Finding Peace in Seclusion
Shenandoah District
Daily Connection--
From the Heart
March 23, 2020
What You Will Find at shencob.org :

-Links to churches who have let us know of online experiences offered in lieu of corporate worship services
-Links to papers, articles, and official press releases dealing with the response to the coronavirus outbreak
-Links to previous meditations and prayers
A Meditation for the Times
Finding Peace in Seclusion

It has been going on two weeks since I've found myself in the same room with another human being. For those of you with families to care for and keep up with, you have your own unique and intense challenges! For those of us who live alone, we are also way out of our comfort zone! Charley, my dog, is the only one I talk to in person: “So what do you want for supper this evening, Charley? Kibble with a little gravy dribbled over? OK, I can do that!

I miss having another person to ponder with, to pray with, to share feelings with about the dynamics and the dangers. Charley is great but not one who could call my sons or care for me in the case of serious illness.

We all have our own unique stories, and there will be time for us to tell them to each other when this is all over.

For now, though, I am reminded of Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, as told to us in John 20. Remember, after Peter and John left the empty tomb and returned to their homes, she remained there and, desperately alone and grief-stricken, she is crying. She then notices the gardener and, I suspect, with great intensity, even anger in her voice, she says to him: “WHERE IS HE? What have you done with him? Tell me where you have put him, and I will get him!” 

Right then, the gardener calls her name, “ Mary,”  and she recognizes the voice of Jesus. Her emotions swing from abject despair to excitement, joy, and gratefulness. We are told Jesus has to remind her not to touch him.

We can identify with what she's feeling, can't we? It is a powerful story.

It is one we might want to remember right now in these scary times. It’s easy to feel alone and vulnerable. Could it be that we are focusing on our anger at the gardener when Jesus is trying to get our attention. Let's do this another way. Let's use some of the time freed up by social distancing and seclusion to quiet ourselves and our minds and listen--carefully and expectantly--for Jesus calling our name.

Marty Barlow
Shenandoah District Conference Moderator
From the Desk of District Executive Minister John Jantzi
On Mon., Mar. 16, I began my remarks with this statement:

“I confess to being breathless this morning. The rapidity of change over the past week has been staggering. Decisions made on one day soon become outmoded, if not irrelevant, on the next. We stand claiming God’s guidance and mercy in ways we had not imagined two weeks ago.” Well, not much has changed!

The grappling deep in my soul last night was the of maintenance courage, faith, and perseverance for the long haul. The initial rush that comes from dealing with a crisis is fading, and now the hard work of sustaining support and day by day faithfulness becomes ever more apparent.

We continue to explore ways of being of the most assistance. Thus, we have slightly shifted our format for the Daily Connection. On Mon., Tues. and Wed., there will be a meditation from a District leader. On Thurs., we will release the Shenandoah Update with news-related items. On Fri., District Executive Minister John Jantzi will be sharing a homily for the weekend. We will keep this schedule for a period of time and continue to be open to adjusting as needed.

Three points of clarification:
1. On Thurs., we will post all streaming worship services and other on-line resources shared by congregations. If you wish to have those resources shared e-mail those to John Jantzi by Wed., Mar. 25.
2. Note that on-line giving services generally charge a commission for their services. This is a percentage of monies raised. Please check this out before enlisting.
3. Note the resources that have been shared this past week are posted on our Website.

May the God of Grace and Glory illuminate our path today.
John Jantzi
Daily Prayer
Oh Lord, in the stillness and quietness of the night;
When our thoughts ramble in many directions;
You call us by name.
Oh Lord, in our shopping for groceries and necessities;
When we struggle with buying enough;
You call us by name.
Oh Lord, in our thoughts regarding our beloved elders;
Who live in lockdowns and isolation;
You call us--and them--by name.
Oh Lord, in our grappling with faithful responses;
When we are not certain of how to respond;
You call us by name.
Oh Lord, you call us to a time of prayer and solitude;
In the midst of the 24-hour news cycle;
You call us by name.
You called Jesus by name at his baptism;
That name was Beloved.
You call us by name and that name is Beloved.
Amen.

John Jantzi
March 23, 2020
News and Events
A Zoom call for District pastors and leaders will provide an opportunity for mutual support and prayer . This call will be at 10 a.m. on Thurs., Mar. 26. The link will be sent out on Tues. and Wed. Jon Prater and Kevin Daggett will host. Learn more about downloading the Zoom app for Windows here and for Mac products here .

Holy Week Worship Planning Webinar offered to ministers and worship planners. The Office of Ministry will host a Zoom webinar conversation on Mar. 26, at noon EST, focused on Holy Week worship planning. Register in advance here and join the webinar at the following link: http://www.brethren.org/news/2020/webinar-on-holy-week-planning.html .