Songs and Devotionals

Council of UMC Bishops: House Churches

Emergence of House Churches in the Context of Coronavirus Pandemic: Time for Soul Searching in the UMC

Bishop Mande Muyombo with some of the youths of his area in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

By Bishop Mande Muyombo
 
The Coronavirus pandemic has emerged as a serious challenge to the way we human beings socialize and engage in our families, communities, businesses, even our churches which have always been a source of strength and service, especially to those who are widowed, orphaned, sick, and dying.

The worship experience which is always a source of spiritual strength in communal experience must for now be taken back to a more private experience. It is important to argue that as Christianity emerged in Antioch, Jesus’s apostles encountered several challenges in trying to make worship a communal experience while often hiding and being persecuted. The empire resisted Christianity and attempted to stop it from spreading.

Brothers and sisters in other non-Christian countries still face this. Now we are being persecuted by a new, common enemy to all humanity, a new disease that has evolved and sweeps through communities indiscriminately. We must each prepare ourselves as communities, families, and churches to battle this together spiritually, even while physically separate.

As a response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops urged the Commission on the General Conference to postpone the 2020 General Conference, a gathering which was expected to take critical decisions for the future of the United Methodist Church.  In the letter to the Commission, COB President Bishop Ken Carter expressed the following, “We write out of a deep love for our global church and as a tangible way of giving spiritual and temporal oversight in our role as shepherds and we are guided by the core value of helping delegates to do their best work.”

The global UMC has not been a good role model lately of showing love and unity to spread God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. But this is a new day. This epidemic has drawn strangers and enemies together in new ways to battle a common enemy, and I hope that this is a time the church can lay down our weapons against each other and take up our cross. A lawyer once asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story we know well of the Good Samaritan showing love to a man who would have died alongside the road without his intervention. This is a time for us to come together spiritually even if not in physical community, lay aside our differences and distrust, power struggles, and be a servant to the world around us, Christian and (Muslim, etc.) rich and poor, male and female, young and old.

Gathering, worshipping, and praying together, serving others, has been our natural, automatic response in times of crises, large or small.
We cannot do this now. When several heads of states decided to close churches and other public gatherings as a way to contain the virus, many church leaders started exploring new, creative ways and means of communication, worship, prayer, and caring for their communities. Churches in western countries with so much technology have already moved to using the world-wide web as an avenue for online worship. Some pastors in Africa have been doing this as well.

As a Bishop who leads in a rural context with the majority of worshippers who do not have access to the internet, I decided to urge our members to go back to the context of early Christian house churches. They were able to gather many families in a home for worship, but you will need to worship just as those who already live in your home. But, like the Italians who sing out their windows together, perhaps your voices and songs, witness and praises, prayers and encouragement will rise up from your homes and blend together too. 
At this moment, I wish had a radio station which could have allowed us to worship and share the word of God during this season of Lent.

I will keep looking for new ways to communicate with you all, and perhaps you will have ideas and suggestions to share with me. 
Furthermore, we have decided to use band or class leaders (blocs in French) as individuals who will be important in keeping worship and the church running. While we may have been lost in larger structures, such as local church, district, annual conferences, episcopal areas, central conferences and general conference, doing ministry in the context of the corona virus is taking us back to the concept of house churches. 

To be precise, while we may have been lost in worshipping as traditionalists, centrists and progressives, the virus does not care about our constituencies, that is why we have to return back to the concept of house churches. I still have difficulty explaining these labels in my area, they tend to be confusing and divisive. What people care about, is that they are Christians and they are United Methodists who stand in solidarity with each other during times of tragedies such as these.

Maybe as we return to house churches which are more private, we may reflect more about what it means to be church. I am now scared about public worship and gathering such as the general conference. What we now care about is how to legislate and hurt each other and forget the least of us who have been struggling with other challenges such as poverty, violent conflicts, lack of drinkable water, floods and other pandemics.

In recent days some countries in Africa have reported new cases of the virus. In Kinshasa which is the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 97 cases of the virus have been reported with 8 deaths including some senior government officials. Because of the lack of strong health systems on the continent of Africa, the contamination of the virus is expected to be very significant here, especially in areas where there are no hospitals and no ventilators.

A global crisis like this requires a concerted global approach with the contributions of absolutely everyone. The global connection of the United Methodist Church and our Christian faith devoted to global servanthood has always been a catalyst of peace and development across the globe, and it can be now. It is with this approach that the United Methodist Council of Bishops’ Hope for the Children of Africa responded to the suffering of African children by providing means of education to some of us. Furthermore, it was through a concerted approach that the United Methodist Church established Africa University which has become the beacon of Africa. In addition is through a global concerted effort that the United Methodist decided to join hands in fighting against malaria and HIV/AIDS.

My wife and I were blessed to have our first twins in 2003, however one of them succumbed because of malaria. My other twin, by the name of Christiana, is living is because of the United Methodists who stood in solidarity with us. Until today the Imagine No Malaria program through the Global Health Unit at Global Ministries is saving many lives in my community.

All of our relief efforts in the USA and around the world are made possible through the work of UMCOR which receives gifts from United Methodists regardless of the affiliations.

I am tempted to say that an ordinary United Methodist cares less about being centrist, traditionalist or progressive. Rather each ordinary member is proud of his or her faith and dedicated to making disciples for transformation of the world. Events such as Katrina, Hurricane Sandy or Ebola in Africa brought together United Methodists from around the world. 

New challenges such as global migration and the coronavirus pandemic should unite all United Methodists from around the world. It is clear that the consequences of this pandemic are going to be huge and will affect our local churches and communities. Will we concentrate our energies on legislation or dedicate ourselves to a shared mission in serving communities that will be in need?

Our public space worship has now become a battlefield for power and control. Our ordinary members, while elected as delegates to annual conferences, central conferences, jurisdictional conferences and general conference, are dragged into toxic environment characterized by legislative battles.

From a sacramental perspective, our public worship spaces should have lifted the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist as means of experiencing God’s grace, healing and comfort. In retreating to house-churches whereby we may not have the feel of the institutional church, United Methodists have the opportunity for some soul-searching and reclaim their prophetic voice of coming to the rescue of those who are suffering from the pandemic. Throughout history, fighting over doctrinal issues led to many killings and not saving lives.

For most of us the word “church” refers to images of altars, station of the cross, wooden pews, plastic chairs, stained glasses and large buildings. the church building always gives us a sense of stability of our faith. The church building is also a special space to worship God and to meet with other church members. In the context of social distancing it is hard to have this same understanding of being church. Maybe, we have taken this for granted for a long time. Church building maintenance takes a big portion of the budget and yet there are always challenges in the mission fields.

During early Christianity, church buildings were not plentiful. Acts 2:46a suggests that “Every day the devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.”

There are various instances of house-churches concept in the New Testament which we reflect on.
In Acts 12:12, “when he (Peter) realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who is called Mark, where there were many people gathered in prayer.”

In Acts 16:40, when, they (Paul and Silas) had come out of the prison, they went “to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers and then left.”

In Romans 16:3,5, Paul states “Greet Priscila and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus… greet also the church in their house.”
In Colossians 4:15, Paul says “give greetings to the brothers in Laodicea and to Nympha and the church in her house.”

When Paul writes to Philemon in verses 1-2, he states “Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus and Timothy our Brother, to Philemon, our beloved and our Co-worker, to Apphia our Sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church at your house.”

House-churches should be revived during this time of the Corona pandemic and provide opportunity for families and friends to engage in prayer, Bible study, faith-sharing. During this time, United Methodists across the globe have the opportunity to do some soul-searching and engage in dialogue of the future of the church and its impact on mission
 
Bishop Mande Muyombo
Resident Bishop of the North Katanga-Tanganyika-Tanzania Episcopal Area.


Dismantling Racism: A Service of Lament

At noon CDT on June 24, United Methodist church leaders conducted a service of lament, inviting United Methodists across the connection to join in a time of repentance, communion and commitment as the church examines racial injustice as part of The United Methodist Church's Dismantling Racism: Pressing On To Freedom initiative

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Rev. Betty's Devo for June 19 2020

I Want to Trust

Bible :  Philippians 4:12-13, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 18:10, Psalm 48:1-3, Isaiah 43:1-3

Big Ideas

Contentment isn't real is it fails in hard times.

Take love for example. Is love real if it can't persist through hard times? What do you think?

Similarly, contentment must be steady, persistent and unwavering. Believe it or not the contentment you find from God can withstand whatever you are going through.

This doesn't mean life will be easy. It does mean you can get through whatever comes your way.

Contentment is a byproduct of trust.

If we trust that God is with us through the struggles and tough times of life then we can be content in all situations.

Sometimes we have a hard time trusting God because we have been hurt or we have trouble trusting what we can't see.

When we are battling life, God wants us to go to God for safety.

God promises to be with us in all things, whether we consider them good or bad.

So, if you are struggling to find the commitment that your soul desires, recognize that is comes from trusting God is who he says he is and will be with you in all things.

Think of someone you know who remains content through tough times.   

Contentment is knowing that God is with you on all things.

Praying that we might find contentment as we struggle with the tough things in our lives remembering God is in the struggle with us. Rev Betty


Rev. Betty's Devo for June 18 2020

I Want Acceptance

Bible: Galatians 1:10, Romans 6:6-8, Colossians 3:1-3, John 3:1-2

Big Ideas

From the cradle to the grave we look to others to guide us through life.

In what way has people pleasing affected your choices?

We may even have wanted to be just like someone else because being like that person would help us gain acceptance.

It could be as simple as going along with the crowd, falling to peer pressure. We all have at one time or another and not just as children or teens but as adults also.

We all struggle with acceptance.

But what happens when we discover that we can't please everyone no matter what we do?

The sooner we realize we can't please others, the sooner we will realize it's not our job.

The thing is it's really hard to put aside everybody's expectations and focus on what God wants us to do.

So what are some practical ways we can find contentment and stop living for approval from others?

Think about your priorities and ask yourself: why do I do this; is it healthy for me; does it take up too much time; what would happen if I removed this from my life?

Remember, we have already been accepted by God. So when feelings discontentment and inadequacy arise pray, lean on God, remind yourself that you are valuable to God.

Those who watch you will probably wonder why you are not worried about what they think.

Have a good day! Rev Betty

Rev. Betty's Devo for June 17 2020

I Want to be Happy

Bible: Luke 10:17-24, Hebrew 12:1-2, Philippians 2:1-2, James 1:2-3


Big Ideas

Wouldn't it be nice if we could always have the light-heartedness that comes with laughing and playing around?

What do you think constitutes true joy?

We can learn a lot from the Luke passage because we not only see the 72 disciples returning from their mission filled with joy, we also get a chance to hear what Jesus says about true joy.

If you want to find joy you have to know where to look.

When you reflect on all you have been forgiven, all the grace and love that God gives, all the beauty and bounty God has provided, we can find true joy.

We can find joy in unity and fellowship with others.

When we work together, eat together, pray together, serve together we experience true joy.

Can suffering lead us to joy? How?

We can get lost in pain and grief. Instead focus on the way we can grow and mature through tough times.

How would you define true joy?

True joy can't be found in material things or possessions or winning. True joy comes from God.


Praying that you are finding joy even in the midst of what sometimes feels like a world turned upside down. Rev Betty

A Timely Message from the Past

As suggested by Carol Neal, here is a Rev. Betty Kniss message that bears repeating. Originally taped in 2015, "New Every Morning" once again speaks to us during a time of hardship, courage and lament. 

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Methodist clergy protest hymn, titled “It Is Enough!”

Many United Methodist clergy gave Pentecost Sunday sermons on the scourge of racism, prompted by the latest high-profile killing of a black man in police custody.


The Rev. R. DeAndre Johnson may have outpreached and outreached them all by offering his own protest hymn, titled “It Is Enough!”

Clad in jacket, dress shirt and slacks, hands held out prayerfully, Johnson stood before a video camera, closed his eyes and sang, “There are no words that can contain, the depth of sorrow, grief and pain, that mothers, sons and all exclaim: Kyrie eleison!”

The video of Johnson singing that and the rest of “It Is Enough!” for online worship at Christ United Methodist Church, in Sugar Land, Texas, had about 19,000 Facebook views as of June 2. Facebook shares of the performance number in the hundreds. Click to see the video, just below:



Video

Scott Hofmeister – Act Justly, Love Mercy Song

One of our best loved Praise and Worship songs, written by Scott. 

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Christ Church joins protestors with prayer vigil

The scenes of protest in South Florida were unavoidable. People of all backgrounds marched last weekend for justice after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.  While most were peaceful, some incidents led to rubber bullets in Miami, tear gas in Fort Lauderdale, and overnight curfews from Miami to West Palm Beach. 


Christ Church United Methodist in Ft. Lauderdale, led by Rev. Dr. Brett Opalinski, responded Monday morning by organizing and producing a livestream prayer vigil for Monday evening.  “It was important for us to offer what we could into a difficult situation,” Opalinski said. “We wanted to offer a message that brought the love of God into our context.” 


“A prayer vigil allows us to focus on a key component of our faith – prayer to God in times of strife and uncertainty,” Weems said. “We too often rely on our own words, thoughts and desires rather than turning to God for guidance.”


Osunlana, a speaker and pastor at St. John’s UMC, said racism is an issue that must be discussed by the church.


“The church itself has been a racialized institution for far too long. The silence or sometimes half-spirited condemnation of racism presents a spiritual challenge,” he said. “The fact that opportunities and resources in many denominations, including ours, depend largely on the color of your skin makes the church unbelievable when she talks about how bad racism is.” 

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New Life UMC Praise Team

"Way Maker"

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Words for a Hectic Day - from Brother Lawrence

“The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable. It is the way we look at them - through faith or unbelief - that makes them seem so. We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits trials to come our way for our own good.

Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God. The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him. As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him. We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”

― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God


Ever have a super hectic day? The kind when you can't quite seem to catch a deep breath before it's on to the next, "super important" thing?
Yeah. That was today. And then, in the midst of that, a friend calls to say that a family member has died. 


Suddenly, I have a whole new focus and understanding. Suddenly, I... who had no time for lunch, for anything....I spend an hour on the phone with my friend. What "super important" things do we discuss? The way to end world hunger? How to stop the out-of-control wildfires in California, Australia and now, Florida? How to bring about World Peace? The ultimate cure for COVID-19? No. Of course not.


We talk about love, friendship, togetherness and dying well - for an hour. 


The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable. It is the way we look at them - through faith or unbelief - that makes them seem so.

Love God equally in times of distress or in times of great joy. 


It is a time of great joy.


- Kim Wendt

How Do We Understand Suffering From Disaster? - Writings from the United Methodist Church

Sometimes the devastation is overwhelming. The waters rise and the rain won’t stop. The ground shakes beneath our feet, or the wind blows the roofs off homes. Disease spreads, seemingly unstoppable, causing fear and anxiety, pain and loss. The problems seem insurmountable, the destruction beyond our comprehension.


When tragedy strikes, it is common for us to ask why. We turn to our faith for answers, but answers don’t come easily. We wrestle with making sense of the suffering we witness, in light of our Christian faith. Questions are left unanswered. The tragedy is not explained.


In a sermon titled “The Promise of Understanding,” John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, says we may never know. He writes,

“[W]e cannot say why God suffered evil to have a place in his creation; why he, who is so infinitely good himself, who made all things ‘very good,’ and who rejoices in the good of all his creatures, permitted what is so entirely contrary to his own nature, and so destructive of his noblest works. ‘Why are sin and its attendant pain in the world?’ has been a question ever since the world began; and the world will probably end before human understandings have answered it with any certainty” (section 2.1).


The short answer is: We do not know why disease, pandemics, natural disasters, and other suffering are part of our world.


Did God do this?

While Wesley admits we cannot know the complete answer, he clearly states that suffering does not come from God. God is “infinitely good,” Wesley writes, “made all things good,” and “rejoices in the good of all his creatures.”


Our good God does not send suffering. According to Wesley, it is “entirely contrary to [God’s] own nature, and so destructive of his noblest works.” Suffering is not punishment for sin or a judgment from God. We suffer, and the world suffers, because we are human and part of a system of processes and a physical environment where things go wrong.


God with us

In another sermon titled “On Divine Providence,” Wesley again writes of God’s love for humanity and that God desires good for us. He then adds how God is always with us, even in the midst of tragedy. Wesley shares,


More Food for Thought

‘Jesus wept’: Finding God’s comfort when times are bad

God's role in times of crisis

A Prayer for a World Facing the Coronavirus

Where is God when... (Compass Podcast)

Finding Strength to Overcome

“[God] hath expressly declared, that as his ‘eyes are over all the earth’ [see Psalm 34:15; 83:18], so he ‘is loving to every man, and his mercy is over all his works’ [Psalm 145:9]. Consequently, he is concerned every moment for what befalls every creature upon earth; and more especially for everything that befalls any of the children of men. It is hard, indeed, to comprehend this; nay, it is hard to believe it, considering the complicated wickedness, and the complicated misery, which we see on every side. But believe it we must” (paragraph 13).


This is good news. While we cannot fully comprehend the why, we know that God is with those who suffer. Note that Wesley says God cares for “every creature.” We are never alone in our suffering.

In our experience, we know that tragedies happen to Christians and non-Christians alike. As Jesus said, “[God] makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). The good news we proclaim is that God is with us through it all.


A different question

When Jesus and his disciples encounter a man born blind, the disciples ask Jesus the question we are asking. “Rabbi, who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?” (John 9:2). Jesus, why does seemingly arbitrary suffering occur?


Jesus’ answer, “Neither he nor his parents,” tells us that the disciples are asking the wrong question. “This happened,” Jesus continues, “so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Jesus asserts that it is in our response to suffering that God is found, in moments of everyday grace and in grand and sweeping gestures of care and solidarity with the suffering. God’s mighty works are found in hospitals and nursing homes and shelters.


Jesus is calling his disciples and us to a ministry. We are to join Jesus in displaying God’s mighty works. We are an extension of God’s presence in the midst of the tragedy as we come beside those who are suffering in ways we don’t comprehend. We are to be agents of healing, working to restore God’s order to people’s lives and communities. We are to be representatives of the day of resurrection to come, as we seek to rebuild and renew.


In our United Methodist congregations, we join together in these ministries. We assemble cleaning kits and work alongside those who shovel the muck from floodwaters from the floors of their homes. We rebuild homes. We stand in the gap alongside the suffering. We support our local food banks, take care of one another’s cars, visit those who are imprisoned, and so much more. We are also active in our communities, working to change systems that inflict suffering on people in our communities.


In the aftermath of tragedy, we give witness to the love of God. In our outpouring of support, we proclaim the value of every human life. When we send supplies through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, we witness to God’s provision. When medical professionals bind up wounds, Jesus is shown as a healer. When homes are rebuilt, we proclaim resurrection. As we grieve with those in mourning, we share the love of God.


We may not know why things happen, but we embrace the ministries of healing, renewal and reconciliation to which Jesus calls us, and in doing so, God’s mighty works are revealed.

Holy Saturday Devotional - Rev. Betty Kniss

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Pastor Emily's Stay Home and Carry On Weekly List

Keeping your soul in check during the sequestration of physical distance is important I’ll have a spiritual health tip for each week.

Activity: This week is Baking! My daughter and I are baking a 4 layered coconut cake that comes from my mothers handwritten family cookbook. Normally I would buy one.


TV series: MASH is on Hulu no commercials, no laugh track, just comedy amid war. Could be timely for how we are living now.  

Movie: Phenomenon with John Travolta in 1996 included with Showtime but available for purchase for $3-$4 from all the streaming services. If you purchase and watch check out this summary and Q and A by visiting the link below.

http://www.philfilms.utm.edu/1/phenomenon.htm


Book: Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Published in 2017 they made it into a movie too if you are not a reader. Worth the time to read the book. This story will change your perspective for the better and it is so well written.)


App of the Week: Insight Timer this is a great way to get off of the “hamster wheel”. It is essentially a meditation tool, there is free guided meditation for beginners, and ways to create timer with soothing chimes and gongs as well as ambient music and nature sounds. I use it for stretching after workouts and for reading for at least 12 minutes at night before bed.


Outtakes - Fun Things While Filming...

Joseph Farrar

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Easter, COVID-19 and the Contradiction of Resurrection Faith

An Easter Message from Bishop Ken Carter based on Matthew 28: 1-10 and Luke 24: 1-12 .

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April 9 Devotional with Rev. Betty

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From Rev. Betty Kniss: Yes, we will celebrate! A friend posted this and I have to agree.

After the President’s news conference was over, one of the reporters made the observation that for the first time in our nation’s history we won’t be celebrating Easter. Well let me tell you one thing, he’s wrong. We might not celebrate what Easter has become in that there may be no new clothes bought for that Sunday. We might not hide and hunt eggs in mass quantities. We may not travel home to attend church with our family. We might not see some folks at our worship services that we haven’t seen since Christmas, but we’re going to Celebrate Easter. As a matter of fact, every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Every time we assemble for worship, no matter how or where, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pilate couldn’t kill Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. You think the Coronavirus is going to stop Easter. More people this year will hear the gospel than any other Easter before.

Easter is not just about special programs. It’s not about the trumpet call or the mass crowds. It’s the fact that we serve a living Savior who is still transforming lives today. Easter is not only about His resurrection, but our ability to rise with Him. Easter is about the hope of tomorrow and the gift of everlasting life. Yes indeed, we will celebrate. We’ll celebrate what God did for all of us at Calvary. How? By remembering Him. By loving Him. By worshiping Him. By praising Him. Easter for us is everyday. Let the celebration begin. Sing with me:

I serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today

I know that He is living, whatever men may say

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer

And just the time I need Him He's always near

He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life's narrow way

He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


Pastor Emily’s Stay Home and Carry On Weekly List

Keeping your soul in check during the sequestration of physical distance is important I’ll have a spiritual health tip for each week.

Activity: This week it’s Fancy Fridays (get dressed up on Friday night. Set the table, light the candles, if you are living alone ask a friend to do the same and FaceTime or Zoom) See the rest of Pastor Emily's Weekly List... get on the email list. Leave a message for her at the church with your name and email.


Devotional from Rev. Betty: Easter isn't cancelled. We are just doing it in a different way this year. Jesus has always wanted us to celebrate his life and death by following him, by loving God and neighbor, by doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. That is truly celebrating Easter. Maybe this year when we aren't running around planning special Easter services and holy week activities we can have the time and state of mind to truly celebrate.


Pastor Emily’s Stay Home and Carry On Weekly List

“Keeping your soul in check during the sequestration of physical distance is important I’ll have a spiritual health tip for each week.” –Pastor Emily Denmark McGee

This week’s tip: Hand washing for at least 20-30 seconds. Long enough to sing the chorus of Great is Thy Faithfulness! “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

See more fun ideas, book, movie and TV show suggestions, etc. in Pastor Emily’s weekly email. Send your email address to emily@oceanviewumc.com to get on the weekly list.


Lockdown by Fr. Richard Hendricks

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes but blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other across the empty squares,

Keeping their windows open so that those who are alone

May hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number

Through the neighborhood so that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

Are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that:

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing, spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

Fr. Richard Hendricks OFM March 13th 2020



Daily Thoughts – A Devotional from Rev. Betty Kniss

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:4-9

As we have heard over and over the past few days we are in unprecedented times. However, we praise God that even when times are unprecedented we can find peace that surpasses understanding. We want you to know we are praying with and for you. If you have any prayer request please leave them in the comments. Rev Betty Kniss


March 21- Walk with Betty



What Brings Me Peace – Kim Wendt

Hi Oceanview Family! Everyone at the Wendt House in NPB is doing fine. (That’s my husband, Mark, and I … and four cats, 1 foster cat.) So far, we’ve shredded 20 years of old paperwork; cleaned out, fixed or re-purposed several boxes of old electronic gadgets. In between trips to the grocery store, checking on neighbors and family… the sewing room was cleaned and I began ‘taking’ online lessons with my ‘new to me’ violin. Yes, there is a pandemic raging – but I am peaceful! What is bringing me peace?

August 2016. There I am, high up on the ridge, working at our farm in Northern Maine. As you can see, the sky is getting very dark…very. That afternoon was sultry and ominously quiet. Even the birds were silent. Then the warning notices started: SEVERE WEATHER – TAKE SHELTER – SEVERE LIGHTING – POSSIBLE TORNADOES.

By 6:00 pm, the rail was torrential. Big, searing bolts of lightning were cracking down on the ridge. Some of the bolts were so near and so strong – the ground and house literally shook like it was an earthquake.

Inside the old house, I wondered how long before windows broke or before the house or barn were hit? How long before a lighting bolt sparked a fire in the dry timber of the ridge?

The storm stayed on the ridge into the night. I remember praying that God would watch over us all: the land, the birds and animals, the townsfolk, my Amish neighbors and me. Hours later, I finally fell asleep.

The next morning – the sun was out, birds and animals stirring – all was well. There were some scorched spots, sure, but all was well. So tonight I sit and think… God, watch over us all. Just watch over us all. And I know: all will be well. That assurance brings me peace.


Daily Thoughts – A Devotional from Rev. Betty Kniss

Psalms 139: 7-12 “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.”

These are words of encouragement for hard times. There is no where we can go that God won’t be there. God is with us, our strength and help in times of trouble.