Pastor Henry's Memo

Category: Pentecost 2020

Wednesday, September 16

Pastor’s Memo:   

Our Calvary congregation will be singing this Sunday.  All of the Calvary congregation is invited to join us in the sanctuary for worship that will include the singing of hymns.  Social distancing, hand sanitizer, temperature taking, and face masks (WHICH WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE NARTHEX) will be how we adhere to the guidelines set forth by our Bishop, Governor, and local health department to keep us safe.  We are still broadcasting our service on 92.5 FM if you feel safer in your car or at home.  We are now able to live-stream our worship on our website at www.syracusecalvaryumc.org    Log on and join the worship of God with other Christians around the globe.  Welcome to the 21st Century!

 

Now, for a short pastor's memo.  "December 7th; a day that will live in infamy."  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the Congress and asked for a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan.   WWII changed the world at the cost of millions of lives and untold treasure.  By the 19th anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, America elected John Fitzgerald Kennedy president.  An energetic, forward looking president would bee inaugurated some six weeks later.  Last week saw the 19th anniversary of the attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, PA.  That was 9/11. Our nation and the world have not been the same since. We are currently engaged in a most unfamiliar and frightfully divided presidential election and long before December 7th I pray God we will know who our president will be.  If this nation can survive WW II and its ghastly cost, surely we can be a united nation after November's election and surely, when we remember the 20th anniversary of 9/11.  Our national rancor and discord and bitterness must be resolved and set aside.  The UNITED part of our United States of America must be put forward and affirmed by our citizens living together in peace and with justice.  Pray God nineteen years from now will find us not only united, but having joyfully elected several new presidents who preside over an energetic and forward looking nation.  



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Wednesday, September 2

Pastor’s Memo:   Bearing a faithful Christian witness during a trying season isn't easy.  For that matter, being faithful in any season is not easy.  If it was, the world wouldn't be in such a mess.  Our current season of trial and isolation is not the first of its kind to have occupied the human family.  Chances are very good it will not be the last such season.  However pessimistic this may at first sound, please let me continue.  The call to Christian discipleship has never been understood as easy to answer.  Jesus likens it to taking up a cross and leaving everything else behind.  Everything.  Self denial is front and center to that invitation.  The primary implication to that call is nothing less than staggering.  The cross we are invited to pick up is not like a flag we can wave and salute and, one day, fold neatly in a triangle to display on the fireplace mantle.  Jesus' cross was the instrument of his execution.  Our own, most likely, won't be.  But you never know.  Like many hundreds, perhaps thousands of small membership congregations, Calvary is struggling to survive this pandemic.  We are making plans to implement a strategy for more than survival in the short run.  Our plan is a way of showing ourselves and our community the measure of our faithful witness.  Together we will bear our collective congregational cross.  We will continue to worship God.  We will care for our home-bound members and help feed the hungry.  We will make necessarily difficult spending cuts and provide assistance to the poor in our community.  We will do these things because we choose to be faithful to our Lord and Savior.  May God bless our Calvary family in this season and may taking up our cross be for the glory of God.



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Wednesday, August 26

​Pastor’s Memo:   Age creeps up on a person silently.  The passage of it slips along and before you know it, your hair is grey, if you have any.  My dad was full of advice.  He died in 1977 at just 50 years of age. I was barely an adult.  These last four decades without him offering his advice makes we wonder how he would have continued to influence my life.  He was often saying to my brother and me "Just do what I say."  That may not seem like wise counsel to a kid or a teenager or high school senior, but it was.  As I have lurched toward senior citizen status, having been a generally obedient son back when he was alive, has not left me damaged.  As the adage goes, "the older I get, the wiser my dad becomes"  True, true, so true.  What he sometimes added to "Just do what I say," was "You'll understand someday."  Again, true, true, so very true.  I never thought his advice was anything more than the way he determined to teach my brother and me to do what he said.  We never needed to understand his orders.  Just being obedient was enough.  It also kept us from being disciplined, if you know what I mean.  Who knew I would read something that would explain it all?  NA'ASEH V'NISHMA.   Translated literally from the Hebrew it reads: "First we will obey.  Then we will understand."  Who knew my dad was tuned in to ancient Jewish wisdom?  I did not always obey, to say the least.  As I continue to enter my dotage, my dad's advice and its benefit to me is more treasured every day.



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Wednesday, August 19

Pastor’s Memo…      More than a year ago on April 15, 2019, fire nearly destroyed the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  It raged through the night and for most of the next day.  Countless Parisians and French citizens looked on in horror as the 12th Century structure was engulfed.  Millions of others around the world watched the carnage, too.  Damage was beyond significant.  Not only was the building heavily damaged, priceless works of art and sculpture were also lost.  

     There are few structures more iconic and historically relevant than Notre Dame Cathedral.  Having stood unscathed across so many centuries gives pause to anyone who looks on its near ruins today.  Plans for its restoration/reconstruction are being made.  Millions and millions of francs have been pledged to see those plans completed.  Time will tell.  

     Viewing the cathedral from beyond its doors reveals a Gothic stone edifice.  Its visage shows forth as strong and impenetrable.  Alas, it was vulnerable to one of nature's most vicious forces.  The interior of the cathedral was largely wood.  Nearly nine centuries of time took its toll.  Gravity, the weather, usage, some neglect, all lead to the disaster that sees Notre Dame a hulk in need of human hands to set it back to use as a place for divine worship.  Cathedrals aren't alive like humans.  But they do take on a kind of life for those who appreciate art and architecture and sacred use.  

     There are times in all of our lives when our bodies suffer damage.  I won't try to lay forth that litany of the perils to which the human form is subject.  I do want to suggest that we may look recognizable from all outward appearances, but we may have suffered an incredible injury beneath our skin and within our flesh.  Those injuries require skilled treatment, and recovery, if it is to come, may be very lengthy, indeed.  

     Now, as to the Calvary congregation and hundreds of others, perhaps even thousands of others across the nation, the COVID-19 virus has acted as a fire.  Our buildings are standing but the true interior of the Church, the people, are suffering.  Outward appearances do not reveal the damage done to un-numbered members who are not yet able to worship God in the presence of their families and friends and neighbors.  That pain is real and it will not simply go away.

     As we struggle with this virus and the consequences of its devastation to the normal life we once enjoyed, I do not believe it will render us useless to the Kingdom of God on earth nor to the mission Jesus set for us to be his faithful disciples.  God still calls to us.  Let our ears listen for and hear that call.  Let us continue to be a family of faith and devotion.  Let Notre Dame Cathedral and Calvary United Methodist Church be lasting realities pointing to the love and grace of God. 



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Monday, August 10

“Ask the Pastor”

     This Monday's ASK THE PASTOR is being pre-empted.  There are two events with significance occurring in the coming week and I thought a word from the pastor would be appropriate.

     Our Stewardship and Finance Committee has designated Sunday the 16th as Financial Catch-Up Sunday.  For the many weeks since we have been isolating and quarantining and not joining together weekly in public worship in the sanctuary, our offerings have decreased.

     Many of Calvary's members and constituents have continued to support the budget by delivering or mailing their offerings and pledges.  Those who gather for in-person or drive-in worship have also made offerings to support Calvary's mission and ministries.

     The latest reporting indicates we are very close to being $15,000 in deficit for 2020.  That amounts to a short fall of $750 per week since March 15th; the last Sunday we gathered before COVID-19 caused us to restrict worship.

     We are hoping to recover as much of that deficit in the month of August.  This coming Sunday has been designated Catch-Up Sunday.  Each Sunday in August will be a follow-up Catch-Up Sunday.  

     Dan Sharp, Chair of Stewardship and Finance, has a letter of explanation and appeal in this Monday's E-Navigator to flesh out our position further.  Please read it and prayerfully consider how you might help Calvary Catch-Up in August.

     The other item for your consideration is the 2020 Indiana Annual Conference that will convene mostly by ZOOM this Saturday.  Several regional sites and the gathering of a very selected few at Marion, IN, will also see our Conference trying a conduct its annual business in this pandemic season.

     This mentioning of the Conference is an invitation to all of Calvary's friends and members to pray for Bishop Trimble and his elders and all the lay members to Annual Conference that the Holy Spirit will guide their decision making and keep them safe from COVID-19.  May God bless all of Indiana's United Methodists and those who work and pray for their well being.   



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Thursday, August 6

“Ask the Pastor” (dated Aug. 3)

"Why do you always preach from the Old testament?"  That is our ASK THE PASTOR question for this week.  It comes to me from an e-mail I received Sunday afternoon.  A woman listening to our service at home on 92.5 FM noticed I tell the Old Testament stories and then get to the point.  Would that that was always the case.  

     I love the Hebrew Scriptures.  The Hebrew studies I did at seminary changed me.  They provided a vibrant and lasting perspective on how I understood my Christian faith.  Learning the language and being able to read the same texts Jesus read was exhilarating.  

     Learning the Hebrew was more than just a foreign language exercise.  To do that leaning meant becoming immersed in the life and history of our Jewish cousins; learning their culture, their seasons, and their feasts. 

     When Jesus preached or taught it was with the Torah and the Psalms and the Prophets reverberating in his brain and heart.  The parables are deeply rooted in his tradition.  His scriptures are the Church's scriptures.  His traditions are ours.  

     Genesis to Malachi reveal the Word of God to Jews and Christians.  Those ancient stories belong to both faith traditions.  Knowing them enables the Church to know and understand and love the Gospel Jesus came to reveal.  Knowing the stories Jesus knew connects us to those stories and to the people God chose to be his own.

     As those who have been grafted on to the chosen people of God, knowing and loving their story is to claim it with them as the story of God's steadfast desire to bring salvation to us all.  In all that, what's not to love?

Pastor’s Memo…    Modern technology is an amazing thing.  Our ability to communicate via E-mail would seem like magic to those who lived a century ago.  Today, we take it for granted.  Using our laptops and tablets and cell phones we send messages and pictures and read the news. That is, we do these things when we can connect to the Internet.  Calvary is making the leap to having our entire building wired for Internet access.  This is being done with the assistance of a generous grant from the Eli Lilly Foundation.  Wiring and new equipment are being installed to make this a reality.  Yesterday, Wednesday the 5th of August, saw most of that installation completed and for a good bit of the day Calvary was without Internet access.  That is why our usual Wednesday E-Navigator was not sent out as usual.  it's why you are receiving it today, Thursday, the 6th.  Being wired throughout the entire building allows us to stream our Sunday worship service on the Internet.   In-person worship, listening on 92.5 FM, and now watching from your devices is possible.  That means anyone connected to the Internet anywhere in the world can view and hear our worship.  The 21st Century has arrived.  We are a part of it.  Dave VanLue has overseen the installation of this technology and we thank him for his time and labor.  A world of possibilities are opening up for us and for that we give thanks to God.  I'm not sure when our first worship will be transmitted.  There may be a few glitches to work out, but we will let you know.                                                                                               



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Wednesday, July 29

Pastor’s Memo…    "Who was that masked man?"  Those of us who grew up in the late fifties and through the sixties know who he was.  He was the Lone Ranger.  He and his faithful friend, Tonto, rode through the West bringing law and order to the land.  Riding Silver and Scout they stood for right and justice and against the bad guys.  I will grant you the line between right and wrong was very easy to determine.  Everyone knew who was a miscreant and who was honest.  Simpler times, no doubt.  I will also admit that line hasn't ever only been clear.  In every life there are plenty shades of gray, and they way outnumber 50.  Life would be so much easier if every decision could be made by looking at a clearly marked line: this side is right, the other is wrong.  It has never been that simple.  It occurred to me, as I went to the bank this week, of a great irony.  I was greeted by a sign demanding I wear a mask to enter.  Just a few months ago it was absolutely impermissible to enter a bank with a hoodie or a face covering of any sort.  Some banks didn't even want it customers to wear a hat.  Being able to identify bank patrons who wanted to transact legal business made it necessary to be able to capture a picture of the customer.  Facial coverings made that very difficult to do.  Ergo, no masks, no large sun glasses, no hoodies.  COVID-19 has changed all that.  Masks are mandatory.  The Lone Ranger would be right at home in the American summer of A.D. 2020.  We may be in an unfamiliar and awkward season given COVID-19, but it won't last forever.  This Summer and the coming Fall.  Maybe even Christmas and beyond.  A new season free of the inconvenience of masks will surely come.  In the meantime, wear your mask in public.  Sanitize your hands often.  Maintain a safe distance always.  We'll beat this thing.  Of that, I am sure.



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Wednesday, July 22

Pastor’s Memo… The world is both a strange and interesting place.  People and their pets make it so.  Man's best friend is the dog.  Humans and their dogs have been companions for thousands of generations. Some suggest we've been by each other's sides for over 15,000 years.  Not all of our companions have been of the canine persuasion.  I performed a funeral for a retired librarian almost thirty years ago.  Katherine Sprawl was well over ninety when she died.  One of the strange and interesting bits of information I learned about her in preparation for her funeral was she had a small monkey.  She would walk around Geneva, Indiana with it on her shoulder.  It was long gone before she died.  Everyone in Geneva knew her and her monkey.  I'm not sure monkeys and humans have a 15,000 year relationship.  However, if we descended from the great apes, we do have a thing or two in common.  That's an argument for another memo.  I live in a neighborhood where a man walks his cat.  This pet is not on a leash nor near his side and they patrol Camelot Lakes.  This cat rides in luxury.  It makes its rounds in a stroller.  It sits in a mesh enclosure on the seat of a baby stroller.  My guess is this cat is an indoor cat and it demands some outdoor time.  So, with some frequency, I see them make their way along the pavement in most kinds of weather.  They seem content and perfectly at ease making their rounds.  I'm not sure who gets rewarded with a treat after their daily jaunt.  I saw them this morning as I was leaving the parsonage.  It had me thinking: would that humans treated each other as cordially and kindly as this man and his cat.  If we did, wouldn't the world be a better place?



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Wednesday, July 15

Pastor’s Memo…   A new day has dawned in every American church.   Worship is different because of social distancing, face masks, and hand sanitizer.  Add to that temperature checks, no singing, and no hugging.  Sunday mornings are different and strained and no one knows when it will be back to normal.  So much of what Christians understood about the rhythm of the week is being dismantled.  Providing a traditional worship service with hymns and intinction communion and passing offering plates is not safe.  Every congregation has made changes to adapt to this season of isolation and separation.  Technology has not exactly come to our rescue but it has offered us new ways to stay connected and be the Church in creative ways.  Calvary is now on the air.  Our worship service is transmitted on 92.5 FM radio.  For the past three Sunday mornings we have broadcast our worship service to those who drive-in to sit in our parking lot.  This past Sunday we sent out the intrepid Buddy and Bev Martz to listen for our signal in the Syracuse neighborhood.  They reported Calvary's worship could be heard at Chubby's Restaurant and The Frog.  The high school parking lot and some of Wawasee Heights picked up our signal.  West past Brook Point and south to One Call Water on State Road 13 are within our listening area.  Some places at Oakwood can receive 92.5 FM.  Miller's Merry Manor did not have good reception.  Buddy did not report on the northern reaches of our transmission.  What we do know is much of our town south of Penguin Point is our neighborhood for Sunday worship on FM radio station 92.5.  Soon we will be streaming our service on the Internet.  That means we will be world wide!  United States troops in Afghanistan and in the South China Sea and United Methodists in New Zealand could tune in to our website at www.syracusecalvaryumc.org and worship on the air with tens and scores and hundreds and thousands and tens of millions.  For now, join us in the sanctuary or in the parking lot or in your family room.  Know in your hearts God is worshiped by Calvary United Methodists in this strange season and we all look forward to the day when we will sing and join in communion and hug our friends and neighbors in Christian love.  And then head to Chubby's or KFC or Louie's for lunch.  God bless you all.



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Wednesday, July 1, Salvation Army

Pastor’s Memo:    July 4th might call for a bit of "Hip, hip, hooray," but not this year.  My mother was born on the 4th of July and the day has deep meaning for my family.  It's also, as suggested above, our nation's birthday.  However, this year America's birthday celebration comes fraught with symbolic, metaphoric, and real tensions.  And that makes me sad, indeed.  Given our current circumstance what with COVID-19, protests, and a political election made murky by all that afflicts us, I'm turning this Wednesday's Pastor's Memo into a celebration of the Salvation Army.  It was born on July 2, 1865.  One might think it arose from the American Civil War, but that is not the case.  William Booth, a former Methodist preacher in England, founded his Salvation Army in London.  He and his wife Catherine began a mission outreach to the destitute of London that has become an international charitable organization that continues Booth's outreach and mission.  What is sad for me is Booth's Army was a part of the Methodist Church in England, but left the denomination because some Methodist leaders thought it was too cozy with the poor, unwashed clients that came to the Army for food and clothing and spiritual sustenance.  Shame on the Methodists.  Today I place no blame nor cast aspersions.  The Salvation Army does the Lord's work across the globe.  And when any organization eases poverty and hunger and offers spiritual guidance to the needy, God bless it.  More than a century and a half of Christian good will should be recognized, praised, and encouraged for another century and a half, at least. 



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