Friday, March 20, 2020
Greetings once again. Until we meet again face-to-face, you can expect this weekly message.
Today I had the privilege of presiding over a funeral service for Marie Arnold. It was a very small affair, as Marie was over 100 years of age, had not lived in Winnipeg for approximately 23 years, and her son and daughter-in-law are trying to find their way home from California. Nonetheless, the handful of us present were glad to remember this lively, fun woman who had a long association with Harrow.
As I reflected on Marie’s life, it struck me that she was born in 1919, the year of the last major pandemic in North America. She would be one of the few who have any memories of what that was like (her memories were no doubt supplied by family stories of the ‘flu and its impact on friends and family).
No wonder so many of us are feeling knocked off balance or feel we are living in a surreal experience – we have no experience to equate with such an event.
Marie Arnold’s life spanned many changes, some of them amazing and hard to comprehend – from horse-drawn buggies to the Model A Ford and now vehicles that regular travel back and forth to a “Space Station” in the outer atmosphere! She also knew the transformation from primitive radio broadcasts to television, then colour television; from silent movies to major cineplexes and now Netflix or its equivalent; from the wonder of the telephone (shared party lines and all) to live video chats over cell phones and computers. Wrapping one’s head around such change inspires, amazes, and challenges.
Obviously, we are now in a time of rapid, evolving change as we all learn new behaviours and patterns in the face of a virus pandemic. Humans have adapted to change in the past, and will learn to do so in the present and future.
A week ago, “out of an abundance of caution” we made a decision to cancel our Sunday worship, the annual meeting of the congregation and Rhyme and Storytime. What a difference a week can make!
For the foreseeable future, our congregation will not hold any face-to-face events or meetings, including worship. We are, however, continuing to operate. We are also working on a variety of ways to stay in touch and to be ‘together’ even virtually. Our office will remain open; mail, email and phone messages will be checked regularly. Please do not hesitate to be in touch for any reason.
At the moment, we are checking possibilities to convene the book club through some form of online meeting. Stay tuned! We’ll let you know (by email and through social media) whether we are able to do that.
For those who are particularly missing the opportunity to gather for worship, we are considering options that may fill the gap until we are able to imagine further possibilities.
One of the options is to join in weekly worship with the Moderator. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Moderator Richard Bott offers an online service for those looking to gather with others, pray, and worship together. This is the link for information about this week’s worship: https://www.united-church.ca/blogs/round-table/moderators-online-worship-march-22-2020
Prayers for this week
Please be in touch with prayer concerns – praying for one another and for our communities and our world is one thing each of us can do.
I offer this prayer today – feel free to use it, adapt it or ignore it as fits your circumstances:
Good and Holy God, in the midst of deep uncertainty,
torn with fear and worry,
confused and cautious,
help us to remember you are with us –
your hand holds us,
your love can sustain us,
your Spirit is the very breath of life …
Give us, we pray, the capacity to slow our breathing, to remember your presence, to allow your love and hope to find expression in us.
In these changing times, keep us mindful of one another.
We bring you our prayers for all who are travelling, for those who anxiously await their arrival,
our prayers for all who are ill and for all those who care for the sick and infirm;
we pray for business owners and workers, for teachers and technicians, and for all whose daily routines have been completely disrupted,
we pray for decision makers, politicians and public servants, scientists and health care workers.
We pray also for children and for families, whose lives have been turned upside down.
Help us, we pray, to discover new possibilities for connection and to enjoy old pastimes.
Grant us patience, with you, with one another, with ourselves.
These our prayers are offered by the power of Jesus Christ, in whom we know you, and know your love for each of us and for all of your creation.
We offer the prayer of Jesus: Our father, who art in heaven …
I continue to hold each of you in my thoughts and prayers and hope that you are able to be well. Please be in touch by phone or email if you have concerns about these matters or anything else.
Yours in Christ,