Pastor Connection...a little early
March 20, 2020
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A Note From Pastor Amy
When you read the gospels, you will hear Jesus tell his disciples over and over again, “Do no fear.” As Christians, we want to heed Jesus’ words. The PCUSA is encouraging all Presbyterian churches to live by faith, not fear. This is especially important right now when global pandemic leads to feelings of uncertainty, loss, anxiety, loneliness, and anger.

But what exactly does it mean to live by faith during this time?

Let me start by sharing what I think “living by faith” is not

First, living by faith is not the same thing as naive or even blind optimism. I hear some Christians saying things like, “Everyone is overreacting. I’m going to turn off the news and ‘just have faith.’” Having faith does not mean that we can simply ignore reality. There are threats to people’s health that we need to take into account. People are scared, hurt, anxious, uncertain, grieving, and angry. All of that should not be explained away as a lack of faith.

Second, living by faith is not the same thing as living life as usual no matter what. I hear some Christians saying things like, “I’m going to keep doing everything like I have done it. I don’t care if I get sick. Giving into closures and cancellations is giving up and giving in. The church should have more faith.” Having faith is not being "Iowa strong" or stubborn. Taking healthy precautions not only protects yourself, it helps other people - those who are sick, vulnerable to illness, and members of the health profession.

So what does it mean to live by faith?

I believe that living by faith means embracing the idea that the despair and fear we feel is never all there is. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We have to face the realities we find ourselves in. The situation is serious. And yet, God is with us working to bring peace even in the midst of chaos, comfort even in the midst of pain, joy in the midst of sorrow. Living by faith means hoping for those promises, even when they are not yet seen. Living by faith means enacting those promises in our world so that others might actually see them through us. That's what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Friends, I am terribly sad that we have had to alter so many of our ministries. I will miss preaching in our sanctuary and hearing the choir sing. I will miss seeing you all every week. I am worried about those who are so isolated. I am frustrated that those who are most vulnerable in our community are having a hard time finding food and basic aid. I am uncertain about how this time will affect our church relationships.

And yet, we can live by faith and be proactive in nurturing our faith through adapted ministries and intentional practices at home. I have listed several ideas in this enote and I, along with the staff, will keep offering ideas. I encourage you to commit to participating. Set up a routine for regular prayer, Bible study, and worship. Reach out to me or any of the staff for help and updates. We are committed to helping our church stay connected during this time.

As I said in my congregational letter, the church has not shut down! We can be the church in our home when we are committed to practicing and living by faith. I am committed and I hope you are too.

May the peace of Christ be with you! You are in my prayers!
Pastor Amy
Worship with Us...at Home
Pastor Amy will be leading worship through videos that you can watch on Sunday morning. You can watch them at any time. However, we encourage you to keep your Sunday routine. Watch at 10:00 a.m. at the same time as other church members. Check your email, Facebook, or our church website on Sunday morning to participate. Watch Pastor Amy explain more...

Resources to Strengthen Your Faith at Home
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We will be sharing different resources and ideas to strengthen your faith during and support your soul during this time. We challenge you to establish a routine of faith practices. Here are a few for you to consider. Simply click on the link highlighted in blue.

Pandemic Hope Check out this daily devotion that you can do at home. It includes a passage of Scripture and a Faith Practice to help lift your spirits. If you live alone, consider calling a friend. Commit to do it together.

d365 This is another online devotion guide that leads you through a moment of pause, Scripture reading, reflection and prayer.

Practice Gratitude This article reminds us that gratitude can keep us from focusing on the pain and turmoil around us. When you wash your hands for 20 second, try to name 20 things you are thankful for.

Breath Prayer Are you feeling anxious? Do you need to still your soul? Breath prayer is a wonderful way to center yourself and enjoy God's presence. This article will walk you through how to do it.

Do you need a little extra help with the anxiety you feel? Read these tips from the American Psychological Association .

Are you tired of feeling cooped up? Take in a virtual concert. Not up for music? Take a virtual tour of an art museum around the world.

Create a sacred space We will miss worshiping in our church's sanctuary, but all space can be sacred. Use a special picture, Bible, candle, poem. Rearrange furniture if you want. Find a special place in your home that reminds you of God and create your own sanctuary.
Ways to Still Connect
Our church is creating a phone chain ministry in order to maintain community and relationship among members. We are asking people to reach out for a quick conversation simply to check in with people and maintain friendships.

All members are welcome to participate regardless of age or life circumstance. We hope that this will help keep people stay connected, especially those who do not have access to email or the internet. If you wish to participate please call the office or email Pastor Pat. pat@1stpresby.org . Please try to sign up by March 25 so we can begin to organize.
In our Thoughts and Prayers
Don Broadston, home; Pat Stanhope, Friendship Village; Shirley Sorensen, home; Neva Kerr, NewAldaya (Hospice); Crystal Lorenze, recovering from back surgery; Paul Holtz, Hospice Care; Mary Davis, Ravenwood; Steve Miller, home; Ruth Bowers, Rosewood; Jennifer Lightbody, home; Donna Harman, Pavilion, Friendship Village (Hospice Care); Dorothy Hummel, home .

FIRST CHURCH EXTENDS SYMPATHY:
Brenda Sevcik and her family as the mourn the loss of Brenda's grandmother. Please contact the office if you wish to send Brenda a card.
Mission and Outreach
One Great Hour of Sharing   This annual offering supports Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and Self-Development of People. All work in different ways to serve individuals and communities in need. We will collect the offering on Palm Sunday, April 5.
Sunday Supper   We will continue to have Sunday Supper as long as possible. Following recommendation of the Food Bank, we will be providing curb-side meals each week. There will be one shift of volunteers and a limit of only 10 volunteers. Please be looking for more information in the coming days about precautions and volunteer responsibilities. We may have to cancel if risks seem too high. Please contact Kari O. Narey if you wish to help.
A Few Details Concerning the Future
Please don't forget to give! Even though things are drastically different, we are still doing ministry. Don't forget to give your pledge and offerings. Mail checks to the office. Be looking for opportunities to give online.
Easter Flower Orders We will not be taking flower orders this year. With the uncertainty of future recommendations regarding health, we can not ensure order delivery. If we worship on Easter, we will encourage people to bring flowers to decorate the cross. Thank you for your understanding.
Music Ministry Update Dakota and Melody will stay in touch with Celebration Ringers and the Sanctuary Choir regarding future rehearsals. Due to canceled rehearsals, Celebration Ringers will not play on Easter. The Sanctuary Choir will not sing on Palm Sunday.
Help Us Connect with People! We want to make sure that we reach out to people as much as possible during this time of social distancing. Just because we are staying home does not mean people have to feel isolated! If you know of a friend or family member who is unable to receive regular emails. Or if someone without email is not receiving hard copies of the enote, please contact the office. Help us help you!

Join our Facebook Groups!

First Presbyterian Church | Waterloo, IA | 319-233-6145 | www.1stpresby.org