunt is open to children in the community. Registration is not mandatory, but it helps with preparation and planning. Click egg_hunt_registration_2020 to print a copy of the registration form. Deliver or mail completed registration forms to Trinity UMC, 407 Duquesne Ave, Trafford PA 15085.