Pastor Connection
July 23rd, 2020

A Note From Pastor Pat
Sometimes you just don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Do you know what I mean? The situation just feels overwhelming. Things have gone on too long. Your plans have fallen apart. You have given up hope. Life has unraveled. And then what? Do you laugh or cry? Can you remember a time like that?

Sarah laughed. Sarah laughed when she heard from God that she would bear a son. What kind of laugh was that? Disbelief? Joy? Scoff or derision? Relief? After all, she was 90 years old! Would you laugh or cry?

This week we continue our sermon series on the theme “Unraveled: Seeking God When Our Plans Fall Apart” with the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7. We first learn of Sarai in Genesis 11:29-30 where she is named as Abram’s wife and that she “was barren; she had no child.” (Their names were changed to Abraham (Gen 17:5) and Sarah (Gen 17:15). Sarah’s life with Abraham is chronicled all the way to Genesis 23:2 where her death is noted, a story told over nearly twelve chapters. 

Over those long years, Sarah waits to bear a son in order to have the promises God made to Abraham fulfilled. It is a long wait, all the way to age 90! Can you imagine the impatience, the frustration, the sense of failure, even the desperation that drove her at one point to offer her maid Hagar to be impregnated by Abraham. That act resulted in a son, but since it was not her own son it did not fulfill the promise of God for the generational lineage. 

How do you sustain hope over such a long period of disappointments? How do you keep faith in a promise yet to be realized? What do you do when your life continues to unravel? Sarah waited. She lived on day by day until one day she overheard God repeat/affirm the promise that she would bear a son. Sarah laughed.  “Is anything too wonderful for God?”

Walter Brueggemann writes, “Laughter is a biblical way of receiving a newness which cannot be explained. The newness is sheer gift –underived, unwarranted.” Where have you found that gift? May God so bless all our lives!  
                                                                   May the Peace of Christ be with you,

                                                                   Pastor Pat

A Note From Pastor Amy About Her Study Leave
Several of you have asked about my studies during the Covid-19 season. As you know, I have been working for several years now on a Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Preaching from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. I have completed all of my courses and am beginning to focus on finishing my final thesis. I hope to graduate in December.

As you can imagine, completing the research necessary for my thesis has been very difficult during this time. However, I have had tons of support from family, colleagues, friends, church members, our personnel team, and Session. I’m happy to report that I have developed a plan to complete the research.

That being said, I need a large chunk of dedicated time to get this done and give my work the attention required. So, I will be taking three weeks of study leave as outlined in my terms of call beginning Monday, July 13 through August 2. I will be disconnecting from my regular responsibilities at the church so that I have the time to work every day on my research. Our staff and volunteers will be covering the necessary tasks to ensure ministry leadership continues at the church. I am particularly grateful for Pastor Pat, Kelley, Brenda, Dakota, and our Elders who will make sure things run smoothly in my absence.

I would very much appreciate your prayers during this time. Please pray for endurance so that I might use my time wisely. Please pray for wisdom and insight so that I can analyze data in fruitful ways. Please pray for my family who will feel the impact of my stress and workload. Please pray for the hundreds of details that will need to fall in place for me to pull this off.

As always, I am grateful for the many ways that you have supported me and continue to support my education now. You all will certainly be in my prayers as well.

Peace be with you,
Pastor Amy 

Update On Our Plan for In-Person Worship and Re-Entry Into the Building
We deeply appreciate everyone adhering to the social distancing guidelines we are implementing. Session recognizes the changing nature of our current situation as we watch the number of cases fluctuate around the nation. We will continue with the approved plan as long as the Blackhawk County Health Department rates our county at a moderate risk level. If we move to a high risk level, then we will suspend our plan. For now, we continue to encourage people to make the wisest decisions for their unique situations. We will continue to provide worship online. Remember that in-person worship is on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. outside. Bring your own lawn chairs, water, fans, and Bible. We are encouraging people to wear masks.
Personal Care Item Drive for the Food Bank
Our church is participating in the Northeast Iowa Food Bank's Personal Care Item Drive! July 1 through August 12 . During this event, local churches, organizations, and businesses will be collecting personal care items, such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, and diapers. 
If you would like to participate, please bring your items to the church Monday through Thursday, between 9:00 and 2:00. There will be a collection box in the entry of the church. Kelley will be in the office to let you drop off the items.
Thank you for your generosity and participation!

Spiritual Practices for The Week
1.        Spiritual Practices of the Day from   

a) A little girl, drawing a picture, was asked by her mother: "What are you drawing?" She replied: "A picture of God!" "But we don't know what God looks like," her mother objected. "Well," replied the child, "when I am finished with this then you will know what God looks like!" By Ronald Rolheiser in  Against an Infinite Horizon: The Finger of God in Our Everyday Lives  .
To Practice This Thought :  Make a drawing, painting, or collage of the image which best reflects your beliefs about God. Share with a friend or family member. Consider doing this exercise with a child or grandchild.

b) T he moment of grace comes to us in the dynamics of any situation we walk into. It is an opportunity that God sews into the fabric of a routine situation. It is a chance to do something creative, something helpful, something healing, something that makes a spot in the world or someone’s life for our having been there.  By Lewis Smedes in A Pretty Good Person: What It Takes to Live with Courage .
To Practice this Thought:  Describe an incident when you were in the right place at the right time and the world (or a situation/person) was better because of what you did. Share your story with a friend or relative and ask then to share a story with you. Where was God in the incident? Offer a prayer of thanksgiving.

2.       The On Being Project is a weekly broadcast Sunday mornings on public radio and available online for listening. Each week the host, Krista Tippett, interviews one or more individuals on a variety of contemporary issues.  Listen to a recent conversation on working toward a more just world with authors Robin DiAngelo and Resma Menakam.

Zoom Bible Study

As usual, we will meet this Tuesday to discuss the upcoming Sermon Text. This week is John 4:1-29, The Samaritan Woman At the Well. Pastor Pat will be leading these discussions in Pastor Amy’s absence. Due to last week's technical difficulties, there is a new Zoom link and password. Note the change below:

Meeting ID: 572 816 7780
Passcode: 4QUvUU

If you have trouble accessing the Zoom meeting, feel free to call Kelley to help troubleshoot!
Online Giving Available
Thank you to all those who are continuing to faithfully give their pledges and offerings to the church. In an attempt to make giving easier during this time, we have initiated online giving to our church through the Presbyterian Foundation. Click on the button below to set up on account for continual giving. You may also give a one time gift. You may also continue to mail checks to the church. Please call Kelley if you have questions.

We are still engaging in meaningful ministry and your offerings make that ministry possible. Thank you for your generosity and please continue to give as you can.
In Our Thoughts and Prayers
For specific individuals:
Mary K Williams, recovering at home; Steve Miller, home; Gerald Buls, who has been diagnosed with lymph node cancer; Jo Beaver is recovering from knee surgery, prayers of safety for Lorraine Baker's nephew and Barbara Benksin's son, who are both truckers; Kason (Connie Leeper's daughter-in-law's nephew, recovering from a car accident; Rev. Gary Catterson, recovering from surgery at home; Bob Cutsforth, who is undergoing cancer treatment; The Platts' friends in Venezuela who are struggling with food and other resources; Karen Dew's cousins, Sherry and Holly, who have been affected by COVID-19, Joe Fernau (Marie's son), who started treatments for lymphoma; Sarah (granddaughter of Evelyn and Carl Boice) who is an RN at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester MN, and her husband, Dylan, who is an essential non-medical worker at Mayo; Megan and Emma Schellhorn as they work at Fareway; Jan and Dean Bellinger's daughters and granddaughters who are serving in hospitals and nursing care facilities; for Alexa (granddaughter of Janis Shea) who works in an essential business credit union and is subjected to the virus; Courtney Pilcher who works in health care services; Don Broadston, home; Pat Stanhope, Friendship Village; Shirley Sorensen, Friendship Village; Neva Kerr, NewAldaya (Hospice); Crystal Lorenze, recovering from back surgery; Paul Holtz, Hospice Care; Mary Davis, Ravenwood

Broader prayer concerns from the congregation:
that justice and lasting peace will come to our nation
leaders in all areas who are making decisions for people's well-being
all those living and working in nursing homes, assisted living, and retirement communities
workers at Tyson's
that all will stay well
all doctors, nurses, and health care providers along with their families
all those who are essential workers
those who are strictly quarantined for a variety of reasons

Add to the Prayer List
Click  HERE to submit a prayer request online. Our pastors will be praying for you and sharing concerns with the congregation as requested.
Thank You!
Dorothy Hummel would like to say 'thank you' for all of the birthday cards she received!
Happy Birthday!
23 Sawyer Swenson
24 Michael Lightbody
25 Connie Leeper
27 Barbara Benskin
28 Layla Sommerlot
29 Sally Davis, Dan Klann
30 Madison Fairbanks,
Pat Stanhope

First Presbyterian Church | Waterloo, IA | 319-233-6145 |