News for the Church, 6/18/21

Good Day to you Church!

How are you faring this week? The black flies seem to have passed on for another year, the warmer weather is beginning to hold, and summer is upon us! I hope you’re finding a way to enjoy it. I went swimming in the Grasse River a few days ago. It was definitely chilly, but felt refreshing with the hot sun beating down. 

This week Session met, and I have a few announcements for you. 

We Need You for a Congregational Meeting

We will be holding a congregational meeting after church this Sunday, June 20, to vote on using $8,000 from the Shaw Fund to use towards the heating repair work that needs to be done in the Community Center. The Shaw Fund was established to help pay for major building projects like this, but one of the requirements of being able to draw out money from it includes holding a congregational vote on use of these funds. Last year we used Shaw funds for the roofing project, and this year it is again needed if we’re going to be able to pay for the heating work that Merkley’s is scheduled to do in August. 

I know that this is short notice, but Session felt that it was better to vote now, before July hits and more folks take off for vacation, camp, etc. We need as many people here for the vote as we can get. Cynthia Coleman, our treasurer, will be at the meeting to explain how the Shaw Fund works and to answer any questions before we take a vote. 

Social Distancing No Longer Mandatory

I have wonderful, joyful news to share with you! Given New York State’s loosening of pandemic restrictions this week, Session has decided that social distancing will no longer be mandatory during Sunday worship for people who have been vaccinated. If you have chosen not to be vaccinated we ask that you continue to social distance, but the green tape separating pews will no longer be up, and it will be up to you to decide where you sit. 

For the present time, however, we are still asking everyone who comes to worship to wear a mask, and we will continue to use cantors for our congregational hymn singing. New York State as a whole has reached 70% immunity, but St. Lawrence County is only at 50% immunity, so we’re not out of the woods yet. But this shift is a wonderful change for those of us who worship together. Step by step we’re getting closer to a return to “normal!” 

For those of us who are vaccinated, these steps might not feel like they’re coming fast enough, but I need to ask you to remember that not everyone in our congregation is vaccinated. And because it’s our responsibility to ensure people’s safety when they come to church, we will continue to look out for their needs too. 

Taking a Break from Free Friday Lunch 

Church volunteers have been making lunch on Fridays for the last 5 weeks for people who could use a free, hot take-out meal. But the numbers of people coming in for lunch have been so low that we’ve decided to hit the pause button on this ministry for the time being. It’s become clear that the major draw for people coming for Free Friday Lunch is the opportunity to visit and socialize with each other, and as long as we are only able to offer the meal as take-out, they’re simply not coming. 

Sometimes people get really upset when a church stops engaging in ministry because we feel like we’ve failed in some way. But I want to give us permission to look at things differently. One thing I’ve learned about ministry is that for it to be the “right thing,” three things have to align simultaneously: (1) you have to have the right people, (2) in the right place, (3) at the right time. And if one of those things is missing, it’s just not the right moment for a ministry to happen. And that’s ok. Life is always changing, and at the present moment, this is simply not the “right time” for this ministry. Maybe in the future it will be the right time again, and when that happens, we can pick it right back up. But for now, we will listen to what life is offering, and prayerfully consider if there are other ministries God is calling us to. 

Friends, one thing the pandemic is teaching us is that being flexible is valuable– both in our daily, individual lives and in our social life together. Usually, having to adapt is something we resist. It’s hard to change how we do things, isn’t it? We crave being able to stay in control, and when external forces push us to have to redirect our habits, we often feel like we’ve somehow lost that control. That’s why we resist change. But there are other ways to engage our fears of being out of control. One way to avert being powerless in a situation is to recognize that adapting and changing can be beneficial. 

When we can look at being flexible as a useful tool in our toolbox, the curve balls that life throws our way won’t knock us off balance quite as easily. 

In Isaiah, God called out to the people to open themselves up to receive that God was doing new things–

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 

~Isaiah 43:16-19

When we do not have enough of what we need– when life is not adequate to meet our needs– one tool that God makes use of on our behalf is to be able to try new things. To do things differently. There are many places in the Bible where God tries new things, and then invites us to partake of them. 

I pray that we will continue to open ourselves up to this spiritual practice– of flexibility! It can literally be a life-saver. 

Pastor Katrina