Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We continue in this new way of life in the midst of shut-downs and virtual gatherings. I have been very impressed with the efforts of so many to honor the stay in place orders. As I read in the papers, there is evidence that it is indeed starting to slow the rate of infection, although it will still take significantly more time to “flatten the curve.” We are nowhere near out of the danger zone at this time. The peak has not yet occurred, the number of cases continues to expand, the death toll mounts. In New York City, just 2 hours away, there have been nearly 2,000 deaths from the virus, with more to come. The CDC has now asked people who are going out in public to wear some form of face mask to deter the spread of coronavirus. (Please remember that surgical masks, particularly N95 masks need to be reserved for medical personnel in hospitals and first response teams. The Springfield Fire Company has asked for donations of surgical masks, N95 masks, and disinfectant spray or wipes from those who have some.) In the midst of all this concerning news, we are called to remain faithful: faithful to God, who promises to be with us in times of trouble, and faithful to each other, as we work to mitigate the impact we have on spreading COVID-19 to our families, friends, and neighbors.
In this time I take hope from one of my favorite psalms:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade
on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.
The book of Hebrews says this in the 10th chapter:
23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Paul writes in the 6th chapter of his letter the Galatians:
9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
As best as we can, let us not grow weary of doing that which is good for our community. Let us continue to encourage one another to continue these difficult practices of separation for this time. And of course, let us pray: pray for all those affected, for those on the “front line” who are working for the good of all in this crisis, for those scientists who are seeking a cure to this virus, and pray that, until this pandemic has passed, we see God at work through the caring acts of his people.
A word of encouragement from our Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, released on April 1st, is available at this link:
Palm Sunday Worship at 10:00 a.m. Tomorrow! – Together though apart
I am happy to hear that many have been using the worship services that I have sent via email, and which have been posted on our website, www.stmattspringfield.org.
Last Sunday was our first use of Zoom for worship, and I am pleased with how well it worked. We will continue to use this format to worship, along with the people of Grace, Broomall, where my wife serves. Tomorrow’s worship has been structured by, and will feature, Pastor Leslie bringing the reflection. I will again post the service in a PDF form for people to use, either on their own if they cannot join by Zoom, or to use together if they can join the gathering.
A reminder that Zoom is an on-line teleconference program which will allow up to 100 devices to be connected at one time, and allow all to see, hear, and participate in what is going in in our gathering. You can use Zoom from many types of devices: a laptop computer, a tablet, a smartphone, a desk top computer (if you have a camera and microphone connected to it), or you can just call in with a regular phone. If you use a regular phone you will not, obviously, see what is going on, but you will be able to hear and share in the gathering.
Tomorrow’s email will include a link to join the meeting (worship). There will be a 9 digit number to identify which meeting you wish to attend. When you click on the link to the meeting, you will be asked to allow Zoom to be on your device, and asked to set up an account. This will not cost you anything. It just registers you so you can access the gathering. When you are registered, you will be asked to enter the 9 digit meeting number, and then you should be in the teleconference. You may also set up a Zoom account before the day, so you will already be registered. Nicole Smith has volunteered to walk people through this process. She is using Zoom for her Zumba classes, and has been able to assist several people with the set-up.
I will walk through how we will use the details on the site when we gather online in the morning. Following worship we will stay online for another half hour for those who wish to enjoy a “virtual coffee hour,” and share how we are doing. We will need to end our gathering by 11:15, as Grace will have their council meeting at that time.
If you prefer, or do not have a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you can dial the number that will be part of the invitation, and then enter the meeting number when prompted to do so.
If this is still uncomfortable for you, you may simply use the worship service I will be sending on your own, or with your family.
I think this is a great vehicle to use so we can see, as well as hear, one another, and for us to worship Jesus together, even while we are physically apart.
New Update on Tithe.ly
We have seen an increase of those who are making their gifts to our church family through Tithe.ly by means of the green GIVE button on our website. Thank you for this faithful sharing!
I have discovered a piece of information that may be of interest. As I shared previously, there is a modest charge for using this service. One may choose to cover this charge, or if one is not able to, St. Matthew will cover this cost. I have discovered that the cost is less if you make your gift using your bank routing number and the account number from which you wish to give. When you press the GIVE button the default screen asks for credit or debit card information. On the lower portion of that box is an option to use your bank account number. Either choice is fine, and will give your gift to your church, but there will be a lower fee if you are comfortable using your account rather than your card.
We are also having the mail forwarded to the home of our Office Administrator, Janice Gardner, and so if a check is sent, it will be received and can be deposited.
Ongoing thanks as our building is closed
Thank you for your patience and your understanding as our building has been closed. Having people honor the call to stay out of the building has been making it possible, and safe, for our sexton Ted to continue a deep disinfecting of our entire facility. We will let you all know when we are re-opening the building, but until then, please continue to stay out.
I cannot give thanks enough for all of you. As we weather this storm it is good to know that we do so in the company of each other, and in the company of Jesus, who joins us together as one family by our baptism.
Yours in Christ,