The Chimes Newsletter
                                         
    
Federated Church of Ashland 
118 Main Street 
Ashland, MA 01721-3112
  
                                                            
~ April 2020 ~
   
A Prayer for Today ...
   
O God of Peace, you have taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; by the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you, to your presence, where we may be still, and know that you are God.   Amen
  
Dearest Sisters and Brothers at FCOA,
  
I wrote the letter below to you all just over a week ago--in some ways it seems like a thousand years--but what I wrote then still seems to hold true in terms of our relationship to the coming of Good Friday, and how we might concretely cope in the moment now. As I write, the death toll from the Corona virus rises, and our state and the nation prepare for yet more cases and sadly more deaths. We are rapidly approaching that place where almost all of us will know someone who knows someone lost to this death dealing virus, and my family is no exception......I do believe this faith community has the faith and strength to hold Good Friday and Easter together, and not let go of the heart of our faith--the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  
I will be writing an Easter letter in addition to what Pam is wonderfully preparing to send out closer to the time, but I want to re-share the following:       

A Story for you all:

A week ago, when I opened the church for food donations, I went through the Sanctuary on my way to the Narthex, and as I was going down the center aisle, I saw something on the floor. When I bent down to pick it up, I discovered a single blue crayon-exactly in the spot where Heidi and Dave always sit with Aidan and Leah--my heart almost burst with joy--it was as if Easter had flooded me, with hope and promise and the certain presence of God with us--in all things....

There have been so many moments in this uncertain time when I have been certain God is speaking, not only to us, but through us to a frightened and almost hopeless world. I think if any of you had found a little blue crayon in exactly that spot you too couldn't help but smile, recalling two beautiful children who are not only brother and sister but also best friends--children who miss being in our circle at church as much as we miss being in church together, children who are doing church at home, Mom tells me--continuing to be God's community where they are.

You are being God's community where YOU are. Some of you have scouted water and toilet paper for others, some have made property repairs and continued to pay our bills, some continue to be called out to work, while others are working from home with ALL the challenges THAT can bring!?. People are reaching both within themselves for strength to get through these difficult days, people are also reaching out to family, friends and neighbors to see how they are, and what bits of good news and yes humor! they can also share.

A few concrete things we can consider--FCOA's Survival Guide for Challenging Times!

Love Your Neighbor: Wash Your Hands Properly and Wave!

Wear bright colors--and makeup and jewelry if that's your style--even if you are not going out--color, like music, can positively alter our perceptions of the world.

Limit your intake of news each day, and listen to only credible health resources such as the CDC, state and local government sources--there is still so much to know, understand, and utilize in the fight against the Corona virus. The experts are not God; they are using God given gifts to try to work for the health of all.

Get outside in your yard a little each day--notice what is changing, beginning to come up and grow green--worship God in the beauty of God's Creation. 

Before you even get out of bed each day, close your eyes again and think of something, however small, you can give thanks for. Try finding something else to give thanks for each time you wash your hands--the practice of gratitude does in fact crack open our deepest anxieties and fears--and will help us take our next steps into the challenges of the day.

Offer thanks to someone(s) you come across in the course of your day--the young grocery clerk, the postal carrier,  your spouse, child, or grandchild--and if you don't see anyone in the course of a day, call someone, or write them a note--this is guaranteed to lift OUR spirits!

Get connected to what others are doing around the globe and in your own backyard to make the world a brighter, less anxious place--then share good stuff--YoYo Ma's global invitation through Songs of Comfort, the 4,500 retired doctors and nurses in Britain who have just signed up to work in the National Health System there, the amazing things Ashland is doing to take care of residents and businesses alike---you get this idea!

Find something you can do to add to that energy and hope--say fervent prayers, make a financial donation, send someone you love a smile, have a virtual cup of coffee with a friend--get creative with how to reach within yourself and share the compassion you find there.

Humor helps a great deal these days--and some wonderful stories are being posed on social media and the Internet. Find some laughter and share it! (I highly recommend looking at funny church sign boards on line!)

Light a candle--it really can brighten the darkness...

Use music to reset you mood--classical, bebop, Oldies, Jazz, reggae, polka, Big Band--there is nothing you want to listen to that Youtube can't provide! And seriously--if you need to be calmed, energized, moved, stilled, lifted up, or brought to a calm clear place--music is a powerful force in our lives-- you can rely on it during these times to help.   

If nothing seems to help--tell God. There is no place we are that God is not present ---that is what the Cross is about--with all its pain and shame and suffering and glory and promise and new life. We are living Good Friday with our God. We also remind each other that we are an Easter people, and ours is a  God of Hope. Good Friday and Easter are part and parcel of each other. Now more than ever, let us share what we each know about Good Friday and Easter now.

When I went into the Sanctuary this past Sunday I found two green crayons on top of the piano. I don't know how they got there--but they were for me a different sign--one of care to put them up and away from being trodden under foot--another sign of Life in a community I deeply love and admire.  Write me at kkeene@townisp.com and share what you are experiencing in your part of Creation right now! You are ever in my prayers and thanksgivings...

Faithfully,

Katie            

   "Happenings at FCOA

Fully practicing best guidelines from the CDC and practicing Social Distancing the following has happened since our last worship service on March 8th:
   
- A new phone tree is helping keep us connected

- Food has been delivered to the Food Pantry and the Women's Shelter

- Deacons and Council have sent $1600 to Family Promise and $1000 to the Ashland Emergency Fund

- Dunkin Donuts gift certificates were left for the Police Department

- Cards and notes have been sent to all elders on our Shut-in List and many parishioners as well

- Property continues to see improvements and repairs--The Ladies Room stall doors now all work properly!!!!

- Bills are being paid and payroll maintained

- Phone Messages and Emails are checked regularly 

- Pastoral availability continues      

- New Time Church has completed their move to new space they are excited about; walk-through was very cordial and all keys have been returned--blessings on their new chapter!

If you know of a "Happening" please email Linda and we will keep everyone updated--also please send prayer requests and thanksgivings to the office as well. The Deacons and I will lift them up in our own daily prayers! 

Katie
      
          " A Prayer for Holy Week "
 
Almighty God, look with loving mercy on your whole human family this day, as we acknowledge our sinfulness and remember that your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the Cross for us.  May we contemplate his suffering and shame so that we are moved to new humility and overwhelmed by your love poured out for us through Him, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen      
Out of care and concern for FCOA, the wider community and our responsibilities as citizens, Church services including Holy Week and Easter will not be held this year. Services will be suspended until at least May 4th, following our Governor's request. We will update you regularly. I have sent out an email to ask how many of you would participate in a Skype or Zoom service, and Doug and I will work with the Deacons to see what we might be able to create to worship at home, which many of you are already doing. Remember, Easter isn't about us and our celebrations--it's about what God is doing even now--and if it's about God--it's about us!! Please stay tuned as we work toward new ways of celebrating Easter together but apart! 

Faithfully,

Pastor Katie       

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" We Are All In This Together"
  
As you know, we are all living in challenging times.  
  
We continue to shelter in place, which means staying home and finding ways to connect with family and friends, while practicing social distancing, all in an effort to slow the pandemic and to save lives.
  
At this time, schools, non-essential businesses, including churches, are closed until May 4th.  All concerts,  sporting events, etc. have been postponed or cancelled.  
 
We all need to do our part and are expected to follow the public health guidelines for the state of MA.  
  
"Please ... Stay Home and Save Lives"
 
Church Office

Due to the coronavirus the Church Office will be closed indefinitely.
  
Linda is working from home.  If you need to reach her, please leave a message at the church, or send an email to fcoaoffice@verizon.net  
  
Messages are picked up several times a day.  
 
Please stay safe and be well,
 
Linda 
           
Church  Pledges  
                                   
At this time, due to the public health guidelines, all churches are closed until May 4th. Worship services and all other church activities have been cancelled at our church.
 
Since worshiping in person has changed for the time being, the cost to operate the church continues.  If you are able to keep up with your pledge, we would appreciate you mailing it to the church. 
  
Thank you! 
                        
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Video Volunteers
 
We now have 4 people videotaping our Sunday Services.
  
Many thanks to Tina Kingsbury, Wayne Buckley, Heidi Wesolowski and Alan Mancini.
 
Your help is greatly appreciated!
God is always with us....
In our joy and in our pain, 
In the good times and in the bad times.  
His steadfast love and faithfulness are promises 
to bring joy when we face loneliness.
 
                     Pumpkin Patch Alert
        
I want to thank those of you who responded to my initial request for support for this fundraiser.
   
I am hopeful more of you will give thought to being an active participate in this year's sales event in October.
   
In accordance with the sponsoring organizations request, I have selected the following dates for delivery in order of preference;
     
1 .  Sunday, 10/4
2.  Saturday, 10/3
3.  Sunday, 10/11
4.  Saturday, 10/10
  
We will also be looking into a more substantial shelter than what we had last year.
   
At this point, it is not necessary to overload our readers with details, but please keep in mind this event is a great opportunity to showcase our Church to the community.
   
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.
   
William Wallace, Project Coordinator
P: 508-881-4265
C: 508-333-1763
Wwallace37@gmail.com
 Thrift Shop 

In the interest of our Staff and Patrons; the Thrift Shop will be closed indefinitely, due to the coronavirus.

Thank you to our faithful Staff and all of our Patrons .
 
     
Brown   Bag  Sunday
  
Please Note:
  
Due to the coronavirus the Ashland Food Pantry is not excepting any food donations at this time.  
   

Family Promise 2020 
Host Weeks
  
     June 28 - July 5
  August  23-30
 
Please mark your calendars now!

Due to the coronavirus, we were not able to host Family Promise guests in March, but would like to say thank you to those of you who did sign-up and were willing to help.
 
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The 11th Annual Walk to End Homelessness 
has been cancelled due to the coronavirus.
  
   
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Our Member's Birthdays
                 
                   April
   
4/13     Phyl Shelburne
4/25     David Wenzell
4/29     Lois Tougas

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Never let a day go by without expressing your gratitude. Open your eyes to that which is beautiful around you 
and praise God for what you see or experience.

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Federated Church of Ashland
118 Main Street
Ashland, MA  01721-3112

508-881-1355

 

  Church Office Hours:   Monday - Friday 9 AM TO 12 Noon

 

Pastor - Rev. Katheryn Keene

Office Manager - Linda Iarussi

Organist - Doug Shelburne

 

Church Office:   fcoaoffice@verizon.net

     Web Site:   federatedchurchofashland.org

 Follow us on Twitter @FCOAshland