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Church Updates

Updated Information regarding church response to Coronavirus, etc.

 
 

April 11: Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday:

I'm writing this on the morning of Holy Saturday.


Yes, it will be a strange Easter. Unlike any other. Notice it. How lovely it will be to look back at this Easter as a testimony to the love of people, one for another, that we would sacrifice so much to help each other live.  We are seeing Exactly the kind of love Jesus was calling us to, practiced on a global scale. This sacrificial love all around us... it is the Kingdom of God.  It is a hard, but beautiful moment we are a part of.

Living overseas for almost every Easter since 1994, Wendy and I were often in places where there was no church with whom to celebrate Easter. And so we learned to celebrate in ways which were meaningful to us. Early on, we learned to create our own rituals that could be practiced anywhere, in any condition.  For us, that includes having an Easter egg dyeing party. Usually on Holy Saturday. We would invite friends who don't know about Easter eggs for a time of Western cultural "art" together. Even if we had to use plant--based dyes on brown eggs (the subtlest Easter eggs ever), we'd make it happen.  So, today, with our bright and shiny American eggs and our set of food coloring, we're having an Easter egg dying party with our kids. Usually we turn out a couple beautiful eggs, and a few of what we call hand-grenades (so overly dyed that they just look aweful).  Whatever we end up with will be posted on the MUMC Facebook page. It would be awesome if any of you dye eggs, if you could share some pictures to the facebook page as well. (MUMC Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/UMCMagnolia/).

Then, on Easter Sunday, we would always set up an easter egg (well, candy mostly) hunt in our yard and invite a few families with little kids over. Once our kids were too old, they would be the one's to hide the eggs for littler ones. Alas, this part of the program has to be dropped this year. Maybe I can get the kids to hide stuff for me to find.

If there was no church to join, we would read the Easter story out loud from the Bible. In more recent years, we would listen to live audio broadcast of one or another church we are connected with. Of course, Sunday morning here was late evening there.

In Chiang Mai, Thailand, we were blessed to have church options. There was one particularly meaningful service each year, for Easter. All of the churches would meet together in a park, at 6am. We would then walk together for a mile or two, down one of the major roads into the city, and have a big sunrise service with our brothers and sisters from throughout the area, at a park by the side of the river, still in the cool of morning (even though this is a crazy hot time of year there).

Well, this year, my plan is to get my phone. Maybe my headphones. I'm gonna head outside and find a sunny spot, at 7:30am (sorry, I'm not good enough to make it to the 6am watch party), and have a private sunrise service.  It's funny, but in the midst of all of this isolation, I'm feeling the need to contemplate this Easter on my own, and to sit in quiet with my Lord and Savior.

Easter IS a joyous moment. And we celebrate that joyous moment on an annual basis. This year, it still feels like we are in Lent. But the symbolism is still there. The celebration of what's been done, and the celebration of the victories ahead. There will be a joyful Sunday morning when we are all together in our church once again. Hope of that Sunday, whenever it comes, seems somehow very connected to Easter.

Of course, the joy of Easter morning comes after the tragedy and terror of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. And today... Holy Saturday?  Amazing, grand things are happening in the biblical narrative on this day, in the spiritual realm. But on earth, for those who had been following and hoping in Jesus, Holy Saturday was a nightmare. A dark day of sadness, of lost hope, of confusion, of fear. It was all over. Jesus was gone. The Messiah was gone. Was it all a lie? How could I have been so foolish as to believe him?  Is it all my fault?  It was a dark, dark day. 

As miserable as this homework is, I ask you, if you can take some time to sit quietly today, and empathize with how the disciples were feeling that day. Feel that dark hopelessness with them.  Have you had times of deep despair in your life?  Feel that. Sit with it.

But remember, in the back of your mind, those dark times resolved. THIS dark time will resolve. The darkness of Holy Saturday will resolve. Because WE have something the disciples didn't: We have HOPE in the Knowledge of the Resurrection. We KNOW that Easter is coming. We can still be enveloped in hard times, but we know CHRIST has the victory. We know that Easter is coming.

Tomorrow morning, we get to celebrate that FACT.  May you find meaningful ways to celebrate this miraculous reality, even in the midst of our current extraordinary situation.

Blessings on you all,

Pastor Brad Chamberlain

 

April 11: Links to Easter Sunday resources from PNW Conference of UMC

PNW Easter Sunday Service (complete service video): https://vimeo.com/showcase/6974983/video/405337330

Bulletin: to make it all feel just that much more normal, you can print one here: https://greaternw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Easter-Together-2020.pdf

If you want to watch the "Premier" of the video as part of a Facebook watch party with congregations around the pacific northwest, you can follow this link. It will premier at 6am tomorrow morning:  https://www.facebook.com/pnwumc/videos/1586611881504128/

 

April 8: Update from Pastor Brad:

The Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church has put together a worship service for Easter morning. I will post a link to the service by 6am on Easter Morning.  My own plan is to head outside at 7am, find a beautiful spot in the sun (if there is any), and call it a Sunrise Service.  I pray that you all will blessed by this high quality and meaningful service.

We have set up an option for online giving to MUMC. You can access it through the "Gifts and Tithes" page on this website.  Please note, that we are charged a 3% fee for the use of this service. Consider checking the "Cover Fees" box when you give, to cover the costs of this convenience. Thanks!

-Pastor Brad

 

March 25: Update from Pastor Brad:

Good morning MUMC family,

Welcome to the new normal. You should know by now that in an effort to demonstrate loving our neighbors, in particular, by not being agents of disease spread, we are not having in person services or meetings at least until April 30th. This is by way of our Bishop, and is also by way of compliance with current state law. But it is also one of the single best ways we can be love to others... through sacrificing our time together in worship.

How will we deal with this?  I will be creating worship service videos and posting them as Youtube videos each Sunday by 10:30am. Links will come by email, be posted on the facebook page, and posted here on the website as well. Please take time to sit down Sunday morning for a time of worship together, even if we are apart. I am choosing not to use Facebook livestream for this as many of our congregants do not use Facebook.

Regarding Easter Sunday... we can be in touch. I can produce another small service for our church. However, it looks like the PNW Methodist Conference is preparing a bigger, fancier online service resource for that day. My own recommendation is that we join in with our sisters and brothers around the Pacific Northwest, and worship together in spirit on Easter Sunday.

Throughout the week we can still be connected through phone calls, emails, facebook, skype, etc. Please take some time in your week to connect with others in the church.

If you have prayer requests, please send them to me (Pastor Brad at contactmumc@gmail.com) or to Tanya (who manages our prayer email list, at platinumbaby@comcast.net).  In the meanwhile, even if you do not know what to pray for other members of the church, spend a little time thinking of each of them, listening to God, and praying whatever comes to mind.  As an aid, most of our church's members are in pictures at the bottom of this website's homepage. You can look at a picture and pray for the people in that picture. (Thanks Pam for these lovely photos!)

Notice that today I have posted a new letter from our Bishop (in  our PNW Updates section, regarding closure through April 30th). I have also posted a link to the resources for our Sunday Bible Studies.

Thank you, each of you who have given creative ideas for how we might meet together. Unfortunately for now, and in the current reality, I don't believe it is safe for us, or those around us, nor is it a good witness in the community, for us to meet together.  We are not living in Fear, we are living in Love.

That's all for today. Be in touch. Be love to one another. Take care,

Pastor Brad

 

March 14: Sunday Morning Email from Pastor Brad:

Good morning MUMC family,

It’s the last Sunday of Winter, 2020, and we aren’t able to have our worship service this morning due to restrictions from the coronavirus.  Just for an update, I’m now 48 hours without a fever and my body aches and wheeze are gone. Thanks for your prayers.

But even without our time together, I hope that you each will take time for some quiet time with our Heavenly Father this morning.  Please consider 30 minutes or so of time to spend in reflection, meditation, in reading the Word, or however you best will be able to put your own busy mind and self aside and focus your attention on Him.  If you want to sing a song, do so! Spring starts this week. I was going to have us sing “Morning Has Broken”, “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, and “Amazing Grace” this morning. The beautiful lyrics of these three songs are included at the end of this letter.

Remember back in the fall we talked about alters in our everyday life where you can be with God? This is a good time to put that into practice. God is in and through everything and everyone around us. Of course we’re socially distancing so maybe this is a good time to focus on God in nature, maybe not so much in relationship. 😊  Every living thing around us, all of the beautiful scenery, the waterways and mountains, the deep-dark green of the forest, the way the trees bend in the breeze, the flower buds on the trees lining our streets… these are all made by God. These are all full of His presence. If you are able, get out to the park or the beach or the locks or into the forest and notice the presence of God surrounding you.  Spend time before his altar.

We are in the midst of a crazy-feeling, uncertain time. Spend some time noticing the reality of God’s beauty, care, and steadfastness all around you. That care is for you, for your loved ones, and for your neighbors, and it is real. You are loved by the Creator and God is your protector.

Then, after some time of quiet, focusing on God, think through the people at our little fellowship. There’s not a lot of us, so it’s not too hard. Close your eyes, picture each person, and say a prayer for them. Whatever comes to mind when you picture them… say that prayer.

And then, as you go through your day and through the week ahead, maybe remember the sermon from a couple weeks ago. We were talking about the verses at the end of John when Jesus has died and the fisherman/disciples are in a time of ambiguity, confusion and fear. And they go fishing. Jesus shows up and calls them to shore. They spend a beautiful time at the seashore, around a fire, eating fish and bread with Jesus… their teacher and friend. It’s a time of rest and renewal with their Lord while they are in this in-between space. And from there, they go on to be the key instruments of spreading Jesus’ Good News to the ends of the earth.  But earlier that day they had been utterly confused about how things were going to play out and what their roles were. Then Jesus came, and said, “Come to the seashore, sit by the fire, share some fish and loaves with me.”

We are, as a society, in a time of uncertainty. We don’t know where things are going. But the current restrictions are forcing us all to slow down, to reprioritize. And we so easily spend our time worrying. But Jesus is calling from shore for us to come and be with him, by the fire, with the fish and loaves, hanging out.  We can claim this time in between for Him. We can seek him in every nook and cranny of this experience. And we will all come out the other side of this. And bigger and better things await. God is God yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Please, if you need anything physically, if you need help or supplies, if you need prayer, we as a family at MUMC, are here for each other. Let us know and allow us to be Christ in your life.

Blessings,

Pastor Brad

15 Mar 2020

*

Opening Hymn  Morning Has Broken 

Morning has broken like the first morning; 
blackbird has spoken like the first bird. 
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning! 
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word. 


Sweet the rain’s new fall sunlit from heaven 
like the first dew fall on the first grass. 
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden, 
sprung in completeness where his feet pass. 


Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning 
born of the one light Eden saw play! 
Praise with elation, praise every morning, 
God’s recreation of the new day. 


*Hymn  All Things Bright and Beautiful 

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, 
all things wise and wonderful: the Lord God made them all! 


Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings. 
God made their glowing colors, and made their tiny wings. 


The purple headed mountains, the river running by, 
The sunset and the morning that brightens up the sky. 


The cold wind in the winter, the pleasant summer sun, 
The ripe fruits in the garden: God made them every one. 


God gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell 
How great is God Almighty, who has made all things well. 


*Closing Hymn  Amazing Grace 

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!  
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see. 


Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come. 
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. 


When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, 
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.