Philippians 2:3 “When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves (NCV) or (NLT) Do not be selfish; do not try to impress others. Be humble, think of others as better than yourselves (NLT).
I do not believe I am different from some of you in becoming aware of illness and death from the Covid -19 pandemic. As Covid-19 has continued on for these past months and it seems that each week I become aware of more and more people that I know, my extended family members and others in my community who have come in contact with Covid 19 and many of them have gotten ill from this disease. In talking with some of them the words that I continue to hear over and over again are that it is an illness that they do not want anyone else to have to go through and prayerfully if they do become ill that they survive this illness and escape from deadliness of this disease. So many of these people have implored that, “A face covering is essential and a responsibility that each one of us has”. And I will add that if we are true followers of Jesus Christ and we are to love each other then we will put others before ourselves.
I have been caught in a real dilemma these past few weeks as I deal with attitudes of people. It all stems from what some people believe is political and others as myself believe it is not political and that wearing a face covering is what we do because we love all of God’s people. As a United Methodist I strongly believe in the Social Principles that we as a denomination have adopted as a way of living our lives. There has been a lot said about the wearing of face coverings or not being required to wear a face covering. The Scripture I opened with from Philippians states that we are to do all we can for others even when it places a burden on ourselves. We do all we can for others because God requires this of us to love Him and all that he has created.
I firmly believe that fearful people do not sacrifice, but bold people do sacrifice. Reba and I have been bold over the past weeks in advocating for wearing face coverings as a way of protecting those we meet and yes, we know and recognize that face coverings also protect ourselves from possible exposure to Covid-19. I came across this article written by Pastor Gerald Longjohn which for me best states why I believe we should recognize physical science and how Scripture can support wearing of face coverings. This is how and why I live. Gerald Longjohns words: “Great Christian thinkers such as Brother Lawrence in the 1600s and much more recently James K. A. Smith have written about the ways in which small, seemingly ordinary interactions and habits can help us embody virtues and practices that heighten our awareness of God.
Let me tell you about how this might relate to the reality of wearing face coverings in the weeks and months ahead. I think they present us with a powerful opportunity. Here is how….. Each time I put on a face covering I am asking the Lord to remind me of Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” I am asking that God will use the piece of fabric to remind me that: I have been chosen, that God loves me and that he has made me holy. What an incredible gift God has given us! Remembering me that I can recalibrate everything else that I experience and do each day.
God is cultivating compassion. The face coverings remind me of those who are hurting, grieving, or fighting illness. It gives me a moment of solidarity with healthcare workers who are on the front lines. It identifies me with those who are vulnerable.
God is cultivating kindness. This season has left me a little more prone to sarcasm and cynicism. I want the face covering to remind me to be kind, to smile with my eyes, to be particularly gracious to employees who have to enforce face covering requirements.
God is cultivating humility. This season that we are in has been humbling on so many fronts. I have to daily admit what I do not know. The face covering can remind me that humility is a good thing and that perhaps I can welcome this process.
God is cultivating gentleness. Maybe the fabric, the tug on my ears, the way I have to keep adjusting the face covering on my nose and certainly the way it muffles my voice can be reminders to engage more carefully and to listen more intently.
God is cultivating patience. I am ready to get back to “normal” but perhaps putting on the face covering, even as I am getting quicker at it, can be a moment to pause, to slow down, and to take life at a less frenzied pace. And it certainly can be a reminder to engage more patiently with others.
Of course, this is all easy to write when I am at home and without a face covering. So feel free to remember me in the days ahead and perhaps take a minute to pray for me next time you put on a face covering. I will do the same for you.”
Let Come Before God
On Wednesday evening (July 22nd, 29th and August 5th and more Wednesdays if needed) from 5-7:00 p.m., the Claybanks UMC Sanctuary will be open for everyone who would like to come and just be. Suzanne will be playing music for our souls. Come take some time to pray and meditate. Pastor Gary will be available to talk and prayer with you. We will also have a resource table for you to look over and take materials if you would like. We pray that this will be an opportunity to start re-engaging prior to our assembly in worship together in the very near future.
It is not written in stone but we are looking at resuming in person worship outdoors on Sunday August 9th at 10:30 am. We will have marked off safe distance areas for those who would like to sit on the lawn in the sunshine and we will have a FM transmitter (for your car radio to assist in listening) for those who would choose to remain in their autos. The parking spaces on the north side of our parking lot will be designated for in car worship. Stay tuned as we near August 9th for confirmation and additional details on re-engaging in worship as COVID-19 allows us to resume worship more safely and using the guidelines from the State of Michigan which will help us determine this possibility of in person worship. Our intent is to worship outdoors for a few weeks as weather permits. We will move inside to worship as safety for all and weather encourages us to move indoors and resume worship in our sanctuary.
During the first part of July our Treasurer has sent out giving statements for the first half of 2020 giving year. Please compare your statement with your planned giving as we continues to support our Claybanks Church’s ongoing expenses and missional support. If you did not receive a statement please contact Cinda.
Reba and I had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours listening to Megan and her brother Luke play music in Pentwater on the Café Greens. She is doing well and her parents are experience improving health at this time. She sends her love to all!
I am humbled and sincerely grateful to Anne Riegler, the Mears and Shelby United Methodist Churches for allowing me and the Claybanks UMC to be a part of worshiping with them over these past few months. We talk about how as Methodist we are connected. Being able to be a part of worship with them has been a blessing for me and many of you have expressed your thanks and appreciation for the resources that they have shared with us. The Holy Spirit has been at work these past months in keeping us engaged through radio and webcasts. We have truly connected in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!