“Do not fear, because I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Beloved families and friends of Lodi,
Many nights when I was so scared that I couldn’t sleep, my mother read me Isaiah 41:10 to comfort me. This day I find myself reading it to my children and to myself.
I pray that you may hear a gentle voice of God’s Spirit speaking of peace, not fear. Fear tempts you to believe you are alone, but faith tells you what is true: God is with you. And, we are together in this time of anxiety.
We are told – and we agree – that gathering together in person means increasing exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) this day. As Bishop Jung has wisely discerned, this is a time where “we are most faithful when we care for each other from a distance.” As we cope with this crisis during our Lenten season, our observance of this holy season now becomes more special than ever with opportunities to reflect, in solitude, on human fragility and God’s grace and to practice love and patience.
Thus, participating in the nationwide practice of social distancing, we cancel in-person church activities until Saturday, April 4. It includes our Sunday worship services on March 22 and 29. I understand that this suspension may need to be extended further, so please stay connected with us – and with one another – via email and on the phone.
WORSHIP & FELLOWSHIP
- Sunday worship will stream online, with Pastor Peace and members of the Praise Team leading one virtual service at 9:00 a.m. on March 22 and 29. You are encouraged to participate real time for worship and online fellowship by clicking this link to our church facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lodiumc/ No facebook login or password required.
- A guided ‘family worship’ liturgy will be mailed out every week for those who have limited access to the Internet.
- Please check out our website www.lodiumc.org for sermon audio. We hope that we can upload an abbreviated version of the livestreamed service video.
- Our mid-week gathering Wonderful Wednesday community meal and program are suspended until further notice.
- Let’s contact each other more regularly and especially those who need encouragement and companionship during this time. If you need phone numbers to call or mailing addresses to send out cards, let the church office know.
- “Email Partners” are paired up for those whose email information hasn’t been given to the church. Also, if you have a relative, neighbor or friend you think would be interested in receiving our emails, with their consent, please let the church office know and we will add them to our list.
- Pastor Peace is only a phone call away. Don’t hesitate to call or text or email him as needed. 608-573-0925, PastorPeace@LodiUMC.org
DISCIPLESHIP & SPIRITUAL FORMATION
- Please continue daily Lenten readings and anchor yourself with God’s Word of love and hope. Let’s not forget to spend time with Jesus.
- If you find a “watchword” from your reading of the passage of the day (see the guide here), or if you are inspired to write a short reflection on the passage, please send it to Pastor Peace via email. We’ve been posting on the church facebook page and will publish them in our next newsletter.
- Study groups, Abiding in Christ with JoAnne Heintz and Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness with Sherian Foster, continue to meet online. The classes have been found helpful for the spiritual well-being of the participants especially during this time. If you’re interested in joining, email the leaders.
- We reach out to our friends and neighbors in Lodi. To be at the service of the most vulnerable and those feeling isolated, we help shop or run errands and deliver a meal as we keep physical contact minimized.
- Prayer is one thing that everyone can do in love, and it is most precious in such time as this. Let’s not give in to fear, but abide in the Spirit of God with a prayerful heart. Upon your prayer for those affected by the virus, the doctors and nurses treating them, the leaders making tough decisions, and those with chronic illness and mental health concerns, let’s not forget to pray for ourselves and for those to whom it’s severely challenging to alter their lives as they have to meet their daily needs. A sample of prayer is here.
- Your pastor is with you. Please don’t hesitate to call him to ask to pray with you and for you.
- You can mail your offerings to the church.
- You can also make offerings online. Click this link here. We continue to be the church in this uncertain and unprecedented time.
We live in a time that none of us have experienced in our lifetime, but we are all in this together. We are the church together. You and I are beloved children of God. May God’s grace and mercy lead us on.