March 25, 2020
Rev. Estelle Margarones
We find ourselves in a time like none we’ve ever experienced. There is global uncertainty and collective concern, yet there is hope. As Christians, we’ve got Resurrection hope. We know that we will rise back up again. When this pandemic is behind us; we will again walk on the beach, hug our friends, go out to dinner and concerts and theatre. We will again be jump into crowded elevators and travel internationally. That time will come. There are challenges now, that is sure, but there are also abundant blessings. For now, rather than focus on the negatives of this time, let’s find the positives.
People working from home now see neighbors they haven’t met. We’re getting outside to walk and run. Those staying home find comfort in photos, keepsakes, and memories. Some are being less guarded in conversation thus sharing more of themselves. More people are hearing ‘I miss you’ and ‘I love you’. The congregation is worshipping and meeting together--though apart--over computers and telephones. Ordinary people have become superheroes through kind words and deeds.
Certainly, each of us has had a good chance to look in the metaphoric mirror and see ourselves and our lives in new ways. Many of us have taken this opportunity to enter more deeply into a relationship with God.
We strive to stay connected during this time of uncertainty. It’s a gift that we live in a time when though we may be isolated physically, technology allows us to reach out to each other in new and innovative ways. We also are connected to each other by our faith and the belief that God will guide us through it all.
In a time when our world has been rocked, we need assurances. Scripture can provide that foundation. There are a number of ways to appreciate sacred text. Sandy Nelson, a member of First Parish shares information about Breath Prayers later in this Oasis.
First, we’ll provide information about First Parish’s Response to COVID-19 as of March 25th. On Tuesday, March 24, Governor Janet Mills issued an executive order requiring all nonessential businesses to close physical locations that allow in-person contact. We at First Parish want to make sure that we not only comply with this current directive but also take steps to assure we support each other and stay connected. The following are actions approved by the Church Council of First Parish Church.
What is Not Happening
All buildings on the church campus are closed and locked. The office is open from 9:00 to 2:00, but the door will be locked to avoid in-person contact. If you have a key, please do not use it to enter any building on campus.
The Table of Plenty meals are not being cooked or served in Fellowship Hall Meals are being prepared at Stonewall Kitchens. Guests will pick up meals outside of Fellowship Hall from 4:30-5:30 PM.
All church activities and programs are on hiatus. Activities and programs will resume when this current situation is over.
There will not be an April Newsletter. Information can be found on facebook, in the Oasis and church-wide emails.
There will be no in-person meetings of Boards and Committees. Some meetings, including but not limited to the Church Council and the Assessors, are being held using the video conferencing tool Zoom.
What is Happening
For now, an online worship service will be posted on our website allowing us to virtually worship together at 9:30 Sunday mornings. Go to www.firstparishyork.net and click on Sunday Worship and then video archives.
Pastors continue to provide pastoral care as needed in the congregation.
On Fridays, our pastors are offering timely brief videos. The link is on facebook and in the Oasis.
Youth groups are staying connected through Zoom. Other groups are also considering the use of Zoom to stay connected.
Volunteers from our church family will soon be making “neighbor to neighbor” check-in phone calls.
When specific needs arise, the York Community Service Association (YCSA) is available at 363-5504.
You are encouraged to mail offerings to the church office: 180 York Street, York ME 03909.
Rev. Estelle Magarones
Jan Jonas, Moderator
Breath Prayers are a form of contemplative prayer focused on being with God and linked to the rhythms of breathing.
The Jesus Prayer is the most common but the verses are exchangeable. To do one, close your eyes and inhale. Fill yourself with breath and then say (aloud or silently), “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God.” Exhale slowly and fully. Then say, “Have mercy on me, your beloved child”. Repeat this 10 times. I did this twice that first day and it really helped center or relax me. A few other breath prayers include the following:
From Matthew 11:28-30: Inhale - “Humble and gentle One”, Exhale - “you are rest for my soul.”
From Psalm 23: “I will not be afraid / for You are with me.”
From 1 John: “There is no fear / in your Love.”
From Psalm 46:1: “You are our refuge/and our strength.”
You can choose your own verse of one or two lines or you can go online to find other verses. (From Sandy Nelson)
First Parish Pastors’ Video Messages
If you missed seeing last week’s video on Facebook, here’s the link to go to YouTube directly. Just copy and paste it into your browser:
Volunteer Opportunity-UPDATED- Grocery Shopping and Delivery
Many of you have asked how you can help. Thank you! We are stronger together. We will best be able to serve our congregation and community by streamlining services where possible. To that end, we encourage you to consider whether a grocery shopping and delivery program might be the right fit for you now. This service for those who
cannot get out and go to the store includes shopping and delivery of groceries.
(In previous communications, we’d just asked if you were willing to delivery groceries. The program has been altered to include shopping. If you had previously signed up with Amber Harrison, you are on Don’s list. If you find that the inclusion of shopping prohibits you from taking part, please contact Don at the number below.)
YCSA is managing the volunteer base and Donald Martin will be the contact person. He will be matching up volunteers and customers. The plan calls for volunteers to be assigned to folks in quarantine, seniors and those in absolute need, to do their grocery shopping and deliver their food.
As a volunteer, you should be at low risk, healthy and comfortable being assigned a person/family in quarantine to communicate with them through phone calls/text/emails and to deliver groceries/supplies.
If you would like to become a volunteer please email Donald Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207-337-1867. If there is no answer, please leave a brief message with your phone number and Don will get back to you.
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.