Letter from Pastor Linda

Sunday, August 30
10:00 am
Linda Pokrajac
"It's a Keeper"
Psalm 121
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August 27, 2020
Dear MLEPC Members and Friends,

This week we are looking at Psalm 121. It's a short psalm and an easy one to memorize, and as a psalm to remember and hold on to, "It's a Keeper." As we have been looking at the inductive method of Bible study throughout our study of these psalms, one of the things we look for are repeated words or phrases, because when something is repeated in a scripture passage, it's a clue that we are to pay attention to it. In the English Standard Version of the Bible, the word "keep" or a derivative of it is repeated six times in the eight verses of Psalm 121. I put the word "keep" into a Bible study internet site, and in the ESV of the Bible, it appears almost 500 times. So not only is this a meaningful word in Psalm 121, but it is a significant word to consider in scripture as a whole. In the Old Testament, it is often used in connection with keeping a covenant, a promise between two people or between God and His people. It is used within the commandments as we are told to "keep the Sabbath holy." In the New Testament, Jesus says, "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25) Thankfully, we don't have to go it alone! As Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, He says "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever." (John 14:15-16)

Psalm 121 begins with a question, "I lift my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come?" And that question is answered in verse 2, "My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." In these challenging times, we are to look to the Lord for His help. And the psalm then continues with six verses that describe specifically how the Lord will "keep" us in His care.

One of the things we as leaders take seriously at MLEPC relates directly to the word "keep." To keep is to provide for the sustenance or nourishment of someone, much like shepherds keep their sheep. In this season where keeping people connected to church is a challenge, the Congregational Connections Ministry Team is initiating an all-church calling or contact effort. Members of our Session and Deacon Boards will be reaching out to all our members and regular attenders monthly by phone, email, or snail mail, using whatever information that we have in our database. They will be in contact with you to keep you connected, to let you know that we care, to offer prayer, and to see if you have any needs that we can help you with. It is hard for our staff to do this alone, so we have enlisted the help of our ordained officers, not as a replacement for staff but as a complement. Our prayer is that you will look to this as an opportunity to build a relationship with someone you may not know well or even at all.

The last time I preached at MLEPC, it was to an empty church on the Sunday after Easter, not because it was what pastors call "empty pew Sunday" but because we were not gathering physically together for worship. I'm grateful that on Sunday I will be able to look out and see faces of those I love, even as 80 of us were able to gather last week for our reopening Sunday of worship. May God continue to keep us in His care as we worship - in person or on Facebook or on YouTube. And may we continue to lift our eyes to the Lord, for His help not only in this season but throughout life as Psalm 121 ends, "The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore."

Love, in Christ,
Pastor Linda

          We have some opportunities to bless children and families as the fall season begins and invite you to participate!  You can bring Items to the church this Sunday, August 30, or bring them to the 
          First, our Lamplighters Class is sponsoring a collection of lunch-type food items to be donated to Light of Life Rescue Mission.  The specific items requested are:  snack bags of assorted chips, individual size gold fish crackers, applesauce pouches (GoGo squeeze), fruit cups, or snack packs of peanut butter or cheese sandwich crackers.  This is a wonderful opportunity to bless children in our city.
          Second, we are collecting school supplies for Brookline Christian Food Pantry, especially helpful since most children will be doing virtual learning.  The following items are suggested: rulers, packages of markers, crayons, pencils, pens, colored pencils, drawing paper; scissors; glue sticks; large erasers; pocket folders; and note books.  Brookline is also requesting donations of boxes of macaroni and cheese and cans of tuna for the Food Pantry.

As we plan to celebrate in-person worship services again we want to keep everyone safe, so here's what you can expect:
  • We will be following the now familiar practice of social distancing and wearing face masks. We have disposable masks if you need one.
  • We will be holding a single service at 10:00 a.m. with a blended worship style, to eliminate the need to clean between services.
  • We will continue to livestream the service on Facebook and YouTube and through the Streamspot player on our website. If you are not feeling well, please worship with us online. If you are in one of the highly vulnerable categories, we encourage you to follow CDC guidelines and consider worshipping online as well.
  • Please aim to arrive by 9:45am so that you have time to check in and get settled before we start the livestream. Doors will open at 9:15am. We will have greeters to check you in, in case we need to do contact tracing. We will also be taking a couple of photographs of those in attendance, which will only be used if we need to see where you were sitting for contact tracing.
  • To reduce the amount of time indoors together, we will be using the side Narthex doors (by Washington Rd.) as the primary entrances to the Sanctuary. The Drive-thru entrance will be open only for those who need the elevator. (Limit of two people or one household in the elevator at a time.)
  • When you enter the building, we will ask you to use hand sanitizer. We will have face masks available at the entrances if you do not have one. Masks are required for anyone over 2 yrs old.
  • Ushers will help to seat you when you arrive, using every other pew.
  • We will not be passing the Offering Plates during the service but will have them available at the exits to accept your contributions. You can also donate online at mlepc.org.
  • Our ushers will dismiss you by rows following the benediction. Visiting with people outside is much safer than lingering inside, so please head outdoors if you would like to talk.
  • It is going to be hot in the sanctuary, especially with masks on! You may want to bring a water bottle with you, since the water fountains will not be available. The restrooms near the sanctuary will be open.
  • Children of all ages are welcome to worship with their parents in the sanctuary, as we will not have Nursery Care or Children's Church for now. We will provide activity bags for children during the service - they can be found in the narthex. Please welcome the little ones and be gracious when they need to wiggle!

Note: For now, we are only opening the building for the worship service, not at other times. The one exception is for AA and NA, to help meet the needs of those struggling with addiction issues in our community. MLEPC small groups and ministry teams are encouraged to continue to meet online or outside where possible.
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