Pastor Connection
April 30, 2020

A Note from Pastor Pat
How are you doing? How are things going? Here is what I heard this past week from several of our members. “It’s starting to feel closed in.” “I’m getting to the point of frustration.” “I am getting discouraged.” “This is getting old.” “Will we ever get back to normal?” Lots of lamentation.  What do you say?

It is a hard time, a time like we have never known before. Our lives have been turned upside down. Moreover, it isn’t just a matter of adjusting to the inconveniences of lifestyle changes, but also a very real matter of life and death and the accompanying fear of contracting the virus. There is much reason for lament.

Where do we, where do you find God in all of this? We are familiar with the Psalms that offer many examples of lament, of people taking their case to God, expressing frustration, anger, fear, every kind of emotion, and wondering why God is allowing this to happen. A sermon by Walter Brueggemann “Joined in Suffering …Reliant on God’s Power” draws our attention to the book of Lamentations, “a lament, five long poems of sadness, grief over the ancient city of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.E.” [1]  

Brueggemann observes that Christians have “never much used, never much needed” the book of Lamentations due to the privileges of culture, politics, and economics. I wonder, though, if we might resonate with it more today, given our present circumstances.

The book begins:

                       “How lonely sits the city
                              that once was full of people!....”

and several stanzas later reads:

                       “The roads to Zion mourn,
                              for no one comes to the festivals;
                         all her gates are desolate …”

The poet is honest in the naming of the suffering. Brueggemann says that when we notice, “we find ourselves transformed,”

                       “away from self-sufficiency to solidarity,
                       away from privilege to communal engagement,
                       away from hard, dismissive indifference to compassion.” [2]
What are you noticing? Can you see some parallels to our circumstances today?

A characteristic of lament in the Bible is a reversal of outlook that gives hope, and we see that in Lamentations 3:22-24:

                       “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
                           his mercies never come to an end;
                        they are new every morning;
                          great is your faithfulness.
                        The Lord is my portion, says my soul,
                           therefore I will hope in him.”

May you find meaning, comfort, and hope in scripture during these days of upheaval in our lives. One writer has suggested that we make this time of social distancing and quarantine a spiritual pilgrimage. Each week we will share spiritual resources for your reflection, practice, and prayer to feed your journey.

May the Peace of Christ be with you,
Pastor Pat

[1] Walter Brueggemann. “Joined Suffering ..Reliant of God’s Power.” In Inscribing the Text: Sermons and Prayers of Walter Brueggemann. Mnneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004, p.121.
[2] Ibid, 124
Resources for Devotional and Spiritual Practices
The Upper Room publishes a daily devotional “New Every Morning” that begins with a single centering word around which there are words of hope, reflection, scripture, and prayer. Sign-up is available at

The website provides a daily email with a Spiritual Practice of the Day, a Spiritual Reading of the Day, a Quote of the Day, and a Teacher of the Day. In addition, the site includes extensive materials on books, art, and films related to spirituality.

Another site with spiritual practices is the Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality: The web site and twice weekly emails feature different forms of prayer, reflection questions, poetry, music, and spiritual practices such as breath prayer, mandalas, and coloring. Downloadable pages are available.

Daily Prayers in a Time of Pandemic are offered online by Corrymeela, a center in Northern Ireland focused on reconciliation.

Whatever practices you choose, consider keeping a daily journal to track your thoughts, feelings, experiences, reactions, and prayers. May the Peace of Christ be with you in your daily walk with God.
Online Giving Now 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.
Zoom Coffee Hour
We will gather over Zoom every Tuesday in the coming weeks. There will be plenty of time for fellowship and Pastor Amy will also bring a short devotional thought. You will need a computer with a camera and microphone. Most newer computers have these features already built in. Give it a try! This is open to ALL church members.

Our next coffee hour will be Tuesday, May 12, at 9:00 a.m. Click this link to join.
Ways to Serve
Volunteers Needed
The Food Bank has three, two hour shifts set up for volunteers to come and pack emergency boxes, boxes for the elderly, and BackPack bags that will be distributed.  The shifts are 9-11 am, 11-1pm and 1-3pm. The sign up is at  under the blue volunteer button.

Food Drive
We are organizing a food drive for Blackhawk-Grundy Mental Health. Needed items include:  small packages of peanut butter, cans of soup, small boxes of cereal, ramen noodles, and small boxes of crackers. Boxes to collect the items will be located at Westminster Presbyterian M-F 9-1, and Cedar Heights M-Th. Those churches will arrange to drop off the food items. The drive will last through Pentecost, May 31.  We would stress that people DO NOT make an extra trip to the grocery store for these items, and DO NOT buy in bulk.  Rather, when you go for a regular grocery store run, buy one or two extra items for the drive. We want to be considerate of other shoppers at this time.
In Our Thoughts and Prayers
Prayers of joy from the congregation:
Congratulations to Tom and Laura Christensen as they welcome their grandson to the world, Rafael Jordan Rochel.

With our Sympathy:
Karen Dew's cousin, Johnny, passed away this past week from COVID-19.

New to the Prayer List this Week:
Donna Harmon has tested positive for COVID-19 at Friendship Pavillion.

For specific individuals:
Karen Dew's cousins, Sherry and Holly, who have been affected by COVID-19, Joe Fernau (Marie's son), who started treatments for lymphoma; Gerald Buls, who is home after receiving treatment for his kidney; 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; Jordan, (granddaughter of Ann Sage) who is quarantine on the cruise ship where she works due to a crew member’s contraction of the virus; 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; Steve Miller, home; Jennifer Lightbody, home; Donna Harman, Friendship Village (Hospice Care); Dorothy Hummel, home.

Broader prayer concerns from the congregation:
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
teachers and students trying to adapt learning
those who are strictly quarantined for a variety of reasons
all those who are working and living in nursing homes and care facilities

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.

Happy Birthday!

7 Neva Kerr
8 Randy Lippert, Brody Powell
11 Marshall Abbe, Kathleen Jaeger
12 Corey Wheelock
14 Jana Fairbanks, John Roderick
16 Jordan Abbe

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