Devotionals
Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - April 23, 2020

Good day!
I have missed gathering with you all and seeing you in person. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers regularly and if I can be of help or support at this time, I am here. If you need someone to talk to, someone to get groceries or other items, or help to work through a situation, please feel free to contact me.

The vision team had been working on some possible actions for our church as a follow up to your answers on the Next Steps Survey we did in the Fall. Some of those actions have been delayed as we have tried to work on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One-piece that was in the works was sharing a banner in our sanctuary to help people who visit us be aware of our congregation's desire to be more visible as open and affirming. (As a reminder,76% of those who responded indicated they were interested or very interested in doing more to welcome LGBTQ individuals within our church).

We shared a picture of the banner in an espire (also seen here) and then had it in the conference room for a couple of weeks. We planned to display it in the sanctuary starting on March 22. We have changed that date, to "when we return". As part of our sharing, we invited you to share questions or comments and one thing that came up multiple times was the use of the word "queer" on the banner.

The Vision Team has discussed your concern and we recognize that the use of the word "queer" (or avoidance of it) has strong generational/cultural differences. In some generations, queer was a negative slur and was to be avoided. In younger generations, queer has been reclaimed as a more universal term describing the LGBTQIA community. Its use and acceptability will differ from person to person (some may use it and claim it for themselves and others may avoid it altogether). In seeking to be an ally, a safe step would be to let someone who self identifies tell you how they want to be described (gay, lesbian, queer, or otherwise). In all cases, please know it is with this understanding and intent that we have used it on our banner.

For some outside perspective on the use of the word, you might read this or this or this.

Related to that, the General Conference of the UMC that was scheduled to meet in May in Minneapolis has been postponed (meeting and voting virtually would have been far too much to do for roughly 850 voting delegates from around the world). The Council of Bishops has set tentative dates for Aug/September of 2021.

Locally, the shared gathering of the Greater Northwest for the annual conference in June has been canceled. Local voting and decisions are tentatively scheduled to be handled by the annual conference in the Fall.

Peace and health,
Pastor Debbie

 

P.S. Two new things are starting. 1) The 9 am Sunday school class will meet virtually. Please contact Rebecca Haley or Rose Prather if you want to join them. 2) We will be offering a "virtual coffee hour" after our Sunday morning worship. This will happen via zoom. Fred and Sonya Meyer are the hosts for 4/26. The zoom link is: https://uidaho.zoom.us/j/99022841074 If you are new to zoom, please see the attached page for how to get started, or reach out to me (951-966-6161) or Sonya (307-761-0027) for assistance.

 

May God bless you,
Pastor Debbie

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - April 9, 2020

Dear friends,
Most of us associate worship with the space of a sanctuary. In many ways, a sanctuary becomes holy because we treat it as holy and it has been holy for so many over the years. But worship is not confined to a church, or any building, worship can happen anywhere. And there are many ways to do it. As we learn to worship differently, we wanted to offer some suggestions and resources for worshipping this holy week.
To worship on your own in an organic (let it flow) fashion, I would:
1) set up a space that feels peaceful and calm. This might be a favorite chair. it might be outside. You might light a candle, bring a hymnal, Bible, or devotional book.
2) Sing or pray in a way that helps you focus on God in Christ. (I have "heart" songs that my mom used to sing to me. They are choruses or short hymns that I can sing from memory. They help me anytime I'm stressed or need to focus on God.
3) read a section of scripture. You might already have a habit of this if so, follow what you're doing. If not, pick a spot! Maybe the psalms, maybe the Gospels. The Holy Week stories are in each of the 4 gospels, those would be good this week.
4) Practice Lectio Divina (holy reading/listening). Read the scripture aloud. What stands out? What is curious? What doesn't fit? What is inspiring? If it's a story of people, try and connect with them, how might they be feeling? What might they be thinking? Try to find ways to *find* yourself in the story.
5) Pray. This might be about how God wants you to understand the scripture, or prayer of intercession (praying on behalf of others), or simply listening for God's prompting.
6) Sing (or listen to) songs that move you. Invite God to lead you into the rest of your day.

There are some beautiful resources being shared. I hope you take advantage of them. (see the bottom of this email)
Our services will be shared on Facebook, though you shouldn't need a Facebook account to access them. One note I heard from a member of the church was that viewing live without a Facebook account didn't work, but when she went back an hour later (once it was recorded and saved) she was able to watch the service just fine.
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday will be shared at 6 pm each night.
Easter service will stream at 9 am on Easter Sunday.
We'd love to have you host a watch party whenever you can join the service (even if it's a day later!)
Here is the link to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Moscowfirstumc/
Our annual conference is overseen by Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, as well as the Oregon-Idaho Conference and the Alaska Conference. Together the three areas are working on a composite worship service, to be posted by 6 am on Easter morning. Click this link to find the service: https://www.facebook.com/pnwumc/
For some at-home DIY options:
Maundy Thursday (family-friendly and includes bread baking, if you want)
Good Friday stations of the cross (45-minute video)
Easter Sunrise Service

Blessings,
Pastor Debbie

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - April 1, 2020

Last night, Rick and I were talking about going to bed early. Joking back Ruth told us we weren’t allowed. We didn’t need sleep. I immediately pushed back and said, “Rest is our first defense. Our bodies do most of their restorative work while we’re sleeping.” (reference)

Rest is essential to our well-being--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And yet, it's ironic, in this season, how many of us are working over-time to learn new technology, modify our routines, revamp all our "norms", and even educate our kids.

For many our stress is high, and rest is elusive. Which only makes it that much more necessary. Our bodies, minds, and spirits need time and space to rest and be restored. For some of us that may actually mean sleep, for others of us that might be more active sabbath practices.

What have you done this week that has fed your soul? Nourished your being? Helped you feel whole?

I know the demands are high. They are for me too. My body feels like it's on high alert and my mind is always spinning trying to riddle out the newest issue or change. And...my sabbath practices of the past tell me just how necessary it is to rest.

The other day it was like my body and brain were protesting my constant busyness. They just stopped. I could do basic things, but not much beyond that. I was completely exhausted and I couldn't force my brain to do more. So I rested. I knew I needed it, but before that, I couldn't slow things down enough for it to happen. Then as I rested my body begged for more, but this time, the restorative kind...the life-giving, soul-tending rest (which for me often means creating...some form of art, or cooking, or creating).

Like you, I'm trying to find a new schedule that works for all the demands and trying to organize what needs to be organized. I'm trying to be intentional (now) to make sure I schedule in rest--enough that my mind will actually slow down and let me truly rest.

I hope and pray you can do the same. From all I've read, it looks like we're in this for the long haul, so let's pace ourselves.

“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with blessing.”

John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

 

 In Christ

Pastor Debbie

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - March 20, 2020

A few days ago I was looking through the hymnal for worship music. The hymnal is divided into topical sections like "promised to come" "birth and baptism" and "life and teaching". The hymns relate to those topics and also carry us through the Christian calendar. As I searched I was particularly drawn to "assurance", "prayer, trust, and hope" and "strength in tribulation". There are lots of songs in those sections and many that I know well (and I expect you do too). Some of the ones I love the most include:

My Hope Is Built
Blessed Assurance
Standing on the Promises
There is a Balm in Gilead
It is Well With My Soul
Amazing Grace
There's Within My Heart a Melody
Trust and Obey
Precious Lord, Take My Hand

And that's the shortlist!!! I find comfort in these songs because I've spent nearly 40 years singing them, but also because they point strongly to the fact that Christians suffer and find solace in God.

The last few weeks have been taxing, if for nothing more than the unknown of all that will happen with this pandemic (and yes, there have been many many more stressors for lots of people) and yet our faith offers us assurance and hope and community that reaches through the ages.

And the assurance is not cheap. It's not platitudes or weightless memes. The assurance of faith comes from people who have seen the worst in life and yet found God's grace and love in the midst of it. It's not that we will be spared from hardship, but we worship a God who enters the heart of our heartache. Jesus walked on this earth and he suffered--rejection, betrayal, misunderstanding, isolation, loneliness, even doubt and he remains with us.

I don't know what these next weeks or months might hold, but I do know God is going to walk it with us and we get to help one another get through it. Our means are different. We can't just go sit for coffee like we used to, but we can call one another, some of us are comfortable with ZOOM or FaceTime and can call and connect that way. And we need to do those things, both with people we love and know well, and reaching out to someone in the directory or in our neighborhood that we don't know--checking in and seeing if we can be a listening ear or help with something practical.

We don't cease to be the church just because we don't sit together in our building. We are the church because we follow Jesus and choose to care for others.

If you haven't seen it otherwise, we are offering virtual worship on Sundays at 10:30 am through Facebook. The service is live and takes about 30 minutes. It is also recorded and can be found during the week. I also will be doing a live stream prayer time at 9 am on Thursdays, also on Facebook. (I'm sorry to those who aren't on Facebook, for now, it's our easiest platform. We are working on ways we can make it accessible to others). If you would like to send a prayer request for us to include in the pastoral prayer on Sunday, please just send me a note.

Please let me know how we can be of service to you this week. If you need someone to go to the store for you, please let me know. If you need a meal, please let me know. If you want to connect by phone or FaceTime or Zoom, please let me know. (there is also a group called "Palouse mutual aid" that is helping connect people with what they need. They are trusted and working with the Moscow Interfaith Association to help our community. They have a request form you can find here.

In the meantime, I encourage you to listen to some of the links above, or search for your own favorites and share in the wealth of faith shared through music.

 

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - March 9, 2020

In my senior year of seminary, a good friend of mine invited me to join her for a ministry to the homeless in downtown Atlanta. The Open Door community served hundreds of homeless brothers and sisters on a weekly basis, including meals, showers, clean clothes, and a medical clinic on Thursday nights. At the clinic, med students from Emory University would come and see patients for free. The Open Door also hosted a “foot clinic” where volunteers (overseen by a nurse) would wash and care for the feet of the homeless. That was the ministry I was invited to do.

 

First, we would share dinner and then we would clear the dining room and set up chairs with hot water tubs and stools for the volunteers to sit at the clients’ feet. They would soak their feet, and then we’d scrub them, trim their toenails, remove callouses and corns, and then lotion them and give them clean socks to wear.

 

Living on the streets often demands a lot of walking. People walk to stay warm. Walk to stay safe from others. Walk from agency to agency to try and get assistance. Walk from potential employer to potential employer. They walk a lot. In Atlanta it is humid and rains a good bit, which means their feet get wet. And when you sleep on the streets, you keep your shoes and socks on. 1) It keeps your feet warmer. 2) You can get up and run faster if you have to. 3) They don’t generally get stolen straight off your feet.

 

If you’ve never experienced it, feet that stay wet and soggy for days can be extra charming. =) The callouses are thick. Foot fungus is normative. And corns are common.

 

And we were expected to welcome each person with love and warmth—to be kind and generous, recognizing their vulnerability when they presented us their feet to be washed. We were gentle and tried to help with whatever was needed. We treated the foot fungus. We cut away corns. We massaged their weary feet. And we invited them to share whatever of their story that they wanted to. It was a holy and sacred task.

 

To sit at someone’s feet as the servant, when under ordinary circumstances our roles (or at least our perceived power) could be considered inverted was truly a gift. It was so clear to me that washing dirty feet was what Jesus chose to do and commanded us to do that to do so myself was easy.

 

This week in our small groups you will (likely) be invited to participate in the vulnerability and care of foot washing. I know it can be intimidating for some. You will also have the option of washing one another’s hands instead. Even if you’re reluctant, I invite you to participate. It is a holy act. And a beautiful thing. If you’re not in a group but want to share in the experience, please let me know, I would be more than willing to wash your feet. And if you’re shy about your feet, or you think they’re too this or too that, please know that I have seen the worst of what can be offered. I’m not bothered by the looks of your feet, or the smell, or your unpainted toes.

 

I believe it is my calling to serve God’s people, including this holy and unconventional way.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Debbie

 

 

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