Good morning Church!
It’s a beautiful morning out on my back deck today. The wood thrushes are calling, the intoxicating scent of lilacs is dancing in the air, and the warm sun is shining. I hope you have a chance to enjoy some of this lovely weather today.
Here’s the news for this week:
Pentecost is this Sunday (the 23rd) and I invite you to pull out that bright red suit, blouse, or hat to celebrate the birthday of the church and the coming of the Holy Spirit! Let’s fill up our sanctuary with the joy of red!
Masks During Worship
The CDC offered new guidelines this week concerning mask wearing, and NYS has subsequently lifted the state mask mandate. Session has discussed these changes at length, but has concluded that for the time being we will still be asking people to wear masks during our Sunday worship services. There are some of us who have not been vaccinated yet (some by choice and some because they are too young), and we want to make sure that coming to church is a safe activity for these folks too.
I know this may be frustrating to those of us who have already been vaccinated, but I would ask that we step into the shoes of these other folks in our mind’s eye and choose to wear our masks in solidarity with them. Doing so becomes an act of agape love on our part when we do not enjoy wearing masks but relinquish the desire to feel comfortable and free while worshipping, in order to care for these others.
All-Church Big Shift Meetings
I’ve mentioned that in the coming months our entire church will need to start coming together to discuss our future, and where God might be leading us. I had hoped to start these conversations soon, but because so many of us will be traveling this summer, we will wait to begin these get-togethers until the fall. It’s going to take all of us together– deciding as a church about our future– and we want to make sure that everyone is available to participate.
Look for more about these meetings later in the summer!
Pastor Katrina on Vacation
I will be going on vacation next week, from May 27-June 2, so there won’t be a newsletter next week. My mom is traveling from Missouri to visit. We will be headed to Vermont to visit with family and to bury my grandmother’s ashes (she died last summer but we couldn’t get together then). I’m really looking forward to this chance to breathe different air and be with family!
I know some of you are beginning to see your extended family now too. These visits will take on special meaning for us after not being able to see loved ones because of the pandemic, won’t they? I hope you will savor your experiences and connections in a new way!
A big thanks to Rev. Shaun, who will be preaching and leading worship for us on May 30th.
Beth Grace has offered to head up a rummage sale, to be held July 9-10th! You will be invited to bring your well-cared-for items on July 7-8th to include in the sale. And of course, we will need volunteers to help out!
If you haven’t heard the sad news already, Lonel Woods passed away this week. I know that many of you knew him and loved his music. I did not have the personal pleasure of knowing him, but from your stories I can tell that he was a shining light at Crane and in Potsdam. Please be in prayer for his family. I’ll let you know when memorial service details are available.
Friends, with this week’s change in the status of mask wearing, some of us will be joyfully ripping these masks off of our faces, but others of us will not be feeling ready to do so quite yet. Wherever you are on that spectrum, be gentle with yourself. And with others, too. This is a new experience for all of us! As is the case with new experiences, carrying extra grace in our hearts will soften the difficulties of the coming changes. If you’re not ready to take your mask off yet, that’s ok. You have all the time you need to feel safe in doing so. Just be aware of judgments you might be making against other vaccinated folks who have chosen to take theirs off.
On the other hand, if you’ve vaccinated and have already peeled it off in public spaces that allow it, breathe deeply, but try to do so without judging those who aren’t in the same headspace you are. We’re not all on the same page in this change and that’s ok… …ok as long as we don’t cause harm to one another in our different choices. Not being on the same page in life…. well, it happens… but as Christians, it requires us to practice having mutual respect for each other while we each live in our varying life circumstances.
The book of 1 Peter offers practical advice for specific life circumstances that some were facing in the early church. Some of this specific advice doesn’t apply to us in the 21st century, but what does apply to us, however, is the attitude that the author suggests we live by. He writes in 1 Peter:
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.–1 Peter 3:8 (The Message version)
Dear Hearts, may be sympathetic and compassionate when we are not agreeable to one another. And may we come to know blessing in our lives for offering such a blessing to others.
Figuring out my own sense of “mask balancing”,