Friday, March 20, 2020

This Sunday, we will be holding another online-only worship service, streamed live at 10 AM at live.asburylv.org. We encourage you to share this link with anyone who either doesn't have a church or who is part of a church without the ability to live stream. We had a great time of worship last week and enjoyed the interaction we could share together in the chat - what a great way of connecting with other worshippers!

This week's worship will feature music from the 9:30 Praise Team and the fourth message of the "When Pigs Fly" sermon series from Pastor Eric. Catch up on past messages at asburylv.org/whenpigsfly.

We know that some of you experienced difficulties with our live stream last Sunday. As you can imagine, the number of churches around the world who were streaming services online - and the people who were watching those streams rather than gathering physically - was multitudes more than normal; and because of that, our streaming provider - even with the extra efforts they made - still had trouble handling the increase in traffic as churches streamed from around the globe. There have been a number of steps taken over the past few days to attempt to provide worship free of technical interruptions:

* Our host is bringing additional resources online to provide the ability for more people to connect and receive church on Sunday.
* In response to a request from our streaming host to all of the churches that they serve, we've modified what we send them to help free up resources to allow more people to worship online. These changes should not negatively affect your ability to worship.
* We've re-introduced an audio-only option, which you can find at the bottom of the information on the "Notes" tab if you prefer to only listen to the service rather than watch.

Again, we ask for your patience in these unprecedented times. As we did last week, we will again be sharing a recording of the service in its entirety at some point on Sunday afternoon. When the service is available, we'll make the link available via email, social media, and at asburylv.org.

WEEKLY FRAMEWORK:
Just outside of Jerusalem, Jesus performed a miracle that changed a man's life forever. For 38 years, this man was unable to walk. But when Jesus said, "Get up," the man was healed. However, it's what Jesus said next that made this miracle a clear sign of who Jesus really was.

Friday's Devotional
Based on Pastor Eric's daily study guide

Countless things vie for our attention, but in a time of crisis, we are awakened to the things that actually deserve it.

The things that consumed your thought process last week are out-of-mind this week, either because of more pressing concerns or because what packed your schedule before now is postponed for the foreseeable future.

In a way - with the fears of the crisis notwithstanding - this might be a welcome break. On the other hand, for some this break from the norm provides a high level of anxiety in the absence of the familiar, if bustling, stasis. The things that we relied on to be there and to guide our schedule and thoughts, and to provide needed distraction, are suddenly absent.

Times like these force us to reevaluate where our focus lies. While what we had provided stability, was it really the correct thing to have relied on?

Jesus called out the religious leaders for this exact issue. They were consumed with a familiar way of thinking but missing the point. Their faith was in the wrong thing.

What are you putting your faith in? How can you reframe your situation to put your hope in Jesus?

For Reflection:
Has there ever been a time that your version of Christianity got in the way of loving people that God loves?

'Jesus wept': Finding God's comfort when times are bad

Sometimes, watching or reading the news can be depressing. We attempt to follow the biblical mandate to find and think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, and worthy of praise ( Philippians 4:8). The stories dominating the media, however, often make us sad, frustrated, or angry.

Additionally, we have personal struggles at home and work, with finances, relationships, illness, and so much more.

We turn to our faith for answers, but answers don't often come easily. There are mostly questions. What are people of faith to do in the midst of overwhelming tragedy and strife?

Continue reading at umc.org.



Previously shared study resources:
The Women Who Knew, produced by EPAUMC North District
Our God, Our Help in Ages Past video reflection from Bishop Peggy Johnson
Lenten Reflection from Bishop Peggy Johnson


As we wrap up the week, check out this video on forgiveness; and consider the following questions:

* When is it hard to forgive someone? What can keep us from forgiving someone?
* What are things people do when they hold a grudge?
* What have you learned that can help you to take the first step to forgive?
* How can knowing we are all created in God's image help you to forgive others?

PREVIOUSLY SHARED:
Print materals:

Video Lessons:

Asbury Church, March 20, 2020

God let us see Your light shining through the fog and the haze;
to remind us that even when the scene that is so familiar and comfortable is suddenly obscured
That You're still there;
That You're still here
Thank you for being a God who is bigger than our questions and doubts
Thank you for being a God who heals
Thank you for being a God who saves
Amen



A note on prayers: to respect confidentiality, we will not be sharing specific prayer requests via email; however our prayer team is still actively praying for every request that they receive. If you have a prayer request, send it to the prayer team at prayer@asburylv.org.


We want to encourage you during this time to continue to stay connected with others, particularly those who might need help - not just Asbury congregants, but neighbors and homebound friends. A phone call, email, or text is always a safe way to connect! Always be aware of your own safety and the safety of those you're helping!


We know that these stressful times have and will cause hardships for some in our community. The following groups, recommended by Asbury in Mission (AIM), have resources available for assistance if you or someone you know has a need:

Kingdom Life Family Center Food Bank
4333 Lime Kiln Rd, Orefield, PA 18069
1401 Linden Street ยท Allentown, PA 18102

AIM also reminds us that while volunteer opportunities are few due to the current crisis, our mission partners can still be supported financially. Learn more about all of our AIM mission partners at asburylv.org/aim.



Our Keep in Touch team is still striving to connect with those in our congregation who are sick or hospitalized, even in the absence of physical visits.  Members known to be hospitalized and/or sick and members who are visited monthly will be "visited" by phone. Say a special prayer of thanks for these individuals who help care for those among us who are ill!

We've had a 6% increase in those in our congregation who are giving online. We appreciate your continued support of Asbury through these unprecedented times. See the "Giving" section below for more information on giving, or go directly to asburylv.org/give to sign up to give now.



As we're sure you're aware by now, Governor Wolf mandated additional business closings yesterday. Religious organizations are currently still permitted to be open (and we agree that what God does in our lives is "life-giving"). Because of this, we will still be delivering our online-only, live-streamed worship service from the Sanctuary at 10 AM on Sunday. We're committed to continuing to provide worship each Sunday, even if we're not able to stream from the building, and we've been exploring many different options of doing so.

Asbury leadership continues to monitor the situation and examine new ways for us to continue to stay connected in the era of "social distancing".



Pocono Plateau has announced that all scheduled retreats and events through April. Summer camp registrations are still being accepted, but they, too, are monitoring the situation. Read their statement for more information.
Precautions related to the coronavirus will have an impact on our activities and gatherings. We recognize that they may also have a negative impact on our giving. Please continue to give and support our ministries as you are able. You can visit asburylv.org/give to give a one-time or recurring gift on PushPay, our online giving portal; or you can mail a check to the church.

Rev. Steve Morton, our District Superintendent, reminds us that "[we as] Christians GIVE not because of the church's need to receive... but because of OUR need to say "Thank You" to an amazingly-generous God - and in the midst of national crisis, that good news has not changed!"

Although our activities may be curtailed for a time, our fixed expenses for our ministries and building operations continue. Also, we value our staff, who will continue to be here to support you; and they will continue to be compensated in full. 

Thank you for your continued support!

Catch up on past announcements, devotionals, and resources at  asburylv.org/coronavirus .



All updates regarding Asbury's response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will also be shared at that page; as well as via email blast and on our social media feeds ( Facebook and Twitter).



Asbury's building is officially closed and has been deep cleaned. We are asking that no one enter the building until it reopens (at this point the target date is Sunday, March 29).



Please know that during the time that the office is closed, all calls to Asbury are being received by our answering service, as there is no one available in the office to take your call. Any messages you leave with the answering service are forwarded to us and we will relay your message to the appropriate staff member to respond to you as soon as possible.



Cancelled/Postponed Events
Include, but not limited to:
UMW Communion Breakfast
Children's Ministries' Communion Workshop
Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings
Men's Group Tour to Mack Museum
Reschedule dates (if applicable) will be communicated when available.
No physical meetings are being held at Asbury or off-site; but please check with your group/Circle leader to see if there are plans for your group to connect online.

Connect with us online
www.asburylv.org