First United Methodist Church - Wausau Wisconsin
Thursday, April 09, 2020
Live and Share God's Love

From the Pastor

Jayneann McIntosh



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From Pastor Jayneann's Pen


From Bishop Jung’s March 23 devotion:

“There is an apocryphal quote often attributed to the Chinese, “may you live in interesting times.” This quote is viewed both as a blessing and a curse, connoting that life is full of challenges, threats, dangers, and discomforts, and that peace, harmony, quiet, and calm are illusions. We are living in “interesting times” right now, but we do not need to worry or fear – God is with us! We acknowledge and remember the suffering, we call on God for healing and mercy, and we stand together in our faith in God.”

Interesting times. Yes. It is now seeming less likely that we will be able to gather in the same space for our Holy Week and Easter worship times. But do not despair. The world may be in a Thursday/Friday place but Sunday’s coming! (I once read Tony Campolo’s message, “It’s Friday but Sunday’s Comin’” for a community Good Friday service. You might find a link but be sure it’s him as others have made the title their own.)

For the last 3 years, I’ve hardly visited Facebook – until last week. Today a clergy friend posted:

Amen to that, sister!

The Mexican Ministry of Health has agreed to hold a “National Distance Healing Holiday” from March 23 to April 19.

I love this! National Distancing Healing Holiday. So much better than the other ways we could say it.

I almost laughed out loud when one pastor during yesterday’s video meeting suggested that we try to see this break from our usual routines as a sabbath. (You can find her poem on page 6). When we stopped doing church at church, my workload increased dramatically as I learned about videoing worship, posting on YouTube, etc. But that was nothing compared to my concern for how we would be and do church when we cannot gather together on a Sunday or a Wednesday.

Sabbath is a wonderful thing. We could all use more of it – time to step back from the hustle-bustle of life, time to remember why life is good, time to connect with God and each other. But a pandemic as sabbath?

Do we minimize our privilege here? If I have enough in my emergency fund, if I’m sure my job will come back and I won’t be swamped by debt or my much smaller retirement savings, if I have decent healthcare, this could be a sabbath time. But if I’m barely getting by, got laid off, just closed the business, a few weeks without employment seems like an impossibility. Within our families, our communities and our church, there are people in this situation.

The question now becomes “How do we minister to ourselves and also to those around us?” We must be honest here – we are as much in need as anyone. We need the community that is beyond the walls of our homes. We need purpose. What does it really mean to be people of faith at this time?

It’s March 24th as I write this. As I await Governor Evers conference at noon telling us that we must close the church, that pur- pose becomes clearer. We need to pray!

Our prayer is needed. Persistent, patient and ongoing. Listening and lifting up. Waiting, hoping, loving. Prayer is a way to express hope. It is an act of love. And right now, our communities, our world, need love and hope.

I just searched for words the describe earnest prayer. What came up? “fervent, perpetual, steady, humble, violent, silent, deep, solemn, secret, simple, brief, short, low, less, long.”

May your prayer be rich and empowering and humbling. May you practice what Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians:

Rejoice always. Pray continually.
Give thanks in every situation.

Yes, it’s a little harder right now, but re- member we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! (Philippians 4:13) Even stay within the walls of our own homes. Even alone. Even with the other people who seem like they’re trying to drive us crazy. We can do all things in Christ.

Last week, I initiated a weekly group-email check-in with my extended family. You might like to do something similar. Besides that? Email me (or call me with) a Bible verse that’s speaking to you this week. I’ll put them together for one of our next communications. First Church will get through this and if we do we will grow stronger.