Welcome

 

Whoever you are,

wherever you are on life's journey, you are welcome here!

 

Business Office Hours

Tues. - Fri.: 9am - 2pm

Our Mission

 

We strive to apply Jesus’ teaching by recognizing that every individual is a child of God and we welcome all to join us on our faith journey in providing guidance, love, and hope to our community and the world in the spirit of Jesus Christ.

Visit Us

 

 

993 Main Street, P.O. Box 165

 

South Windsor, CT 06074

(860) 528-7992

firstchurchsw@gmail.com

Follow Us on Facebook at First Congregational Church of South Windsor

 

 

Business Office Hours -

Tues - Fri. 9am-2pm

Worship Services

Due to Coronavirus concerns, we are meeting and worshiping online until further notice. If you are interested in joining us for online worship, please email the church office at firstchurchsw@gmail.com

The office team is working remotely but monitoring phone messages and emails during this time.  Rev. Nina will be available should any need arise. Please call the church office at (860) 528-7992 and your call will be returned as soon as possible. Have a blessed day!

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of

the Rev. R. W. Nelson, Jr. 

http://tributes.com/obituary/show/Roscoe-Win-Nelson-108486283

Rev. Nelson proudly served the First Congregational Church of South Windsor for 6 years in the 1960's. Please join us in sending your thoughts and prayers to his family.

Please check out Rev. Nina's interview with the Journal Inquirer that was published in the Saturday/Sunday, May 23-24 edition:

https://www.journalinquirer.com/living/saturday_qas/conversation-with-the-rev-nina-barlow-schmid/article_ac5817de-9ba0-11ea-bcc2-8fa3e1676af6.html

Message from the Pastor

Weekend of June 5, 2020

“What’s in Your Garden?”

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

Tis the season of gardening. For those who are able and have somewhere to sow, tend and reap, it is a gift of the body, mind and spirit to commune with the sights, sounds, and smells of God’s Creation. In the planting and tending, sacred life courses through our bodies into the earth and back again, a growing and sustaining of that life through this husbandry.

      For some, having something to tend is essential to that communion with the growing season in God’s green earth. This can happen on a roof-top, in a green house, a coffee can or in a plot. Tending allows us to feel needed and also to contribute to well-being. To tend is to care for; to look out for; watch for needs and changes, feeding and watering as you go, or whatever the particularities of the situation require. It is a labor of love. We become engaged with our tend-ee.

     Some tend to people. Some tend to their machines. Some tend to the needs of an institution or business. Some tend to ideas. Many tend to many things at once. Some are born to be tend-ers, and others aren’t so natural about it, depending on what they tend. One thing for sure, a truly vital garden lets you tend in a soul-feeding quietude that not all ‘tending’ provides.

      I ask you to consider the idea that everyone starts out with a garden to plant and take care of, though it may not be a literal plot of ground. What I mean is that our very lives are gardens. We are born sown with our spirits and our gifts and growing edges. We are tended by God, first and foremost, along with someone, hopefully, who feeds us, teaches us and cares for us, although these tend-ings come in all shapes and sizes, not necessarily ideal environments for flourishing.

      This metaphorical garden we all have is a garden of possibility. It overflows with potential. Some of what goes into this garden derives from circumstance. Much of what goes into and comes out of our garden, however, is chosen by us. All the ingredients are important, but as Jesus says in Matthew 15:11, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them” (NIV).

    So, can we apply this idea to our gardens? Can we make what comes out of our gardens better, to contribute to improving our lives and the lives of the people around us? The world’s? There may be much beyond our control that has gone into our gardens, but we can fertilize and re-shape the fruits.

      Yes, the quirks of nature and our own ‘natures,’ also shape the fruits, but we have immense opportunity to work with nature and our own ‘natures,’ such that what a garden starts out to be, can be miraculously and radically changed by the tending that takes place in our hearts. Digging, planting, weeding, transplanting, harvesting – all of these things are chances that our individual gardens offer for us to start again.

      We all know farmers face many challenges, often including re-sowing after the loss of a crop. Sometimes, it is too late in the season to do so. The farmer must absorb the loss and the experience; learn patience, deal with frustration, disappointment and loss; to be ready to overcome. A good farmer develops wisdom and is adept at changing things up, adding a little of this or that, trying something new, realizing their mistakes, substituting new ways for old.

    Readers: we are at a time that requires substituting new ways for old, not only in our personal gardens, but in the gardens of the world. COVID-19, though some choose to believe is over, still wreaks havoc. In that havoc, we all have experienced change, some far more deeply than others.

      COVID-19 has unveiled the inequalities and inequities of this society ubiquitously, in ways that are stark and undeniable. The temple of complacency and hate are under siege. Institutions that have been held dear for centuries are actively under scrutiny for their contribution to the success of this country having been built in good part upon the backs of African American slaves and others treated inhumanely.

      The protests that have stretched for nine days in the wake of George Floyd’s lynching on the pavement are evidence, sorrowfully far too familiar, that things must change now.

     Systems that have been accepted and work for most, have not and do not serve or work for blacks and others. Not only that, disallowance of human rights on many levels effect people of color disproportionately, along with immigrants, the poor – too many to name here. White privilege has reigned far too long.

     Society’s – and our own individual gardens – are in crisis. They need to be re-planted: re-planted with deep soul-searching self-examination fertilized with love, truth, honesty, justice, righteousness, and action. Until we truly admit to ourselves that we are all capable of contributing to this degradation, have contributed whether knowingly or unknowingly and are culpable in one way or another, and take action to rectify egregious disparity into true freedom as God sees it – justice for all  - we shall continue reaping what we have sown.

      We can change. We can become tend-ers of life, rather than cultivators of physical and spiritual death. While we are not all responsible for one person’s actions, we are responsible for beliefs held that perpetuate hate and disparity, in all its forms.

      Friends, we can change. We must change. With God’s help, we will change. We can transplant our gardens and become transformed. We can become ‘tender tend-ers.’ Let us seek new ways to be and cultivate our gardens into places of joy and love – fairness – so that in the planting and tending, the sacred life we have been given courses out of us into the world in a showering harvest of love. May it be so.

         Rev. Nina

Message from Rev. Nina

Weekend of May 29, 2020

 

Bonjour, Hello, Salut, Hola, Zdravstvutye, Nin Hao, Salve, Shalom, Konnichiwa, Marhabaan!

 

I offer these greetings in many languages, from French to Arabic. The beauty of the approximately 6,500 spoken languages in the world today can be especially appreciated as we approach Pentecost Sunday, the day considered the birthday of the church universal.

 

Of course, as told in Acts 2:1-21, Pentecost commemorates the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, with tongues of fire and whirling wind, causing them to “speak in other languages” about “God’s deeds of power.” Knowing the disciples were from Galilee, the gathered, multi-national crowd was amazed that the disciples could speak in a way that those hearing could all understand.

 

The chaos of all these languages spoken and understood simultaneously resulted in what must have sounded like an incongruous beauty; a unity in diversity; a cacophony of the coming together of many hearts into God’s heart, even, as some bystanders complained that all receivers of the Holy Spirit were “filled with new wine.”

 

Just yesterday, another type of cacophony caught my ear. I was noticing the exquisite beauty of the late afternoon as it sighed into evening. You know how certain days are capped with the most brilliant sunlight, soft breeze, perfect temperature? A golden richness, overflowing from the universe, poured out upon everything in its purview, light upon light, making way for the sunset and dusk. Chipmunks scuttled, a mourning dove cooed, in anticipation of the tucking in of the day, a comfort for all living things.

Flowers seemed to stretch their necks forward to drink in the last few rays of sunlight. Trees – oak, European larch, sycamore, hickory, white pine, dogwood, cork, birch – swayed together in the light breeze, as though keeping time to an ancient rhythm. Birds offered their postlude to the day before retiring, singing in earnest as though they would never sing again. Creation seemed to be singing all around me. I was reminded of Psalm 150:6: “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!” Surely, I was witnessing such a time.

The other transfixing cacophony to which I refer was that of one bird in particular, whose song(s) caught my rapt attention. A Mockingbird was chortling away in a tree across the way with what sounded like the employment of every cell in its little body, and then some.

Its repertoire was vast. The easily recognizable calls of the robin, blue jay, vireo, grackle, thrush, cardinal and others spilled out into the early twilight, interspersed with renditions of not so easily identifiable species, all proficiently and loudly proclaimed with great pomp and circumstance. Even when the grinding sounds of a truck motor or the blast of a motorcycle threatened to drown it out, the Mockingbird won the day.

The very delight the songster took in its showy concert seemed to increase with each bird song it imitated, louder and louder, more emphatic, almost to the point of actually bursting with song! At least, that’s how it affected me.

I was enthralled. The ‘moment’ lasted for about an hour. My heart was dazzled by the many languages the Mockingbird could speak. And, though I do not understand, ‘avian,’ my heart was filled with rapture as this magical bird spilled and trilled its exquisite aria regaling the abundant beauty of God’s Creation; God’s mighty power and majesty. I felt the Holy Spirit has descended upon the twilit world, and upon me. As soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, the mockingbird abruptly stopped. The concert was over.

Let us remember how we are joined in our hearts by God’s love and the Holy Spirit, though we speak many different languages from around the world. And this Pentecost, may your spirits be renewed as we receive God’s word in new ways and in these new days. “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!”

Rev. Nina

PASTORAL MESSAGE FROM REV. NINA

WEEKEND OF MAY 22, 2020

‘CONSIDERING CONTEXT’

Hello Friends!

What wonderful new community-building and sharing we are doing by engaging in this auxiliary correspondence every week. I hope it is as bright a spot for you as it is for me during these challenging times. As a matter of fact, I invite you all to write back, call or email if you feel the urge to share what you are doing to pass the time, and what is on your collective minds. These are such historic times.

 

     Historic, yes…and spiritually and emotionally trying. Each of us has our own ‘contexts’ – different backgrounds, how we perceive things around us, the world, God; what we need, what we want and how we live; alone, as a couple or in a family or group.  Much of what we believe, or feel is influenced by how and when we grow up, our personal life experiences and current settings. All of this adds up to our ‘contexts’ – whatever circumstances shape us. Where exactly are we ‘coming from?’

 

     Context is always on my mind as a minister. It is very essential to continually extend my awareness beyond my own context; to remind myself that not everyone experiences the same things or in the same way. This consciousness-raising is especially important now as I try to remember that, what applies for me and all of us in our church community and living situations, is likely radically different from others’ contexts across the country and the globe.

 

      Being aware of context – where others are ‘coming from’ – is critical to fostering and maintaining understanding. Take the Bible, for instance. In order to grasp much of the meaning of what we hear, we must delve into the contexts of the times, the people and the hearer and speakers. Without that, it is much more difficult to join in the story. Taking time to be aware of particular contexts allows for better meaning-making. It offers us a window through which to grasp and apply that meaning in and to our present-day context with each other.

 

      We use these tools to not only see how the Bible speaks to us and is heard today, but also to relate to how others in our world, whether familiar or strangers, speak to us and need to be heard today.

 

          Job 7 and Psalm 8 each offer a perfect example of radically different contexts influencing the writer’s concept of God. These individuals emote powerfully, generating similar questions, born of vastly differing circumstances: How does God feel about humans? What do we mean to God? Whenever I read Psalm 8, I am called to read Job 7. It’s all about context!

      

     One of my favorite books of the Bible is Job. If you really want some dramatic reading to do and have never read it, pick up a Bible or google it and give it a whirl. Some of the speeches are long, but the drama of Job’s story grips the reader, as his life goes from wonderful to horrible. Job questions God – no, more like demands of God – that God tell him what the heck he ever did wrong to deserve such suffering!

 

     And, of course, the Book of Psalms offers beautiful and also dramatic, forms of prayer and praise, lament and gratitude. Each book brims with life, poetic language and new meanings. After all the Bible is a living document, not a dead one! Otherwise, how would it have remained so prominent all these two-thousand-plus years???

    

         In Job 7, the once “upright,” now long-suffering Job, “loathes” his life, having lost health, family and possessions, and is persecuted by his well-meaning friends. He demands a response from God. Job maintains he has done nothing wrong to deserve such a fate.

 

      Job’s pity-party goes into high gear. He wishes he’d never been born. Job speaks, “in the anguish of my spirit” and complains “in the bitterness of my soul” as he demands to know why in God’s name God won’t leave him alone! Give me a break, you tormentor, O “you watcher of humanity!” What could you possibly care about me or anyone else?!? “What are human beings that you make so much of them?” Get lost!

 

      On the other hand, Psalm 8 reflects Genesis’ creation story in the psalmist’s passionate and poetic acknowledgment of God’s glory and the majesty of all creation – including their wonderment at God’s placement of humans “a little lower than God” in the midst of all that majesty. The same question is asked by the psalmist, but articulated from a totally different context of gratitude and wonder in Verse 4: “what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?”

 

     The psalmist is clearly in love with God’s love for humankind, found in all that surrounds them: babes, moon, stars, beasts and birds of the air and sea – God shares God’s dominion! Wow! It is safe to say the psalmist’s context is one of humility, joy and wonder at God’s ways, “in all the earth” – that God loves humanity so much, God is willing to share this divine magnificence of creation.

 

      The psalmist and Job, from their individual contexts, demonstrate the ever-present yearning for relationship with God and all its incomprehensibility. The polarities between Job’s and the psalmist’s experiences underscore the need for creating common ground through the understanding of highly dissimilar contexts at all times. This is especially urgent during this onslaught of COVID-19, the recovery and aftermath. We are all struggling to find new footing.

 

When we hear of dissonance about re-opening dates, differing medical opinions, some parts of the country feeling they do not need, ‘Stay Safe. Stay Home,’ while others adhere to strict guidelines - mask or no mask - we need to consider context.

 

When a person might think they have it so bad because they can’t go out to dinner in a restaurant or to the library, we need to seriously think how that would sound to an unemployed, single-parent with three children home-schooling and holding for hours on the unemployment phone line, trying to figure out how to feed the family and pay bills.

 

Or, to someone who must stay at home all the time pre-pandemic, this is not a new thing. This is life as normal. And, it may have stretched on for years. Whatever folks’ circumstances, let’s hope we can be generous with our understanding of different contexts than ours, and pray that others will be so with ours!

 

This context thing obviously is not necessary in times of crisis only. It is necessary at all times…in all situations…with all people. It is required of us in order to activate the empathy and compassion that enables us to be the living, loving hands and feet of Christ in the world.

 

So, whether you are a suffering Job or praise-singing psalmist, or anything in between, remember to consider the other person’s context. It is a lifeline to living the Christian life.

 

Well-being and peace be yours,

 

Rev. Nina

Wednesday May 20, 2020

 

"But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." - Jeremiah 29:7

 

Dear Members and Friends,

 

After careful consideration of recommended and suggested guidelines by the SNEUCC and others, the Ad Hoc Pandemic Team has made the decision to continue suspending use of the church buildings (Main Building and Wolcott Building) through December 31, 2020 for any gathered group that currently utilizes church space including but not limited to: in-house worship services, coffee hours, studies and groups with functions such as UCW, Xmas Fair, Historian Archive/Photo Team, CE, and Sewin4Servicemen, etc. 

 

This is a holistic, moral, ethical and historic public health decision based on the uncertainties of COVID-19 effects in the coming months. Most importantly, it is for the common good of all. Churches are ‘hotspots,’ with much physical activity and surface space offering too much opportunity for spreading the virus. To err on the side of caution now is well worth avoiding any illness or death later. Let us pray that we see evidence of a vaccine on the horizon. We realize this comes with some disappointment, not least of all our own.  

 

The good news is that all church activities, including on-line worship via zoom at 10:00 A.M. on Sundays, Chapel Chat at 10 A.M. on Wednesdays, and other offerings will continue as scheduled. Please avail yourself of our website and Facebook pages to get up to date information: www.firstchurchsw.org and on Facebook at First Congregational Church of South Windsor.

 

Thank you in advance for your prayerful cooperation, understanding and patience as we care for each other and our neighbors during this uncertain time. 

 

And remember, we are not alone. The One, True God walks with us. This too shall pass.

 

We look forward with great enthusiasm to 'seeing' you at all our virtual church functions. Should you have any questions or wish to put an email address on the record for Zoom activity invitations, please email or call the church office at firstchurchsw@gmail.com; 860-528-7992. Calls continue to be monitored by our Administrative Assistant Carrie Morse who is working remotely. May you all remain healthy and well.

 

Rev. Nina Barlow Schmid and the Ad Hoc Pandemic Team

Terry Belknap, Moderator

Carroll Stearns, Trustee Chair

Lauren Horsfield, Deacon Chair

Lee Anderson, Treasurer

Jean Jackson, Clerk and Recording Secretary

PASTORAL MESSAGE FROM REVEREND NINA

WEEKEND OF MAY 15, 2020

May Greetings and Peace of Christ Be With You!

 

May is typically a festive month. We start out with May Day on May 1st, a throwback to the pagan days of old, marking spring rites, which birthed dancing around the May Pole and the giving of May Day baskets, both dear traditions in my family growing up. Two of my sisters were even crowned May Queens once upon a time!

 

Then, there is the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of the month, a different cultural event, another occasion to gather and celebrate in my family; another step in the kick-off of the lovely month of May.

 

This year, someone clued me in on “May the Fourth Be With You” – a take-off on the Star Wars mantra, “May the Force Be With You,” followed by Cinque de Mayo – the May 5th Mexican holiday, which brought with it a full-course Mexican dinner delivered right to my door! And the crowning of the mothers of the world on Mothers’ Day – the honoring of all who provide mothering, and especially in even more extraordinary ways now.

 

A plethora of proms and other parties are the rites of what would normally be the end of the academic year and the official beginning of summer marked by Memorial Day parades and picnics.

 

At church, from a liturgical standpoint, May 31st is Pentecost, the birthday of the church universal with its roaring flames of fire and miraculous speaking and hearing in foreign tongues – the Holy Spirit swooshes in!

 

The hustle and bustle of the Annual Scholarship Fundraiser Tag Sale preparations are usually in full swing in early May, as the United Church Workers heft, tote, bag and tag a multitude of treasures.

 

But, wait - this May of COVID -19 is radically different from all other Mays in our lives. May arrives in all its glory, but it is not the only story. In the midst of spectacular dogwood blooms, bright green fiddleheads and the arrival of brilliant Baltimore Orioles singing in the treetops, there is the undercurrent of uncertainty, an ever-present hum in our ears.

 

Loss of life and suffering have affected far too many. We keep all lost loved ones, families, patients and those recovering utmost in our prayers. Many more have no jobs, no money, no way to get any. There is much apprehension blowing in on the blustery winds of this month of May. What is your May like so far? What is it that you carry with you today? What do you worry about? Surely, there is no lack of worry-worth items!

 

We have no problem worrying and perseverating about things under the best of circumstances. In these disruptive pandemic days, it is likely that you are consumed by what a good friend calls “conflicting priorities” of worrying: perhaps, effects of additional isolation to already being alone. Wipe down the groceries or not? How many tests have been done or, maybe, when can my child or grandchild go back to work? How will I eat? Hmmm…which ‘worry’ shall I worry about the most? If you are allowing yourself constant media input, let the worrying begin and it will never stop! The merry month of May? Don’t think so!

 

The knack of worrying can become an obsession, an art or a non-entity. Non-entity you say? How so? Simply read, breathe in and believe this scripture; make it part of the ‘art’ of your life, if it isn’t already. Worrying becomes less of a burden because we are told by our Lord God that most things we fret about are not in our control…. God’s got this. So, “Do not worry.”

 

Matthew 6:25-33                                                                                               New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[a] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[b] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[c] and his[d] righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Therefore, when the days grow long and dark thoughts threaten, let the Lord be with you. Invite our tender Mothering God to your worry session; turn it all over to her and trust that the birds will be fed, we shall be cared for and safe. Like the lilies of the field, we simply need to ‘be.’ May bobs its merry head in the loveliness of God’s care, creation and salvation, which is with us, now and forevermore. God-with-us. Emmanuel. There surely is cause to celebrate life and a merry month of May, despite everything.

I send you deepest greetings of Christian love and miss all of you in body, mind and spirit. Merry May to all of you!

Gratefully,

 

Rev. Nina

 

PLEASE NOTE: There is an important announcement below. Wapping Community Church has invited us to partner with them in collecting toiletries for the South Windsor Food and Fuel Bank. This is a simple and safe way to help others at a time when we may feel helpless. Directions for how to take part are in the letter. Thank you, all in advance for giving this the good ole ‘First Church generosity’ and especially thanks to Wapping's Outreach Minister, Lisa Wallace, and the Rev. Mark Abernethy for thinking of us, that we may all help others together! Amen!  We also thank them for welcoming virtual visitors from our church on the first two Sundays of May.

Dear Wapping Community Church Family,

 

First of all, we dearly hope that all of you are safe and doing well! 

At this time of year, our church is usually concentrating on putting together a food drive (peanut butter and more jelly, anyone?) in support of the South Windsor Food & Fuel Bank (SWFFB).  Right now, the Bank is in dire need of toiletries.  To meet that need, Wapping Church and First Congregational Church of South Windsor together are joining in a ministry partnership to address the shortage.  

During the dates and the times listed below, the WCC Witness/Outreach Leadership Team will be manning a drop-off site in the parking lot at Wapping Community Church.  Be assured, we will follow a process that is easy, safe and socially distant.  You will have your donation in the trunk.  Pull up, open the trunk, we will remove the donation and bring it to the collection bin.  You close your trunk, and that's it!

Donations must be new, unopened and not previously used.  Please drop off donations on any of the following dates:

                 Thursday, MAY 28        1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

                 Friday, MAY 29             1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

                 Saturday, MAY 30      10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Items needed include:

  •     Shampoo and Conditioner

  •     Bar Soap and Liquid HAND soap

  •     Deodorant

  •     Shaving Cream

  •     Toothpaste

  •     Toothbrushes

  •     Laundry Detergent

  •     Cleaning Products

 

If preferred, donations can be picked up, rather than dropped off at Wapping Church.  Call Bonnie or Ken to arrange for pick up.  

Bonnie Driscoll    (860) 218-8184

Ken Johnson       (860) 841-6041

If you would prefer to make a monetary donation, make checks payable to:  South Windsor Food & Fuel Bank, with WCC in the memo line, and mail directly to 150 Nevers Road, South Windsor, CT 06074.

Thanks in advance for your participation and prayers.  You are in our prayers!

In Christ's love,

Your WCC Outreach/Witness Leadership Team

Message from the Pastor

May 1, 2020

Hello Friends! Happy May Day!

 

We hope this finds you well and as best you can be under the circumstances. 

 

Your First Congregational Church of South Windsor 'production team' has been working diligently for the past six weeks to provide you with numerous written and on-line communications in response to the COVID-19 interruption: packets for the homebound and 'non-liners,' Chapel Chat, bulletins, telephone calls, message letters and links to helpful sites, etc., and most importantly, Zoom worship gatherings. 

 

It is time for a brief rest for the 'team:' (Rev. Nina, Administrative Assistant Carrie Morse, Music Director Kamilla Mammedova and volunteers Jean Jackson (Music Committee/Licensing 'Guru') and Eric Soares, (Zoom Technology Host) and Care Team packet 'deliverers,' Terry Belknap and others. 

 

The goal is to refresh and renew so that we are able to continue to serve you as we continue on this journey.

 

In that light, we are taking a break to catch our collective breath, starting at end of business today, Friday, May 1 through Monday, May 11, including a break from Zoom worship service on Sundays, May 3 and May 10. Mark your calendars: NO ZOOM WORSHIP ON MAY 3 AND MAY 10. 

 

DO NOT LOSE HEART:  ZOOM WORSHIP WILL RESUME MAY 17 AT 10 A.M.

YOU WILL RECEIVE YOUR ZOOM INVITATION ON FRIDAY, MAY 15. AS USUAL.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: NO CHAPEL CHAT ON MAY 6. Chapel Chat will resume on May 13 (Zoom invite going out May 12).  

 

The Care Team will be making deliveries over this weekend, and then resuming the weekend of May 15th. Great job, Care Team! They will also continue calls throughout this time and on. If you know of someone who could use a call, please leave a message on the church phone answering machine.

 

Below you will find sites for a few area and out-of-area houses of worship for your on-line worship experience. Some are recorded and some are live. Simply click on the links and explore the homepages for directions to their worship sites. 

 

First Congregational Church of Vernon (UCC) the Rev. Robin Bird

https://www.firstcongregationalchurchofvernon.org/worship/  (Recorded) 

 

Temple Beth Hillel South Windsor (Jewish Reformed) Rabbi Jeff Glickman

Shabbat Service Fridays, 6:45; Sat 9 to 10 a.m. 

People can watch from either the website: 

tbhsw.org or from our FaceBook Temple Beth Hillel Community group

 

Wapping Community Church (UCC) the Rev. Mark Abernethy

https://www.wappingchurch.org/  - Click on link for appropriate date for recorded service on Home Page

 

Old Lyme Congregational Church (UCC) - Nina's 'growing up' church)

the Revs. Steve Jungeit, Carleen Reynolds and Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager

https://fccol.org/ - Click on link for appropriate date for recorded service on your date of choice on their 'Virtual Meetinghouse'

 

National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. (Episcopalian) The Very Rev. Randall Hollerith Marshall, Dean

https://cathedral.org/worship/  

 

Rest assured that out of sight does not mean out of mind, as we all are learning so well during this pandemic. The church phone will continue to be monitored by Carrie Morse remotely (860-528-7992) should you wish to leave a general message or have a pastoral emergency. Deacon Chair Lauren Horsfield's cell phone is on the recording in the event of such a true emergency, and she will be disseminating emergency calls to Rev. Nina, as needed, who is nearby.

 

Also attached are some links to daily prayer sites (see National Cathedral above, also) and a message from Rev. Nina. 

 

Some of you may remember that we did not have any gathered worship at all for the first two weeks of the crisis as we got our feet on the ground. This will be just like that, only better because you will have Zoom Worship and Chapel Chat to look forward too! 

 

Please know you are all held in prayer continually. This is a wonderful gift of sabbath rest for your team - a great way to show appreciation.

 

Be sure to scroll all the way down to find a message and devotional links. Also remember that many links have been forwarded to you in weekly emails, so you can check back and find those, too. 

 

REMEMBER: WE ARE NOT ALONE, THOUGH WE MAY FEEL ALONE. 

GOD IS WITH ALL GOD'S CHILDREN EVERYWHERE.

 

And now, may the Lord bless you and keep you, and make his face to shine upon you. Amen.

 

'See' you soon!

Rev. Nina and Team

 

https://dailyoffice.wordpress.com/ 

https://www.ucc.org/daily_devotional 

Message from Rev. Nina

April 30, 2020

 

Hello Sojourners in the Time of COVID-19:

 

I’m hearing from many folks how tired they are; whether they use the word ‘fatigued,’ ‘weary,’ ‘exhausted,’ or the phrase, ‘worn out,’ it all adds up to the same thing: we’re tuckered out.

 

It doesn’t matter what our context is: working, not working, on the front line or behind the scenes, publicly active or privately sequestered, alone or with others, parenting, grand-parenting, parent-parenting: we are all TIRED.

 

Some of us are seeing the faces we love all the time; others not enough, or, never again. New challenges to relationships have emerged as avoiding contact and the Coronavirus have become the baseline for daily living.

 

It is safe to say, I think, that much of what is wearing us out, besides simple tasks no longer being simple and multiple other factors, is the fact that we don’t have a definite ‘finish line.’ This ‘sprint’ has turned into what feels like a marathon without end. And, marathons take practice – this is one marathon we didn’t train for.

 

Not having a definite end-date is a recipe for compounded anxiety. Unlike a weather report that tells us, “and the last of the storm will blow through next Tuesday” or a tornado that touches down and leaves, we still don’t have any idea when this will be truly ‘over.’ Try as we might, we do not have control.

 

In the meantime, we need to continue to take care of each other as best we can and reach out as best we can within reason. Please be aware that the next outreach package or email will go out for the weekend of May 15th. There will be no delivery for the weekend of May 8th. So don’t be disappointed or think you were forgotten by the Care Team. The production team and I are taking a mini-hiatus to help everyone catch their breath. The Care Team will continue to reach out with phone calls as they have been all along.

 

 

Zoom on-line church will take place again on May 17th (no service May 3 or May 10). For those of you who are e-connected, please see the eblast on Friday, May 1 for links to church services near and far which you can access if you wish. Remember, not being in the building or on a ‘Zoom’ platform does not mean we cannot worship, nor is God distant – God is present everywhere.

 

I will be nearby and available for true emergencies only between May 1 and May 12. Please call the church office number 860-528-7992 and leave a message. Phones are monitored every day. An emergency number will also be available on that message.

 

Rest assured, you are all never far from my heart and always in my prayers. Just as Jesus took time out to rest, so too must his followers. It is my hope you will continue to seek and find good reflective time and peace during this time. And in the absence of a package next week, think how great it will be to get one once again!

 

Know that Jesus will find us wherever we are, and that you are being guided by your Eternal Parent and Creator, every step of the way. You are not alone.

 

Till We Meet Again,

Rev. Nina

Heading 1

Message from the Pastor

April 24, 2020

Missing the Temple

“My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.”  - Psalm 42:6

We are not the only ones who have been rendered unable to use their church building, temple, synagogue, mosque, or storefront place of worship. We are not the first to be displaced: exiled.

Whether by enemies, natural disasters, fires, financial difficulties, wars, or in our case, pestilence, we are not the first who are unable to enter their house of worship to worship, gather, greet.

We must remember the houses of worship persecuted over the centuries, whether the monasteries and convents, “the Suppression of the Monasteries” during the purge of Henry VIII of England; the burning of African-American churches during the Civil Rights era and more recently during the past few years, or the attacks on Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.

This year, even the holiest site in Jerusalem for the Muslim faith, the Dome of the Rock, off-limits to the many who make their required pilgrimage to Mecca during this Ramadan season, as is the Western Wall for the Jews and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians.

We must remember the houses of worship that have had to sell their buildings to others; move on to renting a hall, or strip mall location. Or, have lost them to lack of financial management or funding; changing times.

In Psalm 42, which begins with the heart-rending, “As the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God,” we hear a longing for the presence of God in the place – the temple – where God was always found for those who entered the sanctuary.

In verse 6, we hear that the longing is coming from afar – Jordan, Hermon, Mt. Mizar. It is unclear exactly what has happened, but it appears the psalmist has written this to express the loss of being able to enter their place of worship as usual – they feel cut off from their God’s presence, perhaps in exile in Babylon.

The Rev. Dr. J. Clinton McCann Jr., in the Common English Bible, states that there appears to be “a desire to visit the temple and the likelihood of being far away from it” (Common English Bible. 887 OT). Exiled; memories of Jerusalem, the holy place.

Friends, just like the psalmist, we too, are missing our place of worship and each other! Of course, we long for what used to be and how to get it back.

As difficult as this COVID-19 ‘Stay Home Stay Safe” effort is, we must remember that our building is not the only place that God resides. God is with us wherever we are on the face of the earth, and, beyond. God is not hemmed in by four walls, nor is God able to be hemmed in by any walls.

It is only natural to miss the building, but please remember that it is the gathering amidst the Holy Spirit in God’s midst that makes us ‘church.’ Whether we worship in our apartment, together with our partner or family or children, friend or pet, we are at worship. “Where two or more are gathered….”

In the forest, on the sea, flying in an airplane or swinging on a swing, worship takes place in the temple of God wherever God is present, which is everywhere!

Be gentle with yourselves and know that God is God. We miss our church, but we really miss the God that is within all of us that comes together when we meet; and that God is within us whether we are together or not.

Accept the joy of being created in God’s image and the reassurance that God is with you no matter where you are; God will meet you there.

Praise God for helping us to see new possibilities amidst this tumult of nature and science! Praise God for walking with us in this desert of church without a building; as alien as it may seem, it is going to be ok! We are not the first and we will not be the last who must walk an alien road. God is with us. Praise God!

Be blessed, be well, be at peace. You are missed.

Till we meet again,

Rev. Nina

Faith and the Optimistic Stance

March 30, 2020

by Dave Bushy

Faith is a word which elicits different thoughts and emotions for each of us.  For some, it is a sense of trusting others or implicitly knowing we are understood or respected.  For others, it can be the feeling that we will always be encouraged by our friends, colleagues and fellow travelers, especially in time of need.  And for many, like me, it is centered on a belief in a higher power.  Often, it is all of those things combined – and more.

Faith and optimism are intertwined.  One cannot truly believe that something positive will happen in the future without taking a metaphorical leap of faith that is centered in optimism.  Be it a soldier looking over in the foxhole at the man next to him or the coworker with whom you’ve worked for years – it takes faith and optimism to know that the other person will always have your back when the challenges – and battles – confront us.

My colleagues at the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) have a wonderful perspective called the “Optimistic Stance.”  Their outlook says, “Gestalt takes a realistic view of the present and an optimistic view of the possible, preferring to work in the development of the potential within an individual or system rather than correcting them.”   In other words, they see each system, be they families, teams or much larger groups, as having inherent capabilities that can be appreciated and noticed.  Once they are pointed out, growth is unleashed, which serves every system.

What a wonderful concept for all of us to ponder in this enormously challenging time.  Daily, we are seeing human potential and capabilities expanding and meeting the challenges of this crisis.  And those capabilities are allowing further growth and development in the myriad systems that exist in our society.  The medical community is undoubtedly at the forefront of this.  Their already well-developed capabilities are expanding exponentially, even in the face of logistical, testing and equipment challenges.  They and the researchers, engineers, business people and myriad other supporting systems continue to invent new ways of confronting the crisis. 

Belief in the development of such potential relies on faith in others, and, of equal importance – faith in ourselves.  And that faith is bigger than all of us.  Hebrew 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” 

Today, more than ever, it is imperative that we tap into that optimism that will support us through these difficult times.  Finding your own sense of faith that will support optimism is an individual journey, yet one in which you can join with others to help explore.  Think about that if you try to stay tuned to the continual 24-hour news cycle.  Without faith, we can become so focused on every possible negative outcome that the future looks dim to each of us.  By holding to faith and optimism we can see beyond the current situation we face – and we can see possibilities beyond tomorrow.

Optimism and faith certainly do not deny the possibility of unpleasant outcomes or difficulties – they merely hold that everyone – be they individuals, teams or much larger systems – have the capacity to grow and learn and to develop new ways of working together.  And this is especially true in times of crisis.  Look around today and see the wondrous way in which people are supporting and encouraging each other; indeed, they are expressing love for their fellow man in ways we could not have imagined weeks ago.

Paul Romer believes in what he calls “conditional optimism.”  He writes about it regarding climate change, and I find it appropriate for our current challenges as well.  Romer writes,

“Pessimism is more likely to foster denial, procrastination, apathy, anger, and recrimination. It is conditional optimism that brings out the best in us.  So we should stop saying that ‘the end is near.’ ” 

“We should say instead:  ‘Ok, we made some mistakes. We can start fixing them by pointing our innovative efforts in a slightly different direction. If we do, we can do things that are even more amazing than the truly amazing things we have already accomplished.  It will be so easy that looking back it will seem painless. Let’s get going.’”

As I have talked with clients, colleagues and friends these past few weeks, I have been honored to helped others discover and hold onto their own optimistic stances. For some it is faith in humanity – for others it might be the power of love and the goodness inherent in people.  Whatever serves as a foundation for that faith, it in turn guides them and informs their ability to see beyond our own fears and anxieties.  It energizes their optimism,

I have faith in God, which, for me, is foundational.  As a result, I have faith in everything I see and know in this world.  And that faith informs my optimism. 

I invite you to discover what your faith is and with it be able to own your own optimism and let it guide you towards the future.  In other words, to help you “get going” in the days and weeks ahead.

Dave Bushy of Boston Executive Coaches – bostonexecutivecoaches.com – is a former senior airline executive who works with leaders throughout American industry.  He experienced the challenges of 9/11 and its aftermath.

Scripture Reading for Sunday April 26, 2020

Luke 24:13-35                                                                                        New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Some Helpful Information regarding
Upcoming Food Drives
Town of South Windsor:
South Windsor Food and Fuel Bank is collecting much
needed donations during this difficult time.  Please stay 
tuned for more information about the needs of the
South Windsor food
bank and how to safely deliver donations.
Town of Manchester:

Upcoming Food Drives:

4/23 at East Catholic High School, 12-3 p.m. to benefit MACC Charities

4/24 St. Mary's Church. 10-11 a.m. to benefit MACC Charities.

4/25 at St. James Church, 896 Main St. 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

For details & updates visit: https://bit.ly/2S0YrE2

Hungry? Need Help?

About the Foodshare Drive-Thru Food Distribution

  • Dates: Monday, April 27 through Friday, May 1; Monday, May 4 through Friday, May 8

  • Address:  615 Silver Lane in East Hartford, Silver Lane entrance. (Rentschler Field)

  • Time:  8:30 am - Noon  (Gates will close at Noon)

Other resources for those unable to drive to East Hartford:

  • Walk-ups are not encouraged.

  • Foodshare operates a Mobile Foodshare on the weekdays throughout the region. To find a site near you, text “FOODSHARE” to 85511 or go to www.foodshare.org/mobile.

  • To find a food pantry and other resources near you, call 2-1-1 or go to https://www.211ct.org/.

How to Help

To volunteer or donate, visit www.foodshare.org

Weekly Message from Reverend Nina

First Congregational Church of South Windsor

April 17, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

Eastertide Greetings!

 

We continue to ‘plod’ through the days with hope, and sometimes frustration and fear in this time of COVID-19. There is no question our patience and flexibility are being challenged, but we must remember we are an Easter people, and a resilient people!

 

We might feel like we don’t know what is going on. In a tectonic reversal of events, even those who shouted, “Christ is Risen!” were not sure exactly what was going on, but they knew it was miraculous – beyond their understanding. Though this pandemic is not a joyful occasion, we must recognize the living Christ in our midst every chance we can. It may be beyond our understanding, but Christ is in our midst.

 

Is it not timely that Christ is Risen in the midst of this pandemic? Hallelujah and Amen! We may not be able to fully grasp the resurrection – it may be beyond our human understanding – but we know it is our salvation!

 

However, it is still up to us to recognize and announce the living Christ in this post-Easter world – in the breaking of the bread, in our loving of each other, in our prayers and in our daily living. It is up to us to shout, “Christ is Risen!” through everything we do, say and believe.

 

We miss each other – yet – we can do that. We miss our families – yet - we can do that. We miss our normal routines – yet - we can do that. If we look back over the events in history that caused major disruption in the world, humanity has survived and been innovative in the face of pestilence over and over again, and overcome incredible odds.

 

We are making stories of survival and faith. We are living out our stories of history-to-be. We are pulling together as best we can – and we will do even better, with God’s help.

 

I pray that you are finding comfort in God’s presence, as we are ushered through this time that can challenge our faith and our coping skills.

 

Hopefully these prayers and thoughts are also offering you some solace and comfort during these times. May it be so.

 

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Rev. Nina

 

SOME PRAYERS

 

In Time of Calamity

O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and viruses, we flee to you for succor. Deliver the people, we beseech you, from their peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the needy; prosper the means of their safety; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we all may apply our hearts unto your heavenly wisdom which leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

A Collect for the Presence of Christ

Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.

A Poem From Yayoi Kusama

Though it glistens just out of reach, I continue to pray for hope to shine through
Its glimmer lighting our way
This long awaited great cosmic glow

Now that we find ourselves on the dark side of the world
The gods will be there to strengthen the hope we have spread throughout the universe

For those left behind, each person's story and that of their loved ones
It is time to seek a hymn of love for our souls
In the midst of this historic menace, a brief burst of light points to the future
Let us joyfully sing this song of a splendid future
Let's go

Embraced in deep love and the efforts of people all over the world
Now is the time to overcome, to bring peace
We gathered for love and I hope to fulfil that desire
The time has come to fight and overcome our unhappiness

To COVID-19 that stands in our way
I say Disappear from this earth
We shall fight
We shall fight this terrible monster

Now is the time for people all over the world to stand up
My deep gratitude goes to all those who are already fighting.

Revolutionist of the world by the Art


From Yayoi Kusama

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/yayoi-kusama-coronavirus-poem/index.html. Accessed 4/16/20

In Time of Calamity

O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and viruses, we flee to you for succor. Deliver the people, we beseech you, from their peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the needy; prosper the means of their safety; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we all may apply our hearts unto your heavenly wisdom which leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

https://dailyoffice.wordpress.com/.Accessed April 16, 2020.

A Message from Pastor Nina – April 4, 2020

Greetings and Peace of Christ to All:

First Congregational Church of South Windsor hopes this finds you coping as best you can, whatever your personal situation or context is at the moment. We, at First Congregational Church of South Windsor, want you to know we are here for you. As most of you know, we are offering several ways to be in community as church: Email, our website, Facebook and personal calls, outreach, prayer sharing, and general neighborly check-ins.

Below, please find information that we pray will be helpful:

WORSHIP: Services continue to be offered on the online platform, ‘Zoom.’ Sundays, at 10:00 a.m. along with any added services.

You do not have to have your own ‘Zoom’ account to join in. As long as emails are registered with the Church Office, you will be included in the ‘Zoom’ email invitation for each service.

Should you know of someone who wishes to join, please have them send their contact information, including email address, full name, physical address, etc., to firstchurchsw@gmail.com. They will be added to our eblast list.

Below is a listing for Holy Week Worship via ‘Zoom:’

April 5, 2020, Palm Sunday*

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.:   Zoom Etiquette Help Session

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Worship

*Contact precautions preclude distribution of palms. We can use our own ‘palms’ as we imagine being in the crowds hailing Jesus’ procession.

 

April 9, 2020 – Maundy Thursday – 7:00 p.m. “Reflections on the Shadows”

This will be a brief time of scripture readings and reflection via ‘Zoom.’

 

April 10, 2020 – Good Friday – No Zoom Service.

This is a good opportunity to find a Bible, actually hold it in your hands and read Luke 23:1-56 aloud to your family or to yourself and reflect on “The Seven Last Words of Jesus” (see below).

 

 

April 12, 2020 – Easter Sunday – 10:00 a.m. Worship Via ‘Zoom’

The joy of Christ’s resurrection will not be impeded by any earthly powers or inability to be in a house of worship. It is good to remember that there was a simple tomb, a woman named Mary Magdalene and a stone rolled away. Christ will be risen this day! Christ will be risen, indeed!

 

Wednesday Mornings, “Chapel Chat” with Rev. Nina – 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

How are you doing? Join this shared time to talk, laugh, cry, hope and lose some solitude or gain some community in search of God’s presence.

 

OUTREACH: Our Care Team is established and will be reaching out via phone to all of you, so expect some phone check-ins throughout the duration. The Care Team is also delivering hardcopies of services, newsletters and other materials to those who are not online or are homebound. Should you know of anyone who could use this outreach, please contact the church at firstchurchsw@gmail.com or leave a message on the church phone: 860-528-7992.

Ernest Hemingway said something about how the world can break all of us, and ultimately, leave us stronger in the broken places. Humanity seems quite broken enough already, but we place our hope in God to give us the strength and courage to see us through this COVID-19 pandemic together, so that we may heal into new strength and life and remember what is truly important – to love one another as we love ourselves.

Easter blessings,

The Rev. Nina Barlow Schmid

THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF JESUS

(All scriptures taken from the New Revised Standard Version)

 

Luke 23:34  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

 

Luke 23:43 “Truly, I tell you today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

John 19:26-27 “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”

 

Matthew 27:45-46  “And about three o’clock Jesu cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why  have you forsaken me?”

 

John 19:28  “After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”

 

John 19:29-30 “A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

 

Luke 23:46 – “Then, Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.”

 

 

(All scriptures taken from the New Revised Standard Version)

Helpful Links:

https://www.ucc.org/daily_devotional  

Daily Reflections by UCC Ministers and Staff

 

https://henrinouwen.org/resources/daily-meditation/ 

Reflections by the late Henri Nouwen - Theologian, Writer and Humanitarian

 

https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/t/0_qyagxlej 

12 Minute Tai Chi opportunity given by the Rev. Ali Newell, wife of John Phillp Newell, Celtic Theolgian, from the Edingburgh Botanical Gardens

A Message from Your Pastor, Rev. Nina - Saturday Evening, March 14, 2020

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 

Greeting Friends:

We are doing a new thing - not having worship at church! And, I’m guessing that this new thing is making you feel a little unsettled – I know it feels that way for me. Not that this hasn’t ever happened to us before. Weather-related events have caused some lost Sundays, few and far between. But this – this Coronavirus ‘thing’ – feels different.

This time, we are at the mercy of a situation that makes us uncertain. We don’t know for sure where or when it will all end. We feel uncertain, too, about what exactly we might experience individually or collectively. We are really just beginning to learn to cope. But we must have faith that we shall.

We need to remember that even though we do not know the outcome, and we fear for the health and well-being of all, we are in this together. God made us to be in relationship with each other, to be partners. Genesis tells us so.

I am writing to you as your minister and pastor to reassure you of God’s mercy and grace. I am writing to offer you some spiritual sustenance and encourage you all to take advantage of this prolonged period of ‘Sabbath’ – that is rest; rest from normal routines, rest from running from place to place to ‘get’ things, regular work routines, school schedules, traveling, major sports events, gathering in all its forms.

We aren’t being offered just one day of rest – Sunday – we are being offered a prolonged Sabbath - one that will take some getting used to. With all the challenges this health event brings with it, it is also providing an opportunity to slow us down and make us rest – and help us remember the truly important and genuine things in life – God’s creation: nature and each other. In my estimation, this could be experienced as a much-needed chance to re-frame our hearts, minds and spirits.

Yes, it is hard. It’s hard not even being able to go to the library, movies, restaurant, out with friends, or whatever the case may be. But, we can ‘do’ hard. With God’s help, anything is possible.

I encourage you to take this time to do the things that so often get set aside because we are so ‘busy’: get outside more – luckily, the weather is turning! Hike, bike, walk on the beach, play outside, sit under a tree, do those gardening and landscaping tasks around the yard that always have to get done on your days off. Start that exercise routine, meditate, read those books you’ve got piled up, play on the computer (but not too much!) and listen to some music. Clean the garage! Get ready for that tag sale! Start a Monopoly tournament! Parents – you can spend more time with your kids! Kids – you can spend more time with your parents!

One really very important thing to do is to call friends and family; the elderly neighbor who lives alone or the person who just had surgery and can’t get out. Take them some groceries and leave them on the doorstep. Talk on the phone and commiserate – misery loves company! Calm someone’s fears; offer some light conversation or humor. Be present. Ask yourself: What can I do to help someone within the recommended Coronavirus boundaries? We need each other.

Please check your emails, our website at www.firstchurchsw.org and Facebook page over the next two weeks. You will be hearing from me from time to time as we ride the wave of this pernicious virus, adapt, and learn new things together.  

However, first and foremost, I encourage you to take this time to get closer to God. With much of what we normally do in a day restricted, we are allowed precious time to reflect, contemplate and pray.

Although we shall miss each other tomorrow in worship, this week at book group, at meetings and craft group, archives and lunch bunch, in the meantime, I offer you the attached words and prayers to bring you comfort and closer to God.

Here is an essential truth: you can worship God without being in the church, which, truly, is what we are intended to do. “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey” you are welcome in God’s house – God’s world.

The Israelites worshipped God in the desert. They did not always have their temple. And when they didn’t, it really threw them into a state of confusion, just like this has for us.

What a timely season to be wandering our own worship wilderness – Lent. As Jesus wandered for 40 days and 40 nights so long ago, we have the precious opportunity before us to explore and contemplate this new thing. Let us do so together in heart, mind and spirit, before God.

I invite all of us to read the attached prayers tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. so that we may be in prayer together, just like every Sunday. May you find these words from the Book of Common Prayer comforting in these days. God be with you.

Daily Devotion from the Book of Common Prayer* to be Read at 10:00 A.M.

 

From Psalm 51

Open my lips, O Lord, *
    and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, *
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence *
    and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again *
    and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

A Reading

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.


1 Peter 1:3

A period of silence may follow.

Prayers may be offered for ourselves and others.

The Lord's Prayer

The Collect

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought
us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty
power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by
adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your
purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

*Extracts from The Book of Common Prayer, the rights in which are vested in the Crown, are reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press. BCP 1662

CORONAVIRUS ANNOUNCEMENT – MARCH 13, 2020

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Philippians 4:67; “The Message”

 

Good Morning, Members and Friends,

      Most of you are aware that the onset of the Coronavirus has become a health concern worthy of our most judicious attention, not only for our own personal health and the health of those in our charge, but for the common good of others – loving our neighbor as ourselves.

     Cancellations of schools, state and local government activities and services, commerce, and yes, religious institution and houses of worship events are among the many entities affected. All are being asked to assist the greater community effort in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

      Yesterday, March 12, along with many other governmental and secular organizations, the United Church of Christ Southern New England Conference recommended that all churches close for two weeks. In that light and taking many factors into consideration, I am writing to you today to advise you that the decision has been made to curtail all previously scheduled activities at the church through Saturday, March 28. This includes worship on the 15th and 22nd. Church School classes are also cancelled. Towards the end of the two-week period, church leadership will be reassessing the situation going forward.

     Please be assured that this decision has been made with much discernment by your church leadership team, and not lightly. Though not a popular decision perhaps, it is a necessary one. This is something we can do to help. It’s the least we can do.

     The Business Office will also be closed. Carrie Morse, Administrative Assistant will be working remotely. Please do not ‘stop by’ the Church to see how things are going. The idea is to limit contact. The fluid situation will be monitored daily, along with the phones and email. Should you have a pastoral concern, please, as always, call the office at 860-528-7992 and leave a message for Rev. Nina, or contact her directly at 860-235-8835. 

     Committee Chairs: Please contact the members of your committees to ensure they have received this information. Also, we will be calling members who are not on email, but if you think of anyone yourselves, please give them a courtesy call. Multiple calls are better than none.

Newsletter Contributors: Please continue to email your articles by the deadline of March 15th.

    Everyone: Please stay tuned for additional emails, website and Facebook posts, phone messages and written communications as are deemed necessary or spiritually supportive. Again, share information with neighbors and friends who may not be ‘connected’ electronically.

     Please know that your church is not deserting you, but offering itself to the world as a loving congregation in support of stemming this tide.

     Realizing that this is the season of Lent, it is particularly appropriate to reflect upon what Jesus’ journey to the cross means to us, as always, and particularly in this context as we navigate our way through this challenging time. You are not alone. We are in this together. Let not your hearts be troubled.

Thank you for your cooperation, understanding, patience and prayers for all.

In hope in Christ,

Rev. Nina

https://www.uccfiles.com/pdf/Coronavirus-and-the-Church-Bulletin.pdf 

OUR HISTORIC CHURCH SEEKS INCLUSIVENESS AND VOTES TO WELCOME ALL!

First Congregational Church of South Windsor wants the world to know that we have begun a new journey! First Congregational Church of South Windsor is now an Open and Affirming church community! On January 26, 2020, the historic congregation committed to what is surely one of the most important decisions made in our storied, 325+ year history. What exactly does this mean? This means that:

We seek to widen our expression of God’s Love by becoming a place of inclusiveness, diversity, and unconditional love that inspires all individuals in our community regardless of race, culture, age, ability, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.


We strive to apply Jesus’ teaching by recognizing that every individual is a child of God and we welcome all to join us on our faith journey in providing guidance, love, and hope to our community and the world in the spirit of Jesus Christ.


Come, join us! “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!” Worship Services on Sunday mornings at 10:00 am.

All material copyright First Congregational Church of South Windsor.

First Congregational Church of South Windsor

Voice: 860-528-7992    Email: firstchurchsw@gmail.com

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