Monday Devotional
August 10, 2020
Dear Friend,
 

The events of this weekend have led me to contemplate the significance of blessings. We may offer blessings with little forethought. Someone sneezes and we say, “Bless you!” Or someone does a kind deed and we are moved to respond, “God bless you.”

Two thoughts came to mind around blessings. The first is that a blessing is not limited to ordained clergy. Anyone can do it. In the scriptures, one did not have to go to the priest or make a pilgrimage to the Temple to offer or to receive a blessing. It is a meaningful gift that anyone can offer.

The second thought surrounds the timing of blessings. In the Bible, blessings are often given at transitional times in life. Someone is dying and they offer their blessing to their loved ones (or vice versa). Someone is preparing to leave home or take a long journey and a blessing is offered. Blessings were intended to convey the community’s love and support when the recipient was away.  These transitional times seemed important opportunities to offer supportive words for the uncertain ahead.

Yesterday First UMC offered blessings to children, parents, teachers, administrators and all those related to education in our community.  Many of those who attended were not members of our church.  They had heard about our blessing or happened to be driving by or had been referred by a friend and drove into the parking lot to receive a blessing from our congregation.  We were never overwhelmed with a line of cars allowing Pastor Sarah and me to chat with the families as they pulled up. Some were excited and looking forward to beginning school. Others (parents, children and teachers alike) were anxious.  In some cars, it was a mixed bag.  One young child in his car seat seemed excited about school but I could detect the worries on his mother’s face. From the safe distance of the car window, we offered a prayer of blessing for this time of transition. It is my hope that our blessing, along with the backpack tags will serve as a reminder that we are praying for them. 

As the children, youth and young adults begin to return to classes, supported by the parents, teachers and administrators, I invite you to continue to pray for them. Bless their work. Continue to look for ways to support their endeavors.  Send a card or note of encouragement to a student or teacher to let them know that you are thinking of them.  Pause when you see the school bus pull into your neighborhood and pray for the children onboard.  Send positive thoughts to the parents who are helping with homework, worried about whether they are making the right decisions and feeling fatigued and overwhelmed.  Pray for the teachers who are continuing to create a safe way for children to learn and grow.  This work is important.  And I believe it is holy.  

Blessings to all our students, teachers, administrators, support staff, parents and grandparents working to maintain a safe, loving environment for learning.

God bless you all.

 

Peace,
Howard
 

We are now offering two opportunities for worship at First UMC.  The first is an in-person option based upon the best practices for safety and health.  This service begins at 8:30 a.m. in the sanctuary.  This service is about 30-35 minutes in length with prelude, postlude, prayers, scripture readings and sermon.  In accordance with safety recommendations, we will not be singing any hymns.  The second option is to view the service live online via Facebook (or later on the church’s webpage) at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning  This service features the prayers, readings and sermon along with a hymn and special music.  

Throughout the month of August we will be offering a virtual Fellowship Time.  This is an informal time to chat with one another via zoom following the worship service.  The chat begins at at 11:00 a.m. and is open to all.  To participate, please email Sarah Campbell to receive the link.

Do you enjoy making masks for others?  If so we invite you to make masks for our guests at Hot Meals.  You can bring the masks to the church office  any day between 9 a.m. and noon and we will share these with our guests.  

The August book club selection is Barbara Kingsolver’s novel “Prodigal Summer.”  Join us on August 16th at 6:00 p.m. as we discuss this novel.  The discussion will be held via zoom.  To participate please contact Rev. Boles for an invitation.