SPECIAL OFFERING FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE FUND
In lieu of a Communion offering this month, you are invited to send your donations to the church (make checks out to St. John's UMC) to help support the Covid-19 Response Fund of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) . As always, 100% of donated monies go directly to people in need when you donate though UMCOR. Please mark "COVID-19" or "UMCOR" on your check.
Devotion for Monday, May 4
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
According to the data I saw this morning (Friday), new Covid cases and deaths have still not leveled off in Bucks County - in fact, there was a significant increase in both figures yesterday. It continues to look like the entire Southeastern PA area is still not in a position to relax social distancing or stay-at-home orders. This is a difficult time for everyone, especially those whose livelihood has been put on hold, but most of us understand how critical it is that we try our best to fight this infection until an effective vaccine can be developed. We also want to continue to pray for an effective treatment for those who are or will become infected, however, viruses are notoriously difficult to treat - and that, of course, is a big part of the difficulty we've been facing.
As you know, our governor has developed a plan for the phased "re-opening" of our state. He has also stated that the entire Southeastern area will, no doubt, be the last area to relax these restrictions. I am grateful that he is being diligent. Our bishop has asked all of our churches to comply with the state's recommendations, which we will do. This means that, for the time being, we will continue to offer online worship services and to meet for bible studies and other meetings via Zoom. Once our area moves to the "yellow" phase (and I pray it will be soon!), we will most likely continue to hold online services since, at that point, no more than 25 persons will be permitted to gather (with masks and other social distancing criteria in place).
The fact is that none of us are happy about the situation. We're tired of staying at home. We want to go back to our schools and offices. We're tired of missing our favorite sporting events and entertainment venues. We long to go to our favorite restaurants and shops - not to mention nail salons and hair salons/barber shops. We want to get together with our friends. We want to go to Sunday worship! We want our lives back. But most of us know that the best (and probably the only) way to make that happen as quickly as possible, and to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy, is to continue to sacrifice our "freedoms" just a little longer - freedom always comes with a price, doesn't it?
It's at times like these, when fear and disappointment seem to be getting the best of us, that we want to rely on God and God's Word for the strength and comfort that we know can only come from Him. One of the best sources of strength and comfort, in my humble opinion, is the 23rd Psalm. I invite you to meditate on its Words and open your heart to God's peace.
Let us pray: Dear God, I confess that these weeks of restrictions are wearying, especially since the path ahead still seems long and arduous. Give me the strength and hope to not only endure the days ahead but to actually rejoice and be glad in them. I also pray for your intervention, that an effective treatment and vaccine will be developed and that there will soon be an end to this pandemic. I pray for those who are ill and suffering, whether hospitalized or at home. Grant them your healing touch. In Christ's name. Amen.