January 16, 2022
A Message from Co-Pastor Rev. Mitchell Hay
Most of the time, Barb and I are “Lectionary Preachers.” That means the Biblical texts on which which we preach come from a three year cycle of weekly readings that includes selections from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Gospels, Paul’s letters, and the Psalms. Which inevitably means we don’t cover some pretty amazing material each week. This is one of those weeks. We’ll be preaching on Paul’s first letter to the infant church at Corinth about Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-11 to be exact.) But that means we won’t be touching on the amazing story of Jesus’ first miracle in John’s gospel (John 2:1-11)— where he turns over a hundred gallons of water used for purification rituals into a snappy Beaujolais Nouveau to keep a wedding celebration going strong.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes, as usual, has a lovely poetic reflection on the scene:
Beloved,
you change the water of my life
into the wine of your touch,
if only I taste.
What was plain becomes mystery. 
The cup of want
becomes jugs of abundance,
a lifetime. 
The jars of obligation, 
the pots of my attempts, 
my hope of being acceptable,
my rite of shame and inadequacy,
you fill with delight instead.

Beloved, I see now—
this wedding must be mine.

As Harvard-Epworth UMC enters a third year of ministry in response to Covid, it may feel like our strength, resolve, and sense of adventure is becoming thin as water: our worship is hybridized, our coffee fellowship postponed, our classes online, our conversations done through KN95 masks, and most of us our desperate for a really good hug from a church friend we haven’t seen in months.

If we were alone through this exhausting endeavor, our spiritual lives would indeed be be thin and weak.

But we are not alone. We share life, learning, and worship with a vibrant community of faith, and we share our very being with the Beloved One who turns our water-thin solo efforts of obligation into something rich, invigorating, and overflowing: the excellent wine of grace, compassion, mindfulness, love, and life.

Even as we enter the third year of Covid, Jesus invites us to a whole-hearted faith in him and a whole-hearted fellowship with one another in his name.

In Peace,
Pastor Mitch

See what's happening on our social media or
share this newsletter with the world!
An Updated from the Re-Opening Task Force
The Re-Opening Task Force has been considering the implications of the current surge in coronavirus cases, balancing the spiritual needs of folk that are best met by in-person worship, as well as the concerns of those who feel especially unsafe gathering at this time. After offering worship only online for two weeks, Sunday worship will resume in-person on January 16, live-streamed. Those attending in person are asked to observe all the safety considerations, below.

Please note: 9:00 a.m. worship will not meet during the rest of January. We’ll keep you posted as to when it will resume!

In-person worship will require these conditions:
• Non-cloth masks must be worn at all times while in the building, and we strongly encourage people to bring their own KN94 or N95 masks. We will provide these higher-quality masks for those that don’t have them. Everyone, including those leading worship, will mask at all times. We ask people to maintain safe social distancing while in the building together. (If you wish to purchase KN94 or KN95 masks at Amazon.smile, a percentage of your purchase will support the church financially If you shop via this link.)
• Sanctuary windows will continue to be open for ventilation; ceiling fans and multiple HEPA filtration units will run during worship.
• We ask that those who choose to attend worship be fully vaccinated (and boosted as allowed). 

In addition, the Task Force decided that Coffee Hour be suspended until infection rates lower.
• Sunday School will be offered online-only for the near future. 
• Adult Forum will be hybrid on January 16 and following.
• The Freeing Jesus book study, which begins on Thursday January 20, will be online only for at least the first sessions.

We seek, with these recommendations, to strike a sensitive balance between worship needs and safety concerns. The Task Force recognizes the many different perspectives brought to bear on their discernment process, and also realizes that the pandemic is a dynamic, rapidly changing scenario that may need a different response in the near future.

Whether you choose to worship in-person or online, know that both can be powerful, spiritually-fulfilling experiences when we bring our whole selves before God in faithful community. May God continue to guide us, and may our connection to each other and to God through worship, prayer and service continue to nurture our faith and our world.
Outdoor Church Sandwich Ministry: Next Saturday!
On the third Saturday of every month (next on Saturday, January 15), a volunteer team from Harvard Epworth brings sandwiches to homeless neighbors in Harvard and Central Squares.

Interested in bringing sandwiches? Thank you -- 20 is a good number. The homeless like meat (roast beef, ham and turkey), as well as chicken, egg and tuna salad. White, oat and whole wheat breads are all good. You can add a bit of mustard and lettuce for the meats. We avoid mayonnaise for safety reasons, but it's okay for the salads.

Interested in joining the sandwich distribution? We gather at the church at 2:30 on the third Saturday of the month. For more details, email Lane at jamaicaplainlane@gmail.com.
Epiphany Book Study: Freeing Jesus
Thursday evenings, January 20 - March 3, 7:00 pm
Renowned author and religion commentator Diana Butler Bass delves into her personal experience and her historical research to consider how Jesus grows with us and helps us through life’s challenges in several capacities: as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence. Join us as we explore the multi-faceted nature of Jesus, keeping his teachings relevant and alive in our daily lives. 
This class will be online only for at least the first sessions, with the possibility of hybrid classes to come:  https://zoom.us/j/99809742967.

Since class will be meeting remotely, please obtain your own copy of the book. If you would like financial assistance for the book’s cost, please contact Barb at pastor.barb@harvardepworthchurch.org.
Membership Orientation Class
The journey of faith for every Christian is deeply personal, but it is not a journey meant to be traveled alone.  Jesus calls us to journey in community!

If you interested in joining Harvard-Epworth UMC as your spiritual community, Pastor Mitch invites you to a two-session Membership Orientation class.  It will be a safe space to explore a bit about Harvard-Epworth, about John Wesley and the the Methodist movement, and most important, about how to live authentically as disciples of Jesus in a complex, post-modern world.

The orientation classes will meet in January and early February on a schedule that works best for those who sign up.  Please email Mitch at pastormitch@harvardepworthchurch.org to let him know you are interested!

(Image: “Circle of Light” by Carol Aust)
Adult Forum on Sundays at 10:00am
Adult Forum will resume a hybrid format on this Sunday, January 16. All are welcome to attend the weekly meetings, which are held at 10:00am, before the Sunday worship service.
You can join us in the pastor's study at the church or remotely via Zoom using the following link: https://zoom.us/j/95550522302

This week, Graham Kelder will lead a discussion on "Experiencing Jesus Again for the First Time through Scripture and Thinking about the Social-Political-Historical Context for Jesus’ Ministry."
Join Us Online for Sunday School!
Our Sunday Morning Schedule is as follows:
Children's Sunday School (Ages 3-5th grade)
10:00 am - 10:25 am 
Youth Sunday School (Grades 5-12)
10:30 am - 11:00 am

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we try to accommodate our families to the best of our ability through these continued uncertain times. We hope you will encourage your children to join us online on Sunday mornings and/or consider volunteering to help lead Sunday School as in the next several weeks of transition. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us at education@harvardepworthchurch.org.
Events and Groups for University Students and Young Adults
Sundays at 7pm: Life Groups
Life groups meet weekly on Sunday nights to offer a space for young adults and students to share how they’re doing, share prayer requests, and stay accountable with one another on our commitment to live ethical and faithful lives. Life groups are open to anyone who wants to join, just send Sarah an email so she can share the Zoom link with you. By joining a life group, you’re committing to try to:
1.) Read the booklet Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Reuben P. Job.
2.) Engage in brief individual prayer practices twice a day, five days a week.
3.) Gather weekly to share about our spiritual well-being in light of the three simple rules (do no harm, do good, stay in love with God).

Neighborhood Text Groups: Connect with Your HEUMC Neighbors! As vaccines roll-out and weather improves, several young adults have volunteered to coordinate neighborhood group texts. Find someone to go for a masked walk, share info of interest for your neighbors, and check-in with your church family near you. If you would like to join one of these group texts, please email Sarah with your phone number and your neighborhood.
Friday Cafe: Changes
Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the Friday Cafe has shifted its practice of providing lunches. As of December 31st, bag lunches will be served outside the Tower Room at First Church Cambridge. There is a much smaller number of volunteers needed for handing out the bag lunches, so if you would like to continue supporting the Friday Cafe you may do so by making 10 bag lunches. If you do, we ask you to please supply soft fruit, no apples, as some of our guests have poor dentition. 
Here is the new sign up link with details about what to include in the bag lunch:  https://signup.com/go/HqAkPWv 

.
Seeking Flower Donations for the Sunday Altar
If you would like to donate flowers for the altar on an upcoming Sunday, please sign up on the sheet at church or here online.

You may order flowers from a florist, bring in your own arrangement, or donate an offering that will be used to obtain flowers. Please indicate the dedication that you’d like to have included in that Sunday’s bulletin. 

Thank you for bringing beauty to our worship!
.
Consider Being a Liturgist
Liturgy means “the work of the people,” and it is a
great blessing to have lay liturgists each Sunday!
Be part of the 11:00 Worship Team; sign up

Please indicate the Sundays you are available; we’ll
coordinate based on everyone's availability and let
you know when it is your turn as the liturgist at
Worship.
.
We are the Church: Voices of Harvard Epworth
During the "online reality" that we find ourselves in, it is difficult for new people to get a sense of who we are as a church. Therefore, the Welcome and Evangelism committee is inviting people to submit a video (30 seconds or less) that introduces themselves and says what they find special about our church. We are hoping to put together a number of these short videos and release them in the coming weeks and months. This will be a great way for people to get a sense of this ministry we share in together. Please consider recording a short video and emailing it to Erin Lee, our Welcome & Evangelism Chair, at erinism614@gmail.com. Thank you in advance for being a part of this important opportunity of welcome! 
Connect with Us Electronically
Harvard Epworth Church Member Online Directory
Remember that we have a Harvard Epworth Church Member Online Directory.  You can log in to the directory by going to directory.harvardepworthchurch.org by clicking on the link in the menu on the church website (it's next to the live stream link).

Current users can reset their password with the "Need a password" button on the directory login. If you don't have a directory account or access to it, email office@harvardepworthchurch.org  and we will be in touch with login information for you.
Sermon Podcast Update: If you would enjoy listening to the Sunday sermon during the week they can now be found on Apple, Google, and Spotify by searching for Harvard-Epworth Church podcast. You can also still find them on the front page of our church website at www.harvardepworthchurch.org
Help Harvard-Epworth While You Shop: Our Amazon Smile link shares some of the profits from any Amazon purchases with the church: If you shop via this link, a percentage of what you spend is automatically donated to the church.
Prayer Ministry: Each Wednesday morning (from 7:45am to 8am), some of the Harvard-Epworth congregation gather by phone for meditation and prayer. This gathering is a wonderful way to begin the day and to hold the concerns of our congregation in prayer. We would love to have you join us! To join in, dial +1 (605) 468-8016 and type in our access code: 658031#.
Looking Ahead...

  • Saturday, January 15: Outdoor Church Sandwich Ministry
  • Sunday, January 16:
  • 10:00am: Adult Forum (hybrid) and Sunday School (Zoom only)
  • 11:00am: Worship Service (hybrid)
  • 7:00pm: Young Adult Life Groups
  • Wednesday, January 19: Prayer Call (7:45am)
  • Thursday, January 20: Epiphany Book Study (7:00pm)
Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church | office@ harvardepworthchurch.org