March 25, 2020
So how are you doing? 
A little weary? 
A little confused? 
A little overwhelmed? 
A little tired? 
A little bored?
A little of all the above?
Yeah, me too.

One of the most inspiring things these past few weeks has been hearing the stories of people connecting with one another in this time that is otherwise defined by such distinct dis-connect. People are calling on one another just to say “hello.” Folks are dropping notes in the mail to their friends.* Sunday school classes and Bible studies and groups of all kinds are meeting virtually just so they can see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices. Food, hand sanitizer, and, yes, even toilet paper are being shared and distributed to those with need. 

It is a beautiful and sacred thing to witness how even in this “new normal” we are all still finding ways to do what I believe humans were created by God to do: to be in community with one another. To that end, many of you have remarked that the weekly video devotions and liturgies that we are sending out every Sunday have helped you remain spiritually tethered in these otherwise turbulent days. I want to say a special thank you to our communications director, Ada Owens. Ada has rapidly (and quite gracefully, I might add) added to her already full portfolio to become our resident cinematographer, director, and film editor. Thank you Ada for helping keep us all connected!

On the same note, a special thank you to all of our staff and to so many of you who are working to foster connection in other ways. From writing devotionals to dropping off care packages to hosting Zoom calls to packing boxes of food, the Spirit which binds us all together in Jesus Christ is alive and active in our midst. Thank you . Finally, session has voted to extend the cancelation of all in-person worship and activities through Friday, April 10.  This is keeping in guidance with both national and local directives pertaining to the ongoing pandemic. In all likelihood, this cancelation will extend beyond April 10, but for the time being the elders are making decisions in two-week increments. Though most staff are working remotely, the church remains open and actively seeking to serve.

God bless and keep you all. See you Sunday.

Peace,
Alan

*My five-year-old got a hand-written (really, hand-drawn) note in the mail from another five-year-old on the island this week for no other reason than it was something fun and thoughtful to do. Who would’ve thought such a thing possible only a month ago?!
Sunday Devotional
Zoom Studies
Musical Notes

The Chancel Choir plans to meet via ZOOM, on Wednesday night at their regular practice time. It will certainly be interesting – I’ll let you know how it goes. These people are very close-knit and some are life long friends and choir members. We definitely miss each other. How incredible will it be when we all get together. My colleague and friend Ellen Hanson (daughter in law of Rev. Dave Hanson) is a choir director in Macon at Martha Bowman UMC. Some members of her choir are featured on Facebook singing – 
Give me that online religion, give me that online religion,
give me that online religion, it’s good enough for me!
You can stay in your PJs, You can stay in your PJs,
You can stay in your PJs, it’s good enough for me!
You can have toast and coffee, etc.

Hope you will make up more verses. It’s a fun song – might even do this for Bluegrass Sunday…. but with the real words! Yes, we will have Bluegrass Sunday. It will be here before you know it.  
This Sunday, the choir had planned to sing Jesus Walked in Galilee which is an American Spiritual arranged by Frank Ahrold. The words are simply – Jesus walked in Galilee to save us all from sin.  
The hymns are: 816 If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee and 460 Break Thou the Bread of Life. Again, you can look these up on hymnary.org online or in your hymnal that you might have at home. Each of these hymns is a devotional and a prayer.  
Here are words to a hymn that one of my fellow colleagues wrote for these times:  

Hymn for Streamed Worship 8.7.8.7 D HYFRYDOL/NETTLETON
Tune – Love Divine, All Loves Excelling or Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

In our homes, we meet to worship, far away from sacred space.
By the Spirit, Christ is with us, making this a holy place.
In these days of social distance, we are called to meet apart.
Still we pray for one another, hold each other in our heart.

If this time indeed is holy, we must keep it truly so.
Even in our isolation, God’s rich blessings overflow.
We avoid the world’s distractions, set our minds on things above:
Patience, kindness, goodness, mercy, faith, joy, peace, abiding love.
R. G. Huff – 03/17/2020 [Permission Granted for Use]

Stay safe and keep in touch! Let’s talk – this is a good time to share any worship ideas you may have or plans for our upcoming 75 th Anniversary in 2021. History tells us that we’ve come out of tough places before. The stories in your Bible assure you that this it is true that we come back better and stronger. I’m counting on it! Sing loud, it’s a big world!  

Love & Gratitude, Rhonda

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