Happenings ... April 2, 2020
A message from the pastor
Dear Friends,

Holy Week is just around the corner. On some levels it’s hard to believe. It almost seems we’ve been living it for a few weeks now. The pandemic rages through the globe and continues its spread through our towns as well.

 “This is the Lentiest Lent I’ve ever Lented,” one colleague declared. More profoundly, Rev. Molly Baskette wrote in her UCC daily devotional on March 30 th , “We ask God the ultimate question, “What if it changes everything? - And God answers, “What if it doesn’t?” - Because some things need changing… A particle one - 900 th thousand times the width of a single human hair has done what we were not able to do by ourselves: stop us in our tracks, personally and communally.”  

Still we are finding ways to be together. Still we press on. Still our own faces brighten when we see the face of a dear one in their ‘little square.’ God bless Zoom! Still we connect, and share, and pray, and find strength to be the church - ‘in such a time as this.’ Phone calls remind us we are not alone. Texts and emails become a welcome gift.

I appreciate your patience as I experiment with the Zoom technology now central to our shared life. Thank you for laughing at my electronic miscues. Each week there are important learnings, changes, and insights that guide the next week’s gathering.  So it was after last Sunday’s time together. This week the sacred time together will be more succinct and simple for one thing! 

Without a doubt, this Holy Week will be very different than ever before. Yet we are confident that the Spirit will be among us. Still we will be together and invite others to be with us. And still, we will be invited to open our hearts to the transforming presence of Love.

If over the past few weeks you haven’t received the Saturday email containing the link to join the Sunday Zoom gathering, email me here, grahamj@firstuccsheffield.org and I will make sure you do.

The journey continues!

With love, 
Pastor Jill
Be the Church takes on new meaning
It's so important that we continue to Be the Church, especially now. Thank you to those of you who have started using Bill Pay through your bank.  We were surprised at how easy this was to set up. We are also grateful for the old-fashioned checks that you have been sending through the mail. If you haven't made the shift to a new way of giving, please start now. Together, we can make sure that the church's ministries continue. Here's something else you might want to get involved in:

Our Southern Berkshire Regional School District is currently packing breakfast and lunch for around 270 kids each day for pickup and delivery. They have told us that a special meal to send home for the weekend would be a huge help. The problem was finding a way to do that without gathering volunteers, running into Serve Safe issues, or compromising confidentiality. 

Many of you have said how much you want to help during this time. Now, together with our partner in ministry, Christ Trinity Church, along with Our Lady of the Valley, and Hevreh we've found a way, and as a bonus, it supports a neighbor's business! Here's is one way the faith community is recommending you can help:

1.    Call the Marketplace at 413-248-5040 (ext 2) before Tuesday at noon.
2.    Order a School Family Meal and pay for it over the phone. 
3.    The Marketplace will deliver a dinner for four to the school on Friday.
4.    The school staff will send it home with those who could use it most. 
5.    Repeat each week until we are through this crisis. 
Holy Week Schedule
Palm Sunday
10:00 a.m. Zoom BYOPS   (Bring Your Own Palm substitute)
to wave and your own food and beverage to bless and partake during our Agape meal (Communion alternative).  Yes, it’s Palm Sunday but palms are in short supply these days and we couldn’t get them to you if we had them. And the fact is, the folks on that first Palm Sunday used palms because as poor folks they grabbed the most convenient and available thing they could find to line the path upon which Jesus traveled. So can we. How about forsythia? Or a hemlock or white pine branch? If you’re crafty, feel free to put your talents to good use! Remember, it’s a symbol. This is yet another opportunity to be creatively free and use this moment to create a blessing!

Maundy Thursday
You are invited to gather at 6:00pm via Zoom for a ‘simple shared meal’
(just bring your dinner to your computer, or your computer to your dinner…) and let’s be together on this holy night. It will not be your typical Maundy Thursday
meal, however, we will offer up a few questions to reflect as we nourish our 
bodies and souls. I realize this may be a smaller gathered group, so please email
me to let me know you’d like to participate. 

Good Friday
I’m trying to find a link to a meaningful Way of the Cross experience which I will send out for you to travel while at home. Stay tuned.

Easter Sunrise       
Why not?! I will send a link for a 7:00 a.m. “Zooming in the Easter Sunrise”
opportunity for you. Short and Sweet. Bring your own breakfast. Hopefully,
I’ll be able to bring the sunrise to our service…

Easter Zoom at 10:00    
Wear your Easter finery, or your PJs, it doesn’t matter! Place a vase of flowers
or Easter plant somewhere visible within your video frame, and we will proclaim the Risen Christ and the power of life over death. Still Easter comes!

If you need the Zoom link, email Pastor Jill at grahamj@firstuccsheffield.org
COVID-19 Scams... Be Careful
A crisis brings out the best and sadly, the worst in people. Some of the worst have been showing up in scams. Most are old scams with a COVID twist. Here's what to watch out for and some tips to steer clear. 

1.    Offers to "help" you get your COVID relief benefits. This is the old, "give us your bank info and social security number" scam with a viral twist.  Don't ever give that information out over the phone, by text message, or in an email reply . Also, you don't need help getting those benefits. They will automatically come the same way your tax refund comes. 

2.    Scammers create an email address that looks similar, and may even use a picture of a leader you trust to make it look real. Impersonating a leader, they ask for help by asking for gift cards.  No bishop, pastor, or priest will ever ask for your support through gift cards. You can always call me to check if it's real. 

3.    Scammers impersonate government agencies.  Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.  
 
4.     Do not click suspicious links in text messages or emails  particularly from unknown numbers or email  a ddresses. If it looks odd and was sent from a friend, call them first to see if they sent it or were hacked. 

5.     Check up on all charities before donating.   
From our Bridge Conference Minister
What’s Next in the Pandemic: Phases of Disaster;
Will we survive, Will we thrive!? 

“Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”   
~ Economist Milton Friedman

I’ve talked about the Phases of a Disaster and folks have asked for more information, definitions and descriptions of these. There are different approaches to these. I like to consolidate them into the four approaches here:

Rev. Don Remick
Let's stop for one second...
Old Parish Church
125 Main Street
PO Box 387
Sheffield MA 01257

413-229-8173 
 office@firstuccsheffield.org 
 grahamj@firstuccsheffield.org
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Our Identity Statement

We are a progressive Christian community where discovering God's presence, modeling Jesus' radical hospitality, and being a passionate voice for God's justice defines us.
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We are an Open and Affirming Congregation
of The United Church of Christ

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