November 20, 2020
Dear Prairie Avenue Family,
Once again, COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Decatur and Macon County. We were informed that one of these cases involved one of our members, who, fortunately, has already been absent from in-person worship attendance since March. The Macon County Health Department announced this week it is encouraging all faith based organizations to only provide virtual services through January 15, 2021. Governor Pritzker announced Tier 3 Resurgence mitigations statewide begin today.
The Dove, Inc. Children's Clothing Room has been closed effective Monday, November 16, and will remain closed until January 2021. Youth activity and gatherings have also been shifted from in-person to online only.
While both Tier 3 mitigations and county health recommendations have not reduced gathering sizes from 25 to 10, and religious organizations are exempted, I make the following guidelines for now through January 2021:
If you can access Prairie Avenue's Facebook or online worship page via computer, phone, or tablet, I expect you to stay home.
If you have no way to access such resources, we will continue to have a private worship service at 9 am Sunday. This will no longer be publicly advertised as a possible choice.
In anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday, I request that if you are having family members or friends from outside of your immediate home coming to join you for it that you do not attend in-person worship on November 29 or December 6, allowing for a two week quarantine.
We will go to online only if an attendee tests positive or the 10 person or less restriction is placed by local health or state officials.
Minimize your risks. Stay home. Stay safe. Many of you have made extraordinary efforts to keep others healthy and safe. Thank you for your vigilance and concern.
WORSHIP THIS WEEKEND - Entrusted: Called To Service
This weekend concludes our Entrusted series. It is also the end of the church year, the last Sunday before the beginning of Advent. Jesus is disclosing his final parable with his disciples gathered before entering Jerusalem a final time. In the parable of the grooms-maids, we were reminded to be prepared and ready. In the parable of the talents, we were reminded to be bold and daring with the abundance given to us. Now with the parable of the sheep and goats, we are reminded to be generous and compassionate to the least of these.
Neither the sheep (who chose to love others) nor the goats (who did not) recognized Jesus among the poor of the world. These actions do not open heaven's door, but rather are the fruit of those for whom inheritance has already be provided. An inheritance is received, never earned.
Too often we read the actions of the sheep (and their absence with the goats) as a check off list of minimum requirements of charitable giving. Food donations? Clothing donations? Drinks distributions? Prison visits? They are common actions listed among the prophets of the Old Testament that Israel fails to do, over and over again. So do we.
Often we hand over the food basket, the Thanksgiving turkeys, and the Christmas Presents without even asking the recipient who they are, what they are facing, and what is really needed. What if we listened, showed respect, and formed a relationship with the needy among us? Would we discover better ways to change the lives of others rather than transact our charity with them?
OTHER NEWS THIS WEEK
Livestreaming Equipment This past Tuesday Lighthouse Electric ran a permanent data line from the Church copier room to the sanctuary balcony for our pending livestreaming installation. We will meet with the installers from Rutherford Video next Wednesday to plan our two camera studio and broadcast booth. When the Internet network was being installed in 2019, we did not consider the additional costs for livestreaming capability to be justified with our limited online presence and audience. What a difference an online only season can make! Our data line will ensure no network failure during a live broadcast from the sanctuary, whereas a wireless connection is prone to failure and data loss.
Thanksgiving Special Offering Each year the Thanksgiving special day offering is collected to assist students in Disciples-related colleges and universities as well as seminaries to provide what is necessary to live and work in the world and in our congregations. Your generous support of this special offering will help the future leaders (and even ministers) of our congregation obtain the necessary experience and skills for effective ministry, leadership, and career path.
Advent/Christmas Decorating Observing COVID-19 guidelines, the sanctuary will be decorated next Saturday, November 28 at 9 am for the upcoming Advent/Christmas season. We will not be decorating any other spaces in the building.
I will end this week's note with a Thanksgiving suggestion: Often at Thanksgiving we have a quick prayer just before we sit down to eat. I would like to encourage you, in this pandemic year, marked by political division and racial injustice, take a little more time before sharing your meal to consider the blessings in the midst of the adversity. There are so many. If you are sharing Thanksgiving with others, invite each to name those blessings, and to consider how your lives have changed for the better this year. I am not suggesting that we ignore the pain, but that we take the time to see how and where God has worked in the midst of this difficult season, and to see the beauty and goodness all around us, and to earnestly give thanks. The first Thanksgiving followed a year in which half of the pilgrims died. Our pictures of that first Thanksgiving often miss the reality for both the Pilgrims and the Native Americans of that time; life was hard and filled with adversity, but in the midst of it, there was a recognition of blessings and expressions of gratitude for it.
See you in worship this weekend!