Pastor Henry's Memo

June 2020

Wednesday, June 24: How about a Change of Pace?

How about a change of pace?   Christmas is only 185 days away!   About six months from now we will be trying to figure out how we forgot Uncle Bob or Aunt Minnie or the mail carrier or the milkman.   Do we even have one of those any more?   I remember Meadowbloom Dairy making deliveries several times a week with gallons of milk left in an insulated box on the front step.  Whole milk in paper cartons with a blue and red shield.   The Sipe movie theater in downtown Kokomo would show scads of cartoons and several western movie shorts every Saturday morning.  The price of admission?  That blue and red shield from the gallon milk container.  One shield; one kid's admission.  And for a quarter, you could buy a cup of Coke and a bag of popcorn.  What a deal!  Now, back to 185 days until Christmas.  It will come as surely as Thanksgiving and Labor Day and every other calendar event.  We'll be saturated with seasonal music and in this part of the country, there will be cold and snow and hot chocolate.  I have no idea at all if normalcy will ever return.  Whatever our situation with regards to COVID-19, don't forget Uncle Bob and Aunt Minnie.  Or any other of your favorite people.

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Monday, June 22, Ask the Pastor

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Our first Sunday on the radio was a success.  Having our Sunday worship broadcast over 92.5 FM was a blessing according to the E-mail responses we received.  Apparently, I have a face for radio.  That is good to know.  What prompts this ASK THE PASTOR memo is the question posed by an E-mail respondent who wanted to know this: Will we continue radio broadcasting when the pandemic is over?  The short answer is YES.  The underlying issue in that question probably concerns how long this pandemic will last.  No one knows how long our facemask-wearing, social distancing, hand washing precautions will be advisable.  I read where some congregations have delayed in-person worship well into 2021.  Radio transmissions on FM began in 1933.  Preachers of every denomination have been using and capitalizing on it ever sense.  Calvary UMC has joined the throng.  We will be offering the radio service in addition to inviting worshipers into our sanctuary.  We will soon begin streaming our Sunday service on-line when the equipment for it arrives.  The future is still out there and Calvary will be in it electronically.  And our message will be the Gospel message of God's love in Jesus is for all the world to know and enjoy.  God bless you all.

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Calvary UMC is "On the Air!"

Calvary UMC is on the air!  Technology allowing us to broadcast over FM radio has been installed.  Our frequency is 92.5 FM.  This means we will be turning our parking lot into a drive-in for worship.  I'm assured every parking space on our lot will receive our transmitted service loud and clear.  I'm excited!  Beginning this Sunday, the 21st of June, our 10 am worship service will be available over the radio for those who wish to stay in their cars as well as in person for those who want to sit in the pews.  While masks and safe distancing will be maintained in the sanctuary until directed otherwise by Governor Holcomb and Bishop Trimble, your vehicle's front seat is your own safe space.  We are also acquiring the necessary computer components to live-stream our worship on the Internet.  That capability is still a few weeks out.  You will be hearing more about that soon.  Join us for Holy worship this Sunday.  Come rejoicing with your hearts ready to receive a blessing.  Who knew the 21st Century could be so challenging AND so very exciting?  We look forward to seeing you hearing us this Sunday.  God bless you all.

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Monday, June 15

Calvary UMC welcomed back 27 worshipers Sunday, the 14th.  Safe distance was kept.  Masks were worn.  Our service was very similar to pre-COVID-19 worship.  We made announcements, listened to stanzas of three hymns played on the organ but did not sing aloud as we are cautioned against that for now.  We received prayer requests prior to the pastoral prayer and we prayed the Lord's Prayer in unison.  The offering collected prior to the service in the narthex was dedicated with prayer at the altar.  Scriptures were read and the sermon WHEN WE LAUGH was preached.  Two stanzas of our closing hymn, Amazing Grace, was played and we were then dismissed with a benediction.  All told, about 40 minutes passed and we departed in peace.  This somewhat truncated version of our normal service will be the form we use for the time being.  Plans are being implemented to make our services both available for live streaming on the Internet and broadcast live over a short range radio frequency.  That will allow us to invite people to "drive-in" to our parking lot and hear the worship service live on the radio Sunday morning at 10am.  The pandemic will be with us for a while longer.  How long, I do not know.  Indiana United Methodists will be listening for instructions from Bishop Trimble and we will be following them.  I hope your Sundays have been meaningful to you.  I intend to help you in that meaningfulness with the plans we have in store for transmitting worship electronically.  We will still wear masks until instructed otherwise and sit safe distanced.  We ask everyone to adhere to the other safe practices as offered by the CDC and the Governor's office.  For now, this is our plan.  I keep you in my prayers.  Be faithful in yours.  God Bless All Of You.

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Wednesday, June 10 - Resuming Worship!

  Calvary UMC will resume worship services at 10 am this Sunday, the 14th of June.  There are ONLY TWO conditions for entering the sanctuary.  You must wear a mask and your temperature must be 100.4 or lower.  We have made provision for testing your temperature without physical contact and the process will be fast and painless.  We are still asking everyone to CONSIDER the recommendations of Governor Holcomb and Bishop Trimble in making your decision to join us for worship.   They were listed in Monday's E-Navigator.  They were mailed to those we know not to have Internet access.  If you did not read or receive the E-Navigator, please call the church office and request it.  Also, there were six questions listed to be answered on the honor system.  If you can answer EACH of them NO, you may come in. They were also in Monday's E-Navigator.  They will be posted at each entrance to the church Sunday morning.  NO ONE wearing a mask and testing below 100.4  Fahrenheit will be denied admittance.  We look forward to resuming our in-person Sunday worship.  We will pray, listen to hymns, read scripture, receive our offering, and hear a sermon based on biblical texts.  We will continue with a truncated format until circumstances permit us to expand.  Be of good cheer and rejoice in the Lord always. Remember your mask.  Blessings on you all.

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Ask the Pastor, Worship this Sunday!

  “Ask the Pastor”

     This ASK THE PASTOR memo is an announcement about our worship at Calvary UMC.  We will gather for worship June 14th at 10:00 am.  There will be no Sunday School for any class.  Our scripture texts are; Genesis 18: 1-15 and Matthew 9: 35-10: 8.  We will not sing.  Barb will play a stanza or two of each of three hymns. There will be no choir or special music for the time being.

     We will offer prayer requests verbally, have a pastoral prayer, and recite the Lord's Prayer together.  For now, there will be no children's message and our offering will be received in the narthex offering box or placed in plates positioned at each entrance to the sanctuary.  Our offerings will be dedicated at the altar in our accustomed fashion.

     The Sunday sermon will be based on our announced scripture texts and will be delivered from the chancel area, keeping a very safe distance from those sitting in the pews.  After the sermon and the benediction, we will dismiss as safely and orderly as we can, continuing our safe social distancing.  PLEASE LEAVE NOTHING IN THE PEWS UPON LEAVING.

     As you might already know, we are trying to offer an in-person worship service that is safe and meaningful.  We will be keeping to Indiana Governor Holcomb's recommended minimum healthy protocols as well and adhering to Bishop Julius Trimble's suggested guidelines for United Methodist Churches. They are as follows:

     All individuals who are 65 and older OR who have an underlying at-risk health condition are requested to stay at home and continue to self-isolate.

     Ensure seating 6 feet between persons who are not of the same household.

     Implement non-contact greeting

     Avoid paper hand-outs of any kind; i.e. bulletins

     No drinks or food permitted in the sanctuary.

     Further, we are posting the following questions.  If you answer any of them "YES" we           DO NOT want you to enter the building:

     Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?

     Are you experiencing a cough, have any shortness of breath, or have a sore throat?

     Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?

     Have you had a new loss of taste or smell?

     Have you vomited or had diarrhea in the last 24 hours?

     Has someone in your household been experiencing any of these above conditions?

Answering these questions will be on the HONOR SYSTEM.  

     Further, we are requiring the wearing of a face mask of your own choosing.  None will be provided.  We are also testing body temperatures with non-contact thermometers.  Any person with a reading above 100.4 Fahrenheit degrees will be asked not to enter the building.  NO ONE OF ANY AGE will be denied entrance if the above recommendations are met.

     ONE MORE ITEM   For the safety of all those gathered, we ask if anyone begins to cough or sneeze uncontrollably, they leave the sanctuary.  The reason for no congregational or choral singing is because the microscopic spreading of droplets by singing or sneezing or coughing is a very real pathway for spreading the Covid-19 virus.

     We welcome our members and the community back to Calvary UMC and our desire is for our public worship of God in Jesus' name be uplifting, spiritually satisfying, and safe for all who attend.  May God bless you all.

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Trinity Sunday, June 7

TEXTS: Genesis 1:1-2:4a

               Matthew 28: 16-20

     From beginning to end the LORD God of heaven and earth is with us, for us, and of us.  Sunday is Trinity Sunday.  It is that one Sunday on the Christian calendar when preachers are given the opportunity to bore their congregation into a stupor.  

     Unless you are an academician or a very conscientious church historian whose specialty is ancient theology, what you know about the Trinity most likely can be summed up in the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy."  The four verses of that hymn are a very succinct summation of the orthodox understanding of the Holy Trinity. 

     However, God's Trinity is full of surprises and treasures and mysteries.  From the Upper Room to the Ascension to the Great Commission Jesus (the Son) demonstrates a kind of intimacy with God (the Father) that comes to a kind of fruition when the Holy Spirit is promised as he ascends to heaven.

     In the Upper Room Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and other followers before the meal. This humbling service is an overt demonstration urging those who love him to remember their place.  They follow a servant by being servants willing to do the most humbling of tasks.  

     This sharing of love by humble service, followed by eating the Seder meal with gracious thanksgiving prepares those first Christians for the receiving of the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathes on them bestowing power and peace; things they will need from that day until the end of the age.

     After the resurrection Jesus asks them to trust him or believe in him.  While he goes to be in heaven, he is not abandoning them.  He urges them to wait for the Holy Spirit.  It will be the empowering agent for everything the Church will come to do and be in God's name on earth.

     That Spirit is the animating force God wielded in the beginning.  The Spirit which hovered over the chaos and waste from which God called forth creation, is the same spirit that will accompany apostles, disciples, and believers of every kind down through history and into eternity.

     God invites us into the wondrous and mysterious mission the Spirit prepares and preserves for the Church.  What the author of Psalm 8 proclaims is for us to hear in every generation:  The majesty of God fills the earth.  The glory of God is declared by all the heavenly hosts. God not only notices the human creatures and they go about their earthly tasks, God crowns them with his own glory and honor.  God is more than mindful of them.  

     By God's own hand are we fixed and made whole within the creation God has declared very good.  Jesus declares, in conjunction with this goodness, that all authority is given him by God.  And in that authority he commissions us to make disciples in his name in all the nations of the world.  

     What's more, the privilege to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is given to the Church.  His promise to every generation of believers is this: "I am with you always.  Even to the end of the age." 

     From "In the beginning," "to the close of the age," we have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in us and with us to keep us for the ministry of discipleship.  And that is the Trinity's blessing for us, the Church, and all of creation.  Amen.

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Wednesday, June 3

Pastor's Memo

  General Kirby Smith CSA surrendered his army in Galveston, Texas, June 2nd, 1865.  No other Confederate forces were in the field and all hostilities were thus ended.  It marked the official end of the American Civil War; known in the Confederacy as the War Between The States.  No matter by what name that bitter conflict is known, it tore asunder the fabric of our republic.  The same could be said for what we witness day after day in this pandemic season.  Disease, unemployment, and the raging of one neighborhood after another sparked by the death of George Floyd is smearing our nation's image across the world.  It is beyond a tragedy.  I don't know when it will end.  All told, nearly one million Americans died during the Civil War.  Killed in action or by wounds suffered in battle or by disease, total military and civilian deaths were nearly 3.25% of our total population.  Today, that would be almost 12 million.  Staggering?  Incomprehensibly so.  If we're not over the after shocks of that war, how long will it take for us to heal from this pandemic of violence and rage.   Lest we find new ways to demonstrate our anger toward and our distaste for our political adversaries, this evil that besets us will never disappear.  Genesis 6:5-6 records this sobering declaration by God: "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that the inclination of the hearts and minds of men were only evil continually.  And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart."  Let us pray the LORD is not that sorry today.  How might we bring comfort to the sorrowing heart of God?

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Monday, June 1


There is no ASK THE PASTOR answer this Monday as no question was submitted for consideration.  Therefore, I will take the liberty to decide what fills this memo space.  We are still in the midst of a pandemic; being assaulted in many ways by the COVID-19 virus.  We are now under a kind of siege on account of the public disorienting caused by the death of George Floyd last May 25th in Minnesota.  Mr. Floyd's shocking death has once again focused the attention of the public and the legal system in a furious way.  How this tragic incident will be resolved is still to be determined.  When, if ever, there will be agreement about Mr. Floyd's death is unclear.  There will be a trial; maybe several.  There will be lawsuits.  Maybe millions of dollars will be paid out in compensation to Mr. Floyd's family.  A very public stain now marks May 25th.  What has followed in city and town across America since the 25th is also a stain on our visage.  Not in this generation or the next will it be wiped clean.  As to the legal proceedings that will attempt to reveal the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I have no comment.  However, I can comment on this tragedy from a pastoral perspective.  Mr. Floyd is dead.  His family is in grief.  His neighbors and friends are aggrieved and angry.  An entire nation demands justice be served and be seen to be served.  That will take months, perhaps years.  In the meantime, we see yet again how fragile we humans are.  We act and re-act.  We fall prey to power and perception.  We behave toward each other with little regard to truth and reason.  Our anger, however justified, can overwhelm our reason and we demonstrate how quickly we can descend into anarchy.  Mr. Floyd did not cause this nationwide tidal wave of destructiveness.  His unnecessary death became the flash point for other human beings to make known their grievances.  Welcome to a world of tears.  It has ever been so.  We will find the burdens of our mortality touching our hearts more deeply and more tragically with each day we live.  Pray our hearts have a reservoir of humanity that gives us power to forgive and resolve to be more humane in what's left of this life.  It will make a difference in the next.  

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