Hello Redeemer Family,
Another Tuesday is here and another email from your pastor. I realized today that I have now been with you all for four months! Sunday started month five and still things are not as they were in March. I never thought that it would be November and we would still not be together in our church on Sunday mornings. Cuyahoga County is still red and the pandemic is still happening.
I am hopeful that in the new year we will be back together, yes Advent and Christmas Eve will look very different than it has in years past. But rest assured, your pastor and the leadership team are looking for ways to make this year just as special! Do you have a favorite tradition that the church has done in the past? Will you email it to me? I want to learn all about the church history here!
I have attached Rev. Steve Bailey’s letter that he sent out to the Pastors and Lay Leaders of our district, in it he speaks of how not only the District is aware of the ever changing guidelines and requirements of gatherings, so is East Ohio Conference. As a reminder, if you are coming into the church for anything, please have a mask on and be mindful of physical distancing of others in the building.
This coming Sunday our Stewardship campaign ends. Please make sure your pledge cards are in this week. You are welcome to mail them or drop them off at the church office or in the church mailbox. You can also email Arleen your pledge as well. Thank you for continuing to support the missions of the church, as well as the upkeep of the building and those that work at the church. We could not do what we do without the support of our members.
On Thursday November 12th we will have our Charge Conference with several other churches in our district. As is everything right now, this will be hosted over Zoom. Leadership Board look out for an email from me today or tomorrow on the specifics for next week.
On Sunday November 29th we will celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. This will also be the Sunday that the Missions Committee their speaker from NEOCH, Angelo will be joining us for the service to share a message with us.
On Wednesday December 2nd we will start our Advent Bible Study. If you would like to be a part of this, please email and let me know by November 10th. I want to make sure that books get to you in time to start with us. The bible study will be each Wednesday in December at 10am over Zoom.
Our scripture for this week is: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13
And in addition to our prayer for this week, I want to share a meditation practice that I do. It is called Heart Breathing, one of my friends from seminary taught it to me. I have found that in times of stress and anxiety I turn to this. I will copy it into the email, but also include the link to Brandi’s website that explains it. Heart Breathing
- Place your hands palm down in the center of your chest over your heart
- Take three slow, deep breaths, imagining that you are breathing through your heart
- After three breaths, switch palms and breathe again three times, slowly and deeply. As you do this, feel the warmth of your hands holding your heart
- For a third and last time, switch palms. Continue breathing slow, deep breaths
- Take a few moments now just resting in the breath. Breathing slowly, in and out, in and out, feeling the slow rise and fall of your chest, imagining the breath moving in and out of your heart
- As you continue, begin to imagine that you are breathing in gratitude, breathing out anxiety and worry. Continue with this practice for a few moments
- When you feel ready, bring to mind the image of something for which, or someone for whom, you feel grateful
- Move that image into the space of your heart, holding it in the warmth of your hands, still slowly breathing in and out
- Sit for a few minutes, holding the image, still focusing on the sensations of breathing, the warmth in your chest
- When you feel ready, express your gratitude for this moment and lower your palms
- Remember that you can return to the heart at any time. That you can feel the warmth in this space and the gratitude. It is always available to you.
And our prayer for this week: shared by another seminary friend Chaska Yoder
A Prayer for Love and Persistence (by Hillary Watson)
God, we linger for a moment before your mystery, craving your comfort,
on this day that has become a national holiday for our anxiousness
and for everything we cannot control in our country.
God, we lament that these elections, these political systems, this country
is birthed from colonization and our lives are shaped by a colonial legacy.
God, we lament the ways that our lives, from birth, rely on systems that harm and dehumanize our neighbors.
We lament sexism, racism, homophobia.
We lament exploitation, commodification, xenophobia.
God, forgive us the times we saw injustice and stayed silent.
Forgive us the times we saw injustice and were too tired.
Forgive us the times we believed we had to save the world.
Forgive us the times we refused to let others help us save the world.
Forgive us the times, in righteous anger, we hated our neighbors.
Forgive us the times we raged so much we lost sight of goodness.
God, bless the ones who make us laugh.
Bless the ones who bring us beauty in broken moments.
Bless us when we step outside our comfort zone.
Bless us when we bring our misery to company.
Bless the company who keeps us sane and kind in trying times.
Bless us for the journey ahead and the people we hope to become.
God, we are anxious for solutions.
We are anxious for news of fixes and success.
Yet our faith does not depend on solutions.
Love is present when solutions are not.
Love persists when answers are absent.
Love will stick around for the long haul,
the good fight, the difficult work of justice.
And we come to life when we dwell with love.
So tonight we choose to stand here with you
and with all the holy goodness in this universe,
to sing with wild and unstoppable love.
This week is going to be long. Take time for yourself this week. Do things that make your heart happy. Bake. Walk outside. Check in with friends and family. Read a good book. And may this week land gently on us all.
Grace and Peace,