Gather ‘Round E-Newsletter

 

Rev. Betsy A. Garland

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

 Gather ‘Round E-Newsletter during the covid-19 crisis.

All future Newsletters will be listed as a link below.  Due to a change in formatting I have not yet figured out how to insert the actual newsletter.  Just click on the links below to open up the newsletter in its’ entirety. I will continue to work on figuring out this new format and post as usual.


NEWSLETTERS!

Issue 63-April 2

Issue 62- March 26 (1)

Issue 61- March 19

MVLP “Gather ‘Round” E-News – Issue #60
March 12, 2021

This is the sixtieth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!


The Buildings Are Closed;
The Church Is Open!


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

LISTENING FOR THE HEARTBEAT OF GOD:
a Celtic Spirituality                                                                                                                  Based on the book by J. Philip Newell

In the year 664, in a mixed religious community under the                  #60 Celtic Cross
leadership of the abbess, Hilda, the Synod of Whitby was held to
determine the direction of Christianity in Britain. There were
representatives of two “missions,” the Celtic and the Roman. The Celts deferred to the authority of St. John, remembering him as the beloved disciple who leaned against Jesus at the Last Supper, an image of the practice of listening for the heartbeat of God. The Celtic Church emphasized the presence of God at the heart of all life and within all people.

The Roman mission, on the other hand, deferred to the authority of St. Peter as the “rock” on which Jesus had promised to build his Church, the symbol of listening for God in the ordained teachings and life of the Church. These two spiritual perspectives – or ways of seeing – had been clashing, hence the convening of the Synod of Whitby in northern England. Unfortunately, instead of embracing both spiritualities, the Synod leaned toward the Roman perspective, and the Celtic was minimized for centuries, although present in the Anglican Church and celebrated in Irish blessings.

Why such different emphases? As you will see in the next article, early missionaries built their teachings on the culture of the country they were seeking to convert. This has always been the case through history and why the practice of Christianity often differs from country to country in its theological emphases, music, and festivals. (Just talk with church friends who grew up in another country or culture about their church practices.)

Today, Celtic Christianity is best known for its creation emphasis and for recognizing the world as the place of revelation, finding God in nature, and seeing the whole of life as sacred. This is where I mostly find God and my emphasis in my preaching and teaching. (When I reflect on our “God Moments” in Moosup Valley’s Zoom worship, I see many of us have a strong affinity for this understanding as well!)

Here are a few of the features of Celtic Christianity:
• Love of nature and a passion for the wild and elemental as a reminder of God’s gift.
• Love and respect for art and poetry.
• Love and respect for the great stories and “higher learning.”
• A sense of God and the saints as a continuing, personal, helpful presence.
• Religious practice characterized by a love for penitential acts, vigils, self-exile, pilgrimages, and sacred locations.
• No boundaries between the sacred and the secular.
• Since women had more equal footing in ancient Irish law, they had more equal say in church leadership.
Those of us who live in the country and find God in the way the sunlight glances off the snow, in the sudden appearance of the deer at twilight or the flock of cardinals in the lilac bush, will find ourselves appreciating our Celtic ancestors’ sense of the sacred as we, too, “listen for the heartbeat of God.”

From Celt to Christian
Researched by Pastor Bob

Like most indigenous people, the history and religious stories of the Celts in Ireland were polytheistic and oral. Their Pantheon included Lugh, a leader god who represented the arts, as well as truth and lawfulness; Badb, a war goddess who took the form of a hook-beaked crow; and Brigid, the goddess of fertility and healing. Ironically, we may not have had many of those stories in their original form if not for the Christian Missionaries that entered Ireland about 400 years after Jesus’ physical life on earth.

Why would Christian Missionaries help to write down and preserve the polytheistic myths of the Gaelic people? The monks knew that religious conversion is easier if it already begins with religion. The Celts were passionate about what they believed and they gained wisdom and power for living from their gods and the honored myths. It was essential for the missionaries to meet the Gaelic people in respect and carefully learn the lessons and respect of the myths to gradually help transform that mythical belief to the belief and commitment to the monotheistic God that they knew through Jesus Christ. In learning about the Gaelic people and the Gaelic ways, they found connections and corrections that could be shared about Jesus.

We can learn from those early Missionaries to the Emerald Island about respecting people who think differently from us. Treating people with respect and first taking interest in who they are, what makes them “tick” and what they believe can provide you with areas of belief, passion, spirituality, and community worship that can be used to transform people to an acceptance of and commitment to Jesus Christ.

(Now, to be fair, as with all indigenous people, the work of missionaries and the organized Christian Church, was not all respect and understanding. There has been plenty of abuse, genocide, and inquisition, that should be confessed and reconciled with amends. And there was in Ireland perpetrated by the church.) But with respect to the specific spiritual work of the monks in Ireland, they respected the people, their history, and their myths before they introduced their own beliefs in Jesus. We could learn the power of treating all people with respect.

St. Patrick                                                                                                                                      Thanks to Pastor Bob for this research and article….

When we think of Ireland (especially at this time of year), most of us          #60 Shamrock
think of Saint Patrick. When we think of Saint Patrick, most of us think
of Ireland! It’s kind of funny considering that Patrick was of Italian ancestry and grew up in England! Records were not very well kept in the 5th century. However, we are fairly certain that Patrick’s Father was a Roman Deacon, but we are less sure whether Patrick was born in Northern England, Scotland, or Wales. From Patrick’s writings, we learn that he was kidnapped by Irish Pirate Raiders when he was 16 years old. He was sold into slavery in Ireland and became a shepherd. After 6 years, he escaped and after an arduous journey, returned to England. So how did this Italian-English man come to be synonymous with Irish Culture!

During his time of being enslaved and serving as a shepherd like David, Patrick developed a newfound sense of Spirituality. Once he made his escape and returned home, he pursued Christian instruction. During a dream, Patrick “heard a call” to return to Ireland. So, in the year 431, back he went to Ireland.

Through struggles and successes, the Legend of Saint Patrick took root and began to grow.
As with all legends, some things are totally true, some things are embellished, some things are actually co-opted from other heroes, and some things are metaphors. Undeniably though, Saint Patrick became the Patron Saint of all things Irish!

The Shamrock has always been important to the people of Ireland. The Druids and Celts were people that believed that nature and spirit thrived in the power of three: spirit, mind and body; solid, liquid, gas; etc. Saint Patrick seized the opportunity to turn the Shamrock into the symbol of Irish Christianity as he taught that it was God’s way of teaching about the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! It was the open door he needed to introduce Christianity to the pagan nation.

Saint Patrick is also famous for driving the snakes out of Ireland. In truth, Ireland, up until the last Glaciers, was too cold for the coldblooded creatures and because it is an island there was no real way for snakes to make their way across the water. Two contemporary writers of Patrick, Tirechan and Muirchiu Moccu Macthenni, insisted that the “snakes” that Patrick drove out of Ireland were the Druid Priests and those who held on to their Celtic religion. They insisted that, (like most dealings that the expansionist Church had with indigenous people) it was a cruel and violent eradication of any who held onto their Celtic Faith. As generations got further from their druid ancestors, the myth of driving out the “snakes” just made Saint Patrick all the more the Patron Saint of Irish Christianity.

In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day was a solemn day of confession, prayer, and rededication. However, in America, after the influx of Irish immigration and as a unifying symbol, the Legend of Saint Patrick fermented into a celebration of Irish Heritage, Culture, and Pride! The knights of Saint Patrick originally were adorned in blue, but after Irish Independence in the 1700s, Saint Patrick became synonymous with the wearing of the green for the people from the Emerald Isle! In Ireland, the feast for Saint Patrick was a boiled dinner of cabbage, potatoes, and a bacon-like product closer to ham. In New York City, however, after the Irish were introduced to their neighbors’ Jewish Deli, Corned Beef became the meat of choice in almost every pot!

So, put on your green; pin on your shamrock; steam up your corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes; dance an Irish jig; celebrate the Irish culture; have a green beverage of choice; turn a river green; and pray for forgiveness for the way you have been cruel to others that are different from you; be Irish for a day, and have a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

A STORY FOR LENT

In their book, God in My Life: Faith Stories & How & Why We Share Them, Maren Tirabassi and Maria Tirabassi present stories of people like us who reflect on important, perhaps life-changing moments in their lives, in which they experienced God, a sacred space, or a faith challenge. Of this collection, our own story-teller Valerie Tutson says, “No wonder Jesus told the disciples to go out and share the good news. He knew the power of story.” I am sharing one each week during Lent. This week’s story is in keeping with our emphasis on finding God in nature.

THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING

It was the last night of a weeklong youth canoe trip in the remote lake country of northern Minnesota, and it was getting dark. Our group was about to participate in one of our closing rituals, the silent canoe float. This night was perfect: calm, clear, and no moon, so the stars were brilliant against the absolute darkness of the sky.
Often we had difficulty getting a group of teens, already anxious about floating in absolute dark, to abide by the rule of total quiet, but this time they got it, and the ten canoes floated silently on the glassy surface. With no wind, the stars were glittery reflections in the water.

Suddenly, beginning in the north, but quickly spreading over most of the sky the northern lights lit up the heavens. Greens, blues, whites, pinks, all moving and pulsing across the sky, this mysterious aurora borealis visited and awed us. For nearly a full hour we floated there, alone on a boreal lake but not feeling at all alone in the world.

When nature’s sky show ended, we floated back to our campsite and sat around the fire. For a long time no one needed to speak, but then one boy put into words what I imagine most of us were thinking when he said, “It was like God was speaking to us.” Indeed it was. It was a transcendent moment. Nearly thirty years later I ran into a woman, now in her mid-forties, who had been one of the youth on that trip. I hadn’t seen her in the intervening years, but she eagerly introduced me to her own children saying, “This was the minister who took us on the canoe trip I talk about.”

Around the campfire, we recalled the words of Psalm 19: “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

Sometimes in our modern world, religious and science seem to be in conflict, but there is a beautiful mystery behind both “how” of science and the “why” of faith. The creator wants to reveal, through both mind and spirit, through all possible pathways, the saving truth of creation. God was speaking that night on a north woods lake, and for those moments we were listening, and we were changed. –David S. Mayer

SPRING FORWARD
Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour #60 Spring ahead clockthis weekend!

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, our service is organized around our One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, an offering we share with other denominations. In addition to Martha’s playing the hymns, Evie will play “What Wondrous Love Is This” from the Southern Harmony collection, and Charlie will share some old favorites in honor or St. Patrick’s Day. Watch for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship
Worship at Rice City will be live, in person (with precautions) this Sunday, February 28, at 9:00 a.m. as well as online on the MVLP Facebook page Sunday morning and throughout the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday morning.

Mt. Vernon Hymn Sing
The Mt. Vernon Hymn Sing will be held on Sunday, March 14, at 3:00 p.m. at the Rice City Church. You can join in person with mask and social distance or on the MVLP Facebook page live. If you are planning to be virtual, you can send your choice of hymn to Pastor Bob at Revbobh@gmail.com.

Mount Vernon Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays#55 candle in hands
at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song,
meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. As appropriate, we also reflect on questions for the season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy
know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

Prayer is the act and presence of sending [the] light from the bountifulness#60 Praise Prayer
of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them. When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life. There is a lovely idea in the Celtic tradition that if you send out goodness from yourself or if you share that which is happy or good
within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times.
– John O’ Donohue, Anam Cara, a Book of Celtic Wisdom

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Moosup Valley’s beloved Music Series Coordinator Bill McGrath (and a dear friend of Laurie Murphy’s) who is intubated in ICU with COVID pneumonia, just weeks away from getting the vaccine. Please pray for Bill to pull through this!

 For Vicky Neville’s sister, Carol, who is recovering from heart surgery.

 For Rocky Riccio who now has complications from COVID and is being treated with blood thinners.

 For Earl Mann who is scheduled for surgery for broken discs in his back on March 11.

 For Rose Desilus who is having tests and probable gall bladder surgery.

 For Phyllis Dexter’s family and all of those who loved her.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, who is dealing with chronic life-threatening conditions.

 For Joan as she continues with radiation following surgery, and Joan and John’s grandson, Christopher, and for Joan’s friend, Jane, who is in need of strength and courage.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann’s new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He is holding his own. Each day brings more hope.

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and awaiting the time we can all be physically together again.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who had another follow up procedure in Boston and is awaiting a safe time to be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, back in the hospital in Boston and knows that she will always have some of the pain that she currently is trying to endure.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he is in his own apartment.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For our beloved country in the midst of persistent hostility and division.

What God Is Like

Martha Safstrom passed along a newsletter that was addressed to her late husband, Bob, from the Pastoral Care Department at Day Kimball Hospital with several “gems,” including this one:

“Hello, God, I called tonight to talk a little while. I need a friend who’ll listen to my anxiety and trial. You see, I can’t quite make it through a day just on my own. I need your love to guide me, so I’ll never feel alone. I want to ask you, please, to keep my family safe and sound. Come fill their lives with confidence for whatever fate they’re bound. Give me faith, dear God, to face each hour through the day. And not to worry over things I can’t change in any way. I thank you, God, for being home and listening to my call; for giving me such good advice when I stumble and I fall. Your number, God, is the only one that answers every time, I never get a busy signal: never have to pay a dime. So thank you, God, for listening to my troubles and my sorrow. Good night, God. I love you, too. And I’ll call again tomorrow.”
-Author unknown

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are reading the First, Second, and Third Letter of John, near the end of the Epistles. To receive the Zoom link, contact Betsy.

One Great Hour of Sharing: Let Love Flow

The theme for this year’s One Great Hour of Sharing is “Let Love          # 56 One Great Hour of Sharing
Flow,” when our gifts join with other churches and denominations
to assist when disasters strike across the world. In the voice of
Isaiah (49:10, MSG): “Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the
sun, shelter from the wind. For the Compassionate One guides
them, takes them to the best springs.” Because water, after all, is life.

In many ways, our world was not prepared for the COVID pandemic,
but because of our past generosity through OGHS, many communities were better able to meet the challenges. More people were equipped for the crisis with improved sanitation; access to clean, safe water for handwashing; and were empowered to prevent the spread of disease among their family and neighbors. When we continue to give generously, we continue to give life—in the form of water and so much more—to people in need across the world in which there is no thirst, no hunger, no suffering….just the abundance of life in a living stream.

When we share what God has given to us, we “let love flow.” When water comes to a village, everything changes. It touches every area of life—literally and figuratively! Having clean water close by means that women in Nicaragua don’t have to spend their whole day walking to the source, so they might have other opportunities for learning or vocational growth. Children in Kenya no longer spend their days carrying heavy buckets, so they can go to school instead. Improved sanitation slows the spread of disease, so there is less preventable illness. Crops thrive in Vietnam, meaning that food security and nutrition improve in the whole community. Families can spend more time together. People of all ages around the world are empowered to provide for their families today, while also planning for the future of their communities.

Offerings are now being received and may be sent to your church’s treasurer.

Praying the Psalms

A simple discipline for Lent might be to read a psalm every day as if it were a prayer. Moosup Valley member Kathy Schuster introduced me to Nan C. Merrill who writes in Praying the Psalms, “To pray is to be transformed. … to scatter seeds of love and light into the chaos… to awaken us to the Peace of the Beloved indwelling in every soul …may we become peace…” Here is Merrill’s reframing of Psalm 107: 1-3, a few verses of the psalm in our lectionary for the fourth Sunday in Lent:

We give thanks to You,                              #58 Dove
who are the Source of Love;
whose Light shines forth
throughout the universe!
Come, awaken our hearts that
we might do your Work;
For, without You, we can do nothing;
‘tis your Love that loves
through us.

Gather us in from all the lands,
from the east and the west,
from the south and the north.

An Irish Blessing

May the road rise to greet you.
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And throughout your days,
may the Gracious God always hold you
in the palm of His hands.

May you live as long as you want,
and never want as long as you live.
And when eternity beckons,
at the end of a life filled with love,
may the good Lord embrace you
with the arms that have nurtured you
the length of your joy filled days
an entire half hour before
the devil even knows that you’re gone.

A Closing Reflection

John O’Donohue in To Bless the Space Between us, writes, “There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself, through it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life. … Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life. This shy inner light is what enables us to recognize and receive our very presence here as blessing. We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us and will now enfold, nourish, and sustain us. The gift of the world is our first blessing.”

Church Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Robin Petrarca (105 Hopkins Hollow Road, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

#60 Stonehenge

***************************************************************************************************

MVLP “Gather ‘Round” E-News – Issue #59
March 5, 2021

This is the fifty-ninth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!


  The Buildings Are Closed;The Church Is Open!


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

LOOK: A Lenten Devotion                                                                                                                        #59 MosesBy Reverend Anthony Robinson                                               

Tony Robinson is a UCC minister and speaker, teacher, and writer
who contributed this devotion to the UCC online stillspeaking DAILY
DEVOTIONAL this week. I pass it along as “food for thought” in our
Lenten journey. In response to this scripture, Tony writes:


So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, the person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. Numbers 21:9 (NRSV)
Sometimes we go to great lengths to avoid actually looking at what is causing pain, even death, in our own lives and communities. Why? Is it because if we look at the problem head-on, chances are good that we will have to deal with it?

On their wilderness journey, the Hebrew people complained long and loud about their situation. They accused Moses of bringing them out of slavery in Egypt only to kill them in the wilderness. Their lack of faith led to an invasion of poisonous snakes. Moses received a strange instruction from God. “Make a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole. If people are bitten, they are to look at the bronze serpent and they will be healed.”

They were to look at the source of the pain and death.

Lent is a good time to come clean about the things that are the real sources of pain and death in our lives and relationships, and to ask God’s help to be delivered from them. Grudges we carry and refuse to release, addictions we don’t admit, anger we’ve allowed to eat away at us, sin we have failed to own. We may point to, even treat, the symptoms—fatigue, irritability, deadness in relationships—but avoid looking at the source of the pain. But when we look directly at the source of pain in our lives and take responsibility for action, a wondrous thing can happen. That source of pain may become a source of healing.

Prayer: This Lent, help me to look to the cross of Christ, sign of death and sign of life. Amen.


Are You Fasting This Lent?

In the words of Pope Francis:

Fast from hurting words …and say kind words
Fast from sadness …………and be filled with gratitude
Fast from anger ………….. and be filed with patience
Fast from pessimism …….and be filled with hope
Fast from worries …………and have trust in God
Fast from complaints ……and contemplate simplicity
Fast from pressures …….. and be prayerful
Fast from bitterness ……..and fill your hearts with joy
Fast from selfishness ……and be compassionate to others
Fast from grudges ………..and be reconciled
Fast from words …and be silent so you can listen

Reverend Betsy Reflects: The Law of Love                                                                                       Since the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) is one of our lectionary texts for this third Sunday in Lent, I thought I would offer a new way to think about them. Growing up, I had been taught that the Old Testament was about Law and the New Testament was about Love, but that’s not necessarily true. Here’s a more helpful way to think about the Ten Commandments.

According to the rabbis, there are 613 commandments in the#59 Ten Commandants
Hebrew Bible, not just 10. All of Israel’s life was prescribed
by law. And these 10 commandments are just representative
of all the culture – economic life; dietary, clothing, and marriage customs; inheritance rights; legal issues; medical treatments and more. And these 10 commandments are representative of just two commandments, foundational commandments. Do you know what they are?

Jesus did. When the Pharisees asked him what commandment was the greatest, hoping to trap him because all the commandments were supposed to be of equal value, what did he say? He quotes the Hebrew Bible: “You shall love the Lord your God” (Deut. 6:5), and then he added, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 9:18). No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

And so it is with the 10 commandments, God’s “Ten Teachings.” The first four have to do with loving God – no other gods, no idols, no casual use of God’s name, keeping the Sabbath – and the next six have to do with loving your neighbor – honoring parents, no killing, no adultery, no stealing, no false witnessing, no coveting – in other words, building a trusting community, caring for the common good.

We think of the commandments as directions for private morality, right behavior toward God and toward each other, but they are just as much about public ethics, directions for the mending of God’s holy world. The Ten Commandments are all about love. And it begins with you and me.

A STORY FOR LENT

In their book,  God in My Life: Faith Stories & How & Why We Share Them, Maren Tirabassi and Maria Tirabassi present stories of people like us who reflect on important, perhaps life-changing moments in their lives, in which they experienced God, a sacred space, or a faith challenge. Of this collection, our own story-teller Valerie Tutson says, “No wonder Jesus told the disciples to go out and share the good news. He knew the power of story.” I am sharing one each week during Lent. With so much in the news about how hard the COVID-19 pandemic has been on our Native American sisters and brothers, I am using this one by a woman on the UCC Council of American Indian Ministry:


WALKING IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Walking into Panera Bread in Owasso, Oklahoma, tonight, I was in search of a latte and WiFi. The ice storm hit here Sunday. It’s Wednesday and utilities are still off save for this oasis. A doctor sits behind me calling patients and sending email prescriptions to the pharmacy. A tutor is helping two college students prepare for their calculus finals. Families from this neighborhood greet each other and say they are blessed. God’s presence is here.

Earlier today, I drove by the Community of Hope United Church of Christ in Tulsa, where the utilities are off and two old trees lost their tops and the limbs filled the parking lot. Inside, the warmth of Sundays past filled me although the building was cold and dark. God’s presence was there.

I learned to walk in the presence of God as a young child. My parents showed me the way. We were farmer/ranchers where one was totally depended on the elements of nature, which we ascribed to God’s realm. So it was that my parents said they trusted God in good times and dire times. It’s true. They did and I do.

On our 160-acre farm, allotted under the Dawes Commission of the Federal Government to us as Muscogee (Creek) people in Oklahoma, one walked in the presence of God. My parents acknowledge God’s morning light and God’s setting sun with prayers and conversation. It was a way of life and that way of life has become mine.

Thank you, God, for allowing humans and all of creation to be and to walk in your presence. Amen. -Rosemary McCombs Maxey


Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the third Sunday in Lent, we have special music. In addition to Martha Safstrom’s playing the hymns and Charlie Wilkinson’s playing opening and closing music, Evie Mann will offer a piano solo, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” We will read the story in John 2:13-22 about Jesus’ cleansing the temple; Reverend Betsy’s reflection is “What Consumes Us?” This is a Communion Sunday, so please bring a piece of bread/cracker and a cup of juice/water to the table. Watch for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship
Worship at Rice City will be live, in person (with precautions) this Sunday, February 28, at 9:00 a.m. as well as online on the MVLP Facebook page Sunday morning and throughout the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays
at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song,
meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and
praise to God. As appropriate, we also reflect on questions for the
season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy
know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…#55 candle in hands

 For the family of Ralph McDougald who has died. Rice City joins his
family and God in saying “Well Done, My Good and Faithful Servant.”
Laurie and Lisa will have a time when we can all be together to
celebrate his life and service.

 For Vicky Neville’s sister, Carol, who is recovering from heart surgery.

 For Rocky Riccio who now has complications from COVID and is
being treated with blood thinners.

 For Earl Mann who saw the orthopedic surgeon last week and is
scheduled for surgery for broken discs in his back on March 11.

 For Rose Desilus who is having tests and probable gall bladder surgery.

 For Phyllis Dexter’s family and all of those who loved her.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, who is dealing with chronic life-threatening conditions.

 For Joan as she begins radiation following surgery, and Joan and John’s grandson, Christopher, and for Joan’s friend, Jane, who is in need of strength and courage.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann’s new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He is holding his own. Each day brings more hope.

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and awaiting the time we can all be physically together again.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who had another follow up procedure in Boston and is awaiting a safe time to be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, back in the hospital in Boston and knows that she will always have some of the pain that she currently is trying to endure.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he is in his own apartment.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For our beloved country in the midst of persistent fear and division.
What God Is Like

Martha Safstrom passed along a newsletter that was addressed to her late husband, Bob, from the Pastoral Care Department at Day Kimball Hospital with several “gems,” including this one:

God is like coca-cola; He’s the real thing.
God is like Pan Am; He makes the going great.
God is like General Electric; He lights the path.
God is like Bayer aspirin; He works wonders.
God is like Hallmark cards; He cared enough to send the very best.
God is like Tide; He gets the stains out others leave behind.
God is like VO-5 Hair Spray; He holds throughout all kinds of weather.
God is like Dial Soap; aren’t you glad you know him? Don’t you wish everybody did?
God is like Sears; He has everything.
God is like Alka-Seltzer; Oh, what a relief He is.
God is like Scotch tape; you can’t see Him but you know He’s there.
God is like McDonald’s; He’ll do it all for you.
God is like the American Express Card; don’t leave home without Him.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are reading the First, Second, and Third Letter of John near the end of the Epistles. To receive the Zoom link, contact Betsy.

One Great Hour of Sharing: Let Love Flow# 56 One Great Hour of Sharing

The theme for this year’s One Great Hour of Sharing is “Let Love
Flow,” when our gifts join with other churches and denominations
to assist when disasters strike across the world. In the voice of
Isaiah (49:10, MSG): “Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the
sun, shelter from the wind. For the Compassionate One guides
them, takes them to the best springs.” Because water, after all, is life.

In many ways, our world was not prepared for the COVID pandemic,
but because of our past generosity through OGHS, many communities were better able to meet the challenges. More people were equipped for the crisis with improved sanitation; access to clean, safe water for handwashing; and were empowered to prevent the spread of disease among their family and neighbors. When we continue to give generously, we continue to give life—in the form of water and so much more—to people in need across the world in which there is no thirst, no hunger, no suffering….just the abundance of life in a living stream.

When we share what God has given to us, we “let love flow.” When water comes to a village, everything changes. It touches every area of life—literally and figuratively! Having clean water close by means that women in Nicaragua don’t have to spend their whole day walking to the source, so they might have other opportunities for learning or vocational growth. Children in Kenya no longer spend their days carrying heavy buckets, so they can go to school instead. Improved sanitation slows the spread of disease, so there is less preventable illness. Crops thrive in Vietnam, meaning that food security and nutrition improve in the whole community. Families can spend more time together. People of all ages around the world are empowered to provide for their families today, while also planning for the future of their communities.

Offerings are now being received and may be sent to your church’s treasurer.

Foster Food Pantry Wish List                                                                                                                    Here is what Carol Mauro has listed in the Foster Home Journal for March:

Mac ‘n Cheese, canned tuna, salad oil (canola/vegetable), crackers, mustard and juice, as well as other items you might find to contribute. During the winter, please use the donation bins at DHS and Town Hall as items in those outside might freeze. Grocery store gift cards and checks may be mailed to Foster DHS, 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825.

Praying the Psalms

A simple discipline for Lent might be to read a psalm every day as if it were a prayer. Moosup Valley member Kathy Schuster introduced me to Nan C. Merrill who writes in Praying the Psalms, “To pray is to be transformed. … to scatter seeds of love and light into the chaos… to awaken us to the Peace of the Beloved indwelling in every soul …may we become peace…” Here is Merrill’s reframing of Psalm 19: 1-4, 14, a few verses of the psalm in our lectionary for the third Sunday in Lent:

The heavens declare the glory#58 Dove
of the Creator;
the firmament proclaims the
handiwork of Love.
Day to day speech pours forth
and night to night knowledge
is revealed.
There is no speech
nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
Yet does their music resound
through all the earth,
                                                          And their words echo to the ends of the world.                                                                                                          …..                                                                                                   Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
find favor in your Heart
O my Beloved, my strength and
my joy!

Church Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Robin Petrarca (105 Hopkins Hollow Road, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

#59 Peanuts Missing someone

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MVLP “Gather ‘Round” E-News – Issue #58
February 26, 2021

This is the fifty-eighth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!


The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Pastor Bob Reflects                                                                                                                                      LENT:  GIVING UP OR GIVING IN?                               
Growing up, I was used to having one day a year when half of my                                                #58 Lent
class would come to school with ashes on their foreheads. Their
explanation is that it was Ash Wednesday. The smart ones would
say, “It’s the beginning of Lent.” It took me another 15 years
to find out why they had to wear ashes. But one thing that most
of us had in common was to ask, “So, what are you giving up
for Lent?”
From where did that question come? Why had Lent become synonymous with “Giving up something that you really like?
Bill Mounce, from Western Seminary points to the middle of the Gospel of Mark. The beginning of Mark is a miraculous, out in the public, romp through the countryside as Jesus heals people, teaches large crowds, and perform miracles in an immediate and incredible way. Then, the focus changes.
“We are, now, at a turning point of Jesus’ story. At Mark 8:27, it is like Jesus has finally come to the point where he is willing to ask the disciples to make a commitment. Who do they think that he is? Peter, probably speaking for all twelve of them, says, “We believe you are the Christ, the Messiah, God’s king who was to come into the world.” Jesus accepts Peter’s confession as true.
But then everything in the gospel story changes. Jesus’ ministry becomes mostly private, not doing as many miracles, and primarily teaching the twelve disciples what it is like to live as disciples in God’s kingdom. In verse 34 Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
From that, the Church began to see discipleship as “denying oneself” and suffering, like Jesus had to do to save the world, by “taking up one’s cross.”
As you prepare to be a disciple (as you prepare to celebrate Easter and truly become a follower of Christ), what are you willing to deny yourself? What are you willing to suffer? What are you giving up for Lent?
But let us look a bit more closely at Jesus’ intent.
Lent is more than just giving something up. Pounce reminds us (or teaches us for the first time) to “deny” yourself means to say “No” to yourself and “Yes” to God. “We are not talking about asceticism — forgoing earthly possessions, not eating certain foods, ignoring the world, etc. To say it differently, the process of denial is ‘to humbly submit my will to God.’ It is to go through life repeating the words that Jesus said the night before he died. When he was praying in the garden, he said to God his Father, “Not my will but yours be done.” It is what millions of Christians have prayed for centuries when they repeat what we call the Lord’s Prayer. “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Lent is not, per se, about GIVING UP something just because it is something I like. It is about GIVING IN to God’s desires, God’s ways, and God’s Will for our lives.
Fasting was another way of “suffering” for half of my childhood during Lent. (Although it really meant that on Wednesdays during Lent the lunch choice in school was Cheese Pizza and on Friday, it was a Fish Sandwich – two of the more popular lunch choices in the cafeteria. Not much suffering going on here. Maybe the schools were better at theology than we thought.
Phil Ressler, the pastor of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, opens our eyes to true Fasting. “While the idea of fasting involves taking something away, it is ultimately about experiencing more of God. Fasting in its purest form involves foregoing food for a certain period of time. This will lead to a hunger in our stomach which has an ultimate purpose of connecting us with our hunger for God. The time you might have spent preparing a meal and eating the meal can now be spent feasting on God’s Word.”
He continues, “In other words, spend the time you would have spent eating by reading the Bible and praying. Jesus says, ‘We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). We realize our food and everything else we have comes from God. If God did not provide it, we would not have it (see John 6:68–69). We eliminate that which we think we need for that which we truly need even more.”.
Dan Wiese, a pastor from the Church of the Nazarene, expounds upon this idea. “The meaning of “giving up something” came home to me several years ago when a college student from a church I once pastored posted on Facebook that she began her Lent with the commitment to sacrifice sugar for the 40-day Lenten season. A couple weeks after that, she posted something that suddenly turned on the light for me. She said, in essence, “I am really craving sugar right now. But I pray that my craving for God would become as strong as my craving for sugar.”
That is it! Have a Blessed Lent as you make time, effort, and room to give in to Your craving for God!

IS LENT A FAST OR A FEAST?                                                                                                      Contributed by Pastor Bob                                         
Source: adapted and revised from The Anglican Digest

Fast from worry; feast on trusting God.        #58 Peanuts worry
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.                                                Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from hostility; feast on tenderness.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast from unceasing prayer.
Fast from judging others; feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from fear of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on speech that purifies.                                                                       

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.  #58 Peanuts Smile                                                Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on the fullness of truth.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.

Fast from lethargy and apathy; feast on enthusiasm.#58 Peanuts Rude
Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that sustains.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.


A STORY FOR LENT

In their book, God in My Life: Faith Stories & How & Why We Share Them, Maren Tirabassi and Maria Tirabassi present stories of people like us who reflect on important, perhaps life-changing moments in their lives, in which they experienced God, a sacred space, or a faith challenge. Of this collection, our own story-teller Valerie Tutson says, “No wonder Jesus told the disciples to go out and share the good news. He knew the power of story.” I’ll share one each week during Lent. Here is one for this week, and with so much death and loss in our community, I have chosen one about healing power of music:

Songs of the Spirit
When I was seventeen, my grandfather and father died, both unexpectedly, just two weeks apart. My father was my pulse, my grandfather my pastor. Each were powerful figures in my life as their word was often the last, if not the only, to be considered. At their deaths, I felt rudderless, confused, and alone. It was my senior year in high school. Plans for my future had to be put on hold.
While my faith had always provided me strength and direction, it did not feel strong enough for what I needed in those days. This enormous, unsettling loss rocked me to the core. I did not question God’s existence, but neither did I feel access to God’s presence and grace. This was an unfamiliar reality for me. Until the moment of my father and grandfather’s deaths, I knew with each breath God’s presence in my life, in every life. I needed something to fill the void. Familiar words from scripture were helpful, but not enough.
As time went by, I often found myself humming hymns we sang in worship or singing silly songs we learned in Sunday School. At the center of my being, I could hear people sing spirituals and anthems as if especially for me. There was never a specific song, nor was there a specific voice. Instead, there were a variety of (godly/divine) voices offering a melody of hope and healing to my broken heart.
Through the music of my faith, I began to feel God’s presence. When humming or singing, I felt God’s embrace. Words, melody, and rhythm opened my heart to God’s healing grace. Plans for my future were made.
To this day, whenever life takes an unexpected turn, it is the music of my faith that puts me back on center. In the melody, I always find God’s healing grace.
-Susan A. Henderson


Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the second Sunday in Lent, we will read the story in Mark 8:31-38, about denying ourselves and taking up our crosses. Reverend Betsy’s reflection is “Saving Our Lives.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship
Worship at Rice City will be live, in person (with precautions) this Sunday, February 28, at 9:00 a.m. as well as online on the MVLP Facebook page Sunday morning and throughout the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday morning.
                                                                                                                                                                         Mount Vernon Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays                              #55 candle in hands
at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song,
meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and
praise to God. As appropriate, we also reflect on questions for the
season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy
know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures,
but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…#57 Snoopy

 For the family of Ralph McDougald who passed away last week.
Rice City joins his family and God in saying “Well Done, My Good
and Faithful Servant.” Laurie and Lisa will have a time when we
can all be together to celebrate his life and service.

 For Vicky Neville’s sister, Carol, who is undergoing heart surgery this week in Washington D.C.
 In celebration that Elsie Penta has been returned to her room after being two week’s symptom free from her COVID infection.

 For the family of George Newman who died at age 95 two weeks ago.

 For Earl Mann who saw the orthopedic surgeon this week and is scheduled for surgery for broken discs in his back on March 11.

 For Rose Desilus who is having tests and probable gall bladder surgery.

 For Phyllis Dexter’s family and all of those who loved her.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, who is dealing with chronic life-threatening conditions.

 For Geraldine, home but still healing from surgery.

 For Joan as she begins radiation following surgery, and Joan and John’s grandson, Christopher, and for Joan’s friend, Jane, who is in need of strength and courage.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann’s new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He has had a couple of rough weeks with a lung collapsing twice, but now has gained enough to require the next size blood pressure cuff. His dad took a picture with his wedding band around Wyatt’s hand so the family could see how small he is. Each day brings more hope.

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and awaiting the time we can all be physically together again.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who had another follow up procedure in Boston and is awaiting a safe time to be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, who is back in the hospital in Boston and has heard from her doctors that she will always have some of the pain that she currently is trying to endure.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he is in his own apartment.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For our beloved country in the midst of persistent fear and division.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are moving from reading Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament and moving to the New and plan to read the First, Second, and Third Letter of John near the end of the Epistles. To receive the Zoom link, contact Betsy.


#58 Betsy's SnowmanWhen It Snows…

Scott Knox plows me out at the parsonage and shovels a path to the porch steps. Last weekend when I arrived, I found he also had made a “Snow Pastor” to greet me. First snowman I’ve ever seen with blue eyes! Thank you, Scott!
One Great Hour of Sharing: Let Love Flow


One Great Hour of Sharing is “Let Love Flow,”                                                                                       The theme for this year’s # 56 One Great Hour of Sharingwhen our gifts join with other churches and denominations    
to assist when disasters strike across the world. In the voice of
Isaiah (49:10, MSG): “Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the
sun, shelter from the wind. For the Compassionate One guides
them, takes them to the best springs.” Because water, after all, is life.
Offerings are now being received and may be sent to your church’s
treasurer.


Praying the Psalms

A simple discipline for Lent might be to read a psalm every day as if it were a prayer. Moosup Valley member Kathy Schuster introduced me to Nan C. Merrill who writes in Praying the Psalms, “To pray is to be transformed. … to scatter seeds of love and light into the chaos… to awaken us to the Peace of the Beloved indwelling in every soul …may we become peace…” Here is Merrill’s reframing of Psalm 22:23-31, the psalm in our lectionary for the second Sunday in Lent:#58 Dove

I will tell of your Name to
all I meet,
in the midst of assemblies
I will praise You;
You, who are in wonder of the Mystery,           
give praise!
For our loving Creator does not turn
away from the afflicted,
And does not hide from them;
But their cries are heard,
their prayer rise up to heaven

To you, O Beloved, I lift up my voice
in the great congregation;
for You promise to remain with
those whose love is steadfast;
The hungry shall eat and be
satisfied;
Those who seek You shall sing praises!
Your Heart is our dwelling place forever!

All the ends of the earth shall
remember
and turn to Love’s way;
And all the families of the nations
shall bow down with grateful
hearts.
For power and authority belong to
the Most High,
who rules over the nations.
Yes, the proud of the earth shall be
humbled, while
those who still live in fear
and illusions will
separate themselves not knowing
the indwelling Peace of the Beloved.
Posterity shall know and serve Love,
telling of the One who abides in all
to the coming generations.
And proclaiming deliverance to a
people yet unborn
that the Most High dwells among us.


Church Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Robin Petrarca (105 Hopkins Hollow Road, Greene, RI 02827).


Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.                                                          #58 Snoopy end

 

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MVLP “Gather ‘Round” E-News – Issue #57
February 19, 2021

This is the fifty-seventh issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!


The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

#57 Lent

LENT: A Season of Reflection and Transformation

With Ash Wednesday this week, we enter the Season of Lent,                                      #57 40 days
a period of reflection, repentance, and transformation. It runs from
Ash Wednesday to Easter, 40 days (if you don’t count the Sundays,
each of which is a “little Easter”) in imitation of Jesus’ fasting in the
wilderness before he began his public ministry.

A Little History of Lent
This period of preparation and fasting likely has been observed since apostolic times, though the practice was not formalized until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. It was a time of preparation of candidates for baptism and a time of penance for grievous sinners who were excluded from Communion and were preparing for their restoration. As a sign of their penitence, they wore sackcloth and were sprinkled with ashes. This form of public penance began to die out in the 9th century, and it became customary for all the faithful to be reminded of the need for penitence by receiving an imposition of ashes on their foreheads on the first day of Lent—hence the name Ash Wednesday.

In the early centuries, fasting rules were strict, as they still are in Eastern churches. One meal a day was allowed in the evening, and meat, fish, eggs, and butter were forbidden. The Eastern church also restricts the use of wine, oil, and dairy products. In the West these fasting rules have gradually been relaxed. The strict law of fasting among Roman Catholics was dispensed with during World War II, and only Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are now kept as Lenten fast days.
However, the emphasis on penitential practice and almsgiving remains, and many Catholics also observe a meatless fast on Fridays during Lent. In addition, Catholics and other Christians often choose to give up specific pleasures, such as sweets, alcohol, or social media, during Lent as a way to foster simplicity and self-control; many use their cravings or desires for these items as a reminder to pray and to refocus on spiritual matters.

What does Lent mean to us now?
Lent is an opportunity for us to travel with Jesus through the valley of the shadow of death into newness of life. It is a time for us to confess that we are not God – that while we are beloved, we also are flawed; while we are beautiful, we also are failing;
while God mends, too often we tear apart with injustice. Lent is a time to remember the wrongs we have done and the good we have left undone.

And fasting?
Do you give up something for Lent? Often people give up dessert or alcohol or candy or excessive use of the internet. If you choose to give up something, I recommend these five things: Complaining, consuming, worrying, negative self-talk, and comparing yourself to others.

If on the other hand, you choose to take on something, what about a daily pause for prayer and Bible reading, adopting a healthy practice such as a walk every day in the fresh air, or keeping a journal of new observations and understandings? I read that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Well, Lent gives us 40 days. Now is the time.

The prophet Isaiah knows what God wants, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:5-8). So Lent is also about becoming the people God wants us to be in the world.

Is there value in reflection?
While the days are growing longer, Lent is a time to stay a little longer in the dark and not move too quickly into the light. There is life to be found by embracing the darkness. Writing in Christian Century magazine, Biblical scholar Brent A. Strawn shares a story told by the poet Robert Bly in “What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?” which describes “panicky blackbirds” trapped in a farm granary. They see light shining high up between the wall boards, and fly up hoping to escape, but the space between the boards is narrow, and they can’t get through. So they fall back, trapped and starving. The way out is away from the light, close to the floor, where the rats enter and leave. Lent is a time to embrace our own darkness in order to find a way out of it. Lent is a time for soul searching and spiritual growth, a time to look honestly at our lives and to become more discerning, a time for our hearts to be broken open to make room for Love.

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday
By Herb Bomberger, Lee Goodyear’s father, sent to her on Ash Wednesday

Author of All Life, as we enter this Lenten Season, a season of collective reflection, personal examination and self-denial; we do so in the midst of a cold, snowy, COVID winter; longing to be released from our restricted and confined ordeal: to hug and be hugged, to breathe free, to move about at will and share again in communal activities.

So even before we enter this soul-searching season, we long for the Easter Dawn of Hope, Light and New Life – New Life that brings healing and health, social calm and political stability.

May we meet the challenges and test of OUR TIME with resilience and perseverance, determination and endurance, leaving in our path the unfolding dreams of our watchful ancestors. Amen.

Before I Lay Myself Down to Sleep                                                                                                      Herb also sent Lee a video of Jackie Evancho, now 20, as a young girl singing “Before I Lay Myself Down to Sleep.” You can listen to this beautiful message for Lent by clicking here, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rZv3MxjmYWAZj608OUrocL3yz8125nNm/view?usp=sharing, or googling her and selecting the song.

A STORY FOR LENT                                                                                                                                In their book, God in My Life: Faith Stories & How & Why We Share Them, Maren Tirabassi and Maria Tirabassi, present stories of people like us who reflect on important, perhaps life-changing moments in their lives, in which they experienced God, a sacred space, or a faith challenge. Of this collection, our own story-teller Valerie Tutson says, “No wonder Jesus told the disciples to go out and share the good news. He knew the power of story.” I’ll share one each week during Lent. Here is one for this week:


Closer to God

I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on various mission trips across the state and the country. All of these experiences have impacted me in often perplexing and intriguing ways. The summer before my freshman year in high school I was able to go to the Navajo reservation up in the northeast corner of Arizona with the Shadow Rock Congregational UCC Youth Group.

This was the second time I had traveled to the Tselani Cottonwood Chapter House outside of Chinle, Arizona, and oddly enough things seemed to come together for me. It was a change in culture, and God clearly spoke to me through the feeling of community in an area where there was not much vegetation and practically barren desert. It was as if time had stopped and I was able to appreciate nature for what it truly was: a work of peaceful, serene beauty when left to thrive on its own without human interference. I also witnessed the Dine people celebrating their heritage through the art of tribal dancing, and observantly I sat in awe watching.

It seemed to me at the time that God was telling me to appreciate the simple things in my life and those closest to me to create not only an outside community but a sanctuary within myself. I realized one evening by the end of our stay on the reservation that a peaceful person is one who sees glowing beauty inside and out, and I have the vibrant sunset over the plains to thank for such an understanding. -Brittany N Wideman, Southwest Conference UCC


The Importance of Paying Attention

Had I gone looking for some particular place rather than any place, I’d have never found this spring under the sycamores. Since leaving home, I felt for the first time at rest. Sitting full in the moment, I practiced on the god-awful difficulty of just paying attention. It’s a contention of my father’s — believing as he does that anyone who misses the journey misses about all he’s going to get — that people become what they pay attention to. Our observations and curiosity, they make and remake us. -William Least Heat Moon

Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent, we will read the story in Mark 1:9-15 of Jesus’ baptism and being driven into the wilderness. Reverend Betsy’s reflection is “Wilderness.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship                                                                                                                              Worship at Rice City will be live, in person (with precautions) this Sunday, February 21, at 9:00 a.m. as well as online on the MVLP Facebook page Sunday morning and throughout the week. The flowers on the altar this week are in loving memory of Geraldine DeNuccio’s mother, Janet Goddard Verhulst, who died from cancer on February 20, 1994, at the age of 71. She is gone but certainly not forgotten. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays
at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song,                          #55 candle in hands
meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past
and praise to God. As appropriate, we also reflect on questions for the
season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important#57 Snoopy to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Rocky Riccio, now home recovering from COVID-19, and
also for Brenda, who has COVID without symptoms and needs
prayers as she waits and worries!

 For Tina Dexter who broke her leg and had surgery on Tuesday.

 For the family of George Newman who died at age 95 last Friday.

 For Earl Mann who has two broken discs in his back and is awaiting a procedure to give him some relief from the pain. He sees the orthopedic surgeon on February 23.

 For Rose Desilus who is having tests and probable gall bladder surgery.

 Phyllis Dexter’s family and all of those who loved her.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, who is dealing with chronic life-threatening conditions.

 For Geraldine, home but still healing from surgery.

 For Joan as she prepares for treatment following surgery, and Joan and John’s grandson, Christopher, and for their friends, Jane and Ed, all of whom are having health issues and in need of strength and courage.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann’s new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He has had a couple of rough weeks with a lung collapsing twice, but now has gained enough to require the next size blood pressure cuff. His dad took a picture with his wedding band around Wyatt’s hand so the family could see how small he is. Each day brings more hope.

 For Beverly’s elderly Aunt Helen, now in the nursing home but sharing a room with an old friend – good for both of them.

 Betsy and Kim’s friend, Irene Musa, whose daughter Janet died two weeks ago after a long struggle with cancer and who leaves behind three children. She will be buried in South Africa. (Irene went with us on Phyllis’ last PA bus trip.)

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and now back in her apartment.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who was able to enjoy eating and swallowing over the holidays and is now awaiting a break in the pandemic so he can be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, who is back in the hospital in Boston.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he might accept the help that is available to him.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For Carol and Neil Swanson who give thanks for God’s bringing their daughter’s family through COVID and for prayers for her brother Frank in his personal struggles.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19, including Jim Tynan’s sister Eleanor in Oklahoma, and for all those grieving the death of loved ones.

 For our teachers and medical workers and first responders that they may have the physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to continue their great work through this pandemic!

 For our beloved country in this still contentious time.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are moving from reading Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament and moving to the New and plan to read the First, Second, and Third Letter of John near the end of the Epistles. To receive the Zoom link, contact Betsy.

One Great Hour of Sharing: Let Love Flow                                                    # 56 One Great Hour of Sharing

The theme for this year’s One Great Hour of Sharing is “Let Love
Flow,” when our gifts join with other churches and denominations
to assist when disasters strike across the world. In the voice of
Isaiah (49:10, MSG): “Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the
sun, shelter from the wind. For the Compassionate One guides
them, takes them to the best springs.” Because water, after all, is life. Watch for more information about this offering during Lent.

Praying the Psalms

A simple discipline for Lent might be to read a psalm every day as if it were a prayer. Moosup Valley member Kathy Schuster introduced me to Nan C. Merrill who writes in Praying the Psalms, “To pray is to be transformed. … to scatter seeds of love and light into the chaos… to awaken us to the Peace of the Beloved indwelling in every soul …may we become peace…” Here is Merrill’s reframing of Psalm 25, the psalm in our lectionary for the first Sunday in Lent:

To you, O Love, I lift up my soul!
O Heart within my heart,
in You I place my trust.
Let me not feel unworthy;
let not fear rule over me.
Yes! May all who open their hearts
Savior You and bless the earth!

Compel me to know your ways, O Love;
Instruct me upon your paths.
Lead me in your truth,
and teach me,
for through You will I know
wholeness
I shall reflect your Light
both day and night.

I know your mercy, Blessed One,
and of your unconditional Love;
You have been with me
from the beginning,
Forgive the many times I have walked
away from You
choosing to follow my own will.
I seek your guidance, once again,
I yearn to know your Peace.
Companion me as I open to your Will!

You are gracious and just,
O Spirit of Truth,
happy to guide those who
miss their way;
You enjoy teaching all who are open,
All who choose to live in truth.
Your paths are loving and sure,
O Holy One, and
those who give witness to You
through their lives
are blessed beyond measure.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Robin Petrarca (105 Hopkins Hollow Road, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

#57 Leap of the heart

***************************************************************************

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #56
February 12, 2021

This is the fifty-sixth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!                                                                                                               


                   The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!                        


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

The Heart of the Bible

In response to the Pharisee’s trick question in the gospels, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus responds, quoting passages in the Old Testament, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5), and then “The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). This is the heart of the Bible. But what does this mean? How do we love God? How do we love our neighbor? How do we love ourselves?

Reverend Betsy Reflects: The Many Ways of Love

This Sunday, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day and talk a lot about#56 Flowers
love – as if “love” were easily defined, just one kind of thing or feeling,
primarily romantic love – and needed only one word for it. At the same
time, we use the word “love” loosely, in a casual way, as in, “I love a
good hamburger!” or “I love the old hymns,” or “I loved the book I just
read,” or “I love watching the birds on our feeder.” Yes, we may indeed
“love” these things, I do, too. But all loves are not equal. Our contemporary culture, and our English language, sells the concept of “love” short. There are many kinds of love and ways of loving, and they are not the same.

Ancient languages had many more words for “love” than we do. For example, Sanskrit had 96, Persia had 80, and the ancient Greeks had three main words for love: The first one, éros, romantic love, we will celebrate with candy and flowers this weekend. Card aisles in CVS and Stop and Shop are bursting with hearts and cherubs shooting little arrows and messages about how much we love – not just our spouses but also family and friends. I sent cards to my children and grandchildren this year. How about you?

The Greeks also have a second word for love of friends, philia, brotherly love, which is where the name Philadelphia comes from. And finally, a third word for love, agápe, love of everything and everyone, like God’s love. However, I find just three words rather confining.

I rather like the Eskimos’ idea of the many words for snow – they have 30 – more helpful, because the kind of snow is a life-and-death matter to them. In the same way, our culture would be richer if we had more words for love – and probably a lot less loneliness.

Over breakfast this week, Kim and I have been talking about love and how many kinds of love would be on our list. We agree that love has to do with relationships, so for me to say, “I love that painting,” is not really love because the painting is not alive – although theologians like Martin Buber might say that I was in an I-Thou relationship with the work of art, not an I-It relationship. So, it’s complicated.

But here’s Betsy’s list of the “ways of love” for which we need words:

Romantic Love, the love where we might be “madly in love,” can’t eat or sleep, know for certain that we finally have met the “love of our life,” the one we are to marry. However, this kind of love puts a lot of pressure on a relationship. In some cultures, people don’t marry for love but are matched instead by parents. Statistics show that both marriages for “love” and marriages that are “arranged” have about the same rates of success. Our divorce rates in this country show how often we “fall out of love” because of our unrealistic expectation that the intense feeling will last forever. And sometimes it does, but more often than not, romantic love turns into a different kind of loving relationship, a relationship that carries us through decades of loyal companionship, trials and temptations, and heartaches and joys.

Family Love, the love we have for our parents and children and often extended family members. This kind of love is nurtured by time and caregiving and the seasons of our lives. It’s part of our destiny. One need not give birth to a child to love that child, the loving comes with the nurturing. And while our parents nurture us when we are little, the time comes when we nurture them as they age, and our caregiving roles are reversed. What kind of “love” word would we give to this family love? It’s surely different from the “butterflies” kind of love, isn’t it?

Love of Friends, deep, soul-to-soul relationships we have with those we played with as children or met in school or in the workplace or over the garden fence. Friendships that often last for years, and even when we don’t see each other for a period of time, when we do, it’s as if we were just together the day before. We are blessed with these relationships, and we want the best for these friends, and they may even become like “family” to us, especially if we don’t have biological family nearby, and they deserve to be nurtured and given a name of their own. What would you call them?

Love of Others/Humanity. This is the Greek agápe kind of love, selfless, empathic love for humanity, God’s kind of love for strangers or the less fortunate which is the foundation of great societies and communities. This is the kind of love we see in our churches (although we experience other kinds of love there, too). The Latin word for this love is caritas, which is where our word “charity” comes from. We see this kind of love in Jesus’ asking us to care for “the least of these,” those who are hungry and thirsty, naked and in prison, in Matthew’s gospel, Chapter 25. Another word for this kind of love is justice as described by Dr. Cornell West and engraved on MLK’s memorial in Washington, D.C.: “Justice is what love looks like in public.” When we give to the One Great Hour of Sharing this Lent, we are living out this kind of love.

Love of Nature. Most people would not think to put nature on their list of “loves,” but these days with vanishing open spaces and global warming threatening the world as we know it, I have it on mine. Also, the United Church of Christ in its Three Great Loves Initiative – Neighbor, Children, Creation – includes it, so I think it deserves a love word of its own. What would it be? So many of us love the out-of-doors — the hoot owl in the evening when we walk the dog under the brilliant stars, the moon on the snow, the flash of cardinals in the lilac bush, the first plants pushing their way up through cold soil in the spring. Would we simply call this love “creation” or something else?

Love of Creatures. We love our pets and grieve when they die. They enrich our lives and bring us enormous comfort and entertainment. So many dogs and cats were adopted during the pandemic – just to have something to talk to and cuddle – that it’s hard to find a pet now. And who hasn’t laughed at the baby goats hopping over each other, or the sloths hanging upside down from the branch, or the baby hippo falling over his ball. And how we admire the strength and intelligence of the elephant and the mothering skills of the octopus. Poet Mary Oliver had a life-long connection to living creatures, and when I met her a few years ago, I told her I often used her poetry in my ministry. “You must also take them outside,” she said. Here is her poem about a spiritual connection to a doe in Five A.M. in the Pine Woods:

I’d seen#57 deer
their hoofprints in the deep
needles and knew
they ended the long night

under the pines, walking
like two mute
and beautiful women toward
the deeper woods, so I

got up in the dark and
went there. They came
slowly down the hill
and looked at me sitting under
the blue trees, shyly
they stepped
closer and stared
from under their thick lashes and even
nibbled some damp
tassels of weeds. This
is not a poem about a dream,
though it could be.

This is a poem about the world
that is ours, or could be.
Finally
one of them—I swear it!—

would have come to my arms.
But the other
stamped sharp hoof in the
pine needles like

the tap of sanity,
and they went off together through
the trees. When I woke
I was alone,

I was thinking:
so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.

Self-love is a life-long journey, a process of growing into the persons we are meant to be. Everyone suffers, everyone struggles, some of us more than others. But it’s important to recognize that we are worthy, that we are loveable and capable, that we deserve love. Loving ourselves in healthy ways frees us and enables us to love others in healthy ways. In fact, the extent to which we are able to love and accept ourselves is the extent to which we are able to love and accept others – just as we can’t forgive others if we can’t forgive ourselves. Jesus knew this when he taught his disciples to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” When Jesus says we are “to love our neighbors as we love ourselves,”
he is talking about holding in equal regard, that each of us matters. And further, we can’t love God, unless we love what God loves. And that’s everyone. But how do we learn how to love ourselves? From those around us who hold us in esteem, surely. But also by discovering what we love to do.

Loving through our Gifts. One of the ways we love ourselves is though discovering and exercising our gifts. We are taught that we are made in the image of God, but that doesn’t mean that we look like God, although there are those who think that God looks like us. But I’ve sat with Biblical scholars who look at the Hebrew words, and who tell me that we are like God because we are creators like God. And I wonder if that is God who is creating in us and through us. Your gift might be music or painting or cooking or sewing or gardening or raising children. It could be balancing a budget or teaching or listening or writing or photography or music – the way you are creative in this world, the way you are in the image of God. Loving ourselves does not mean that we are perfect. Mary Oliver says it better than I in her poem, Wild Geese: “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the wild animals of your body love what it loves….”

How Do I Love Thee?
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height                        #56 Meditation
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

What Is the Story of Valentine’s Day?

There are many stories about the origin of Valentine’s Day, and, in fact there may have been more than one man that the day speaks of. History suggests there were at least a dozen St. Valentines between the third and eighth centuries. One is that Valentine was a Christian priest who fell in love with the jailor’s daughter while he was in prison and sent her a letter, signing it, “From your Valentine.” Another is that he was a Christian bishop who married couples when the Roman Emperor Claudius made it illegal for a soldier to marry because married men didn’t make good soldiers. However, St. Valentine continued to secretly wed couples and aided Christians being persecuted by Claudius. When Claudius found out, he had Valentine dragged off to prison, where he restored the jailor’s blind daughter to sight. He was beheaded on February 14 in AD 269.
There also may be a connection with the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia which was celebrated February 15 to mark the coming of Spring. In any case, Pope Gelasius I established the Feast of St. Valentine in 496 in honor of this Christian martyr. We know it as St. Valentine’s Day, the patron saint of lovers (and, by the way, of epileptics and beekeepers).

What If the Mightiest Word Is Love?
By Elizabeth Alexander

….What if the mightiest word is love?                                #56 Love One Another
Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.
In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the sixth Sunday after Epiphany and the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday, we will read the story of Jesus’ healing the leper in Mark 1:40-45; Reverend Betsy’s reflection is “Creating Compassionate Community.” Evelyn Mann will play her special version of “Amazing Grace,” and Charlie has learned a new song (for him), “From a Distance.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship                                                                                                                                        Worship at Rice City will be live, in person (with precautions) this Sunday, February 14, at 9:00 a.m. as well as online on the MVLP Facebook page Sunday morning and throughout the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. As appropriate, we also reflect on questions for the season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers                                                                                                                                       When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…                            #55 candle in hands

 For Rocky Riccio, now home recovering from COVID-19, and
also for Brenda, who has COVID without symptoms and needs
prayers as she waits and worries!

 For Tina Dexter who fell and broke her leg and is having surgery on Tuesday.

 For Earl Mann who has two broken discs in his back and is awaiting a procedure to give him some relief from the pain. He sees the orthopedic surgeon on February 23.

 For Rose Desilus who is having tests and probable gall bladder surgery.

 Phyllis Dexter’s family and all of those who loved her.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, who is dealing with chronic conditions.

 For Geraldine, home but still healing from surgery.

 For Joan as she prepares for treatment following surgery, and Joan and John’s grandson, Christopher, and for their friends, Jane and Ed, all of whom are having health issues and in need of strength and courage.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann’s new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He has had a couple of rough weeks with a lung collapsing twice, but now has gained enough to require the next size blood pressure cuff. His dad took a picture with his wedding band around Wyatt’s hand so the family could see how small he is. Each day brings more hope.

 For Beverly’s elderly Aunt Helen, now in the nursing home but sharing a room with an old friend – good for both of them.

 Betsy and Kim’s friend, Irene Musa, whose daughter Janet died two weeks ago after a long struggle with cancer and who leaves behind three children. She will be buried in South Africa. (Irene went with us on Phyllis’ last PA bus trip.)

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and now back in her apartment.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who was able to enjoy eating and swallowing over the holidays and is now awaiting a break in the pandemic so he can be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, who is back in the hospital in Boston.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he might accept the help that is available to him.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For Carol and Neil Swanson who give thanks for God’s bringing their daughter’s family through COVID and for prayers for her brother Frank in his personal struggles.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19, including Jim Tynan’s sister Eleanor in Oklahoma, and for all those grieving the death of loved ones.

 For our teachers and medical workers and first responders that they may have the physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to continue their great work through this pandemic!

 For our beloved country in this still contentious time.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study                                                                                                        Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are reading Ecclesiastes and reflecting on other Wisdom texts. To receive the Zoom link, contact Betsy.

One Great Hour of Sharing: Let Love Flow                                                      # 56 One Great Hour of Sharing The theme for this year’s One Great Hour of Sharing is “Let Love
Flow,” when our gifts join with other churches and denominations
to assist when disasters strike across the world. In the voice of
Isaiah (49:10, MSG): “Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the
sun, shelter from the wind. For the Compassionate One guides
them, takes them to the best springs.” Because water, after all, is
life. Watch for more information about this offering during Lent.

Unsent Letter to God
By Kim M. Baker                                                                                                                                          1.
I cannot love everyone.
I cannot let the tsunami of each grief tidal
my tenuous time in what you call paradise.
Christ! There are rivers of blood.
Did you really mean to create aneurysms
and cancer and the useless premise
that you don’t give me more than I can handle?

2.
I cannot love everything.
I see one whale and I weep.
What if I saw thirty whales
breaching and laughing and slurping sea creatures?
The lost part of me might burst to the surface of my anchor
in wails of laughter and unmoor me.

3.
I love everyone and everything.
But I am mostly water.
Where will I store their trust, guard their memories
without drowning them in my doubt?

4.
Did you plan my heart to be a million-piece puzzle,
with always one jagged edge unflush?

5.
I fell in love, again, today.
With a woman and a leaf and the word serendipity.
They swam my ocean, buoyant and free.
They colored in the outline of me. Like shooting stars,
they danced outside my lines until I might erupt.

6.
I cannot love everyone and everything,
enough.

©. Kim M. Baker

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Robin Petrarca (105 Hopkins Hollow Road, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

One final thought about Love:

#56 Be a Blessing

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #55
February 5, 2021

This is the fifty-fifth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!


The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

What Is Groundhog Day?#55 Ground Hog Day

Groundhog Day is derived from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on February 2nd and sees its shadow, because it’s a clear, sunny day, it will retreat into its den, and winter will persist for six more weeks; but if it does not see its shadow, because it is cloudy or rainy, spring will arrive early. It’s a
popular tradition in both the United States and Canada, and
I’ll bet you heard all about it on the news on Tuesday.

Why on February 2nd? This date has long been celebrated in different times and cultures. Ancient Pagans celebrated the holiday on February 2nd, as a way to mark the midpoint between the solstice and the equinox, which was considered the real beginning of spring. It also has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal—the hedgehog—as a means of predicting weather.

And this year? A group of men in top hats in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, put a groundhog on a log and waited for it to notice – or not notice – its own shadow. And, yes, even though it was snowy, I hear that he did see his shadow! Which is good news for us as you will see when you read Sonja’s piece on “The Wonders of Winter,” below.

Six more weeks of Winter Wonderland!

Pastor Bob Reflects

I write this on February 2nd, right before sunrise, waiting for Punxsutawney Phil to come out of his hole. While I don’t give a lot of credence to a skittish rodent predicting our weather, I do think that Phil can teach us a lesson about fear.

When we let our fear and phobias control our life, we are destined for more darkness and struggle. When we look to God to brighten our lives, even if there are shadows, we can walk in the Light of God on the paths God wants us to find. So, even if there are things in your life that scare or worry you, put your trust in God’s love and care for you, and take things one step at a time.

The Wonders of Winter                                                                                                    #55 Winter SceneContributed by Sonja Murray

Although, as I age, I could grumble about the cold weather, slippery conditions, snow needing to be plowed and shoveled, the necessity of layer upon layer to stay warm, etc., winter also has its own advantages and beauty. Moving out of New England is out of the question for the advantages of the four seasons far outweigh the disadvantages.

Think about it! The cold, crisp nights (virtually no water vapor in the air to obscure vision) allow us to view the large, spectacular full moon, including the revelation of the darker areas which led to the description, “Man in the Moon.” Also, if you can escape to a really DARK area with no interfering artificial light (and no moon) observe the stars and the Milky Way. There are literally thousands of visible stars, if not millions, and the constellations can be found easily, if you have a good reference guide. Think of the shepherds!

Also, what is more striking than a view with new fallen snow? I, personally, love seeing the frost crystals coating the trees as the sun rises, if the overnight conditions have been just right. Every twig and branch sparkles. Spectacular!

What about the animals? Many of us feed the birds during the winter and attract a wide diversity of species. We love the spectacular red male cardinals (the females are more subdued) and the variety of woodpeckers at the suet block. But, upon closer inspection, there are finches, juncos, titmice, chickadees, blue jays, sparrows (a variety) and even an occasional wren.

Then there are the larger animals. At night the car’s headlights reveal the deer and one can sometimes hear the yipping of a pack of coyotes. In that we live near ponds and a river we’ve enjoyed watching a beaver working near the edge of one pond. Also, there is a pair of river otters who pass through occasionally, as we are apparently on their circuit. It’s tough without snow to spot a mink, though one was sighted at the edge of the pond last week. The once-in-a-lifetime sighting for me was an ermine in the middle of Plainfield Pike near Sisson Road. An ermine is a short- tail weasel, totally white in winter with a black-tipped tail and brown with a white underbelly in summer. These are all animals who are active during the winter and not easily spotted during warmer weather.

#55 SledingSo, as we wish winter away and long for the warmer, longer days of summer, let us be mindful of the beauty and attributes of winter. Let us remember to enjoy those
magnificent sunsets, celebrate the snow for youngsters to use in building their snowmen and be grateful for the crackling fire and hot chocolate to be shared with family.                                                                                                                                                                    Truly, winter showers us with its own seasonal blessings.

Finding Strength in Nature
Rachel Carson, 1907 – 1964

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

A Mystic Speaks Across the Centuries                                                 #55 Mystic                                         Hildegard of Bingen, 1098 – 1179

Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of Earth’s greenings.
Now, think. All nature is at the disposal of humankind.
We are to work with it. For without it we cannot survive.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, we will read the story of Jesus’ raising Simon’s mother-in-law in Mark 1:29-39; Reverend Betsy’s reflection is “Healing Touch.” This is also a Communion Sunday, so remember to bring a bit of bread or cracker and something in a cup to the service for our celebration. Evelyn Mann will play a lovely Chopin piece, and Charlie has chosen some beloved tunes to open and close the service. Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship                                                                                                                    Pastor Bob thanks you all for your thoughts and prayers. He has received his second negative test for COVID-19 and is finishing his quarantine. He’s healthy and clear, so there will be in-person, in church worship on Sunday morning February 7 at 9:00 a.m.

Worship at Rice City will be live, in person (with precautions) this Sunday, February 7, as well as online on the MVLP Facebook page, at 9:00 a.m. and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. As appropriate, we also reflect on questions for the season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures,
but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…#55 candle in hands

 For Rocky Riccio, in the field hospital with COVID-19, short of breath, coughing, and in pain. They will keep him there where his condition can be monitored. Prayers for Brenda, too, who also has COVID, but has no symptoms, yet she needs prayers as she waits and worries!

 For Earl Mann who has two broken discs in his back and is awaiting a procedure to give him some relief from the pain. He sees the orthopedic surgeon on February 23.

 Phyllis Dexter’s family and all of those who loved her.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, who is dealing with chronic conditions, but she had a successful visit with a specialist this week.

 For Geraldine, home but still healing from surgery.

 For Joan following her surgery as she prepares for next steps, and her grandson, Christopher, and for Joan’s friends, Jane and Ed, both of whom are having health issues and in need of strength and courage….

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann’s new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He has had a couple of rough weeks with a lung collapsing twice, but now has gained enough to require the next size blood pressure cuff. His dad took a picture with his wedding band around Wyatt’s hand so the family could see how small he is. Each day brings more hope.

 For Beverly’s elderly Aunt Helen, after another fall and infection putting her back in the nursing home. It seems she will need to stay there and not go back to her apartment.

 Betsy and Kim’s friend, Irene Musa, whose daughter Janet died on Monday morning after a long struggle with cancer and who leaves behind three children. She will be buried in South Africa. (Irene went with us on Phyllis’ last PA bus trip.)

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and now back in her apartment.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who was able to enjoy eating and swallowing over the holidays and is now awaiting a break in the pandemic so he can be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, who is back in the hospital in Boston.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he might accept the help that is available to him.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For Carol and Neil Swanson who give thanks for God’s bringing their daughter’s family through COVID and for prayers for her brother Frank in his personal struggles.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19, including Jim Tynan’s sister Eleanor in Oklahoma, and for all those grieving the death of loved ones.

 For our teachers and medical workers and first responders that they may have the physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to continue their great work through this pandemic!

 For our beloved country in this still contentious time.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study#55 Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings
at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are reading Ecclesiastes
and reflecting on other Wisdom texts. To receive the Zoom link, contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

One Stone at a Time
The predominant note of any journey must be found
in the quiet unfolding of our own time on Earth.
–Mary Rueffle

In his “Devotion to Writing” newsletter, Justen Ahren encourages writers with these words: “I don’t know about you, but now that we’ve reached Groundhogs Day or Candlemas, as the ancients called it, and are halfway to Equinox, the balancing of light and dark, I can feel the energy growing. Sap is beginning to run in the limbs and trunks; bulbs are beginning to think upwards toward the sun;
and vibrating with their dreams, earthworms are turning, in
the warm oven of the Earth, the yeast of this year. The energy
is ascendent. I’m reminded that this energy flows in us as
well. The energy of creation is always available to us because
it is us.

“But occasionally creativity, writing is stifled, blocked. We#55
forget expression is a necessary part of who we are and
what we need to live. This deep self-making is the predominant
note. Are we conscious of this? Or have we forgotten to exercise, to practice?

“It’s hard to smash the ice that forms in our dormancy. But oh! How wonderful it is to feel the words, stories, images awaken when we begin.” And then he tells this story:

“My Grandmother wrote out a to-do list every night before she went to bed. For about three years, the first thing on her list was, bring up a stone.

“Each morning, at the age of 81, a quiet unfolding: she took the Radio Flyer wagon and hoe out from the basement to the pile of large, flat stones at the bottom of the hill by the pond. Tipping the wagon on its side, she’d wrangle a stone into it with the hoe, right the wagon, and tow the load uphill to the garden in front of the house. Here, she’d coax the stone onto the wall. One stone higher. One stone longer. Over three years, she built a wall one hundred feet long to hold the hillside of flowers.”

The days crawl slowly through winter, but let’s not miss them! Poet Joseph Stround once asked, “What is the cost of writing? Answer, “It will cost you your life, not a life lost, but one gained.” But perhaps you’re not a writer but a knitter, or a baker, or a keeper of the books for your church, or a splitter of
firewood, or a gardener starting your seeds on a sunny
window ledge. And you work at it every day, as if
bringing up one stone at a time.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Robin Petrarca (105 Hopkins Hollow Road, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

#55 Final Picture

********************************************************************************

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #54
January 29, 2021

This is the fifty-fourth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!


The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

#54 heartIN MEMORIUM
Phyllis Greenwood Dexter
July 28, 1938 – January 24, 2021

 

Reverend Betsy

Phyllis told me often how much she loved receiving “Gather ‘Round” every
week, so I thought what better way to remember her than to include some of
your memories here. I knew her best from working with her at the suppers,
taking tickets and delivering meals to shut-ins. Kim and I also remember her
kindness in helping us to bring a guest, Irene Musa from Zimbabwe, on her
last bus trip to Pennsylvania. She really was a part of all three of our churches.
And so, I dedicate this issue to Phyllis, for in the words of the 12th century
Spanish poet, Yehuda Halevi, “’tis a fearful thing to love what death can take.”

Susan Oldroyd

Just a cute story to show how important her church was to her. When I was
home last week, Patty and I went to straighten up her apartment and freshen
it up a little. Lying on her table was an old Moosup Valley Order of Worship
Bulletin celebrating 125 years. The cover of the bulletin was a drawing mom
had made of Moosup Valley church. So it definitely had some importance to her because there it was, lying on the table when it could have been easily discarded many years ago.

Linda Niles (Foster Dispatcher)
We will miss Phyllis Dexter’s phone calls just to check in and chat, and chatting at the Rice City Church events. She always made sure I had a meal if I was working at the police station. Our hearts go out to her family. She was loved by so many.

Sonja Murray

The square dances at Moosup Valley Grange were the weekly Saturday night event that drew people to “The Valley.” Phyllis started going to the dances about 65 years ago, and that’s where she met Henry Dexter, her husband, and many of us who live here. Henry’s family lived in the house at the corner of Moosup Valley Road and Johnson Road where Phyllis has lived for many years. Before she married Henry, Phyllis lived on Knight Hill Road in Clayville with her family, and after they were married, Phyllis and Henry lived at the other end of Moosup Valley Road, close to Plainfield Pike. They raised three children there: Susan, Henry William (known to us as Bill), and Patricia. Phyllis has been an active, contributing member of our community for many, many years.

Ellen Kennedy Wilkinson

I have thought a lot about Phyllis, mostly early memories. The first memory from about the age of ten was when she and Henry were married. What a happy time for them and the excitement in the Valley over a wedding. They were a good looking couple. There are other memories that took place over the years, but the first I thought was the best.

Beverly Griffiths

I babysat Phyllis’ three children when I was a teenager. She also became my Matron of Honor on March 28, 1970, at Rice City Church. Patty was my flower girl.

Pat Safstrom

As I think of Phyllis, the first thing that comes to mind are Rice City suppers, and then I think of the great trips she organized to “Sight and Sound Theater” in Pennsylvania. She put together the best trips! Phyllis had been my neighbor since 1978 when I moved to Moosup Valley Road from Kennedy Road. But it was when the churches of the Mount Vernon Larger Parish began working together, that I really began to know her well. She was smart, organized and loved to have a good time. I will miss her very much, especially when and if we ever get back to a normal church life as we all once knew. I think of a necklace that Barbara Cederfield gave me when a dear friend died – a dragonfly in glass surrounded with these words: My mind still talks to you; my heart still looks for you; but my soul knows you are at peace.

Rose Desilus

Meeting Phyllis Dexter at Rice City Church over 20 years ago is one day I will never forget. Being new in a church is not fun and having church members welcomed us and treating us like friends makes me comfortable to return another day. She was very kind, informative and wanted me to join everything. She was very friendly and took my sons to the parish house and showed them where everything was. A couple of the ladies at the church made me feel like I belonged there. The year before she got sick she asked me to join the ladies aide with her. Every year she’d invite me to the ladies aide dinner. The best thing was when she met my better half. She loved Herold she would always asked for him. We would joke about that. God knew she suffered enough and welcomed her home with open arms. She will surely be missed.

Michelle DiBiasio

I tried to write a contribution about my friend Phyllis. The words would not come. I prayed and kept trying but the words would not come to my head. My heart is heavy with sadness and disappointment. We were looking forward to spending time together having coffee and watching Hallmark movies. I will miss her. I loved her very much. She was special to me. I am grieving.

Geraldine DeNuccio

When I think of Phyllis, I have flashbacks of my early years when I joined the Rice City Ladies Aide. I was the newbie to Rice City, and Phyllis was the central force of the Ladies group. I personally found Phyllis to be somewhat “crabby, cantankerous and at times downright cross.” For these reasons, I often avoided questioning her ideas and even avoided any conversation with her. “Leave well enough alone,” was my motto.

As the years progressed, I started to see a different side of Phyllis. A woman dedicated to her Church, Community and Family. She worked tirelessly to organize the Church suppers, ordering food, making potato salad, stuffing, pies, shopping for extra items and whatever else was needed for the supper to be a success! Phyllis also took all the supper reservations and sat at the door greeting the guests with good natured humor and a gentle nature. Time marched on: I began to view her in a different light. I now think of Phyllis using the metaphor of a “Prickly Pear” – tough & thorny on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside!”

As I witnessed the softer side of Phyllis, I began to appreciate her as the central force of the Ladies Aide at Rice City, and I also valued her organization/leadership in spearheading the Annual Music Night event at Rice City. My husband, Jerry, played at the music night, and it seemed that Jerry got along very well with Phyllis – in fact, they often would chat and throw good natured barbs at each other while working in the kitchen at Rice City.

The last time I spent with Phyllis was in June 2020 at her home when I delivered her flowers and cards from Rice City. She was gracious, engaging, in good humor and wanted to show me her little three-legged dog who was aging along with Phyllis, but getting by. We had a good conversation and spoke of hope for a brighter future in our personal lives and the church life at Rice City! I truly will miss Phyllis and her “prickly” nature; she is a child of God and I know she is in good hands now.
I hope to work with my husband Jerry to keep her legacy of the fundraiser Music Night at Rice City alive as a tribute to the fine work of our friend and servant Phyllis Dexter.
With deep respect and love….

Laurie Murphy

I remember Phyllis at many Foster events throughout the years. She was always friendly and talkative and always asked how we were doing. She seemed genuinely interested in others and not just asking as a means of chitchatting. My family and I remember her fondly as our neighbor and as a friend. My heart goes out to her family at this difficult time. Phyllis will be missed!

Carol Allen

She was always instrumental with organizing Music Night at Rice City. Phyllis asked me years ago (because of my dance training) if I would do a dance with her granddaughter. She was a shy child and wasn’t sure if she wanted to try out dance classes with her peers. We did a performance together and after that experience she wanted to take some dance classes and felt confident doing so. Phyllis was so appreciative of me taking to time to work with her, which of course I enjoyed every minute of it. Her granddaughter danced with me several times over the years as she grew up, and it always brought such joy to Phyllis. I always enjoyed talking to her during Coffee Hour after church as well. Phyllis was so involved and dedicated to Rice City. She will be so missed!

Tracey Griffing

On Sundays, Karen and I would come into Rice City Church, and Phyllis would greet us with a smile and say, “It’s good to see you.” It kind of scared me a little when we first went there, since I could tell she was a quiet pillar and involved in all that went on. I thought of her as a reserved, good hearted church lady, reminding me of my grandmother who had some of the same traits as Phyllis. Quiet, ever thinking, waiting, until she had something to say. She was a wealth of knowledge of the workings of Rice City. I remember Phyllis keeping track of things for the suppers and so happy to be serving a meal to the community. Organizing the food, the reservations, greeting everyone and taking tickets at the door. Friday night before a supper we would be in the kitchen chatting it up while prepping the food. Phyllis was the potato salad guru. I would be washing and cooking potatoes for her to make her well known potato salad. I also have fond memories of music night. Phyllis would be lining up the local musicians, setting the schedule and welcoming the crowd, putting in the books another successful music night. Phyllis was always nice to me and made me feel a part of things. Thank you, Phyllis, I will miss you.

Evelyn Kittredge
I am so sorry to learn of Phyllis’s passing. I enjoyed working with her at the suppers, and I will think of her when I look at the lighthouse collection she gave me.

Barbara Cederfield                                                                                                                             I met Phyllis through the suppers at Rice City and appreciated how organized and dedicated she was and how much work she did. I always liked her.

Shirley Livingston                                                                                                                              I first met Phyllis at the Coventry Senior Center. Then I got to see her at the Rice City Church suppers. When I married Bill, I would see Phyllis at the Mount Vernon get togethers. I enjoyed visiting with Phyllis at these social gatherings. She was always kind to me and others. I miss her already.

Pastor Bob                                                                                                                                             It’s strange for a pastor to say, but I used to like it when Phyllis didn’t make it to church on Sunday morning, because it meant that I needed to stop by her house and drop off the morning offering. She would always invite me in, and we’d sit at the table and talk. Phyllis would talk about her family, telling me the things that she was proud of and the things she was worried about. Then she would ask about people in the church. Then we would talk about the next supper or bazaar or music night that needed to be planned. Then she would talk about her home and being in Moosup Valley for more than 60 years! She loved the Valley, her family, her God and her church, and the friends she made along the way.

To Leave an additional memory for Phyllis’ family on the Gorton-Menard Funeral Home in Coventry, go to https://www.gortonmenardfuneralhome.com/obituary/Phyllis-Dexter.
____________________________________________________________________

Let Grief Come
by Kim Baker
With gratitude to Jane Kenyon

Let the dark of winter afternoon
exhale from organ and pews, wrap family
in sadness as visitors thin.

Let fog envelope the window
as the widow clears her chair of the cat
and his hat. Let grief come.

Let dust settle on the table, maple
and coffee stained. Let spiders spin
and mice nibble at crumbs.

Let the owl wail in the tree.
Let rain pick at the pane. Let the house
sigh inside. Let grief come.

To one cup in the sink, to the sweater empty
in the dresser, to tears tearing cheeks,
let grief come to wash you clean.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. There is no way but
through, so let grief come.

© 2019
Published in MassPoetry’s The Hard Work of Hope and Anthologized in LOON MAGIC and Other Night Sounds (Outrider Press, Inc., October 2019).


Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the fourth Sunday after Epiphany, we will read the story of Jesus’ interaction with the “unclean spirit” in Mark 1:21-28. The title of Reverend Betsy’s reflection is “The Contest.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship
Because of Pastor Bob’s exposure to COVID-19 in his visit to Phyllis at the hospital, he is under quarantine, so church on Sunday, January 31, will be virtual only. THERE WILL BE NO IN PERSON AND IN BUILDING WORSHIP ON JANUARY 31 AT RICE CITY, just live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, at 9:00 a.m. and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning. Quarantine for Pastor Bob will be 14 days with a test on day 5 and a test on day 10.

Mount Vernon Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. As appropriate, we also reflect on questions for the season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers#53 Candle

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and
compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people
desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth
and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real
care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the
simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 Phyllis Dexter’s family and all of those who loved her.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, preparing for testing out of state.

 For Geraldine, home and recovering from surgery, that she may heal quickly and well.

 For Joan following her surgery as she prepares for next steps. And for Joan and John’s grandson, Christopher, and for Joan’s friend, Jane… both of whom having difficult time and in need of strength and courage….

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann and her family as her new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He has quite a fight ahead and lots of unknowns. We’re waiting to see how he progresses; each day brings more hope.

 For Beverly’s elderly Aunt Helen, after another fall and infection putting her back in the nursing home. It seems she will need to stay there and not go back to her apartment.

 Betsy and Kim’s friend, Irene Musa, who is in Zimbabwe, Africa, where she is helping her daughter Janet, a mother of three, who is dying of Stage 4 Breast Cancer. (Irene went with us on Phyllis’ last PA bus trip.)

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and now back in her apartment.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who was able to enjoy eating and swallowing over the holidays and is now awaiting a break in the pandemic so he can be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, who is scheduled for surgery this week.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he might accept the help that is available to him.
 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For Carol and Neil Swanson who give thanks for God’s bringing their daughter’s family through COVID and for prayers for her brother Frank in his personal struggles.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19, including Jim Tynan’s sister Eleanor in Oklahoma, and for all those grieving the death of loved ones.

 For our teachers and medical workers and first responders that they may have the physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to continue their great work through this pandemic!

 For our beloved country in this still contentious time.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m.#54 Bible Study
by Zoom. Right now we are reading Ecclesiastes and reflecting on
other Wisdom texts. To receive the Zoom link, contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Jesus Loves Me

This was forwarded by Carl Safstrom.

A church in Atlanta was honoring one of its senior pastors who had been retired many years. He was 92 at that time, and I wondered why the church even bothered to ask the old gentleman to preach at that age. After a warm welcome, introduction of this speaker, and as the applause quieted down, he rose from his high back chair and walked slowly, with great effort and a sliding gait to the podium. Without a note or written paper of any kind he placed both hands on the pulpit to steady himself and then quietly and slowly he began to speak….

“When I was asked to come here today and talk to you, your pastor asked me to tell you what was the greatest lesson ever learned in my 50-odd years of preaching. I thought about it for a few days and boiled it down to just one thing that made the most difference in my life and sustained me through all my trials. The one thing that I could always rely on when tears and heartbreak and pain and fear and sorrow paralyzed me…

The only thing that would comfort was this verse….

Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
We are weak but He is strong…..
Yes, Jesus loves me….
The Bible tells me so.

The old pastor stated, “I always noticed that it was the adults who chose the children’s hymn ‘Jesus Loves Me’ (for the children of course) during a hymn sing, and it was the adults who sang the loudest because I could see they knew it the best.”

“Here for you now is a Senior version of Jesus Loves Me”:
Jesus loves me, this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow
Though my sight is growing dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.

Though my steps are oh, so slow,
With my hand in His I’ll go
On through life, let come what may,
He’ll be there to lead the way.
Chorus

When the nights are dark and long,
In my heart He puts a song..
Telling me in words so clear,
“Have no fear, for I am near.”
Chorus

When my work on earth is done,
And life’s victories have been won.
He will take me home above,
Then I’ll understand His love.
Chorus

I love Jesus, does He know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say,
That I love Him every day.
Chorus

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Phyllis

O God, our strength and our redeemer, giver of life and conqueror of death, we praise you with humble hearts. With faith in your great mercy and wisdom, we entrust our beloved Phyllis to your eternal care. We praise you for your steadfast love for her all the days of her earthy life. We thank you for all that she was to those who loved her. And we thank you that for Phyllis all sickness and sorrow are ended, and death itself is past and that she has entered the home where all your people gather in peace. Keep us all in communion with your faithful people in every time and place, that at last, when our time passes into your time and your eternal love comes home to us, we may rejoice together in the heavenly family where Jesus Christ reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Robin Petrarca (105 Hopkins Hollow Road, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

#54 Dragonfly

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #53
January 22, 2021

This is the fifty-third issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!


The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Political Harmony: A Community Orchestra
as Metaphor and Model for the Polity                              #53 Orchestra

In this week’s online issue of Plough Weekly,
Asher Gelzer-Govatos likens politics to a community
orchestra. He writes, in part,

In Virginia Euwer Wolff’s1991 young adult novel
The Mozart Season, protagonist Allegra Shapiro, a
talented pre-teen violinist, prepares for a contest where
she will perform Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto in competition with other Oregonian youth violinists. When one of her competitors sustains an injury, Allegra’s teacher asks her to substitute during a performance of the concerto with a community orchestra in rural Oregon, as a sort of dry run for the competition. Prepping her for the experience of playing with a community orchestra – one made up of amateur, volunteer musicians – Allegra’s teacher gives her this advice: “All these people are genuine amateurs. They play because of that thing inside them, that impulse telling them to. . . . They’re very humble, usually. They don’t have to be told they’re not perfect; they know it all too well. . . . The sounds aren’t ever perfect. But the spirit is often quite wonderful…..”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about community orchestras, spurred less by a pandemic-fed desire to hear live music than by a compulsion to mull over our current political climate. Being not a political scientist but a literary critic by trade, I think less in policy proposal, more in metaphor, and it strikes me more and more that the metaphors we use when thinking about politics could stand to be rethought. What if, instead of thinking of politics as a battleground, as a wrestling match, as a contest for power, we thought in more peaceable, cooperative terms: politics as a community orchestra, a collection of amateurs, humble but driven by an inner impulse to come together for a common purpose?

For the body politic to think like an orchestra requires each “section” to think not only of its own needs, but of how it contributes to the overall timbre of society. To think like a community orchestra, though, involves going a step beyond this. The musicians and conductor of a professional orchestra … hold together not merely through a love of music, but through the ties of vocation: they must perform or risk being replaced. They are also, to a degree, interchangeable – the only aspect of their lives that matters on stage is their ability to hit the notes. In a community orchestra, crowded with amateurs, no one has to be there, so the group depends for its cohesion on willing cooperation; in the end, the orchestra reflects the peculiar local character of the community it represents.
…….

Despite – or perhaps because – of the chaotic nature of community orchestra organizing, it offers hope for our political moment. We are not strangers to faction and rivalry, to disagreements that seem in the moment insurmountable. Whether you view our current divisions as some new rent in our national fabric, or merely the clarification of longer-steeping rifts, we find ourselves in a time of very vocal division. What community orchestras speak to is the ability to move beyond strong divisions, however haltingly, in pursuit of a unifying (and, yes, transcendent) shared good.

The Hill We Climb
The Inaugural Poem by Amanda Gorman, January 20, 2021

When day comes we ask ourselves,                                                                              #53 The hill we climb
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promised glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Reverend Betsy Reflects on Social Media

How do we know what to believe in America these days? What stories are true and what stories are false, fabricated to accomplish a goal – like an insurrection? It’s difficult to know what to trust these days with the speed with which information flies around the internet, and then is forwarded to others with the click of a mouse.

Fake news is not a new problem – it’s as old as humanity itself. Look at the Bible’s account of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 and see how the snake manipulates Eve through a series of misleading and half-true statements to eat the forbidden fruit, then makes Adam do the same by offering him the choice through a trusted source. Sound like our news feeds? “There is nothing new under the sun” says the Teacher in Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

The Episcopal Church’s website (http://episcopalchurch.org/posts/ogr/misinformation-disinformation-fake-news-why-do-we-care) suggests that we consult the nonprofit “First Draft News” to understand what information manipulation looks like today – disinformation, misinformation, malinformation. According to First Draft, it can’t be described as ‘news’. It’s good old-fashioned rumors, it’s memes, it’s manipulated videos and hyper-targeted ‘dark ads’ and old photos re-shared as new. How do we tell the difference between legitimate news based on verifiable facts and news that presents an alternate reality, news based on wishful thinking, someone’s agenda? How do we know what to hang our hats on? And how do we separate normal bias from intentional deception? Those classic “W” questions serve us well here. Who, What, When, Where, and Why? And we might throw in the question today: Who paid for it? Who benefits?

At Bible Study, we use these questions, too. We have learned to approach a text with a “hermeneutic of suspicion,” a look at underlying, sometimes disguised meanings in a passage, something I was taught to do in Divinity School. For example, who wrote this and when? For whom was it written and why? Consider the “back story,” what was really going on at that time? Look at the gospels and how they all tell a slightly different version of the story of Jesus because they are writing for different audiences in different settings and for different purposes. This is all normal bias.

So how do we know what to believe and what is meant to lead us astray? In addition to our five Ws, the Episcopal website suggests three steps: 1. Ask where it’s from. Look for the source. Who wrote it and why? 2. What’s missing? Do the headline and content agree? Are other news sources talking about it? That’s why we would do well to read and watch more than one news source; then, when we have a variety of perspectives, we can decide for ourselves. 3. How does it make you feel? If a story sparks an intense emotion in you – fear, anger, vindication – be watchful. That’s a common tactic by someone trying to manipulate you.

The Episcopal website urges their readers to be responsible when it comes to spreading information: “Let us therefore examine our own conduct to limit the spread of deceitful information and call upon our leaders to work towards the same.” And many educators are now requiring “news literacy” as a core competency, the ability to analyze a news story and spot those that are meant to mislead the public in order to earn a degree. You and I can do our part as Christians who are not called to a life of half-truths and deception, but called to follow a God who is ‘the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). But since the internet makes it easy for deceitful content to spread more rapidly and disguise itself more effectively, we need to be vigilant.

But don’t take my word for it. What do you think?

Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the third Sunday after Epiphany, we will read the story of Jesus’ calling his first disciples from Mark 1:14-20, and Reverend Betsy’s reflection will be “Follow Me.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship
Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. As appropriate, we are also reflect on questions for the season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical
relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a                            #53 Candle
constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we
fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection.
Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of
treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin
with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love.
– The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 Phyllis who is still at Kent Hospital, but she is being moved out of the COVID unit onto a regular floor. Sue says, “It looks like she is going to be one of the fortunate ones. We are truly blessed.”

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, whose health is already compromised, now home and recovering from COVID.

 For Geraldine, home and recovering from surgery, that she may heal quickly and well.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann and her family as her new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He has quite a fight ahead and lots of unknowns. We’re waiting to see how he progresses; each day brings more hope.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Beverly’s elderly Aunt Helen, after another fall and infection putting her back in the nursing home. It seems she will need to stay there and not go back to her apartment.

 Betsy and Kim’s friend, Irene Musa, who is in Zimbabwe, Africa, where she is helping her daughter Janet, a mother of three, who is dying of Stage 4 Breast Cancer. (Irene went with us on Phyllis’ last PA bus trip.)

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and now able to manage stairs to her apartment. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who was able to enjoy eating and swallowing over the holidays and is now awaiting a break in the pandemic so he can be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, who is scheduled for surgery this week.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he might accept the help that is available to him.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For Carol and Neil Swanson who give thanks for God’s bringing their daughter’s family through COVID and for prayers for her brother Frank in his personal struggles.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19, including Jim Tynan’s sister Eleanor in Oklahoma, and for all those grieving the death of loved ones.

 For our teachers and medical workers and first responders that they may have the physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to continue their great work through this pandemic!

 For our beloved country in this tumultuous time and for the peaceful transfer of power on Wednesday, January 20th! We are relieved and blessed.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at                                          #53 Bible Study
10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are reading Ecclesiastes
and reflecting on other Wisdom texts. To receive the Zoom
link, contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Closing Prayer: A Farmer’s Grace

This comes from Sonja and Tom’s friends, the Schoecherts, in Wisconsin.

A pastor attended a men’s breakfast in the middle of a rural farming area.
The group had asked an older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, to say grace for the morning breakfast:
“Lord, I hate buttermilk,” the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wonder where this was going.
The farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the pastor was growing concerned.
Without missing a beat, the farmer continued, “And Lord, you know I don’t much care for raw white flour.”
The pastor once again opened an eye to glance around the room and saw that he wasn’t the only one to feel uncomfortable.
Then the farmer added, “But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm fresh biscuits. So Lord, when things come up that we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we don’t understand what you’re saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing. It will probably be even better than biscuits. Amen.”

#53 A Farmer's Grace

Offerings may be mailed for:
Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (NEW- 694 Carr’s Trail, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

 

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #52
January 15, 2021

This is the fifty-second issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!


The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.


Reverend Betsy Reflects on Epiphany

With the celebration of the coming of the Magi on January 6,    Magi #52
we have moved in the Church calendar from the season of Christmastide to the season of Epiphany. Biblical scholars believe the story of the Wise Men (which appears only in
Matthew’s gospel) is significant because Matthew is sending a message to his readers that Jesus has come not only for the
Jews but also for the Gentiles – for everyone, including you and me. Remember our excitement just a month ago when we sighted the Great Conjunction of two planets in our night sky, Jupiter and Saturn, the closest observable conjunction to us since 1226, reminding us of the story about the Magi. Perhaps a sign in our time?

Scholars also tell us that our beloved “Infancy Narratives” as they are called – birth stories added by Matthew and Luke to launch their gospels – are there to “prove” Jesus’ divinity at a time when all leaders were said to have a divine birth as God’s representative on earth. And, with missionaries like the Apostle Paul journeying out across the Roman empire to tell the story of Jesus and his revolutionary message, the story of the Magi is important to make Jesus accessible to these new Christian converts.

I imagine it’s no coincidence that the early church chose the darkest time of the year to celebrate the birth of the Holy One. Beginning with the Creation story in Genesis, “Let there be light,” light is an important metaphor for us. In specific reference to Jesus, there are 98 verses claiming him as the “Light of the world,” mostly in the New Testament but also co-opted by the early Church from the Hebrew scriptures, as in Isaiah 9:2, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”
In the season of Epiphany, we are awash in metaphors about the light, the darkest time of year when we witness a gradual lengthening of days as the sun climbs back into the Northern Hemisphere. One of our lectionary scriptures at this time of year comes from John’s gospel, not with a baby in a manger but with a philosophical birth story, with the coming of “The light [which] shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

So, I look around for the light. Where do we see it today in our troubled times? Surely in the life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called a prophet by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who worked peacefully with King for justice and equality for all people. Heschel points out that, “In a free society, some are guilty and all are responsible.”

And what about us? May we be bearers of the Epiphany Light as we remember and honor and celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend.

Remembering Martin Luther King

Today is the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. I wonder how he would respond if he were alive today to witness the polarization in this country? How he would respond to racism now — perhaps more subtle than when he rose to the national stage but still evident? Where do you think we are in realizing his Beloved Community? Here are some excerpt from his “I Have a Dream”speech.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you, my friends, we have the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day out in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

A Story for Our Time

This article, Forerunners: Sojourner Truth, written by Susannah Black and Jason Landsel, is taken from the Winter 2021 Plough Quarterly.

In 1844, in a field outside the town of Northampton, Massachusetts, a gang of young men showed up at a revival meeting, making trouble. The meeting’s organizers grew angry; the men – more than a hundred – redoubled their uproar. One of the meeting attendees, a forty-seven-year-old woman, hid behind a chest in the corner of the tent: “I am the only colored person here,” she thought, “and on me, probably, their wicked mischief will fall first, and perhaps fatally.”
The young men started to rock the tent-poles. And she gave herself a talking-to.
“Shall I run away and hide from the devil? Me, a servant of the living God? Have I not faith enough to go out and quell that mob?” She tried, unsuccessfully, to convince a couple of friends to confront the men with her. She left the tent alone, and, the moon bright on the field, she walked up a rise nearby and began to sing.
Sojourner Truth always was a powerful singer.
It got their attention. And after a few minutes’ conversation, she managed to talk them into leaving.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the second Sunday after Epiphany, we will read the Prologue to the Gospel of John, and Reverend Betsy will preach on “The Word.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship
Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. As appropriate, we are also reflect on questions for the season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them      #52 hold in your heart
physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately
require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Phyllis who has been ill for more than a week, and who had been recovering from COVID in the field hospital in Cranston; then Thursday, she was taken back to Kent Hospital where she can get more oxygen and better monitoring. The latest report today is that she had a good night’s sleep last night and her oxygen level is up. Pray also for her family and all her caregivers.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, whose health is already compromised, now home and recovering from COVID.

 For Geraldine, home and recovering from surgery, that she may heal quickly and well.

 For Judi White’s co-worker Ann and her family as her new grandson, Wyatt, born prematurely on January 1 at 24 weeks. He has quite a fight ahead and lots of unknowns. At 11 days, he weighs in at 1 pound, 4 ounces, so each day brings more hope.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Beverly’s elderly Aunt Helen, after another fall and infection putting her back in the nursing home.

 Betsy and Kim’s friend, Irene Musa, who is in Zimbabwe, Africa, where she is helping her daughter Janet, a mother of three, who is dying of Stage 4 Breast Cancer. (Irene went with us on Phyllis’ last PA bus trip.)

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and now able to manage stairs to her apartment. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who was able to enjoy eating and swallowing over the holidays and is now awaiting a break in the pandemic so he can be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob’s friend, Kathy, who is scheduled for surgery this week.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he might accept the help that is available to him.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For Carol and Neil Swanson who give thanks for God’s bringing their daughter’s family through COVID and for prayers for her brother Frank in his personal struggles.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19, including Jim Tynan’s sister Eleanor in Oklahoma, and for all those grieving the death of loved ones.

 For our teachers and medical workers and first responders that they may have the physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to continue their great work through this pandemic!

 For our beloved country in this tumultuous time and for a peaceful transfer of power on Wednesday, January 20th!

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are reading Ecclesiastes and reflecting on other Wisdom texts. To receive the Zoom link, contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Songs to Soothe the Soul

Our friends Aubrey and Elwood (who would have presented          #52 Atwater and Donnley.jpg
their Christmas concert at Moosup Valley, if not for the
pandemic) will present an interactive concert, Songs to Soothe the Soul, this Sunday, January 17, 6:00 p.m. on Zoom.
They write,

OK, so maybe 2021 has turned out to be a tiny bit nerve wracking so far. How about some time together with beautiful and upbeat songs and a few jokes to soothe our anxieties and connect for joy and comfort? Come prepared to sing and laugh and to tell a favorite (short, clean) joke. And let us know if you have a request and we will try to honor it! Here’s my current fave joke: My husband bought a world map, gave me a dart and said, “Throw this and wherever if lands–that’s where I’m taking you when this pandemic ends.” Turns out that we’ll be spending two weeks behind the fridge!

ATWATER-DONNELLY DUO
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Interactive Zoom Concert
6-7:15 pm Eastern Time
Instructions for participating
Please make a suggested donation of $5-35 per household one of three ways, in this order of our preference:
—Check to Aubrey Atwater Donnelly, 20 Campbell St., Warren, RI 02885
—Venmo: username Aubrey-Atwater-1
—Paypal: paypal.me/AubreyElwood

And then email Aubrey at aubreyfolk@aol.com to register and receive the link.
Thank you–we SO look forward to seeing you!

Closing Prayer

“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, God who has brought us thus far on the way; God, who by your might, led us into the light….,”, you have been with those who have traversed the “stony road of racism,” and you have shared the pain of those who were subjected to the” bitter, chastening rod” of hatred and indifference. Through your presence, you have sustained hope and that hope has been the seedbed of human transformation. Be with us in these days, we pray. Inspire our hope as we remember your work and how you challenge the world to be a more loving, justice-filled, peaceful place through the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Amen.”

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (NEW- 694 Carr’s Trail, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

#52 Martin Luther

 

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #51
January 8, 2021

This is the fifty-first issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!                                                                                                                                                                                               


            The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!               


Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.                                                                                                     


Foster Churches Association Presents #51 Reaching hands
2020 Good Samaritans Awards.
Written by Bob Hollis;
Published in the Foster Home Journal in January

In a normal year, the Foster Churches Association presents a Person of the Year at Thanksgiving time. However, this has
not been a normal year. We did not have our Community Thanksgiving Service. We did not make our presentation. Therefore, FCA has decided to break from tradition in the unprecedented time of this pandemic and make the award this year to a group – Foster’s Good Samaritans.

Our list begins with the Volunteer First Responders in our town who have risked their own safety in carrying a greater workload to help care for people in the greatest need in our community. We are most appreciative of those volunteers who have gone over and above their normal volunteer activity during this pandemic and those that have taken on the extra duties of coordinating Covid-19 response and reporting with the state.

Our list of Good Samaritans continues with those volunteers and benefactors of DHS and other town services, who have overwhelmingly responded to the needs of their neighbors by providing food, clothing, financial assistance, physical help, and other care. Our town is blessed with generous, talented, and extremely kind people. This year, however, our Good Samaritans have far exceeded what could ever be expected. They have learned new ways to do old business and overwhelming ways to give to others.

Our award focuses on the many volunteer Good Samaritans. We also could not ignore our desire to honor those who are paid, but who have performed heroically under threatening and difficult pressures. they are:

 First responders who have taken the same risks and who have gone over and above their duties to care for our community,

 The medical personnel from town who have fought this pandemic with every fiber of their strength, skill and soul,

 The lab workers who dared to actually handle this virus,

 Our Town Hall staff who were there to perform essential duties of keeping our town running,

 Our teachers, educators, and librarians, who have learned new ways to keep our young people and families engaged in the art of learning,

 Our postal workers and mail carriers who handled the mail when we did not know whether it could be spread easily that way,

 Our neighbors who are store clerks, waitstaff, truckers and deliverers,

 The mechanics who have kept our essential personnel on the roads,

 The folks who have cleaned and sanitized our workplaces, stores, schools, town buildings, and places of worship, and all the people who have put themselves at risk to serve their neighbors and meet the deep needs of our community.

We have all come together to fight this invasion of our community. Instead of one person‘s name on our plaque for Citizen of the Year, the plaque will read “2020 Good Samaritans” – a community of people to whom we are deeply indebted.

We have been blessed by all those extraordinary people who have given of themselves in extra ordinary ways during this pandemic! Thank you one and all! Because we still cannot get together as a community to thank our Good Samaritans, please find your way to thank anyone who fits the above descriptions in your special ways.

Reverend Betsy Reflects: The Storm We’re In

What does the Lord require of you?
To act justly, and to love mercy and
to walk humbly, with your God.
-Micah 6:8

When Carol Mauro reported to the Foster clergy the outpouring of support for families compromised by the pandemic, I was so proud to live in Foster. I asked her if I could tell the story in “Gather ‘Round” which I did on December 11th (Issue #47): the outpouring of financial support, abundant food, and generous Christmas gifts for children. This has been “an exceptional year on so many levels,” she said. Pastor Bob tells that story, above, and why the Foster Churches’ Association decided to recognize all the Good Samaritans.

We church people and many of our neighbors are good at charity. But in addition to giving them a much-needed handout, let’s also find ways to give them a hand up. We could start by asking, why is there so much need? Why is the gap between the rich and poor growing larger? The prophets require us to think about justice as well as mercy.

For example, during the pandemic, those of us, who are professional “white collar” workers, are able to work from home on our computers, but that is not possible for many “blue collar” essential workers, the Good Samaritans Pastor Bob speaks about above – the health care workers, police, fire, delivery services, and others – who must show up physically in person in order to do their work. This is often true for teachers, as well, who are ordered back to the physical classroom. And often these workers are at greater risk of contracting the virus, and too often they are the lowest paid employees.

And think about this: In an article in the Cape Cod Times on December 31, an editorial by Alan S. Davis reported that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has seen his fortune increase by $72 billion during the pandemic (Kim and I helped him with this by buying so much online). Yet at the same time, Amazon is accused of not keeping its employees safe and paying them adequately. The result is that while billionaires’ wealth continues to skyrocket, the number of Americans in unemployment lines, food banks, and homeless shelters also continues to rise. Yes, of course, the wealthy work hard to become wealthy, but so do the workers on the assembly line, the CNAs in the nursing home, and those who tote our garbage to the land fill – and often they work more than one job to make ends meet.

Someone said recently, “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. But some of us are in yachts, some of us are in canoes, and some of us are drowning.” So when we finally find ourselves post-COVID – hopefully by fall – let us rebuild our nation with justice as well as charity in mind. As theologian Cornell West reminds us, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

On Tuesday, the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty held (by Zoom) its 13th Annual Poverty Vigil on the convening of the General Assembly, a time when we remind the legislators that the faith community is expecting them to govern with wisdom and compassion. So I invite you, our Foster Good Samaritans, to even greater love that embodies the words of the prophet Micah, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly, with your God” (Micah 6:8). We have a lot of rebuilding to do to envision Martin Luther King’s “Beloved Community.” Let’s start planning now.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts in reading and singing. This Sunday, the first Sunday after Epiphany, we will read the story of Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1:4-11, and Reverend Betsy will preach on “Defining Moments.” Everyone is encouraged to bring a small bowl or cup of water to the service to dip their hands into. Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship
Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

January Hymn Sing

There WILL be a Hymn Sing this Sunday (January 10) at 3:00 p. m. at the Rice City Church.
Pastor Bob says “We will be masked and socially distanced according to the CDC guidelines for singing in an enclosed building. Come and join us if you are symptom-free (and have not been with anyone who has symptoms) as we sing the old hymns that have brought us this far!” The song sheet will be emailed to everyone along with the bulletin for Sunday morning. (They also will broadcast live on Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook Page.)

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. As appropriate, we are also reflect on questions for the season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Prayer for Epiphany Evening, 2021

Reverend Maren Tirabassi wrote this poem on Wednesday evening, Epiphany, as our United States Capitol was the scene of an armed assault – not only on an icon of democracy but also on the rule of law. We prayed for peace at Evening Prayer, and I urge us all to pray and work for peace in the days ahead.

God, the US Capitol has been secured,
but the people are not secure.

There is a curfew in Washington
but the country cannot sleep.
It is Epiphany.

We have trusted the guidance
of a holy star,
and now we must make a new map
of compassion and wisdom,

and find another way
to travel together,
with justice and reconciliation,
another way to define home

as a dwelling of healing
for illness of body
and of mind and spirit
and comfort for those who grieve,

where lies are not spoken,
weapons are not raised,
and every mouth is covered
by a mask of care
for the most vulnerable in our midst.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Joan who is surgery today, Friday, and for Geraldine who asks for prayers as she approaches surgery on Monday, January 11. May they both do well and recover quickly.

 For Phyllis’ sister in California, Dorothy Hall, 93, now home from rehab after having fallen and broken her hip, but still in need of family support – and for the family in the recent death of Phyllis’ niece, Sylvia Hall, 66, who died of cancer.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed, whose health is already compromised, now hospitalized with COVID.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Betsy and Kim’s friend, Irene Musa, with whom Betsy spoke this week. Irene is in Zimbabwe, Africa, where she is helping her daughter Janet, a mother of three, who is dying of Stage 4 Breast Cancer. (Irene went with us on Phyllis’ last PA bus trip.)

 For Jean Salemi, recovering from back surgery and now able to manage stairs to her apartment. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky who was able to enjoy eating and swallowing over the holidays and is now awaiting a break in the pandemic so he can be baptized at Rice City.

 For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, who has completed her chemo and radiation and is awaiting surgery this month for a very rare cancer.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he might accept the help that is available to him.

 For Jeanne Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatment.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For Carol and Neil Swanson who give thanks for God’s bringing their daughter’s family through COVID and for prayers for her brother Frank in his personal struggles.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19, including Jim Tynan’s sister Eleanor in Oklahoma, and for all those grieving the death of loved ones.

 For our teachers and medical workers and first responders that they may have the physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to continue their great work through this pandemic!

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now we are reading Ecclesiastes and reflecting on other Wisdom texts. To receive the Zoom link, contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

“We Were Made For These Times” #51 Women who run with wolves
By Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Dr. Estés is a psychoanalyst and author of the best seller Women Who Run with the Wolves. She writes to give us courage in these dark times.

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I urge you to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose
hope. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not
entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.                                                                                        Dr. Estés has a blog, “Alive with Joy! INSPIRATIONS FOR THESE TIMES,” from which this reflection was taken.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (NEW- 694 Carr’s Trail, Greene, RI 02827).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #50
January 1, 2021

This is the fiftieth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

10881791_10203445159786048_1318393458118738778_n

Reverend Betsy Reflects: The Work of Christmas

Christmas is over. We put everything away until next year, do we not? Yet, Howard Thurman, philosopher, theologian, educator, civil rights leader, and former Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, suggests that Christmas is not over; it is just beginning. The following Christmas Prayer is one of his most famous writings – and one of my favorites:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.

Pastor Bob: Reflecting Back, Projecting Forward

Many people believe that January is named for the Roman God Janus. (Others believe it is to honor Juno). But for this purpose, Janus is much more appropriate. Janus was the God of Transitions, Gates, Beginnings/Endings, etc. He is depicted as having two faces – one to look forward, and one to look where he had been.

As we enter this time of transition, we naturally look backward at what has been. For many of us, 2020 will not be remembered as a positive year. There has been plenty of loss, fear, worry, isolation, and contention. We have much that we wish was different or that we had done differently. And yet, there have been many small gifts of human kindness, strength of spirit, positivity, and light in the darkness that illuminates the resilience of the human spirit and points to better days to come. As we look back with one of Janus’ faces, what do we need to leave in the past, what do we need to learn from, and what do we need to bring with us for the journey ahead?

As we look forward with the other side of Janus’ vision, what lies ahead of us? What hopes do we have, what expectations, for what are we excited? What worries do we have, what fears, about what are we skeptical? What is predetermined and what is up to our decisions, choices, and follow through?

It might do us well to hear God weigh in on God’s attitude toward us as we stand in this moment of transition between one year and the next. This is the Word of God through Jeremiah to the people in exile (kind of their own pandemic situation), “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

God has plans to prosper you, your family, our nation, and our world, but it is not predestined. It is up to us to choose to seek God, to listen to God’s Way, and to do God’s will in our lives! As we do, God promises to bless us with God’s presence and the resulting [fruit of the Spirit] – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:23). What more could we want in the New Year!

May you have and share a Blessed 2021!

A New Year Start
Janice Reynolds sent me this piece she wrote when I was asking for Christmas Memories:

Once again, it’s time for a New Year and to be thankful for Life itself. It’s time to be happy for what we are and where we are. It takes both love and understanding to be happy and thankful for what we need to strive for.

There are times when we tend to forget that life is and can be beautiful. This happens when we become too self-involved. We cannot always avert this happening. The problems of life close in on us, surround us to the extent that our vision is clouded and our thoughts distressed.

We all need in these moments, courage and faith. With faith we hold to the belief in a better tomorrow and more immediately, we can find the blessings of yesteryears and be thankful for much of today and the future.

For happiness, some people fail to enjoy life because they are unable to determine what it’s about. Some may miss out on happiness because they fail to realize that the greatest happiness may be found in the things we take for granted, love for a family, warmth of the fireside, and quiet moment of meditation.

If you miss happiness, look around you, count what you have, not what you would like to have. You may discover where you have been missing out.

With the New Year upon us now, let us all stop and think about how much we can share with others, such as happiness, faith and courage. We can take a few moments to help others who may be in need, distress, even perhaps just talking to someone who may need it.

It’s time to be thankful for what we have, to be happy and to show your love to one another. Some people are less fortunate than others. Try to show even if it’s just a few minutes of time to visit. One old saying which is good to follow is, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive, and also to be thankful for what we have.”


Christmas in Pieces
A Christmas Story for 2020

Tom Hall forwarded to me a story that he received in a Christmas card from his friend and colleague Andrew Scrimgeour, Dean of Libraries Emeritus at Drew University. He and Tom (as am I) are members of the Westar Institute, dedicated to advancing religious literacy.

The story, written from a grandfather’s perspective, is charming, and I asked Tom if I might include it in the newsletter. He checked with Andy, and the answer was “yes,” but since I received it as a PDF, I could not insert it in the body of “Gather ‘Round.” So I will attach the story as a separate document and print out copies for those who receive the newsletter by mail. Don’t miss it!  POSTED AT THE END OF NEWSLETTER


Moosup Valley Sunday Service
Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. About a dozen people take active parts each week. This Sunday, the second Sunday after Christmas, we will look at the story of the Magi. Reverend Betsy will preach on Matthew 2:1-12: “Epiphany.” We will celebrate Communion together, so bring a bit of bread or muffin and a cup of something to the table with you. Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship
Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer
Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. Right now, we are also reflecting on questions for the season. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers …

 For Geraldine and Joan, both who are preparing for surgery in January.

 For Phyllis’ sister, Dorothy Hall, 93, who has fallen and broken her hip, and for her niece, Sylvia Hall, 66, who has terminal cancer. They live in California.

 For Jean Lavoie’s son-in-law Ryan as he undergoes chemo treatments.

 For Chris Crowther’s partner Jen who has qualified to receive a liver transplant.

 For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed and her partner, both whose health is compromised.

 For Linda’s son Peter that he might accept the help that is available to him.

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy who is still holding her own with new treatments for tumors.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Jean Selemi, recovering from back surgery and now able to go up and down the stairs to her apartment. (Cards to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Richard Lucky who was able to enjoy eating and swallowing over the Christmas Holidays, praying for a break in COVID so that he can be baptized at Rice City.

 For Joanne Newton for continued recovery from brain surgery. Joanne and Viana sang The First Noel as a duet at Rice City Church on Christmas Eve, which was holy and magical!

 For Carol and Neil Swanson who give thanks for God’s bringing their daughter’s family through COVID and for prayers for her brother Frank in his personal struggles.

 For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, home in Coventry and awaiting results of her treatment.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19, including Jim Tynan’s sister Eleanor in Oklahoma, and for those grieving the death of loved ones.

 For our teachers, medical workers and first responders that they may have the physical, emotional, and intellectual strength to continue they great work through this pandemic!

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study
Reverend Betsy leads Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. by Zoom. Right now they are reading Ecclesiastes and reflecting on other Wisdom texts. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

In the Mail Bag

A Christmas Card from the McCormicks who moved from Foster to Arizona:

Hey, My Moosup Valley Peeps!
Only good news from Arizona. Jake has a new job working on a Cactus Farm and loves it. He lives about two miles from Rikki and me.
Libby and Andrew graduated and moved in together and got engaged. Wedding should be August of 2022. She has a great job and Andrew is still looking since he has a very specialized degree. But they are doing fine.
Rikki’s health is improving day by day. He has been building an “Arizona” room (slowly but beautifully,) so there is room for everyone to come visit.
I have a part-time job caring for some older people in our “park.” Mostly running errands like shopping, etc. But it keeps me social during COVID. (I need a new Bob Salisbury in my life, lol).
Anyway, we love you and miss you all. Even you guys must miss the camaraderie of meeting face to face.
Here’s to a Happy, Healthy and together 2021. Merry Christmas, Peeps!
Love,
Alicia and Rikki

A Shout Out from Sonja Murray

THANK YOU, BETSY, for helping us survive 2020! As we were “hunkered down” and isolated you introduced us to “Gather ‘Round,” a wonderful weekly publication that connects us with one another and maintains the spirit of community. And, you did it twice a week in the beginning when we were all depressed over our new reality.

It is no small task to produce such a publication with a theme, appropriate quotations, reader submissions, current prayer list and interesting bits. Thank you, Betsy, for creating what turned out to be a lifeline for all of us!

Interestingly, the readership has grown from a small cluster to well over 100 recipients scattered around the United States receiving “Gather ‘Round” electronically and an additional dozen or more who get a printed copy through the USPS (snail mail). Is this a new wave of the future, a new way for our community to stay connected?

A Thank You from Pastor Bob

Thank you to Mount Vernon and Rice City for the Christmas gifts that you share with me. They are much appreciated and remind me of the gifts of time, energy, and spirit that you share all year! I look forward to the time that we can be together freely to minister to each other and our community!
Christmas and New Year Blessings to you all! Pastor Bob.

Blessed Are You
By Jan Richardson (Forwarded to me by Kathy Jellison)#50 Candle

Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.
Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives,
in whom
the brightness blazes—
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith,
in stubborn hope,
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.

 

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02815), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (NEW – 694 Carr’s Trail, Greene, RI 02827).Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Scrimgeour, Christmas in Pieces (2) (2)           Click link to open

#50 Peanuts Happy New Year

*************************************************************************

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #49

December 25, 2020

This is the forty-eighth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue! 

 

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Nativity #49 1Christmas Eve

  • MOOSUP VALLEY’S 37TH LIVING CRECHE at 5:00 p.m. by Zoom. Carl Safstrom and Judi White are collaborating on the computer logistics, which will include pictures of previous years’ pageants.  Zach Farnum will narrate, and Bart Duarte will sing the carols while we mute and sing along.  The Zoom link will be sent to everyone on Christmas Eve.                                                                                                                                     
  • CAMP FIRE LIGHT CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE at Rice City at 6:00 p.m.

We will celebrate Christmas Eve in person outside (with masks and social distance) around five properly-spaced fire pits.  Each fire can accommodate five individuals, three couples, two small household pods, or one larger household pod, so we will be able to have 25-30 people, safely warm.  If you are interested, please let Pastor Bob know, so that he can get more fire pits if needed.  We will sing carols, share the Christmas Story, and bask in the light that shines in the darkness. 

 Pastor Bob Reflects: The Love of God

 In the Nativity Story, I am particularly drawn to the shepherds who got to hear the message from the angels and then “went to see what God had done!” I am also most fond of the non-biblical story of the Drummer Boy, who did not have great gifts for the King, but honored baby Jesus with his greatest talent and love – he played his drum. 

But my favorite of the Gospel stories is not really a story at all, but a theology.  In John 1, we read “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Nothing came into existence without the Word.  …  And The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  

To think that God loved us so much that the Creator made this world so that we could be in relationship with God, and that God loved us so much that God sent a part of God’s Self (the Very Word of God) to be one of us, and that God loved us so much that God gave up God’s self for us, and that God loves us so much that God sends the Very Spirit of God to be with us, is what fills me with Love and Christmas Joy as we celebrate the God who comes to us to be with us and for us!

 CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

 Sonja Murray

 When I was growing up, we always went out to a friend’s Christmas tree patch to cut our tree.  I was very fussy and spent a great deal of time studying each tree from all angles to be sure we picked “the perfect tree.”  I always found a tall, stately specimen, but my father would gently direct me to a tiny but well-shaped tree.  Begrudgingly, I would finally concede, accepting the fact that this year our tree would be so small that one would not see it through the window.  However, when we got it home and brought it into the living room in the tree stand, miraculously the tree fit perfectly and was just the right size to extend from floor to ceiling.

When I was a child, each holiday brought a special program in church in which the children participated.  Each child was given a short poem or story to memorize. At the event, we were called up on the stage or to the front of the church, either individually or in a small group, to recite our piece.  I can remember my mother helping me learn my part, and I can remember nervously going up in front of the audience to perform.  In retrospect, I realize how important this early introduction to addressing a large group was for developing self-confidence and stage presence. 

Laila Bennett

My [English] mom and dad would go shopping one afternoon when we were little, like maybe eight or 10, and she would wrap everything and hide it in the eaves off of their bedroom.  Needless to say, Helena and I knew where the presents were. We would carefully unwrap them and see what we had coming. Wrap them back up, and our parents never knew. We would just act surprised on Christmas morning.  

 

At Christmas dinner, we always had roast duck with turkey. And we each had Christmas crackers that you popped open.  Inside was a crown, which we all wore while we ate dinner, a riddle, and a prize.  We continue the English tradition at Christmas dinner with Ian’s family. We also had English Christmas Pudding, which my mother poured rum over all year long. She made them in January. 

Martha Safstrom

 Although Martha’s mother was Swedish, her family didn’t experience a full-blown Swedish Christmas until her older sister married into a very Swedish family.  After that, they were invited to that family’s home for Christmas Eve with a big Scandinavian Smorgasbord of traditional foods, and of course, glogg, a spiced wine, and Spritz cookies.  They shared gifts on Christmas Eve and then, at midnight, there was a candlelight church service. When Martha was nine years old, she received her first, very own book of Christmas carols as a gift.   

Frances Shippee

 Frances grew up during the war years in the Burgundy region in France during the war with rationing, and they were grateful to have enough to eat.  Although they were not unhappy, there were no big celebrations with family.  They could walk about two miles to the next village to see cousins.  Her grandmothers ran the farm because all the men were in the army or prisoners in German camps.  In 1949, when they were barely over rationing, she was sent to Canada and discovered a different Christmas – a “most amazing thing” – a fat Santa drinking Coca Cola.  In France, Santa was skinny….

Barbara Cederfield

 Barbara loves the words and the tune of the French carol “Bring a torch Jeanette Isabella” because she has a grandniece who was born on Christmas Eve and named Isabella.  Here are those words:

  1. Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella / Bring a torch, to the cradle run!
    It is Jesus, good folk of the village; / Christ is born and Mary’s calling;
    Ah! ah! beautiful is the Mother! / Ah! ah! beautiful is her Son!
  2. It is wrong when the Child is sleeping / It is wrong to talk so loud;
    Silence, all, as you gather around. / Lest your noise should waken Jesus.
    Hush! hush! see how fast He slumbers! / Hush! hush! see how fast He sleeps!
  3. Hasten now, good folk of the village; / Hasten now the Christ Child to see.
    You will find Him asleep in the manger; / Quietly come and whisper softly,
    Hush! hush! Peacefully now He slumbers. / Hush! hush! Peacefully now He sleeps.
  4. Softly to the little stable. / Softly for a moment come;
    Look and see how charming is Jesus / How He is warm, His cheeks are rosy!
    Hush! hush! see how the Child is sleeping; / Hush! hush! see how He smiles in dreams.

Rose Desilus

 A remembrance of Haitian Christmas (in New York City)

The night before Christmas and all through the church, the youth group would be busy setting up the pulpit as the stage for our play: The birth of Our Lord and Savior.  By 8:30, the members would be arriving and setting up the three giant coffee pots that they use to make ginger tea twice a year (Christmas and New Years), and others are setting up the tables and the pumpkin soup on the stove with hot Haitian bread in the oven.

At 9:00, the service starts with “Jesus Est Ne, Venez Berger et Marge,” which translates: “Jesus is born, come all Shepherds and Wise Men.”  After the prayer, we start the play which usually is the birth of the Christ, although once in a while we’d switch it up to do the voyage of the Three Wise Men or anything that has to do with Christ’s birth.  One year we did the life of a shepherd.  Our play would run for an hour, and then at 10:00, they would start the service, which would last until midnight.  We would have a special minister come and preach, and all the different choirs would take turn singing – men, women, children and youth.  At midnight on the dot, we would do our final prayer and sing, “Minuit Chretien,” ”Oh, Holy Night.” 

We would have the tea, soup and bread, wish each other Merry Christmas, and go home. We would get home around 2:00 a.m. The parents would go to bed and us siblings, seven of us, would stay up and talk and carry on.  By 5:00, we would give each other gifts and put our parent’s and grandmother’s gifts by their doors, and off to bed we’d go.  We’d wake up around 11:00 to sweet smell of cooking and talking and music playing because we knew visitors would be coming.

By 1:00 p.m., the Dorisca’s household would be rocking with music and people talking, singing, and bringing gifts for my parents.  I would like you to know that being the first Protestant minister in the countryside of Haiti is a big deal. Also, my father was the one who came to the U.S. before most of them and worked hard to get them here to the U.S. Most of our church members started out at my parent’s house and moved on.

Kim Baker

One Christmas Eve when I was about five, I recall being put to bed in my bedroom on the second floor. My parents’ bedroom was on the first floor. But sometime around midnight, I needed the bathroom. So I called down to my parents, who were still up. My father came up to get me. He took me in his arms, and I wrapped my arms around his neck. He told me I had to keep my eyes closed. And not to peek. What was a five year old to do except to peek?  When I went to bed, there was no Christmas tree up yet. But when I did sneak a peek, there was the largest and most beautiful tree all decorated and lit up. My parents had put the tree up after I went to bed. Must have been quite a feat for couple of tired folks. And I’m grateful to have this delicious Christmas memory in an otherwise painful and traumatic childhood. I can’t quite recall what I had for breakfast this morning. But I’m grateful for the magic of this memory that lives on.

Evie Mann

Many years ago a little girl in my church made me a God’s Eye for my Christmas tree. Attached to it was a little paper tree with the words “I love you Auntie Evie.”  Her family moved away with no contact with us, but I would love to see Dawn again. 

Bob Hollis

 Growing up in a family where my father was a minister and my mother was a volunteer social worker always made Christmas a little like the original story. We always had people that we didn’t know stopping in to share Christmas with us.   

One year, my father brought home 20 sailors from his ship because they were far from home and missing their families.  One year my mother decided to have Christmas dinner for all the people on her Meals on Wheels route that did not have family coming to see them. One year, there was a woman whose husband was in Vietnam and whose family was 3,000 miles away. She and her dog joined us that Christmas.  One year there was a homeless woman and her son who came to Christmas Eve service, and then my mother brought them home to stay in a warm place for Christmas Eve. I learned the true meaning of Christmas that year as my Mom asked me to share some of the presents that I was going to get the next day with the young boy. Santa gave him half the things that would’ve ended up in my stocking as well.  We always had plenty of gifts and a wonderful Christmas dinner and a lot of fun playing games around the table, but I appreciate my parents’ teaching me that Christmas was really about bringing Christ to life by sharing what you had with those who were in need.

Cheryl

 Christmas in our house was always much anticipated.  I think my Mom loved it more than we did.  My Dad was the mailman and worked a second job to be able to give us the things that we needed and wanted.  So while we didn’t have a lot of money, we had an abundance of love in our home.  I remember when Dad would get home Christmas Eve from the mail route, he would take the money he was given by people on his route and go out to buy my Mom’s Christmas gifts…we never knew what they would be – some were things she needed and some just because Dad thought they were different and cute.  One year Mom got a dishwasher for Christmas and these three porcelain pigs with black and yellow stripes on them…none of us, including Mom, could figure out the significance of these pigs, but it gave us something to laugh about and tease Dad about for the next year. 

The year that I got my license, when I was 16, Dad came home and said, “Cheryl Ann, we are going shopping.”  I looked at Dad and kind of gulped and said, “Okay Dad.”  However, what I didn’t know was that Dad wanted me to drive – you see, as well as receiving money for Christmas gifts on his mail route, a lot of people who sat in wait for Dad to arrive invited him in for Christmas cheer.  I probably didn’t realize that until this particular year because Dad knew he shouldn’t drive.  We went to West Warwick, which at that time had a lot of nice stores on Main Street, and it was busier than any traffic I had ever driven in before.  I couldn’t believe how busy it was and finding a parking space was not easy. As we were going down a one way, Dad said to me to park there and he pointed to his right.  This meant that I had to parallel park, which I had done for my driver’s license in a big wide open expanse of space; this, however, was true parallel parking and needless to say, I was holding my breath the whole time.  With Dad’s assurance and instructions, I parked that big boat of a car of ours with a little room to spare. I have been an excellent parallel parker since, so thank you Dad.  I will venture to say, that with my assistance, my Mom got the best Christmas presents ever that year…believe me, it is a memory that I have treasured all these years – Dad and I on our Christmas shopping adventure.

We didn’t have many traditions in our family for holidays except one – that we all be together and that was the best gift of all.

One other thing that I remember about Christmas was that Priscilla and Elmer Norden often would come over on Christmas Eve or Christmas Night (Priscilla was my Mom’s best friend growing up) and Priscilla would play the organ.  We would all stand around and sing Christmas carols – one after the other.  All we had to do was a name a carol and Priscilla could play it without any music and play it beautifully.  I was always in awe of her talent, and if you knew our families, there was a lot of love and laughter that took place at those gatherings.

This was a time when we were growing up that we could go in almost any house in the Valley with just a quick knock on the door and feel right at home with whomever we were visiting. We all knew each other and would help anyone in need.  It was a wonderful place and time to grow up in – the Valley was a safe haven for all of us.

Laurie Murphy

Instead of a Christmas memory, Laurie sent me this children’s story she wrote:

COMING ON CHRISTMAS                                                                                     

By Laurie Smith Murphy

Ana skips from the barn and climbs up the fence. Milky white flurries drift. Woodsy smoke swirls. Magic flickers over the farm.

“Is it Christmas, Mama?” Ana calls.

“Not yet,” says Mama. “It’s coming soon.”

Ana jumps. Ana twirls. Ana sings. “I can’t wait!”

Ana runs to Mama and hugs her round belly. “When will baby brother be here?”

“He’s coming soon.”

Ana helps Pa carry the cradle to the nursery. Mama hums gentle lullabies and folds pastel quilts. Ana arranges books on the shelves and stacks the toys.

“When is baby lamb coming, Mama?”

“Soon.”

Ana leaps. Ana wiggles. Ana sings. “I can’t wait!”

Ana hustles to the barn and keeps watch. She lays a soft nest of hay and dumps extra water in the trough. Mama ewe paces. Ana follows and pets her gingerly.

“When are kittens coming?”

“Soon. Very soon.”

Ana hops. Ana squirms. Ana sings. “I can’t wait!”

Ana places a box for Oreo under the porch. Oreo hides when birthing is near. Her eyes peek out like two green pennies. Ana waves and keeps her distance.

“It’s Christmas!” she calls.

“Almost,” says Mama.

They trudge through the woods, finding the just-right tree, and drag it home. Ana helps drape the lights and reaches high to hang decorations. She displays Grammy’s Santas and her own handmade reindeer. “Look, Mama. Baby’s first ornament.”

Then it hits. A blizzard. Mama and Pa are at the hospital. Ana hugs Grammy, keeping her close. They shovel the walk. Bring in wood for the stove. Bake cranberry muffins.

Ana loves Grammy but it’s not the same. She watches out the window for Mama and Pa. And new baby brother.

Ana jumps. Ana twirls. Ana sings loud as a trumpet. “I can’t wait!”

Finally, it’s Christmas! Babies are here. Everyone rejoices. Baby Elijah squeezes Ana’s finger. Baby lamb cuddles close to Mama Ewe. Kittens nuzzle and nurse.

Ana peers out the window. The bright star in the night sky glistens. A warm, soft glow. Good-night, dear babies. Sleep tight.

 

Christmas Fund

 If you would like to contribute to the UCC’s Christmas Fund which provides assistance to retired pastors and their families in the event of an unexpected death or illness and catastrophic financial crises, please send a check made out to Moosup Valley Church and marked “Christmas Fund” in the memo line to Pat Safstrom who serves on the local committee.  (See address below.)

 Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts. This Sunday, the first Sunday after Christmas, is our Membership Sunday.    Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document. 

Rice City Worship

 Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

 Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service. 

 Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom – this week at 7:00 p.m. – a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Right now, we are also reflecting on questions for Advent.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn.  It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link. 

Special Prayers

 When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion.  It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection.  Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama 

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

  • For Phyllis’ sister, Dorothy Hall, 93, who has fallen and broken her hip, and for her niece, Sylvia Hall, 66, who has terminal cancer. They live in California.                             
  • For Martha’s niece Rev. Mindy Reed and her partner, both are potentially testing positive for COVID-19, and they have underlying health issues.                                           
  • For Dawna Dewhurst Rawlings who grew up in the Valley with many Moosup Valley members and whom we have just discovered is now living and in a rehab facility in Massachusetts. (Bourne Manor, 146 MacArthur Blvd., Room 106, Bourne, MA 02532)      
  • For Barbara’s cousin Judy whose doctor is trying to find the right chemotherapy treatment for her tumors.                                                                                                               
  • For Jean Selemi, recovering from back surgery. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)                                                                       
  • For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.                    
  • For Richard Lucky and Jack Greenleaf, both recuperating and awaiting baptism.                                           
  • Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.                                
  • Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI  02827)                                                                                                                                                    
  • Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, who is in Boston being treated with both radiation and chemotherapy for a very rare cancer.                                                                                   
  • For Geraldine’s nephew, John, who is wheelchair bound and angry and isolated.                                                                 
  • For all those suffering from COVID-19 and/or grieving the death of loved ones.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy by Zoom.  We will begin reading Ecclesiastes next and then explore other Wisdom texts and books in the Apocrypha.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link. 

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is temporarily on hold.   

A CHRISTMAS FABLE                                                                                                                        Why the Chimes Rang                                                                                                                   By Raymond Macdonald Alden

There was once, in a far-away country where few people have ever traveled, a wonderful church. It stood on a high hill in the midst of a great city; and every Sunday, as well as on sacred days like Christmas, thousands of people climbed the hill to its great archways, looking like lines of ants all moving in the same direction.

When you came to the building itself, you found stone columns and dark passages, and a grand entrance leading to the main room of the church. This room was so long that one standing at the doorway could scarcely see to the other end, where the choir stood by the marble altar. In the farthest corner was the organ; and this organ was so loud that sometimes when it played, the people for miles around would close their shutters and prepare for a great thunderstorm. Altogether, no such church as this was ever seen before, especially when it was lighted up for some festival, and crowded with people, young and old.

But the strangest thing about the whole building was the wonderful chime of bells. At one corner of the church was a great gray tower, with ivy growing over it as far up as one could see. I say as far as one could see, because the tower was quite great enough to fit the great church, and it rose so far into the sky that it was only in very fair weather that any one claimed to be able to see the top. Even then one could not be certain that it was in sight. Up, and up, and up climbed the stones and the ivy; and, as the men who built the church had been dead for hundreds of years, everyone had forgotten how high the tower was supposed to be.

Now all the people knew that at the top of the tower was a chime of Christmas bells. They had hung there ever since the church had been built, and were the most beautiful bells in the world. Some thought it was because a great musician had cast them and arranged them in their place; others said it was because of the great height, which reached up where the air was clearest and purest: however that might be, no one who had ever heard the chimes denied that they were the sweetest in the world. Some described them as sounding like angels far up in the sky; others, as sounding like strange winds singing through the trees.

But the fact was that no one had heard them for years and years. There was an old man living not far from the church, who said that his mother had spoken of hearing them when she was a little girl, and he was the only one who was sure of as much as that. They were Christmas chimes, you see, and were not meant to be played by men or on common days.

It was the custom on Christmas Eve for all the people to bring to the church their offerings to the Christ-child; and when the greatest and best offering was laid on the altar, there used to come sounding through the music of the choir the Christmas chimes far up in the tower. Some said that the wind rang them, and others that they were so high that the angels could set them swinging. But for many long years they had never been heard.

It was said that people had been growing less careful of their gifts for the Christ-child, and that no offering was brought, great enough to deserve the music of the chimes. Every Christmas Eve the rich people still crowded to the altar, each one trying to bring some better gift than any other, without giving anything that he wanted for himself, and the church was crowded with those who thought that perhaps the wonderful bells might be heard again. But although the service was splendid, and the offerings plenty, only the roar of the wind could be heard, far up in the stone tower.

Now, a number of miles from the city, in a little country village, where nothing could be seen of the great church but glimpses of the tower when the weather was fine, lived a boy named Pedro, and his little brother. They knew very little about the Christmas chimes, but they had heard of the service in the church on Christmas Eve, and had a secret plan, which they had often talked over when by themselves, to go to see the beautiful celebration.

“Nobody can guess, Little Brother,” Pedro would say, “all the fine things there are to see and hear; and I have even heard it said that the Christ-child sometimes comes down to bless the service. What if we could see Him?”

The day before Christmas was bitterly cold, with a few lonely snowflakes flying in the air, and a hard white crust on the ground. Sure enough, Pedro and Little Brother were able to slip quietly away early in the afternoon; and although the walking was hard in the frosty air, before nightfall they had trudged so far, hand in hand, that they saw the lights of the big city just ahead of them. Indeed, they were about to enter one of the great gates in the wall that surrounded it, when they saw something dark on the snow near their path, and stepped aside to look at it.

It was a poor woman, who had fallen just outside the city, too sick and tired to get in where she might have found shelter. The soft snow made of a drift a sort of pillow for her, and she would soon be so sound asleep, in the wintry air, that no one could ever waken her again. All this Pedro saw in a moment, and he knelt down beside her and tried to rouse her, even tugging at her arm a little, as though he would have tried to carry her away. He turned her face toward him, so that he could rub some of the snow on it, and when he had looked at her silently a moment he stood up again, and said:

“It’s no use, Little Brother. You will have to go on alone.”

“Alone?” cried Little Brother. “And you not see the Christmas festival?”

“No,” said Pedro, and he could not keep back a bit of a choking sound in his throat. “See this poor woman. Her face looks like the Madonna in the chapel window, and she will freeze to death if nobody cares for her. Everyone has gone to the church now, but when you come back you can bring someone to help her. I will rub her to keep her from freezing, and perhaps get her to eat the bun that is left in my pocket.”

“But I cannot bear to leave you, and go on alone,” said Little Brother.

“Both of us need not miss the service,” said Pedro, “and it had better be I than you. You can easily find your way to the church; and you must see and hear everything twice, Little Brother—once for you and once for me. I am sure the Christ-child must know how I should love to come with you and worship Him; and oh! if you get a chance, Little Brother, to slip up to the altar without getting in any one’s way, take this little silver piece of mine, and lay it down for my offering, when no one is looking. Do not forget where you have left me, and forgive me for not going with you.”

In this way he hurried Little Brother off to the city, and winked hard to keep back the tears, as he heard the crunching footsteps sounding farther and farther away in the twilight. It was pretty hard to lose the music and splendor of the Christmas celebration that he had been planning for so long, and spend the time instead in that lonely place in the snow.

The great church was a wonderful place that night. Every one said that it had never looked so bright and beautiful before. When the organ played and the thousands of people sang, the walls shook with the sound, and little Pedro, away outside the city wall, felt the earth tremble around him.

At the close of the service came the procession with the offerings to be laid on the altar. Rich men and great men marched proudly up to lay down their gifts to the Christ-child. Some brought wonderful jewels, some baskets of gold so heavy that they could scarcely carry them down the aisle. A great writer laid down a book that he had been making for years and years. And last of all walked the king of the country, hoping with all the rest to win for himself the chime of the Christmas bells. There went a great murmur through the church, as the people saw the king take from his head the royal crown, all set with precious stones, and lay it gleaming on the altar, as his offering to the holy Child. “Surely,” every one said, “we shall hear the bells now, for nothing like this has ever happened before.”

But still only the cold old wind was heard in the tower, and the people shook their heads; and some of them said, as they had before, that they never really believed the story of the chimes, and doubted if they ever rang at all.

The procession was over, and the choir began the closing hymn. Suddenly the organist stopped playing as though he had been shot, and everyone looked at the old minister, who was standing by the altar, holding up his hand for silence. Not a sound could be heard from anyone in the church, but as all the people strained their ears to listen, there came softly, but distinctly, swinging through the air, the sound of the chimes in the tower. So far away, and yet so clear the music seemed—so much sweeter were the notes than anything that had been heard before, rising and falling away up there in the sky, that the people in the church sat for a moment as still as though something held each of them by the shoulders. Then they all stood up together and stared straight at the altar, to see what great gift had awakened the long-silent bells.

But all that the nearest of them saw was the childish figure of Little Brother, who had crept softly down the aisle when no one was looking, and had laid Pedro’s little piece of silver on the altar.

Offerings may be mailed for: 

 Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

 Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825). 

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Merry Christmas #49 2

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #48
December 18, 2020

This is the forty-eighth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Reverend Betsy Reflects

On Monday, December 21, at exactly 5:02 a.m., our time, the sun will have reached the end of its southern journey. It will skid in place, like a bowling ball at the end of an alley, for a few days, and then begin its long climb back toward the northern hemisphere. It’s the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the longest night. Ancient people, long before Christianity, celebrated in a variety of ways. (See article which follows.)

We don’t know, of course, when Jesus was born. But it’s not surprising that the early church chose the darkest part of the year to recognize the birth of the Holy in their midst. This year, as we surely have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death, the Light of the Christ Child comes as “good news” for us.

Winter Solstice Folklore and Celebrations

Laurie Murphy forwarded this article in the current Farmers’ Almanac:

The Winter Solstice has played an important role in cultures worldwide from ancient times until today. In fact, many of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with Christmas are actually associated with Winter Solstice celebrations of ancient Pagan cultures.

Alban Arthan: Welsh for “Light of Winter,” Alban Arthan
is a universal festival, which has been (and still is) celebrated
by many people and is probably the oldest seasonal festival
of humankind. In Druidic traditions, the Winter Solstice is
thought of as a time of death and rebirth when Nature’s powers
and our own souls are renewed. It marks the moment in time when the Old Sun dies (at dusk on the 21st of December) and when the Sun of the New Year is born (at dawn on the 22nd of December), framing the longest night of the year. The birth of the New Sun is thought to revive the Earth’s aura in mystical ways, giving a new lease on life to spirits and souls of the dead. The prehistoric monument, Newgrange built in Ireland around 3200 B.C. (making it older than Stonehenge), is associated with the Alban Arthan festival. The site consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers. When the Sun rises, the chamber is flooded with sunlight on the Winter Solstice. What Stonehenge is for Alban Hefin (The Druid festival for The Summer Solstice), Newgrange is for Alban Arthan.

The Feast of Juul: This was a festival observed in Scandinavia when fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning Sun. A Yule—or Juul—log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god, Thor. It was Thor’s job to bring the Sun’s warmth back to the people. The log, which was never allowed to burn entirely, was kept as both a token of good luck against misfortune and used as kindling for the following year’s log. In England, Germany, France, and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained. The ashes were then collected and spread into the fields as fertilizer every night until Twelfth Night, or worn around the neck as a charm. French peasants would place the cooled ashes from the log under their beds, believing they would protect the house against thunder and lightning. The present-day custom of lighting a Yule log at Christmas is believed to have originated with these fires associated with the Feast of Juul.

Dongzhi Winter Solstice Festival: In addition to the traditions from western cultures, the Dongzhi Winter Solstice Festival is celebrated as a time for the entire family to get together to celebrate the past good year. As ancient Chinese thought, the yang, or muscular, positive things will become stronger and stronger after this day, so it should be celebrated. Dumplings are usually eaten.

Saturnalia: In Ancient Rome, the Winter Solstice festival
referred to as Saturnalia began on December 17 and lasted for
seven days. It was held to honor Saturnus, the Roman god of
agriculture and harvest, and was characterized by the suspension
of discipline and reversal of the usual order. Grudges and quarrels were forgiven, wars were postponed, and people engaged in carnival-like festivities. The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the third and fourth centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, some of the festival’s customs have influenced our current celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.

Pastor Bob Reflects: The Day Is Sitting

On Pastor Bob’s trip to Alaska, he was deeply moved by the Athabaskan People –
the folks who had survived the rigorous terrain and climate to thrive for thousands of years. Their celebration of Solstice is called “dzaanh ledo” which means “the day is sitting,” celebrating the day and the moment where sunlight does not decrease or increase. They use it much like we might as a New Year’s Celebration. In the last moments of darkness, they reflect on the moment of their death and how prepared they are to give an accounting of their lives. In the first moment of sunlight they speak the day of their birth and remember that they have been granted more time to correct or enhance their time of life! In that in-between time – “The Day Is Sitting” – time stands still for reflection.

It reminds me of the scripture passage “Be Still and Know that I Am God” (Psalm 46:10). Whether once a year, periodically through life, or every day, it would do us well to breathe out and reflect on the day of our death and how prepared we are to give an accounting of our life, and breathe in and reflect on the life force we still have to correct or enhance our time here on this earth. In the in-between time, we might be still and be conscious that God is with us – now and forever!

The Dark Night of Our Soul
Wendell Berry, writing in Life Prayers, reminds us that the dark has a value all its own and is not to be avoided:
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Winters Years Ago
Sonja Murray wrote this for me several months ago,
but I decided to save it until it snowed.
Well, now’s the time!

Climate change is a “hot button topic” today
and many have not lived long enough in the
same place to be able to compare seasons over
decades. Having lived in the same area of Foster
for almost eight decades I can relate my observations,
in general, and include the related changes in
community activities. Of course, today’s heavy
equipment and technology far surpass what was available 80 years ago and, consequently, the impact of big storms and severe weather has changed to some degree.

Do you remember Salty Brine’s “No School Foster-Glocester” announcements? The kids loved to hear that but temporarily forgot that all those days had to be made up either in June or during scheduled vacations. With our altitude (Jerimoth Hill is 812 feet above sea level) we had the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean for moisture and the altitude for frozen precipitation, I, personally, have seen over 1½ feet of snow here in Foster and only 3-4 inches in Warwick. It was common for us to have heavy snowfall when the rest of the state got very little. However, in more recent years, we have not gotten the persistent snowfall that kept snow on the ground for much of the winter.

Do you remember the snow fences that the state would set up parallel to the roads to prevent the snow from drifting into the roads? There was always one that ran across the road from Moosup Valley Fire Station down the hill to the next driveway. Foster was a farming community with fields beside most roads so the winds would blow huge drifts in many places. I remember two notorious places with formidable drifts on Johnson Road. One place was almost at the junction of Johnson Road and Moosup Valley Road, behind the Dexter’s barn that stood very close to the road. The other was “the plains,” the wide open area just south of Harrington Road which is now the Foster Country Club. My father owned a bulldozer (1940s vintage) and the town fitted it with a V-shaped plow. He would plow our road and a number of others and keep them open for the trucks of that era did not have the ability to open up those roads because of the drifting.

Safe ice on the local ponds is another thing that we cannot count upon, though I doubt that the neighborhood kids would gather, as they did when I was young, to skate. The Valley’s two local skating ponds were Johnson’s pond (the small pond on the east side of Johnson Road about one-half mile from Moosup Valley Road) and Blanchard’s pond (now Cuniff’s property) which lies on the west side of Johnson Road. That larger pond can barely be seen on the left when one travels north, at the bottom of Thunder Rock Hill (where Laila and Clive Bennett lived). Green Acres Pond, beside Moosup Valley Church, had not been dug at that time. Back in the 1950s it was common for the ice to be safe most of the winter and the rugged boys would keep the ice clear of snow. The kids in the neighborhood would gather after school, have a fire which was fueled by old tires, and skate until we were too cold to continue. An informal form of hockey was a favorite with the boys. Our winters now are usually erratic enough that there are warm stretches after cold periods and the ice rarely freezes to a depth that will be safe through the winter. And, unfortunately, we have lost that spirit of community where kids gather for spontaneous group activities.

As I compare the winters of my childhood and the winters we now experience, I am certain that our area gets far less frozen precipitation than was common over 50 years ago. Snowbanks lining the roadways of Foster were common for most of the winter many years ago. Now they are a fleeting thing. Although we still occasionally get a blizzard, the overall snowfall is far less than it was years ago. Now we more frequently worry about sleet and freezing rain. Without a doubt, our winters are moderating and climate change is a reality.

In the Bleak Midwinter
Christina Rossetti portrayed the Christmas story not in warm Bethlehem, but in the winter of her native England in 1872.

In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak mid-winter, long ago.

Our God transcends all heaven, earth, and its domain,
heaven and earth shall flee away when Christ comes to reign;
In the bleak mid-winter a stable place sufficed the sovereign God almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the midnight air;
But his mother only, in her maiden bliss, worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I offer, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise one, I would do my part; but what I can I offer, all my heart.

A Star in the Sky

Laurie Murphy also found this interesting phenomenon on earthsky.org.

Astronomers use the word conjunction to describe meetings of planets and other objects on our sky’s dome. They use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of the two biggest worlds in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn. The December 21, 2020, great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is already underway and highly conspicuous in the west after sunset each evening. On December 21, the pair will be only 0.1 degree apart. Some say the pair will look like an elongated star on that date. Will they? Or will they look like a double planet? What if you’re clouded out? How can you watch online?

No matter how you see them, or which evening between now and December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will surely be an appealing and mind-expanding sight. Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions happen every 20 years; the last one was in the year 2000. But these conjunctions aren’t all created equal. The 2020 great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226! 2020’s extra-close Jupiter-Saturn conjunction won’t be matched again until the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of March 15, 2080.

At the 2000 great conjunction, 20 years ago, Jupiter and Saturn were near the sun in our sky and difficult to observe. We’re due for a more observable great conjunction. Jupiter and Saturn are up every evening now – not far from the sunset glare – easily visible and exceedingly noticeable as two bright objects near each other. Plus, in the days prior to the conjunction, the young moon is appearing in the evening sky, to point the way to the planets.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts. This Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Advent. This will be our Annual Service of Lessons and Carols, and between the readings of beloved scriptures, we will sing. Priscilla will light the third purple candle in our Advent wreath, the candle for Love, and then we will light the Christ candle. Evelyn Mann will play “O Holy Night.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document. Please bring a candle to light at the end of the service when we sing “Silent Night.”

Rice City Worship
Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.
Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. Right now, we are also reflecting on questions for Advent. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Looking Ahead to Christmas Eve

• MOOSUP VALLEY’S 37TH LIVING CRECHE at 5:00 p.m. by Zoom. Carl Safstrom and Judi White are collaborating on the computer logistics which will include pictures of previous years’ pageants. Zach Farnum will narrate, and Bart Duarte will sing the carols while we mute and sing along. The Zoom link will be sent to everyone in the newsletter next week.

• CAMP FIRE LIGHT CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE at Rice City at 6:00 p.m.
We will celebrate Christmas Eve in person outside (with masks and social distance) around five properly-spaced fire pits. Each fire can accommodate five individuals, three couples, two small household pods, or one larger household pod, so we will be able to have 25-30 people, safely warm. If you are interested, please let Pastor Bob know, so that he can get more fire pits if needed. We will sing carols, share the Christmas Story, and bask in the light that shines in the darkness.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Dawna Dewhurst Rawlings who grew up in the Valley with many Moosup Valley members and whom we have just discovered is now living and in a rehabilitation facility in Massachusetts. (Cards may be sent to Bourne Manor, 146 MacArthur Blvd., Room 106, Bourne, MA 02532.)

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy whose doctor is trying to find the right chemotherapy treatment for her tumors.

 For Tina Lavallee’s husband, Eric, who is healing well after surgery for skin cancer.

 For Jean Selemi, recovering from back surgery. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Beverly Griffiths’ Aunt Helen, age 95, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky and Jack Greenleaf, both recuperating and awaiting baptism.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, who is healing from an accident.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, who is in Boston being treated with both radiation and chemotherapy for a very rare cancer.

 For Geraldine’s nephew, John, who is wheelchair bound and angry and isolated.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19 and/or grieving the death of loved ones.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy by Zoom, right now, reading and discussing Ecclesiastes and Wisdom Biblical literature. For the link, contact Betsy.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is temporarily on hold.

Foster DHS Christmas Tags
Thank you for your generosity during this Christmas Season. Your kindness in providing gifts for the children of Foster has helped care for over 35 children. Thank you, and God bless you as God has been a blessing through you!

Closing Thoughts: A Mid-Winter Meditation
By Nancy L Steeves, Printed in Sophia Magazine

In darkness we are drawn to germinate, flowers prepare to bloom, and our dreams unfold. Darkness is a gift.
In darkness, the edges blur. Boundaries between reality and fantasy, between friend and stranger become fluid, opening new possibilities.
Darkness is a gift.
In darkness, when our eyes rest, our ears become more attentive to the sounds of story, of lullaby, of wind, of loved ones breathing in the night.
Darkness is a gift.
In the darkness, we find space for reflection; for deep, dream-filled and refreshing sleep. We are bidden to journey into the unconscious.
Darkness is a gift.
In the darkness of the womb, we were formed in great complexity. Under the cover of darkness, many creatures have their being. Only in the deepest darkness can we see the star-studded sky. Darkness is a gift of grace. As we celebrate the shortest Winter Day, may we also celebrate the many gifts of darkness.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

****************************************************************************

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #47
December 11, 2020

This

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #48
December 18, 2020

This is the forty-eighth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;
The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Reverend Betsy Reflects

On Monday, December 21, at exactly 5:02 a.m., our time, the sun will have reached the end of its southern journey. It will skid in place, like a bowling ball at the end of an alley, for a few days, and then begin its long climb back toward the northern hemisphere. It’s the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the longest night. Ancient people, long before Christianity, celebrated in a variety of ways. (See article which follows.)

We don’t know, of course, when Jesus was born. But it’s not surprising that the early church chose the darkest part of the year to recognize the birth of the Holy in their midst. This year, as we surely have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death, the Light of the Christ Child comes as “good news” for us.

Winter Solstice Folklore and Celebrations

Laurie Murphy forwarded this article in the current Farmers’ Almanac:

The Winter Solstice has played an important role in cultures worldwide from ancient times until today. In fact, many of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with Christmas are actually associated with Winter Solstice celebrations of ancient Pagan cultures.

Alban Arthan: Welsh for “Light of Winter,” Alban Arthan
is a universal festival, which has been (and still is) celebrated
by many people and is probably the oldest seasonal festival
of humankind. In Druidic traditions, the Winter Solstice is
thought of as a time of death and rebirth when Nature’s powers
and our own souls are renewed. It marks the moment in time when the Old Sun dies (at dusk on the 21st of December) and when the Sun of the New Year is born (at dawn on the 22nd of December), framing the longest night of the year. The birth of the New Sun is thought to revive the Earth’s aura in mystical ways, giving a new lease on life to spirits and souls of the dead. The prehistoric monument, Newgrange built in Ireland around 3200 B.C. (making it older than Stonehenge), is associated with the Alban Arthan festival. The site consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers. When the Sun rises, the chamber is flooded with sunlight on the Winter Solstice. What Stonehenge is for Alban Hefin (The Druid festival for The Summer Solstice), Newgrange is for Alban Arthan.

The Feast of Juul: This was a festival observed in Scandinavia when fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning Sun. A Yule—or Juul—log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god, Thor. It was Thor’s job to bring the Sun’s warmth back to the people. The log, which was never allowed to burn entirely, was kept as both a token of good luck against misfortune and used as kindling for the following year’s log. In England, Germany, France, and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained. The ashes were then collected and spread into the fields as fertilizer every night until Twelfth Night, or worn around the neck as a charm. French peasants would place the cooled ashes from the log under their beds, believing they would protect the house against thunder and lightning. The present-day custom of lighting a Yule log at Christmas is believed to have originated with these fires associated with the Feast of Juul.

Dongzhi Winter Solstice Festival: In addition to the traditions from western cultures, the Dongzhi Winter Solstice Festival is celebrated as a time for the entire family to get together to celebrate the past good year. As ancient Chinese thought, the yang, or muscular, positive things will become stronger and stronger after this day, so it should be celebrated. Dumplings are usually eaten.

Saturnalia: In Ancient Rome, the Winter Solstice festival
referred to as Saturnalia began on December 17 and lasted for
seven days. It was held to honor Saturnus, the Roman god of
agriculture and harvest, and was characterized by the suspension
of discipline and reversal of the usual order. Grudges and quarrels were forgiven, wars were postponed, and people engaged in carnival-like festivities. The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the third and fourth centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, some of the festival’s customs have influenced our current celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.

Pastor Bob Reflects: The Day Is Sitting

On Pastor Bob’s trip to Alaska, he was deeply moved by the Athabaskan People –
the folks who had survived the rigorous terrain and climate to thrive for thousands of years. Their celebration of Solstice is called “dzaanh ledo” which means “the day is sitting,” celebrating the day and the moment where sunlight does not decrease or increase. They use it much like we might as a New Year’s Celebration. In the last moments of darkness, they reflect on the moment of their death and how prepared they are to give an accounting of their lives. In the first moment of sunlight they speak the day of their birth and remember that they have been granted more time to correct or enhance their time of life! In that in-between time – “The Day Is Sitting” – time stands still for reflection.

It reminds me of the scripture passage “Be Still and Know that I Am God” (Psalm 46:10). Whether once a year, periodically through life, or every day, it would do us well to breathe out and reflect on the day of our death and how prepared we are to give an accounting of our life, and breathe in and reflect on the life force we still have to correct or enhance our time here on this earth. In the in-between time, we might be still and be conscious that God is with us – now and forever!

The Dark Night of Our Soul
Wendell Berry, writing in Life Prayers, reminds us that the dark has a value all its own and is not to be avoided:
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Winters Years Ago
Sonja Murray wrote this for me several months ago,
but I decided to save it until it snowed.
Well, now’s the time!

Climate change is a “hot button topic” today
and many have not lived long enough in the
same place to be able to compare seasons over
decades. Having lived in the same area of Foster
for almost eight decades I can relate my observations,
in general, and include the related changes in
community activities. Of course, today’s heavy
equipment and technology far surpass what was available 80 years ago and, consequently, the impact of big storms and severe weather has changed to some degree.

Do you remember Salty Brine’s “No School Foster-Glocester” announcements? The kids loved to hear that but temporarily forgot that all those days had to be made up either in June or during scheduled vacations. With our altitude (Jerimoth Hill is 812 feet above sea level) we had the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean for moisture and the altitude for frozen precipitation, I, personally, have seen over 1½ feet of snow here in Foster and only 3-4 inches in Warwick. It was common for us to have heavy snowfall when the rest of the state got very little. However, in more recent years, we have not gotten the persistent snowfall that kept snow on the ground for much of the winter.

Do you remember the snow fences that the state would set up parallel to the roads to prevent the snow from drifting into the roads? There was always one that ran across the road from Moosup Valley Fire Station down the hill to the next driveway. Foster was a farming community with fields beside most roads so the winds would blow huge drifts in many places. I remember two notorious places with formidable drifts on Johnson Road. One place was almost at the junction of Johnson Road and Moosup Valley Road, behind the Dexter’s barn that stood very close to the road. The other was “the plains,” the wide open area just south of Harrington Road which is now the Foster Country Club. My father owned a bulldozer (1940s vintage) and the town fitted it with a V-shaped plow. He would plow our road and a number of others and keep them open for the trucks of that era did not have the ability to open up those roads because of the drifting.

Safe ice on the local ponds is another thing that we cannot count upon, though I doubt that the neighborhood kids would gather, as they did when I was young, to skate. The Valley’s two local skating ponds were Johnson’s pond (the small pond on the east side of Johnson Road about one-half mile from Moosup Valley Road) and Blanchard’s pond (now Cuniff’s property) which lies on the west side of Johnson Road. That larger pond can barely be seen on the left when one travels north, at the bottom of Thunder Rock Hill (where Laila and Clive Bennett lived). Green Acres Pond, beside Moosup Valley Church, had not been dug at that time. Back in the 1950s it was common for the ice to be safe most of the winter and the rugged boys would keep the ice clear of snow. The kids in the neighborhood would gather after school, have a fire which was fueled by old tires, and skate until we were too cold to continue. An informal form of hockey was a favorite with the boys. Our winters now are usually erratic enough that there are warm stretches after cold periods and the ice rarely freezes to a depth that will be safe through the winter. And, unfortunately, we have lost that spirit of community where kids gather for spontaneous group activities.

As I compare the winters of my childhood and the winters we now experience, I am certain that our area gets far less frozen precipitation than was common over 50 years ago. Snowbanks lining the roadways of Foster were common for most of the winter many years ago. Now they are a fleeting thing. Although we still occasionally get a blizzard, the overall snowfall is far less than it was years ago. Now we more frequently worry about sleet and freezing rain. Without a doubt, our winters are moderating and climate change is a reality.

In the Bleak Midwinter
Christina Rossetti portrayed the Christmas story not in warm Bethlehem, but in the winter of her native England in 1872.

In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak mid-winter, long ago.

Our God transcends all heaven, earth, and its domain,
heaven and earth shall flee away when Christ comes to reign;
In the bleak mid-winter a stable place sufficed the sovereign God almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the midnight air;
But his mother only, in her maiden bliss, worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I offer, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise one, I would do my part; but what I can I offer, all my heart.

A Star in the Sky

Laurie Murphy also found this interesting phenomenon on earthsky.org.

Astronomers use the word conjunction to describe meetings of planets and other objects on our sky’s dome. They use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of the two biggest worlds in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn. The December 21, 2020, great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is already underway and highly conspicuous in the west after sunset each evening. On December 21, the pair will be only 0.1 degree apart. Some say the pair will look like an elongated star on that date. Will they? Or will they look like a double planet? What if you’re clouded out? How can you watch online?

No matter how you see them, or which evening between now and December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will surely be an appealing and mind-expanding sight. Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions happen every 20 years; the last one was in the year 2000. But these conjunctions aren’t all created equal. The 2020 great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest since 1623 and the closest observable since 1226! 2020’s extra-close Jupiter-Saturn conjunction won’t be matched again until the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of March 15, 2080.

At the 2000 great conjunction, 20 years ago, Jupiter and Saturn were near the sun in our sky and difficult to observe. We’re due for a more observable great conjunction. Jupiter and Saturn are up every evening now – not far from the sunset glare – easily visible and exceedingly noticeable as two bright objects near each other. Plus, in the days prior to the conjunction, the young moon is appearing in the evening sky, to point the way to the planets.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take active parts. This Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Advent. This will be our Annual Service of Lessons and Carols, and between the readings of beloved scriptures, we will sing. Priscilla will light the third purple candle in our Advent wreath, the candle for Love, and then we will light the Christ candle. Evelyn Mann will play “O Holy Night.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document. Please bring a candle to light at the end of the service when we sing “Silent Night.”

Rice City Worship
Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.
Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. Right now, we are also reflecting on questions for Advent. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Looking Ahead to Christmas Eve

• MOOSUP VALLEY’S 37TH LIVING CRECHE at 5:00 p.m. by Zoom. Carl Safstrom and Judi White are collaborating on the computer logistics which will include pictures of previous years’ pageants. Zach Farnum will narrate, and Bart Duarte will sing the carols while we mute and sing along. The Zoom link will be sent to everyone in the newsletter next week.

• CAMP FIRE LIGHT CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE at Rice City at 6:00 p.m.
We will celebrate Christmas Eve in person outside (with masks and social distance) around five properly-spaced fire pits. Each fire can accommodate five individuals, three couples, two small household pods, or one larger household pod, so we will be able to have 25-30 people, safely warm. If you are interested, please let Pastor Bob know, so that he can get more fire pits if needed. We will sing carols, share the Christmas Story, and bask in the light that shines in the darkness.

Special Prayers

When people are overwhelmed by illness, we must give them physical relief, but it is equally important to encourage the spirit through a constant show of love and compassion. It is shameful how often we fail to see that what people desperately require is human affection. Deprived of human warmth and a sense of value, other forms of treatment prove less effective. Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures, but with the simple gift of affection and love. – The Dalai Lama

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Dawna Dewhurst Rawlings who grew up in the Valley with many Moosup Valley members and whom we have just discovered is now living and in a rehabilitation facility in Massachusetts. (Cards may be sent to Bourne Manor, 146 MacArthur Blvd., Room 106, Bourne, MA 02532.)

 For Barbara’s cousin Judy whose doctor is trying to find the right chemotherapy treatment for her tumors.

 For Tina Lavallee’s husband, Eric, who is healing well after surgery for skin cancer.

 For Jean Selemi, recovering from back surgery. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Beverly Griffiths’ Aunt Helen, age 95, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky and Jack Greenleaf, both recuperating and awaiting baptism.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, who is healing from an accident.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, who is in Boston being treated with both radiation and chemotherapy for a very rare cancer.

 For Geraldine’s nephew, John, who is wheelchair bound and angry and isolated.

 For all those suffering from COVID-19 and/or grieving the death of loved ones.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy by Zoom, right now, reading and discussing Ecclesiastes and Wisdom Biblical literature. For the link, contact Betsy.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is temporarily on hold.

Foster DHS Christmas Tags
Thank you for your generosity during this Christmas Season. Your kindness in providing gifts for the children of Foster has helped care for over 35 children. Thank you, and God bless you as God has been a blessing through you!

Closing Thoughts: A Mid-Winter Meditation
By Nancy L Steeves, Printed in Sophia Magazine

In darkness we are drawn to germinate, flowers prepare to bloom, and our dreams unfold. Darkness is a gift.
In darkness, the edges blur. Boundaries between reality and fantasy, between friend and stranger become fluid, opening new possibilities.
Darkness is a gift.
In darkness, when our eyes rest, our ears become more attentive to the sounds of story, of lullaby, of wind, of loved ones breathing in the night.
Darkness is a gift.
In the darkness, we find space for reflection; for deep, dream-filled and refreshing sleep. We are bidden to journey into the unconscious.
Darkness is a gift.
In the darkness of the womb, we were formed in great complexity. Under the cover of darkness, many creatures have their being. Only in the deepest darkness can we see the star-studded sky. Darkness is a gift of grace. As we celebrate the shortest Winter Day, may we also celebrate the many gifts of darkness.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

is the forty-seventh issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;
The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

                        Christmas widow box 2020                 Christmas door wreaths 2020                                                                 

All Decked Out for the Season!
We are grateful again to Pam and Tom Haliwell of Natural Designs for decorating the front of Moosup Valley Church with greens in the window box and wreaths on the doors. In fact, our beautiful little church looks so Christmasy, that a young couple in the neighborhood asked to take their wedding pictures here following their marriage at Town Hall this month. So even when the building is closed due to COVID-19, we are still serving the community!

Reverend Betsy Reflects on the “Gospels” in our Midst

The beginning of the good news of
Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark 1:1-8

During Advent in the year when the Gospel of Mark is featured, there is no baby in a manger, or a couple on the way to Bethlehem leading a donkey, or shepherds or angels or wise men. There is no sentimental Christmas story that we love so much, no birth narrative like there is in Matthew and Luke. The Christmas stories were added much later by those gospel writers. Mark, instead, reminds us to get ready for the birth of Jesus who is going to rock the boat, the One who has come to disrupt and to save the world.

Scholars point out that Mark’s gospel was one of many circulating
in the first-century Roman empire. We grew up being taught in                Mark's Gospel #47
Sunday School that there were four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – but as adults we learn about the Gospel of Thomas which didn’t make it into our New Testament canon but which presents the same Jesus as the other gospels did. Thomas is a Coptic gospel which can be found in the Nag Hammadi Library, scrolls discovered in Egypt in 1945, and which contain many sayings of Jesus. The Gospel of Thomas is so similar to the gospels we grew up with that scholars often refer to “The Five Gospels.” When I was at Harvard Divinity School, I saw a fragment of the Gospel of Thomas, preserved under class in the library.

But I’m not so interested in Thomas today as I am in all the secular “gospels” floating out there in the community in our time – the Gospel of Prosperity that promises material blessings as a sign of God’s faithfulness. I have actually heard this “gospel” preached, and I wonder what hearing it does to those who struggle hard to make ends meet. Do they feel like failures, that God doesn’t love them?

Or how about the Consumer Gospel that promises healing and wholeness through shopping, consumption, and the accumulation of things? In an insert in The Providence Journal last Sunday, “ION,” there was an article urging people to upgrade their phone every year, whether they need a new one or not. Why” Because it makes economic sense with trade-in deals, and it also stimulates the electronic industry. I could support that idea if your old phone could be given to a woman who needs a life-line for safety’s sake, but not for the sake of newness itself. How about you? Remember the bumper sticker that read, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”?

There is the Feel-Good Gospel that promises escape from pressures of the contemporary world through drugs, alcohol, sports, or media and entertainment. I wonder, too, if our idolizing of movie stars, pop culture singers, and sports heroes is not also a kind of Gospel of Personality, the promise of salvation by identifying with a successful person.

And then, there is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which promises salvation through a human being who comes to teach us how life is to be lived and cared for – which is not about wealth and power, but about redeeming the lost and the lonely this Christmas, about serving the needy. It is a gospel about leaning into God’s blessings, about finding the gift of God’s power to help bring about God’s promises to a brokenhearted world.
Carol Mauro at Foster DHS tells us how this Gospel story is being told at Foster Center and beyond (see page 6, below). Advent calls us to align ourselves with this gospel, the true good news for our time.

Pastor Bob Reflects: A Few of My Favorite Things

In The Sound of Music, the governess (Julie Andrews) sings the song, “A Few of My Favorite Things.” She lists many of the things in life that bring her happiness and joy.
Then she says, “When the dog bites, When the bee stings, When I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don’t feel so bad.”

Thinking on the things that bring us joy often frees us from the melancholy of things not going the way we would like. In those times, some of my favorite things are that: God is with me. God loves me. God has not been surprised by anything that has happened to me. God is for me. And God is committed to sharing with me whatever I need to be able to successfully deal with whatever has happened. These are a few of my favorite things!

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers. This Sunday is the third Sunday in Advent. Laila will light the rose candle in our Advent wreath, the candle for Joy. Reverend Betsy will reflect on Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 in her message, “How to Fix the World,” and Lee will sing for us a German Christmas hymn from the 15th century, “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming,” where the rose was depicted as a symbol of Mary by the Catholic Church. Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship

Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Reverend Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.
Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. Right now, we are also reflecting on questions for Advent. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Looking Ahead to Christmas Eve      Christmas Eve #47

Christmas comes even in a time of COVID. This is what is
happening in the MVLP:

Moosup Valley Church will hold its 37th Living Crèche
pageant at 5:00 p.m. by Zoom. Carl Safstrom and Judi White
are collaborating on the computer logistics which will include pictures of previous years’ pageants. Zach Farnum will narrate, and Bart Duarte will sing the carols while we mute and sing along.

Rice City Church will hold a Christmas Eve service outside at 6:00 p.m. around the fire with masks on. Although there will be no Christmas Hymn Sing at Mt. Vernon Church this month, they plan to sing carols around the fire.


A Christmas Story

UCC Minister Quinn Caldwell in his book, All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas, writes,

“One of my favorite things about all the rituals and traditions attached to this time of year is the way they mess with time.
“My husband and son and I decorate our Christmas tree, and as we hang each ornament—the ones we brought from our parents’ houses and the ones we got together—
we tell their stories. As we do, we find that we are not just standing in the living room we share, but we’re also standing in footed pajamas in the living rooms we grew up in, decorating every tree we’re ever decorated, right in the moment.
“We gather on Christmas Eve with the lights down and the candles lit, and we sing ‘Silent Night.’ As we do, it’s like we’re singing it at every Christmas Eve service we’ve ever been to; it’s like we’re singing it at every Christmas Eve service yet to come; it’s like, by our song, we’re calling the birth of God into existence again.
“It’s not nostalgia; it’s not just a hazy remembrance of the time back when things used to be better than they are now. It’s more than that; it’s like a collapsing of time, a drawing in of past and future into one long now.
“Theologians would say we’re stepping out of ordinary time, or what they call chronos, and catching a glimpse of God’s time, or what they call kairos. In chronos, minute follows minute, and you can only go forward; that’s where we live most of the time. But for God, in kairos, every moment is one, and your first Christmas, your last Christmas, this Christmas and the redemption of the whole world are all happening right now, forever.
“It’s one of the reasons people love this time of year so much, that quality it has that, for many people more than any other time of the year, lets us glimpse the world the way God sees it. So what things or traditions do that for you? What brings you back to your childhood at warp speed? Whatever it is, you should plan to do it soon.”


Special Prayers

We have no idea the effect we actually have on one another. … Blessing as powerful and positive intention can transform situations and people. The force of blessing must be even more powerful when we consider how the intention of blessing corresponds with the deepest desire of reality for creativity, healing, and wholesomeness. Blessing has pure agency because it animates on the deepest threshold between being and becoming; it mines the territories of memory to awaken and draw forth possibilities we cannot even begin to imagine! – John O’Donohue

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Tina’s husband who is recovering from successful surgery for skin cancer. And although Eric is stiff and sore, the surgeon says he has “clear margins.” They thank everyone for their prayers.

 For Veronica, whose husband, Chris, died recently; her first Christmas without him.

 For Jean Selemi, recovering from back surgery. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky and Jack Greenleaf, both recuperating and awaiting baptism.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, who is healing from an accident.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, who is in Boston being treated with both radiation and chemotherapy for a very rare cancer.
 For Geraldine’s nephew, John, who is wheelchair bound and angry and isolated.

 For all those still suffering from climate change disasters as the Earth heats up – from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For all those still suffering from COVID-19 and its after-affects.

 For our nation that we will have a peaceful transition of leadership in this election season, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy by Zoom. We have begun reading Ecclesiastes and will explore other Wisdom texts and books in the Apocrypha. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is temporarily on hold

 

#47

Christmas Concert

If it were not for the pandemic, Moosup Valley Church would have hosted an Atwater- Donnelly Christmas Concert this month. But Aubrey and Elwood have not gone away, just doing things differently. They will be in concert Tuesday, December 15, 6:00-7:00 p.m., at the Greene Public Library by Zoom. You can enjoy songs and conversation with them for free. Email them at aubreyfolk@aol.com to register and get the Zoom link!
http://www.coventrylibrary.org/greene-library. The library number is (401) 397-3874. You also can get their upcoming schedule on the Atwater-Donnelly website; their phone is (401) 392-1909. Some of their concerts are online and others are socially-distanced.

Foster DHS Updates

The Foster community knew how devastating the pandemic would be for the clients of Foster DHS. Director Carol Mauro reports that, “in addition to the front line workers, our community as a whole has been extremely responsive and supportive in their generosity toward their neighbors: DHS has received more donations of food and monetary gifts than in past years. One person donated their whole stimulus check; another sends [in] $100 every month; someone else brought an envelope of $100 bills; someone else brought a car load of food. Gifts have been abundant for the [Children’s] Christmas tags (people adding “extras” to their tags). Additionally, there are numerous single bags of food, $25 here and there, offers to help in any way, social media promoters. It has been an exceptional year on so many levels. In this year of political division, the pandemic has also brought people together for a common cause, to care for one another. (Lester Holt’s evening sign off message.)

Drop boxes for ongoing donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. They can be sent to Town of Foster, Department of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #46
December 4, 2020

This is the forty-sixth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;   The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Reverend Betsy Reflects on the Time We’re In

I sit here at my desk at the beginning of Advent, thinking  46 Prepare the Way
about what to say. All over the country, the COVID-19 virus is infecting more and more people, and surely we all know of someone who has died. Yesterday, the father of one of the members at the Cotuit Center for the Arts died, and the toll is rising here on the Cape. Kim and I had hoped to meet Craig and Michelle half way between Mashpee and Wolfeboro, but because my son Craig works for Dispatch at the Wolfeboro Police Station, he’s not allowed to leave New Hampshire. And we don’t want to be fined $500 a day by Massachusetts for crossing back.

Such is life these days, but minor compared to the suffering of so many who have lost loved ones and could not even say goodbye, to those who have lost jobs and may even lose their homes; to those who don’t have enough to feed their families; to those who need surgery, postponed until we have a vaccine; to those who are isolated and lonely and afraid. We yearn for what we used to have, the freedom to come and go, the ability to count on a future of our own design. And aren’t you tired of wearing a mask? Wouldn’t you like to be able to hug your grandchildren again? And sing beloved carols together?

Advent takes on new meaning this year, as we wait and watch for the Holy in our midst –
evident, if we but pay attention, to the kindness we offer each other in the stores while we are socially distanced, to the offer to pick up mail or groceries or medication for a neighbor, to the extra notes and cards we write to each other, to the ways we are teaching our children online and reinventing worship on the internet and pulling in loved ones from miles away. Whenever we emerge from this time of fear, we will have grown in ways we cannot begin to imagine now, we will have discovered places where we need to change, and we will have learned how to reach out and care for each other in new and surprising ways. We also will have seen how important community is, how dependent we are on each other. Advent calls us to “Prepare the Way” for the coming of the Holy, and we see how important it is to make a path for it in the living of our ordinary lives.

A wise and compassionate leader, who grew up in turbulent times in Argentina and who suffered life-threatening illness as a young man (and has some idea of what it’s like to be in intense pain and to struggle to breathe on a ventilator), Pope Francis comments on how important it is to be touched by other’s pain. In a new book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, the Pope, collaborating with Austen Ivereigh. writes that “a crisis reveals what is in our hearts”:

In this past year of change, my mind and heart have overflowed with people. People I think of and pray for, and sometimes cry with, people with names and faces, people who died without saying goodbye to those they loved, families in difficulty, even going hungry, because there’s no work.

Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nation, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.

These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion. Each of us has had our own “stoppage,” or if we haven’t yet, we will someday: illness, the failure of a marriage or a business, some great disappointment or betrayal. As in the COVID-19 lockdown, those moments generate a tension, a crisis that reveals what is in our hearts. In every personal [challenge], what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected.

[The nuns and nurses in Buenos Aires who cared for me when I was gravely ill] taught me what it is to use science but also to know when to go beyond it to meet particular needs. And the serious illness I lived through taught me to depend on the goodness and wisdom of others.

I have heard that Francis slips out of the Vatican at night, dressed as a simple priest, and minsters to the poor of Rome. Here is a humble man who learned from his own vulnerability about what it means to love the way God loves and to serve the way Jesus taught his followers. And, yes, if you read the newspapers, his leadership is not always welcomed by those who cling to tradition – “we never did that way before” –
but to those of us who seek to follow the Way of Jesus, even us Protestants, we can learn a lot from the Pope during this Advent season. He has become one of my heroes! How about you?

Pastor Bob: When I Need Peace, I Go to the Ocean

46 PeaceWhen I need God’s Peace, I go to the Ocean. For me that means Beavertail, Galilee, Brenton Point, or Race Point Beach in Province-town. God never ceases to “speak” peace to my soul as I sit and take in all that the beach has to offer. The waves can be turbulent because of a storm or a powerful moon, but deep underneath the surface, the water is still. The water may be smooth as glass on the surface, but I know that deep underneath it is filled with life and movement. The waves may be crashing and powerful and making all kinds of beautiful noise, but it is part of the eternal tide rolling in and easing out, day after day, forever. There is power for the greatest ride in your life, tranquility to give rest to my soul, amazing surprises that I have never seen before, and the familiarity of the tide rolling in and rolling out.

And as I am very present, feeling like I am meant to be there in that moment as God gives personally to me, I know there is someone on another shore – far beyond the horizon –who is receiving a similar peace from God for themselves. God never disappoints, I always receive just what I need to find peace for my soul.

Like at the seashore, I find what I need whenever I stop and “Be Still and Know” that God is God. On this second week of Advent, may you breathe in and live out the Peace of God, the peace that I find where the ocean meets the land and stretches out to touch the horizon.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers. This Sunday is the second Sunday in Advent. Pat will light the second purple candle in our Advent wreath, the candle for Peace. Reverend Betsy will reflect on Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8, two of this week’s lectionary texts, in her message, “Prepare the Way,” and Lee will sing for us an Advent hymn from the 4th century, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” This also is a Communion Sunday, so please bring a piece of bread or cracker and a cup of something. Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship

Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person (with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols) and online, live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page, then and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. Right now, we are also reflecting on questions for Advent. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

A Christmas Story: “The Porch People”
By Kenya Transtrum
This story was published in “A Cup of Comfort for Christmas.”

The winter was not going well for our young and growing family. I was expecting our sixth child, and my husband had been out of a steady job for nearly two years. Taking whatever temporary work he could find, we were able to make our monthly obligations, but with Christmas coming in a few days, we were saddened that we would be unable to provide our children with gifts.

One evening, the doorbell rang and we opened it to find a big box on the porch—and no one is sight. We dragged the heavy box inside and discovered that it was stuffed full of food and candy. The children danced around excitedly as we pulled out everyday basics like macaroni and cheese, as well as the making for a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings, including apple pie filling and a pre-made piecrust. The next evening as we helped the older children with schoolwork and bathed and readied our younger ones for bed, the doorbell rang again. This time we found a smaller box, but were just as thrilled by its contents: a small ceramic Nativity set. Again, whoever had delivered the box had disappeared by the time we’d opened the door. We let the children choose a place of honor for our new gift. After they decided who should stand by Joseph and that the lamb needed to be next to the shepherds, my husband and I spent a few reflective moments with our children on the meaning of the upcoming holiday. We remind them that Mary and Joseph had been desperately poor, having not even enough money to provide a room in which Mary could give birth to her baby son. I asked the children how they would feel if they knew that their pregnant mommy would have to go out in a barn to have our new baby there. They looked very solemn. I gently told them that Mary and Joseph did not have any money to give gifts but that didn’t mean they didn’t love their baby.
Our four-year-old reminded us that we didn’t need any money, for surely Santa Claus would bring us presents. We went to bed that night in agony, wondering how we would explain to our children on Christmas morning why they had received no gifts.
The next few evenings our children anxiously awaited the return of the “porch people.” Their only disappointment was that they were unable to catch them in the act, for every night, another box filled with Christmas goodies and decorations appeared on our front porch.
Two days before Christmas I opened the back door to shake the rugs and found another box. This one was filled with wrapped gifts bearing cheerful tags addressed to our children, by name. There were several gifts for each child and even a few for my husband and me. I hid the presents so the children wouldn’t find them and looked forward to sharing the secret with my husband. After a discouraging day of job hunting, I knew he would appreciate some good news.
When my husband came home later that day, I beamed as I told him of the box I had found on the back porch. Wanting him to have a small surprise on Christmas morning, I didn’t mention that there was also a package for him. He gave me a weary smile and headed for the shower.
That night, I had a hard time keeping my children away from the windows. They spent a good deal of time peeking outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the porch people. They even offered to take out the trash. Finally, I got the Monopoly game out of the closet and soon had the older ones interested in buying property and avoiding the “Go to Jail” square. Whenever they heard an unexplained sound, all the kids would look up expectantly and ask, “Is it the porch people?” I couldn’t ruin the surprise of Christmas morning by telling them that we’d already received an extra-special box earlier that day, so I tried to distract them with games and stories.
I also wanted my children to learn something valuable from the porch people. So, I asked them why they thought the porch people would do so many nice things for us. Were they family members? People from our church? Neighbors? Whoever they were, we decided that they must love us.
My nine-year-old then gave an analogy that brought tears to my eyes. “The porch people are like the Wise Men, who brought gifts to baby Jesus just because they loved Him.”
Several months later, my husband found a permanent job, and I gave birth to a healthy son. Soon, Christmas was upon us again. Our financial situation had improved and we able to provide a lovely holiday for our family, but the porch people had taught us an invaluable lesson. That Christmas, we became porch people to another family in need, because, like the Wise Men, we love Him and all His children.

Special Prayers

We have no idea the effect we actually have on one another. … Blessing as powerful and positive intention can transform situations and people. The force of blessing must be even more powerful when we consider how the intention of blessing corresponds with the deepest desire of reality for creativity, healing, and wholesomeness. Blessing has pure agency because it animates on the deepest threshold between being and becoming; it mines the territories of memory to awaken and draw forth possibilities we cannot even begin to imagine! – John O’Donohue

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Tina Lavallee’s husband, Eric, who is awaiting surgery on December 8 for skin cancer.

 For Jean Selemi, out of the hospital and recovering from back surgery. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Beverly Griffiths’ Aunt Helen, age 95, who is testing positive for COVID-19.

 For Joyce Chase who has a leaky heart value and needs open heart surgery.

 For Richard Lucky and Jack Greenleaf, both recuperating and awaiting baptism.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, who is healing from an accident.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, who is in Boston being treated with both radiation and chemotherapy for a very rare cancer.

 For Geraldine’s nephew, John, who is wheelchair bound and angry and isolated.

 For all those still suffering from climate change disasters as the Earth heats up – from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For all those still suffering from COVID-19 and its after-affects.

 For our nation that we will have a peaceful transition of leadership in this election season, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy by Zoom. We will begin reading Ecclesiastes next and then explore other Wisdom texts and books in the Apocrypha. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is temporarily on hold.

Foster DHS Updates

Director Carol Mauro is receiving the Christmas gifts for those children whom you have “adopted,” now through December 5, so that parents will have time to pick them up and wrap them (with the paper that you have thought to provide). If you can’t drop them off, Pastor Bob will pick them up; call him at 401-440-7831 or email, revbobh@gmail.com.

Also, Carol has volunteers putting together bags of groceries for Christmas dinners on Monday, December 7. It’s a repeat of the Thanksgiving food basket items, with a few extras, such as cookies, candies, and other goodies. So here’s that check list again for Christmas food donations when you go shopping: instant and canned potatoes and yams, gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, pie crust mix, cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk.

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. They can be sent to Town of Foster, Department of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825.

Closing Thoughts
By Arthur J. Dewey, New Testament Scholar

This theme of helping others has stayed with me these past months. In [COVID-19] lockdown I’ve often gone in prayer to those who sought all means to save the lives of others. So many of the nurses, doctors and caregivers paid that price of love, together with priests, and religious and ordinary people whose vocations were service. We return their love by grieving for them and honoring them.

Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call. That’s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching. They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves, not preserving ourselves but losing ourselves in service.

If we are to come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in, we have to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain. . . . To come out of this crisis better, we have to recover the knowledge that as a people we have a shared destination. The pandemic has reminded us that no one is saved alone. What ties us to one another is what we commonly call solidarity. Solidarity is more than acts of generosity, important as they are; it is the call to embrace the reality that we are bound by bonds of reciprocity. On this solid foundation we can build a better, different, human future.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

********************************************************************

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #45
November 27, 2020

This is the forty-fifth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Where We Are Now: Rev. Betsy Reflects

This is a big weekend, and I’m not talking football – or Black Friday! First, it’s Thanksgiving Weekend, a time to give thanks for our blessings, something scripture urges us to do on a regular basis, not just once a year. The psalms remind us of the importance of giving thanks for God’s love – even in the midst of a pandemic: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps. 106:1) How do we know God is good, that God loves us?

In Psalm 107, translated by Nan C. Merrill, we read, “Remember always to offer grateful hearts in thanksgiving, to the One who lives among us!” We know God loves us because we experience that love in each other as we provide Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families, send cards and make phone calls to shut-ins, leave full-course dinners on porches, bring family members together by Zoom across state lines.

Last week, I highlighted the song from Godspell, “All Good Gifts,” based on the Gospel of Matthew, indicating it was from a Broadway musical.

When he received his copy of the newsletter, my good friend and colleague, Rev. Richard Taylor, a church historian, wrote in response, “We Plow the Fields and Scatter” was not written for a Broadway musical! The original words were written in German by a Lutheran pastor around 1782, and translated into English in the nineteenth century. The words appear with a German melody in the 1958 Pilgrim Hymnal, page 460. So I looked it up, and behold, there it is, written by a Matthias Claudias, although with a different tune from the one you will hear if you listen to the song on YouTube.

Matthias includes this lovely additional verse, however, which reminds us that, in these strange times, so many of us are finding the Holy when we are outside walking with our grandchildren, or when we are having a picnic on the beach, raking leaves, splitting wood, or putting the garden to bed during the last few warm days of fall. Here is the verse the popular version misses:

He only is the maker Of all thing near and far;
He paints the wayside flower, He lights the evening star.
The winds and waves obey him, By him the birds are fed;
Much more, to us his children, He gives our daily bread,

All good gifts around us Are sent from heaven above;
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord For all his love. Amen.

So, while we may be sad that this year we could not gather with loved ones, we can give thanks that we are surrounded by God’s love, working in and through each other, and permeating the natural world where God also can be found.

This is also is a special weekend for two additional reasons. We are on the cusp of a new church season: Last Sunday was “Reign of Christ” Sunday, the last Sunday in the church calendar. This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent. That puts us not only into a new church season, but also into a new church year, one in which we move from Matthew into the Mark for most of our Gospel readings, and into Year B, in the Revised Common Lectionary calendar used by many denominations (Roman Catholic and Protestant). You may hear the difference in your preacher’s choice of scriptures or in your devotional materials.

Advent, a Season of Preparation

So, here we are again! Advent, a time of waiting for the birth of the Christ child when everything around us – decorations in the stores, carols on the radio, encouragement to buy, buy, buy – is eager to skip ahead to Christmas. But not so quick! We are not ready.
Advent gives us time to prepare for the birth of the Christ child, to be watchful for the fulfillment of the prophecies, to receive the promise, to prepare. Advent marks the fresh beginning of our Christian faith as we hear anew the story of redemption.

Advent Wreath: There are four Sundays in Advent, and each Sunday, we light a candle. The first week, this Sunday, November 29, we light a purple candle for Hope, a time when we are encouraged to see the presence of God in our midst, to live in harmony with our neighbors. In his Meditations for Advent and Christmas, Presbyterian minister James Kirk writes, “How fragile life is! Sometimes it takes this fragility for hope to abound, for people to rely on God’s steadfastness and encouragement, to comprehend how important it is to dwell in harmony with one another. … To abound in hope when all about us seems to be crumbling is the real testimony to [the presence of the Holy] among us. … To abound in hope is to approach the walls of hostility infused with the power of reconciling love….”

In this time of political divisions, an out-of-control pandemic, and racial tensions, we surely need hope! And we have hope because we see the presence of God in our midst – if we but pay attention. I invite you to reflect on what give you hope and where you see hope at work in and through the lives of righteous people, those who “live right,” according to the Way of Jesus. (And if you wish to share your thoughts, please send them to me for upcoming issues of “Gather ‘Round.”) As a bonus, I will share a few photos and descriptions of a show on “Hope” at the Cotuit Center for the Arts on Cape Cod at the end of this week’s newsletter.

A Prayer for Hope: Gracious God, we seek to live with hope as modeled by your son, Jesus. Your love surrounds us, enfolding us like a blanket while we are sleeping and protecting us like a warm sweater when we are awake. May we never take for granted your care for us and for all people, but rather give you praise and thanksgiving for our blessings. Help us throughout this week to remain steadfast in our faith and a source of encouragement to others, to work for peace among our neighbors, and to radiate your love to all the world. Amen.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers. This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, and we will sing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Cheryl will light the first purple candle in our Advent wreath, the candle for Hope. Reverend Betsy will reflect on Mark 13:24-37, this week’s lectionary text, in her message, “Keep Awake.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship

Rice City Church is meeting for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., in person with masks and social distancing and with all COVID -19 safety protocols, and also live streaming on the MVLP Facebook page later that day and through the week. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

We have no idea the effect we actually have on one another. … Blessing as powerful and positive intention can transform situations and people. The force of blessing must be even more powerful when we consider how the intention of blessing corresponds with the deepest desire of reality for creativity, healing, and wholesomeness. Blessing has pure agency because it animates on the deepest threshold between being and becoming; it mines the territories of memory to awaken and draw forth possibilities we cannot even begin to imagine! – John O’Donohue

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 For Tina Lavallee’s husband, Eric, who is awaiting surgery on December 8 for skin cancer.

 For Jean Selemi, out of the hospital and recovering from back surgery. (Cards may be sent to her at 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Richard Lucky and Jack Greenleaf, both recuperating well and awaiting a safe time to be baptized.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, who is healing from an accident.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, who is in Boston being treated with both radiation and chemotherapy for a very rare cancer.

 For Geraldine’s nephew, John, who is wheelchair bound and angry and isolated.

 For all those still suffering from climate change disasters as the Earth heats up – from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For all those still suffering from COVID-19 and its after-affects.

 For our nation that we will have a peaceful transition of leadership in this election season, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy; this week we will discuss what we want to read next. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster DHS Updates

Director Carol Mauro is receiving the Christmas gifts for those children whom you have “adopted,” now through December 5, so that parents will have time to pick them up and wrap them (with the paper that you have thought to provide). If you can’t drop them off, Pastor Bob will pick them up; call him at 401-440-7831 or email, revbobh@gmail.com.

Also, Carol has volunteers putting together bags of groceries for Christmas dinners on Monday, December 7. It’s a repeat of the Thanksgiving food basket items, with a few extras, such as cookies, candies, and other goodies. So here’s that check list again for Christmas food donations when you go shopping: instant and canned potatoes and yams, gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, pie crust mix. cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk.

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. They can be sent to Town of Foster, Department of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825.

What Hope Looks Like

At the Cotuit Center for the Arts on Cape Cod, 151 artists submitted paintings, poetry, photographs, and a variety of multimedia works in response to an invitation to contribute something that speaks of “hope” to them.

Kim contributed a photograph, below, of a bright red geranium in a sunny window at old house in Oakland Beach, looking out over a snowy lawn and a frozen Greenwich Bay – spring will definitely come! Another artist contributed a sculpture made up of two old books, painted, and leaning against each other, tied loosely with rope, called, “My Humanity Is Bound Up in Yours,” also below. There was a multi-media of boats in Provincetown Harbor, “Harboring Hope.” Someone had contributed a night photograph, “Milky Way over Stage Harbor Lighthouse.” There also was a stained glass with a rising sun labeled, “Promise of a New Day,” a bird’s nest, and a tree in full foliage.

I took pictures of several and include them here to encourage you to think about what means hope to you!

 

                     

This wire sculpture, “Fabricating Hope,” reminds me that we have to keep working at creating hope. The artist comes to the gallery every day and brings new plant material – flowers, grasses, berries – to insert in the mesh. You and I need to be intentional about hope, too!

 

Also, an exhibit within an exhibit, there was a display of masks for the time of COVID-19, which had been conceived by a medical doctor who made plain masks and invited artists to decorate them, pictured below.

What caught my attention, however, was another mask, this one made out of pottery and broken, lying on a pedestal with these words: “There Is a Crack in Everything.
That’s How the Light Gets In.”

And, is that not what Advent is all about? Making a crack in our lives so that the Light can get in?

A Poem to Ponder
By Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops – at all.

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest Sea;
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #44
November 20, 2020

This is the forty-fourth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

A Fateful Encounter

When did you first hear the stories about the landing of the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1620 and how the Native Americans helped them survive their first winter? And remember the children’s books with their Pilgrims in wide brim hats and some feathered braves sitting across a Thanksgiving table, the wives carrying dishes to the table? This picture of history is the romanticized version, leaving a lot to be desired in historical accuracy!

To celebrate her birthday last Friday, Kim and I visited the               
Provincetown Art Association Museum to see an exhibit
by local Wampanoag Tribe members offering a native                          Thanksgiving newsletter 44
perspective on the arrival of the Pilgrims, 400 hundred
years ago this November. The first landing didn’t happen
quite the way we learned about it in grade school when
we constructed and colored pictures of Pilgrims and Indians
sitting down to a feast as friends. The exhibit was constructed
out of cardboard and plywood to show another side of the
story, a story of trepidation and a clash of cultures.

When the Pilgrims landed, the natives would have been busy
preparing for the change of seasons – stockpiling meat and catching fish, foraging and gathering nuts and fallen branches for firewood, sharpening tools and making mats and pottery. As they had for thousands of years, they would have been preparing to move inland away from the wind off the sea. Yes, perhaps the local tribes, the Wampanoags and Nausets, did help the Pilgrims survive their first winter – but only because an exploring party discovered and stole the stores of corn that the natives had put aside for their own families.

The tribes had seen white men and ships before – Vikings exploring the coast, fir traders, fishing vessels taking on fresh water for the journey home – but this was the first time they had seen women and children coming ashore. These people intended to stay. There was a skirmish at what is now First Encounter Beach in Eastham that eventually led the Pilgrims to sail across Cape Cod Bay to settle in Plymouth where the soil was better for farming than in Provincetown.

We can only begin to imagine the culture shock for both. Imagine the fear on the faces of the women in the prow of the ship, above. See how the Pilgrim leader is stepping out into space, nothing under his feet, below, as he reaches out to the chief, who even as he must be uncertain about their presence, greets them with a symbolic peace pipe in hand.

Thanksgiving indian and pilgrim 44

Although the landing of the Pilgrims – religious refugees who had worn out their welcome in Holland – was disastrous for the Native Americans (and continued to be for hundreds of years, up to and including the present), it was important to the settling of this new land. The Mayflower Compact, an agreement on self-governance which was crafted and signed by 41 adult men before they left the ship, became a model of governance for the new nation to-be.

So as you make plans to sit down at your Thanksgiving table this year, even as you observe the COVID-19 restrictions, remember that our American history has been shaped, as they say, by the “winners.” And while you and I may celebrate our Pilgrim ancestors’ toehold in the New World next Thursday, the First Americans in our midst will be observing their National Day of Mourning – as they have since 1970.

This does not mean we should not be thankful for all of our blessings. I am reminded of the words in the rock opera, Godspell, “All Good Gifts,” based on the Gospel of Matthew:

We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain
The breezes and the sunshine and soft refreshing rain

All good gifts around us, are sent from Heaven above
So thank the Lord, oh, thank the Lord for all His love

We thank Thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good
The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food
No gifts have we to offer for all Thy love imparts
But that which Thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts

All good gifts around us, are sent from Heaven above
So thank the Lord, oh, thank the Lord for all His love

I really wanna thank You Lord….

Count Your Blessings This Thanksgiving
By Janice Reynolds

This article was written and published a few years ago by one of our faithful readers. Janice offers a message that we especially need to hear again this year:

Once again holiday time is here. It’s a time to be thankful for Thanksgiving Day itself, of families and friends. It’s a time to be happy for what we are and where we are. It takes both love and understanding to be both happy and thankful for what we have to work with.

There are times when we tend to forget that life is and can be beautiful. This happens when we become too self-involved. We cannot always avert this happening. The problems of life close in on us, surround us to the extent that our vision is clouded and our thoughts distressed.

We all need in these moments the courage of faith. With faith we hold to the belief in a better tomorrow and, more immediately, we can find blessings that need to be thankful, for the yesteryears, for much of today and for the future.

For happiness, some people fail to enjoy life because they are unable to determine what it’s all about. They fail because for them it’s like a dream, an ambition or a goal in life. Some may miss out on happiness because they fail to realize that the greatest happiness may be found in the things we take for granted, love for a family, warmth of the fireside and a quiet moment of meditation.

If you miss happiness, look about you, count what you have, not what you would like to have. Be grateful and pay more attention to the little things of life. You might discover where you have been missing out.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays about to approach us, let us all stop and think how much we can share with others, such as happiness, faith and courage.

We can take a few moments to help others who may be in need, distress, even perhaps just talking to someone who may need it.

It’s time to be “thankful” for what we have, to be happy and to show your love for one another. Some people are less fortunate than others. Try to share even if it’s just a few minutes of time to visit. One old saying which is good to follow is: It’s more blessed to give than to receive and also to be thankful for what we have.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers. Charlie Wilkinson plays a prelude and postlude, and Martha Safstrom plays the hymns – to which we mute and sing along. This Sunday is Reign of Christ Sunday, the last Sunday in the Church Calendar. Reverend Betsy will reflect on Matthew’s gospel (25:31-46) in her message, “Heart Trouble.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include everything you need to participate, all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship

Because of the Governor’s Orders, Rice City Church is now back to holding its service virtually on Facebook. The Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

Every [person] prays in his [or her] own language, and there is no language that God does not understand. –Duke Ellington

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 Those scheduled for surgery: Tina Lavallee’s husband, Eric, who will have more surgery on December 8 for skin cancer. (Surgery for Barbara Cederfield’s husband, David, has been postponed because of an abnormal EKG.)

 For all those still suffering from COVID-19 or the after-affects of the virus: Tina Dexter; Barbara Cederfield’s son’s friend, Jeff and family; George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is at RI Hospital; the family of Arthur Robillard; Rose Desilus’ relatives who have died, here and in Haiti; Randy Sroka, who is still having seizures – as well as the unnamed hundreds of thousands of families who have lost loved ones across the country.

 For Jean Selemi, recovering from back surgery, (Cards may be sent to 3 Manchester Circle, Apt. G, Coventry, RI 02816.)

 For Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, who is healing from an accident.

 For Ellen Wilkinson’s cousin, Michael Kennedy, who is doing well after a kidney transplant.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 For Geraldine’s nephew, John, who is wheelchair bound and angry and isolated.

 For all those still suffering from climate change disasters as the Earth heats up – from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation that we will have a peaceful transition of leadership in this election season, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy; this week we will discuss what we want to read next. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster DHS Updates
Thanks to everyone’s donations, Director Carol Mauro is all set with Thanksgiving Baskets for 75 hungry families in Foster. (Although she soon will be collecting food for  elf 44 Christmas Baskets….)

Right now, she is asking families to “adopt” children for Christmas gifts as in previous years. The spreadsheet included last week identifies whether a boy or girl, the age, wish list, and size. Although most have been chosen, there are still some children who have not. If you are willing and able to buy a gift for a child, please call Pastor Bob at 401-440-7831 or email him at revbobh@gmail.com. He is keeping track of gifts and, if you can’t bring yours to DHS in Foster Center, he will pick up your gift and match it with a child’s tag. Carol is hoping to have the gifts ready for parents to wrap by December 5. As in the past, please do not wrap the gifts, but include paper or gift bags if you can.

A Thanksgiving Prayer for Those Who Are Weary
Rev. Dr. Jessica McArdle

As we continue to shelter in place, O God, will we ever be able to sing your praises? Will these anxious hearts weary and heavy from sorrow be lifted? Can Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas even be celebrated this year, when we’re separated from those we love? This prayer was included in the SNEUCC email this week:

Before you and you alone, we acknowledge these painful uncertainties. Loss of employment, housing and health, are ravaged further by inequality. Loved ones lost are unable be mourned. Events that once sustained us have been put aside. Deep divisions and animosity persist. Creation and her peoples crumble under the weight of injustice and exploitation.

So, we cry out, when will we be able to throw our doors wide open, O Lord? When will lighted windows signify the sharing of the feast? When will the Thanksgiving Song be joyfully lifted up even as we clasp hands with others?

Yet you remind us that you are always in the face of the least of these. You come as the ignored, the marginalized and the hungry. Yours is the face lined with sorrow. Yours are the eyes who have seen too much. You come as the one who is incarcerated, the one who is sick but without adequate health-care, the one who stands outside a food bank wondering if there will be enough.

Great Redeemer, in our searching and longing for you, be with us in the light of your countenance and shine through the windows of our hearts. Let your welcoming affirmation accompany us when we bring food to the shelter, make a phone call to the lonely and write a message of cheer to the imprisoned. So that all your children – through your unfathomable grace – may come away from sorrow, seeing one another not as strangers, but as long-lost brothers and sisters who together share in the feast of gladness. May it be so. Amen.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).    horn of plenty 44Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #43
November 13, 2020

This is the forty-third issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;   The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Rev. Betsy Reflects: What Unites Us?

The divisiveness in the country this election season has                                      Be a Blessing
got me thinking not about what divides us but about what
unites us. I suspect that, while we may seem to be on
different sides of many issues, we all really want the same
thing. For example, we all want to be safe, do we not?
For one person that may mean being able to have enough
to eat and a roof over one’s head; for another, that means
being able to find work with enough income to pay the
bills; for still another, that may mean living without the threat of violence.

What divides us is not wanting to be safe, we all what that, but how to achieve safety. For one person, it could mean a garden in the back yard and canning jars; for another, a stable job with adequate income and a decent car or truck to get us there; for still another, a well-funded police department and a gun to ward off intruders. We all want to be safe, whether we are farmers in Foster or refugees standing on the banks of the Rio Grande.

I believe, too, that we all want our lives to matter, to be part of something bigger than ourselves, to have a purpose that goes beyond our own doorstep. For some of us that may be working on a project with a grandson or showing a granddaughter how to make Thanksgiving stuffing the way mother did. For others, it may be creating something – a piece of art or a poem or a design for an addition to the church. For still others, it may be buying groceries for a shut-in, driving a neighbor to the doctor, praying for those with COVID, or picking out a Christmas gift for a needy child.

No matter who we are or where we are on life’s journey, we all want to be respected and loved for who we are, to know we made a difference for someone or something, to have a sense of personal agency – that is to have some control over our lives and to be able to accomplish something we think is important.

But this is not easy for any of us. Especially these days. There is so much change all around us in the age of the internet, even before the pandemic, that it feels as if the ground is moving under our feet. And, indeed, it is: we find ourselves unmoored. We demonize each other and blame each other because we are afraid.

So where does this leave us? Together. What I need goes beyond what I want for myself and my family, because we are part of a larger community. John Donne, English metaphysical poet, knew this when he addressed his compatriots from the island that is England looking over the channel to the rest of Europe. In 1624, he wrote in his Devotions, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.”

What happens around us, affects us. For us to be safe, we all need to have enough to eat and a decent place to live with enough wood in the shed, or propane in the tank, to keep us warm all winter. For us to be safe, we need to live in a safe community, we all need to be able to provide – not only for ourselves but also for each other. What divides us, I imagine, is how to achieve this vision of stability and security that we all long for. It’s important work, because for me to be safe, you need to be safe, to have what you need.

In other words, we are in this together, and it will take all of us to figure this out. And our differences can be an advantage if we stop being afraid and take time to listen to each other. Teacher of intuition and psychologist, Helen Palmer, writes in The Enneagram, “It is important to stress the ways that people are different from each other, because so much of the suffering that we experience in our relationships with other people is caused by the fact that we are blind to their point of view.” This is an all-hands-on-deck moment in the world, and we need all of us to step up and address the complex issues before us, especially the warming of the planet, before it is too late!

What do you think? How do we begin to see each other again as brothers and sisters and friends, not as foes? How do we see each other as members of the human race, not as persons of different colors or ethnicities? How do we begin to see each other as Americans, not immigrants; as citizens, not Democrats or Republicans; as neighbors, not strangers? Jesus tells us to love God and our neighbors as ourselves.

The following article tackles the issue of “loving our neighbors.” It may be slow reading, but I invite you to give it a try.

Can Love Ever Be a Risk-Free Option?
By Abhishek Solomon, North Shore Methodist Church
Excerpted from Sophia, Meditative Moments, recommended by Tom Hall

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).

A couple of years ago, I read an academic paper on the sociological analysis of the word “love” in marketing slogans related to couples dating sites. It noted various catchy slogans. One said, “Get love without a chance.” Another says, “Be in love without falling in love.” And yet another one, “Get perfect love without suffering.” And one more “coaching in love.” What is implied in these slogans is a “safety first” concept of love.
This privatized version of love is sold with comprehensive insurance against all risks.

The implied message is simply this: you will have love, but you will have assessed the future relationship so thoroughly, you will have selected your partner so carefully by searching online – by obtaining a photo, his or her details, likes and dislikes, date of birth, horoscope sign, fashion tastes and so on. And finally, by putting it all together, you can take a deep breath and say: this is indeed a risk-free option. But the question is, can love be a gift given or attained on the basis of a complete lack of risk?

To put it simply: can love ever be a risk-free option? Can we be in love without the fall? Can we escape the fall? Can we have love without all the risky and dangerous moments?

This sentiment is well captured by Dostoevsky in his monumental novel The Brothers Karamazov. In the fourth chapter, “Rebellion,” Ivan (one of the brothers) is somewhat puzzled with Christ’s demand, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So, he says, “I could never understand how one can love one’s neighbor.” Ivan cannot get his head around the idea of actively loving one’s neighbor. That is not to say that Ivan is a bad person. By all means, the character of Ivan Karamazov has a loving nature. In fact, Ivan is portrayed as an extremely intelligent, logical human being. He is full of passionate love, even to the point of excessive sentimentality.

He says: “Though I may not believe in the order of the universe, yet I love the sticky little leaves as they open in spring. I love the blue sky. I love some people, whom one loves you know sometimes without knowing why.” Ivan also repeatedly states that he has great love and sympathy for the human race. But when faced with the idea that human salvation requires human suffering (i.e., risk and pain on his part), he finds this exchange unacceptable: “I don’t want harmony. From the love of humanity, I don’t want it.” Though Ivan feels a general sentiment in an abstract manner for the welfare of humanity, he struggles to focus it concretely. And he recognizes this himself and admits: “I could never understand how one can love one’s neighbors. It’s just one’s neighbors, to my mind, that one can’t love, though one might love those at a distance.”

What Ivan is against is not love but the risk and pain and effort that comes with the neighborly love. As absurd as it sounds, there is a moment of truth in what Ivan Karamazov is saying. It is far easier to love humanity in the abstract than a concrete human being. At times, our immediate perceptions and (unconscious) prejudices make any kind of truly ‘Christlike’ love difficult, if not impossible.

This is precisely the point Dostoevsky is trying to make: that it is easier to idealize humanity and love them from a distance, in the abstract, because people to people contact can be challenging, it can be a rigorous struggle. But isn’t it precisely when the rubber meets the road? And so, in the same vein, we can say that it is much easier to love God in an abstract sense. For Protestants, salvation is based on faith, not works (Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian). Spirituality is largely a personal issue, without the need for a prescribed ritual. In a way, Protestants mostly do not care how other Christians practice their faith so long as they accept certain central beliefs. Clinging to the right belief and confessing the right creed could be the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. “My faith and my spirituality is between my God and me,” I recently heard from a friend of mine.

But what if the truth lies outside, not in what we believe but in what we do? And maybe that’s why Christ never stopped simply with “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He adds to it with, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” i.e., true devotion and love go beyond me, myself and I. It goes beyond what is familiar, what is preferred, what is known, to experiencing the world from the standpoint of difference.

Love thy neighbor is not the love of the familiar but the love of difference. It is an invitation to experience the world from the point of view that may be different from ours. It is a call not into an inward-looking relationship, rather a construction of a new dimension of life that is being made from the perspective of not one but two. This is the ethical demand of Christianity that one should take the risk and not be afraid of the fall because the risk factor can never be eliminated from the authentic act of love.

The same love that inspired [Jesus] to mix and mingle with the outcast, touch the untouchable, and embrace the powerless. It is the same love that drove him to face the demonic forces and outwit the manipulative. We, too, are asked to practice this love by Saint Paul simply because to love God means to love what God loves.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers. Charlie Wilkinson plays a prelude and postlude, and Martha Safstrom plays the hymns – to which we sing along. This Sunday Reverend Betsy will reflect on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew’s gospel (25:14-30) in her message, “Risking Everything.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayer, everything all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship

Rice City is now back inside, socially distanced, windows open, and masked. A copy of the Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

Every [person] prays in his [or her] own language, and there is no language that God does not understand. –Duke Ellington

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 Those scheduled for surgery: Barbara Cederfield’s husband, David, who will have back surgery on November 24, and for Tina Lavallee’s husband, Eric, who will have more surgery on December 8 for skin cancer.

 For all those still suffering from COVID-19 or the after-effects of the virus: Barbara Cederfield’s son, Jeff and his friends; George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is at RI Hospital; Randy Sroka, who is still having seizures.

 Pat Safstrom’s daughter, Erin, who is still recovering from the trauma of surgery.

 For Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, who is healing from an accident.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 Or Geraldine’s nephew, John, who is wheelchair bound and angry and isolated.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation in this election season, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster DHS Updates
Thanks to everyone’s donations, Director Carol Mauro is all set with the Thanksgiving Baskets for 75 hungry families in Foster. (Although she will soon be collecting food for Christmas Baskets….)

Right now, she is asking families to “adopt” children for Christmas gifts as in previous years. The spreadsheet which I sent last week identifies whether a boy or girl, the age, wish list, and size. The numbers that are left are as follows: 5, 11, 13 (blue jeans), 13 (long sleeve), 22, 26, 29, 31, 39, 46, 49 (shirt), 49 (puzzles/games), 50. If you are interested in buying a gift for a child, please call Pastor Bob with the number of the child/family at 401-440-7831 or email him at revbobh@gmail.com.

Carol is hoping that people will sponsor for the tags early if they plan on ordering online, so the gifts will be available for the parents to wrap. As in the past, please do not wrap the gifts, but include paper or gift bags if you can.

Closing Prayer: Salvation Oracles
On reading Isaiah 43:1-5
By Reverend Dr. Walter Brueggemann

There is a long list of threats around us:
terror,
cancer,
falling markets,
killing,
others unlike us in all their variety,
loneliness,
shame,
death –
the list goes on and we know it well.

And in the midst of threat of every kind,
you appear among us in your full power,
in your deep fidelity,
in your amazing compassion.
You speak among us the one word that could matter:
“Do not fear.”

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #42
October 30, 2020

This is the forty-second issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

HONORING OUR VETERANS

Veteran’s Day November 11, 2020                                                      Veterans Day Newsletter 42
By Tracey Griffing

As the days draw closer to Veteran’s Day again this year, I am
ever reminded of the men and women who served in our armed
forces. I thank them one and all for the freedoms we enjoy today. It’s amazing to me When I think about all the veterans I know and have met along this journey of life. Since living here in Rhode Island, that connection has gotten stronger, giving me pause to think more about our vets and the trials they went through during their time of service as well as their continued struggles since they have come home. I love to see them in the grocery store, a restaurant or just around proudly wearing a hat displaying the ship they were on or the branch of the military in which they served. Vets of all ages, some like my father and my uncle from WWII, from the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and countless other places, ships and planes that our military personnel served in and those still deployed today. I continue to pray for them.

My uncle Al served on the USS Culebra in Iceland and the South Pacific. It was a repair ship named after Culebra Island. When I researched that ship, there were lots of pictures of the crew. I keep trying to pick out my uncle, but by the time I was seven or eight, spending time at their house in South Jersey, he was already an older gent so I’m not sure I can pick him out of the crew.

At Moosup Valley one Sunday recently, I mentioned I would like to gather some pictures from the local veterans. Ellen Kennedy Wilkinson said, “Oh, I might be able to get something for you.” Within a few days I received an email that she had a photo of the WW II Foster Vets in front of the Moosup Valley Grange. Her best guess is the photo was taken in May of 1946 when they had returned home to Foster.

When I went to the Wilkinson’s home in West Greenwich to pick it up, we talked about some of the men she knew (and her mother knew) in the photo. Betsy has a copy that has been added to this newsletter along with the photo of the granite stone in Foster Center with the names of most of the Foster vets that served in WW II. It was very exciting for me to talk about the photos and what part of Foster they were from. In this time of pandemic and people so far apart, the gift of time to talk about an important time of history (masks on of course) is sometimes the best gift of all.

I would like to recognize these veterans from Moosup Valley Church: Tina Lavallee from Foster (Desert Storm), Jim Tynan from N. Smithfield (Vietnam), and Lee’s husband, Albert C. Goodyear, who served in the Air Force. Bob Salisbury, too. I also spent some time this week talking with Tina and Jim outside the church, taking their pictures. I listened as they both told stories of their deployment and the story of their friendship brought about by the military. Although they served at different times, the gift of friendship has helped them both through life of being a veteran. Thank you to all the veterans!

This week in “Gather ‘Round” we honor our veterans, those who have died as well aTina and Jim Newsletter 42those who are with us still, especially Tina Lavallee and Jim Tynan (pictured right, photo by Tracey Griffing), and Lee’s husband, Albert C. Goodyear, who was in the Airforce. We also remember Bob Salisbury whose ashes were interred last week. This beautiful stone marker, below, was crafted by his son, Fred.      American Flag Newsletter 42

                                          Bob Salisbury's grave marker                         

 

History of Veterans Day
Originally commemorated as Armistice Day following the “Great War,” WW I, “the War to end all wars,” November 11 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) was named by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…” Wilson further noted, it is fitting that the anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations. But only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe. Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle. Foster veterans numbered more than 100, some of them pictured in the following photo documents.

Also remembered by Moosup Valley members are …

+ Beverly Griffiths’ father Edgar J. Mitchell, Jr., WW II Master Sergeant, and her brother, Dean Davenport Mitchell, who fought in Vietnam.

+ Cheryl Hawes remembers her late father, Roger Leroy Hawes, who was in the Navy,
and her beloved Luigi Fiore, who was a Captain in the Air Force.

+ Sarah Mutton remembers her late husband, David, who served in the U.S. Navy, and her father-in-law, Clive.

+ Laila honors her late uncle, Eugene DeMerchant, who served in the Army in WWII
and her father, Philip DeMerchant, who served in the Air Force in Korea.

+ On October 31, Robert Salisbury was laid to rest by his sons Bobby and Fred, and his grandson, Brett, in the family cemetery on Moosup Valley Road. Fred made the marker for his parents’ graves, pictured above.

And a Timely Prayer for Peace
The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers. Charlie Wilkinson plays a prelude and postlude, and Martha Safstrom plays the hymns – to which we sing along. This Sunday Reverend Betsy will reflect on the parable that shows up only in Matthew’s gospel, about 10 maidens and oil, or lack of it (Matthew 25:1-13) in her message, “Timing Is Everything.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayer, everything all in one PDF document.

Rice City Worship

Rice City is now back inside, socially distanced, windows open, and masked. A copy of the Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning. Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

Every [person] prays in his [or her] own language, and there is no language that God does not understand. –Duke Ellington

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers for…

 Tina Lavallee’s husband, Eric, who had surgery yesterday for skin cancer, that the tumor was easily removed and has not gone deep into his tissue.

 Ron Burge, for a quick recovery from a broken ankle.

 George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is recovering at a rehab facility from complications from COVID-19, impacting his ability to walk.

 Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels and that his seizures will cease.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, recovering from broken bones.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 Beverly Griffiths’ 92-year-old Aunt Helen who is in the nursing home at the United Methodist Elder Care facility in East Providence, recovering from falls.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation in this election season, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster DHS Updates
Thanks to everyone’s donations, Director Carol Mauro is all set with the Thanksgiving Baskets for 75 hungry families in Foster. (Although she will soon be collecting food for Christmas Baskets….)

Right now, she is asking families to “adopt” children for Christmas gifts as in previous years. The attached spreadsheet identifies whether a boy or girl, the age, wish list, and size. Carol is hoping that people will sponsor for the tags early if they plan on ordering online, so the gifts will be available for the parents to wrap. As in the past, please do not wrap the gifts, but include paper or gift bags if you can. If you are interested in buying a gift for a child, please call Pastor Bob with the number of the child/family (in column A) at 401-440-7831 or email him at revbobh@gmail.com.

Closing Prayer for Our Veterans
By Reverend Betsy

Gracious God, this week we remember and honor and celebrate our veterans who have answered our country’s call – those men and women, young and older, who interrupted their lives as husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and children themselves – to defend and preserve our freedoms.

We are grateful for all who have served, whether in peacetime or in conflict. But today we especially remember those who have been tempered by fire, those who continue to bear wounds of the body or the spirit as a result of what they endured.

They lie in our veterans’ hospitals or struggle for recovery in rehabilitation centers; they suffer from post-traumatic stress and survivors’ guilt; they seek recognition of their wounds from our government; they yearn for peace in their souls.

Dear God, we ask you to heal their wounds, to banish whatever inner demons may haunt them, and to give them peace within so they may return fully to their families and to society.

We thank you, God, for all of our country’s veterans – those of past generations, and those who continue to earn this title today.

May we never forget what our country has asked of them and what they have given in return, even unto death.

Help us to give them the respect and honor they are due. And strengthen our resolve to build a world modeled on your realm, where war will be pursued no more.

This we ask in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Amen.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Issue 42 WWII Veterans Names Numbers     

Issue 42 – WORLD WAR II VETERANS Names                     

Issue 42 – WW 11 Monument Foster Center

Current Christmas Gift List from Moosup Valley Church

Issue 42 WWII Veterans @ GRANGE

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #41
October 30, 2020

This is the forty-first issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

FOSTER CHALLENGE
Carol Mauro, Director of Foster DHS, is posing a challenge to the people of Foster to help the Food Bank supply 75 turkey dinners to those in need this year. She and her husband, Pastor Bob, are supplying one including:
Thanksgiving Basket Check List

___ gravy (cans/jars/packages)
___ stuffing mix
___ instant and canned potatoes/yams
___ canned vegetables
___ pickles/olives
___ cranberry sauce                                                                      Thanksgiving Children
___ biscuit/roll/muffin mix
___ butter
___ pie filling
___ evaporated milk
___ pie crust mix
___ gift card from a nearby grocery store toward the purchase of a turkey. (Often the Salvation Army supplies them but they may not this year. No word yet. If they do, then the gift card can be put toward something else.) Let’s see if we can meet that challenge! One down, 74 to go. THEY MUST BE IN BY NOVEMBER 3RD. Let’s go shopping this weekend!
Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions. Cash donations to DHS, Town of Foster,
181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Soul Feast: Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship
with God in a casual or haphazard manner.
There will be a need for some intentional commitment
and some reorganization in our own lives.
But there is nothing that will enrich our lives more
than a deeper and clearer perception of God’s presence
in the routine of daily living.
William O. Paulsell

For a number of weeks, now, we have reflected on a number of “tools” to develop a relationship with the Divine: spiritual reading, prayer, corporate worship, Sabbath, fasting, self-examination, and spiritual direction with a mature guide, and last week on hospitality, using Rev. Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. It’s been quite a journey. Today, finally, we will put it all together; we will consider developing a “Rule of Life.” One need not be a monk to do so. We can do this if we make that choice, even in the midst of work and family and the busyness of our ordinary lives.

Rev. Thompson makes the case for us: “Certain kinds of plants need support in order to Applesgrow properly. Tomatoes need stakes, and beans must attach themselves to suspended strings. Creeping vines like clematis and wisteria will grow on any structure they can find. Rambling roses take kindly to garden walls, archways, and trellises.
Without support, these plants would collapse in a heap on the ground.
Their blossoms would not have the space and sun they need to flourish,
and their fruits would rot in contact with the soil. We would be unable
to enjoy their beauty and sustenance. When it comes to spiritual growth,
human beings are much like these plants. We need structure and support.
Otherwise our spirituality grows only in a confused and disorderly way.”

So we need to create a “rule of life,” a pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides the structure we need – a regular rhythm of daily living that provides the climate for our growth, an opportunity for us to grow into the persons God intends us to be. She writes, “The rule of life gives us a way to enter the lifelong process of personal transformation.”

And because we are all different – in personalities and life circumstances and constraints – our “rules” will be different. For one person, it might be providing for fifteen minutes of silent prayer or spiritual reading each day; for another, it might mean meditating daily on the teachings and life of Jesus or walking and talking in the manner of love, for God is love. For another, it could mean observing with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy, refraining from violence of tongue and heart. Still another might seek to perform regular service for others and the world. And, of course, we each could strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.

How to decide? Ask yourself, What am I deeply attracted to, and why? Where do I feel God is calling me to stretch and grow? What kind of balance do I need in my life? For those of us who are introverts, something that draws us out of our own isolation, may be what we need to add, and similarly, for extraverts, a time of quiet reflection may be just the ticket. Only you know. And once you have decided on a rule of life, do this:

1. Write it down, which helps to make it concrete. Commit yourself in print. Maybe also put notes in your calendar and to-do lists for the week. Even a post-it note on the mirror or the fridge may work.

2. Tell a person whom you love and trust what you have decided on (at least for now) for your rule of life. It could be a prayer partner or a small group, a spouse or other family member, someone who can offer encouragement – and maybe stay out of the way or give you the time and space. For me, this weekly newsletter has become one of my spiritual disciplines, a chance to explore ideas and to write about them. And because many of you wait for it to arrive, you help to keep me accountable!

3. If you have a faith community and are serious about developing your relationship with God, seek their support, too. The Christian life is dangerous terrain to travel alone. We need the support of the wider community of faith that we find in corporate worship.

John Wesley, founder of Methodism writes, “O, Begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. … Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way: else you will be a trifler all your days. … Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer.” All of this is about giving ourselves the structure and time to learn how to “love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength,” and to learn how to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” In the words of Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy are those who take refuge in God.!”

I conclude with thanks for Rev. Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. She is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a member of the staff at The Upper Room in Nashville, TN.

ALL HALLOWS EVE
On the last day in October, we celebrate “Halloween” – the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off evil spirits – the night before All Saints Day, November 1st. The festival originated in Ireland and was initially brought to the United States by immigrants in the mid-1800s. The early Catholic Church in America helped the holiday to gain a foothold. Here’s a prayer for All Hallows and All Saints:

Outside my window,                                                         

Pumpkins and Wagon WheelScarlet and orange maples 
burn in a last explosion of light.

On Samhain,
when Celts lit bonfires on hilltops,
flames leapt to the sky
burning into darkness.

Shadows against firelight,
the dead
come to visit the living,
The veil between worlds, thin.

In the morning, after the fires
burned down
great clouds of smoke lifting
from the hills, billowed across the sky,
extinguishing the light. –Anne Dewees

All Saints Service at Moosup Valley This Sunday

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at 10:30 a.m.                                  Lit Candle for all saints
Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers. Charlie
Wilkinson plays a prelude and postlude, and Martha Safstrom plays the
hymns – to which we sing along. This week, also, Lee Goodyear will
sing a solo. Reverend Betsy will reflect on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) in her message, “Blessed Are You.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship bulletin which will be emailed on Saturday morning and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayer, everything all in one PDF document. In addition to a candle to light as part of the All Saints remembrance, bring a piece of bread or muffin or cracker and a cup of something for communion.

Rice City Worship

Rice City is now back inside, socially distanced, windows open, and masked. Pastor Bob’s theme also is “All Saints Day.” A copy of the Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

Celtic poet, philosopher, and scholar, John O’Donahue, writes that “Prayer is the act and presence of sending … light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them. When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life. He notes that, “In the kingdom of love, there is no competition.”

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers…                                    Prayers

Ellen Kennedy Wilkinson has asked for prayers for John “Johnny” Sanders of Pensacola, Florida, a Moosup Valley Luther cousin who is recovering from infection following knee surgery, and for his sister, Patricia, whose husband, John Miller, died in April of a heart problem. Johnny and Pat are the grandchildren of Charlie and Mae Luther.                                                  

 Ron Burge, for a quick recovery from a broken ankle.

 George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is
recovering at a rehab facility from complications from COVID-19, impacting his ability
to walk.

 Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, recovering from broken bones.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 Richard Lucky who has had throat surgery at Deaconess Hospital in Boston.

 Beverly Griffiths’ 92-year-old Aunt Helen who is in the nursing home at the United Methodist Elder Care facility in East Providence, recovering from falls.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation in this election season, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Closing Meditation
Since Sunday, November 1, is All Saints Day, and we will be remembering our loved ones, I thought a meditation from John O’Donohue’s book, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, might be timely:

For Grief

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.

Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to it last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

 

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #40
October 23, 2020

This is the fortieth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Entertaining Angels Unawares

Entertaining Angels Unawares

Soul Feast: Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

Hospitality means receiving the other,
from the heart, into my own dwelling place.
It entails providing for the need, comfort, and delight
of the other with all the openness, respect, freedom,
tenderness, and joy that love itself embodies.
Marjorie Thompson

I would not have thought of hospitality as a spiritual discipline. So I was surprised to read in Rev. Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, a chapter on hospitality. For the past few weeks, we have reflected on a number of “tools” to develop a relationship with the Divine: spiritual reading, prayer, corporate worship, Sabbath, fasting, and self-examination, and, last week, spiritual direction with a mature guide, someone to accompany us on the journey.

This week, I reflect on hospitality as a way to “entertain angels unawares.” You may remember the Genesis (18:1-10) story of Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality to three strangers who bring the news that they will bear a son in their old age, three angels who represent God’s own presence. The author of our New Testament letter to the Hebrews picks up on this Old Testament story with the admonition, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). So, if prayer and spiritual reading are not your cup of tea, perhaps being attentive to the God in others whom you meet along the way might enrich your life.

Hospitality in the ancient world was critical to the rapid expansion of the early Christian missionary movement. Travel was dangerous, so if a stranger turned up on your doorstep, the codes of hospitality demanded that you provide food and shelter and safe passage while on your land, even if this stranger was an enemy. Christians came to understand this as an opportunity to meet the Risen Christ, because Jesus had made it clear that whatever kindness or neglect we show to “one of the least” of his brothers or sisters, we do to him. So the explosion of Christianity in the first century was due as much to the hospitality to others as it was to the proclamation of the Gospel itself. We can only imagine how the lonely and the frightened, social outcasts, women, slaves, strangers and enemies, might have been drawn in to the circle of love and care that the early church represented.

We can back up, however, and see Creation itself as God’s first act of hospitality. Theologian Matthew Fox writes, “The Creator God has spread out for our delight a banquet that was twenty billion years in the making. A banquet of rivers and lakes, of rain and sunshine, of rich earth and of amazing flowers, of handsome trees and of dancing fishes, of contemplative animals and of whistling winds, of dry and wet season, of cold and hot climates …. and so are we, blessings ourselves invited to the banquet.”
And in the Christian story of Jesus, we have God’s second great act of divine hospitality – the Incarnation.

How do we, modern day Christians, respond to God’s hospitality? In I John 4:20, we are asked, “…[how can] those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, love God whom they have not seen”? One of our persistent problems is that we do not see each other as brother and sister, let alone love them. What would it take to see each other as a beloved child of God – with all of their gifts and in spite of their weaknesses? Elizabeth Canham reminds us of St. Benedicts words, “Be here; find Christ in the restless teenager, demanding parent, insensitive employer, dull preacher, lukewarm congregation. And she continues, “… create a hospitable space for whoever and whatever God sends into your lives now.”

This is surely a challenge for us today! When have you stepped outside of your comfort zone to offer hospitality to a stranger, or maybe someone that was a stretch for you? I remember bringing home for breakfast a hungry couple I met at a gas station. My husband was not happy with me, but when I had bacon and eggs in the refrigerator, I couldn’t turn my back on them. And my son and family (two adults, three children, a big dog and three cats) lived with me when they had lost their job and housing years ago. We made it work. Hospitality begins at home with the way we treat each other, and then spreads to the workplace and the neighborhood and the church. In many ways, when we pray for others, this is a form of hospitality. Listening to others, often those whom we don’t know well and/or who are different from us, can be a way of listening to God. Especially those who are different, who see the world differently from the way we do, who have had different life experiences than we have had. This is how we grow, not only in our knowledge of others but also in our knowledge of ourselves.

The practice of Christian hospitality enables us to transcend differences and to be reconciled to one another in love, even in our more complex society than that of the early church. It is a risk taken in faith, and it is surely one that transforms our perspective on just about everything.

Next week, we will see where all this conversation over a number of weeks about spirituality takes us, how we can pull all of it together.

UCC Daily Meditation: “Dude in the Ditch”
By Matthew Laney

From Betsy: I receive a daily meditation in my in-box every morning, and I thought Thursday’s was appropriate for my reflection on “hospitality,” so I am including it here:
Dude in the Ditch

A lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. … When a Samaritan saw him, he was moved with pity.” – Luke 10:29-30 33

As I was taught this parable while growing up in the church, I was encouraged to see myself as the priest and the Levite (the ones who pass by the beaten man) on my bad days, and to see myself as the Good Samaritan on my better days. Now I believe that totally misses the point.

Jesus told this parable to his own people. They would not have identified with social elites like the priest or the Levite. They definitely wouldn’t have identified with a despised, outcast Samaritan. His listeners would have identified with the man who was assaulted and left for dead.

Therefore, the burning question of the parable is not: “Are you willing to be like the Good Samaritan?” The parable asks a much harder question: “Are you willing to be rescued by someone you despise, someone you’ve been conditioned to ignore, fear, hate or reject?” Christians already have that experience.

We were once left for dead when along came a person of a different religion, a different nationality, a different language, a person who was despised and rejected. That person stopped, poured wine into our wounds, carried us to safety, and restored us to health.

Who has been that sort of neighbor to you? Jesus. If you have received his mercy, the same command comes: “Go and do likewise.”

Prayer
Gracious God, when I asked for help, I was expecting someone like me. Thanks for sending Jesus instead.

REFORMATION SUNDAY          Refermation Martin Luther                              
The last Sunday in October is known as
Reformation Sunday in the Reformed church
calendar – Baptists, UCCers, and many others –
so this Sunday at Moosup Valley, we will
sing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” Martin
Luther’s hymn, to acknowledge the start of the
Protestant Reformation, 503 years ago on October 31, “Reformation Day.” It’s a big deal.

A monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 propositions on the doors of the castle church in Wittenberg on that day, challenging the practice of the Roman Catholic Church of forgiving sins for money, essentially “get-out-of-jail-FREE” cards called indulgences. He was taking his life in his hands – literally – as a friend had been burned at the stake not too long before.
Luther and his contemporaries promoted three major ideas, influencing the way we understand our relationship to God –
 sola Scriptura (scripture alone), knowledge of Jesus through reading the Bible, not based primarily on tradition;
 sola gratia (only by grace), not through our own efforts; and
 sola fidei (only by faith), trusting in Jesus.
Luther set off a firestorm across Europe. Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, wrote in his Introduction, “The Catholic Church was derived from three sources. Its sacred history was Jewish, its theology was Greek, its government and canon law were, at least indirectly, Roman. The Reformation rejected the Roman elements, softened the Greek elements and greatly strengthened the Judaic elements. …”

However, a problem remains with us today: The emphasis was placed upon faith rather than grace, and the “right” faith insidiously became the new requirement. Faith, most often understood as belief, is what God required, and by the lack of faith / belief, one risked the peril of eternal punishment.” And one risked being burned at the stake, beheaded, or being drawn and quartered! However, faith in the original sense was a verb, meaning what we love, not what we think.

Moosup Valley Sunday Service

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted). The Order of Worship bulletin is emailed on Saturday mornings and includes the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document. This Sunday, Reverend Betsy will reflect on Matthew 22:34-46, and her message is entitled “For the Love of God,” looking at Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees about the “greatest commandment.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

Rice City Worship

This Sunday, October 18, Rice City will be back inside, socially distanced, windows open, and masked. Pastor Bob’s theme is “My Strength and My Song.” A copy of the Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship will be emailed with Rev. Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

Celtic poet, philosopher, and scholar, John O’Donahue, writes that “Prayer is the act and presence of sending … light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them. When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life. He notes that, “In the kingdom of love, there is no competition.”

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers…

 Ellen Kennedy Wilkinson has asked for prayers for John “Johnny” Sanders of Pensacola, Florida, a Moosup Valley Luther cousin who is recovering from infection following knee surgery, and for his sister, Patricia, whose husband, John Miller, died in April of a heart problem. Johnny and Pat are the grandchildren of Charlie and Mae Luther.

 Ron Burge, for a quick recovery from a broken his ankle.

 George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is recovering at a rehab facility from complications from COVID-19, impacting his ability to walk.

 Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, recovering from broken bones.

 Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.

 Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 Richard Lucky who has had throat surgery at Deaconess Hospital in Boston.

 Beverly Griffiths’ 92-year-old Aunt Helen who is in the nursing home at the United Methodist Elder Care facility in East Providence, recovering from falls.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation in this election season, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster Department of Human Services

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions. Cash donations to DHS, Town of Foster,  181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Thanksgiving Food Basket Donations The Foster Department of Human Services is accepting donations now for Thanksgiving food baskets for your neighbors in need. The department anticipates helping 75 households again this year. Traditional food item suggestions are: gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, instant and canned potatoes/yams, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk and pie crust mix. Surplus winter squash is always a treat, too!

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. Please bring donations by November 5 to allow time to pack the holiday bags and have them ready for pickup. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Thank you for adding just one more reason to be thankful.

A Treasurer Thanks You!
By Pat Safstrom.  A big thanks to everyone for your continued support of our little Moosup Valley Church during this COVID pandemic. Yes, the building is closed, but our congregation and our hearts are open. Our finances are healthy, and the bills are able to be paid. Thank you so much!

Neighbors in Need – Last Call!

Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that
supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of
NIN funds support ministry with Native Americans, and
two-thirds supports a variety of justice initiatives,
advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through
grants to UCC churches and organizations doing
justice work in their communities. Your offerings may be
mailed to Pat Safstrom at the address below.

Closing Prayer
By Thomas Merton (pluralized by B. J. Silvis)      closing prayer

Dear Lord God,                
We have no idea where we are going.
We do not see the road ahead of us.
We cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do we really know ourselves,
and the fact that we think we are following your will
does not mean that we are actually doing so.
But we believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And we hope we have that desire in all that we are doing.
we hope that we will never do anything apart from that desire.
And we know that if we do this you will lead us by the right road,
though we may know nothing about it.
Therefore will we trust you always though
we may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
we will not fear, for you are ever with us,
and you will never leave us to face our perils alone.
Amen.

Offerings may be mailed for:
Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

*************************************************************************

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #39
October 16, 2020

This is the thirty-ninth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Window Box Fall

We are grateful to Tom and Pam of Natural Designs for our
Moosup Valley Church’s Window Box with this beautiful fall arrangement.

Soul Feast: Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

Spiritual direction is the act of paying attention to God,
calling attention to God, being attentive to God
in a person or circumstances or situation….
It notices the Invisibilities in and beneath and around the Visibilities.
It listens for the Silences between the spoken Sounds.
Eugene H. Peterson

For weeks now, I have given us all a lot to think about, using Rev. Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. Everyone talks about Spirituality. Our children say they are “spiritual” but not “religious.” But not too many of us invest time in developing our relationship with God, however we understand who or what we mean by “God,” (which may be different for each of us). We have reflected on a number of “tools” to develop a relationship with the Divine: spiritual reading, prayer, corporate worship, Sabbath, fasting, and self-examination,

It’s a lot to digest, let alone follow. So this week, I will focus on inviting someone to accompany us on that journey. In the Christian tradition, this is known as Spiritual Direction, and while having a spiritual guide in some traditions, such as Roman Catholic and Episcopalian, it is less so for Protestants, except maybe for clergy. However, everyone who is open to the possibility of a deeper life in the Spirit, can benefit from having someone with whom to meet on a regular basis, whatever they are called: priests, ministers, rabbis, gurus, elders, mentors. Think of Jesus and his disciples in a teacher-learner relationship as an example of someone offering spiritual guidance, and the Apostle Paul in his relationship with the little house churches he set up on his missionary journeys. Jesus was unique, however, in that he embodied what he taught.

One’s spiritual director need not be a religious “professional,” however. In the Protestant tradition, we believe in the “priesthood of all believers,” that the Spirit is poured out on all Christians. The best Spiritual Directors are those who are humble, compassionate, wise, and able to speak the truth in love. So what do they do? Margaret Guenther writes, “So what does the spiritual director teach? In the simplest and also most profound terms, the spiritual director is simultaneously a learner and a teacher of discernment. What is happening? Where is God in this person’s life? What is the story? Where does this person’s story fit in our common Christian story?”

Middle age mystic, Teresa of Avila, counsels, “Beginners need counsel to help them ascertain what benefits them most. To this end a director is very necessary, but only a director of experience will avoid making many mistakes and leading souls along without understanding them or without allowing them to learn to understand themselves.” Rev. Thompson in her Soul Feast identifies five roles:

1. A spiritual guide listens to us. He or she offers time and space for us to tell our story and to ask our questions, giving permission for doubts and experiences, helping us to clarify unresolved issues.

2. A spiritual guide helps us to notice things, to find the grace of God hidden in the midst of ordinary life, to find God’s “still small voice” in our daily encounters and experiences.

3. A spiritual guide helps us to respond to God with greater freedom. When we begin to notice God’s presence and challenges, we are faced with choices. We may have to change – which may not be easy. Our guide can help us let go of old habits and ways of being.

4. A spiritual guide points us to practical disciples of spiritual growth, helping us to put in place such disciplines as spiritual reading and prayer and help keep us accountable. I always think that if I’ve told someone I’m going on a diet, that I can’t eat that second piece of cake without letting myself down.

5. A spiritual guide loves us and prays for us, probably the most important function. People at Moosup Valley often say that knowing the congregation was praying for them made it easier to go into surgery, trusting they were not alone.

So, how to get started? I would look for someone whom I imagine has a certain maturity of faith. Someone with lots of life experience, familiar with the scriptures and with a life of prayer. Someone knowledgeable about the ways of the human heart. Someone who knows he or she is not perfect. Someone who is flexible, rather than rigid; someone I trust with my deepest secrets. A good listener who is open to all kinds of feelings without condemnation and who is willing to stand before God with me as a forgiven sinner. Who would you want as your spiritual guide? Eugene H. Peterson says of his spiritual director, “I felt a large roominess in his company—a spiritual roominess, room to move around, room to be free. He didn’t hem me in with questions; he didn’t suffocate me with “concern.”
Ask God to help you find one. Perhaps you already have someone – a prayer partner, a Bible Study group, someone you might consider a “spiritual friend,” someone with whom you already explore who God is in your life. Or you may want to identify someone new, someone who will hear your story in a new way. Rev. Thompson suggests that, “People who have genuine spiritual gifts are usually humble, ordinary folk who are deeply conscious of their own spiritual struggles and failures. And they may be shocked that you are asking them and turn you down, not thinking they are worthy of the role. But you are not looking for a Messiah; you are looking for a companion along the spiritual way, and who better than one is doesn’t think he or she is worthy.

Once you have identified your spiritual guide and identified what you want to work on, the next step is to decide practical matters – how often (once a month or once or twice a year), where you will meet and for how long. And like any new relationship, you may want to “give it a go” and see how it works for you. There is no reason why you can’t drop out if the guide is not a good “fit” for you. Remember, too, that spiritual direction is not psychological counseling which tends to focus on self-image, relationships, or work issues in a problem-solving way. Spiritual direction keeps God in the picture. Tilden Edwards offers this bit of wisdom: “The primary relationship in spiritual friendship is between God and the friend, not between the friends themselves.”

Or perhaps a spiritual guide is not what you need right now. The general teaching and preaching of the church may be sufficient for you. You might find what you are looking for in books. St. Teresa of Avila acknowledged centuries ago that “when we cannot find a living Cristian to guide us, we can rely on good spiritual books.” However, you may yearn for one other flesh-and-blood person who can give you concentrated time and attention with an outsider’s perspective to walk with us in our life journey. Such companionship may be a precious grace in your life.

Next week, we will look at the Spirit of Hospitality – Entertaining Angels Unawares.

The End of the Pandemic. What Would Jesus Do?

With thanks to Tom Hall for bringing this to my attention,
and with excerpts from Isabella Piro’s summary.

Pope Francis has written a new encyclical – a letter to be distributed to Catholics around the world – that has something to say of value for all Christians, not just Catholics. This one is known as “Fratelli Tutti” and seeks to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with the contribution of all people and institutions, and an emphatic confirmation of a ‘no’ to war and to globalized indifference. He writes that the global health emergency has helped demonstrate that “no one can face life in isolation” and that the time has truly come to “dream, then, as a single human family” in which we are “brothers and sisters all.” We might understand this as answering the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”

Here are a few of his themes and points:

• The Pope sounds the alarm on a “culture of walls” fueled by fear and loneliness and the many distortions of the contemporary era: the manipulation and deformation of concepts such as democracy, freedom, justice; the loss of the meaning of the social community and history; selfishness and indifference toward the common good; the prevalence of a market logic based on profit and the culture of waste; unemployment, racism, poverty; the disparity of rights and its aberrations such as slavery, human trafficking,…

• We are all called – just like the Good Samaritan – to become neighbors to others, overcoming prejudices, personal interests, historic and cultural barriers. Love builds bridges and “we were made for love,” the Pope adds, particularly exhorting Christians to recognize Christ in the face of every excluded person.

• The right to live with dignity cannot be denied to anyone, and since rights have no borders, no one can remain excluded, regardless of where they are born.

• To the theme of migration, we should have “a heart open to the whole world.” With their lives “at stake,” fleeing from war, persecution, natural catastrophes, unscrupulous trafficking, ripped from their communities of origin, migrants are to be welcomed, protected, supported and integrated. Unnecessary migration needs to be avoided, by creating opportunities to live with dignity in the countries of origin. But at the same time, we need to respect the right to seek a better life elsewhere.

• Politics [should be] placed at the service of the common good, centered on human dignity.

• Life is the “art of encounter” with everyone, because “each of us can learn something from others.” The miracle of “kindness” is an attitude to be recovered.

• Peace is connected to truth, justice and mercy. Far from the desire for vengeance, it is “proactive” and aims at forming a society based on service to others and on the pursuit of reconciliation and mutual development. Forgiveness does not mean to forget, but to renounce the destructive power of evil and the desire for revenge. Never forget “horrors” like the Shoah, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, persecutions and ethnic massacres.

• War is “a constant threat” that represents “the negation of all rights,” “a failure of politics and of humanity” and “a stinging defeat before the forces of evil.” Moreover, due to nuclear chemical and biological weapons that strike many innocent civilians, today we can no longer think, as in the past, of the possibility of a “just war,” but we must vehemently reaffirm: “Never again war!” In addition, the death penalty must be abolished worldwide.

• Terrorism is not due to religion but to erroneous interpretations of religious texts, as well as “policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression” A journey of peace among religions is possible and that it is therefore necessary to guarantee religious freedom, a fundamental human right for all believers. Interreligious dialogue [should] be adopted as the way, common cooperation as conduct, and mutual knowledge as method and standard.

It Begins with You and Me
By Marge Piercy
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people can join to form
a committee, a wedge. ..
It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they say no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted). The Order of Worship bulletin is emailed on Saturday mornings and includes the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document. This Sunday, Reverend Betsy will reflect on Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (1:1-9), and her message is entitled “Steeple People,” which is what we are called to be. Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

Rice City Worship

This Sunday, October 18, Rice City will be back inside, socially distanced, windows open, and masked. Pastor Bob’s theme is “My Strength and My Song.” A copy of the Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed with Reverend Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

Celtic poet, philosopher, and scholar, John O’Donahue, writes that “Prayer is the act and presence of sending … light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them. When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life. He notes that, “In the kingdom of love, there is no competition.”

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers…

 For Ron Burge, for a quick recovery from a broken his ankle.

 For Mary Joseph who has been not been feeling well. (Cards may be sent to her at 201 Plainfied Pike, Foster, RI 02825.)

 For George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is recovering from COVID-19 at the Miriam Hospital, now being moved out of ICU to a private room.

 For Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, and his son-in-law Bart Duarte who is recovering from neck surgery.

 For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI 02827)

 For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.

 For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 For Richard Lucky who has had throat surgery at Deaconess Hospital in Boston.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster Department of Human Services

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions. Cash donations to DHS, Town of Foster,
181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825. Thank you for you continued support!

October food pantry donations needed: canned tomatoes (diced, stewed), canned veggies, canned fruit, soup, pasta, low salt and gluten free items.

Thanksgiving Food Basket Donations

The Foster Department of Human Services is accepting donations now for Thanksgiving food baskets for your neighbors in need. The department anticipates helping 75 households again this year. Traditional food item suggestions are: gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, instant and canned potatoes/yams, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk and pie crust mix. Surplus winter squash is always a treat, too!

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. Please bring donations by November 5 to allow time to pack the holiday bags and have them ready for pickup. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Thank you for adding just one more reason to be thankful.

Flu Clinic

In addition to protecting yourself from the flu, you will receive a $5 CVS gift card!

Flu shots are available for anyone ages 19 and older on Thursday, October 22, 10:00 a.m. to noon, and will be provided by CVS Pharmacy at the Community Room, Building B, at Hemlock Village (110 Foster Center Road, Foster). The ‘super shot’ or ‘senior shot’ flu vaccine should be available. Go to the Community Room

New this year: Registration is required! Please call 392-9208 to schedule your appointment time and prefill the required paper work. This will reduce the number of people at any one time and also streamline the process by having the paperwork completed when you get there. Masks are required and physical distancing is recommended. There should only be a couple of people waiting at a time, given the appointment reservations this year. Please use the visitor parking in the first lot on the left. (Parking in front of the buildings is reserved for the residents.)

Neighbors in Need

Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that
supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support ministry with Native Americans, and two-thirds supports a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. Your offerings may be mailed to Pat Safstrom, Treasurer of Moosup Valley Church, at the address, below. (Please note in the memo NIN)

Closing Thought
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.

Offerings may be mailed for:
Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827)

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), please note offering in the memo of your check or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

*****************************************************

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #38

October 9, 2020

This is the thirty-eighth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue! 

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 Window Box Fall

We are grateful to Tom and Pam of Natural Designs for our

Moosup Valley Church’s Window Box with this beautiful fall arrangement.

 

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality


 
Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my thoughts.

See if there is any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

So far in this series on spirituality, we have reflected on spiritual reading, prayer, corporate worship, Sabbath, and fasting as spiritual disciplines.  This week, we move on to Self-Examination, Confession, and Awareness with the Rev. Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast.   She begins this discipline by noting, “God is the searcher of every human heart,… where we are able to find the healing and restoration we so desperately need. … why scripture and Christian teaching urge us to examine ourselves and to confess what we find before God and to others.”  Why is this important?  Because, she reminds us, “Self-examination and confession do not call us to self-hatred or self-condemnation; they open the door of our heart to cleansing, renewal, and peace.”  Yet, we shy away from doing so.  As M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Traveled,” says, “Examination of the world without is never as personally painful as examination of the world within.”

Rev. Thompson directs us to two basic truths before we begin:  First, that we are loved by God, no matter that we are not, probably, good, pure and lovable.  God’s love isn’t something we deserve or earn; it’s the divine nature, a gift.  The second truth is that we are creatures damaged by the disorientation of sin, meaning we are “off target,” like an arrow wrongly directed by self-centered desires, chained to unmet needs, compelled by illusions, and seeking to be in control, manipulating others.  Thompson writes, “Even if we think we believe in God, we effectively stand in God’s place.  As long as we are turned in on ourselves, we deny our essential dependence on God.  We do not see how compulsively we try to manufacture our own security and meaning in life.”  She reminds us that, “Turning to face God instead of self is the beginning of Good News, the beginning of personal and relational transformation. This is what scripture calls ‘repentance.’” And repentance frees us … “to look honestly at who we are.  Bathed in God’s love, we can see clearly and nondefensively all the destructive patterns of our false self: the facades we have hidden behind, the excuses we have relied on to avoid taking responsibility, our habits of deception and control, our failure to love God, others, or ourselves adequately.” 

So, how to proceed?  First, we can examine our conscience, to place the “soul under the gaze of God,” to become conscious of the things that must be forgiven and put right before it can continue to love.”  She suggests we begin with a “life review,” which is similar to Step Four in a Twelve-Step program, in which one makes a “fearless inventory” of those personality traits, inclinations, attitudes, and behaviors that interfere with our truest good and the good of others.  We discover where and why our lives and relationships are out of order; we gain self-knowledge.  This may take days, weeks, or longer – perhaps it is part of the life journey – and it may make us uncomfortable.  We may have to let go of perfectionism and struggle with our human tendency to protect ourselves.  One way to do this review is to take pieces of paper and write a single focus on the top of each, such as Fears, Resentments, Emotional Security, Material Security, Social Acceptance, Sexuality, and Faith.  Then go back to your earliest memories and identify your particular experiences (people, circumstances, institutions); write them down on the appropriate sheets and for each, identify the effect on you and how your response contributed to the situation.  Eventually, you will begin to see the patterns which shape your adult life. 

Years ago, I worked nights as a nurse in a nursing home, and late into the evening one of my patients would still be awake, rocking in her chair and talking to herself.  I would ask, “What are you doing, Mary?”  She would reply, “Remembering the sins of my youth.”  This process of introspection doesn’t have to wait until we are dying, however.  We can look back when we are still able to understand ourselves and the choices we made and to make amends where needed.

Thompson reminds us the “An important part of a life review concerns your experiences and struggles in faith.  Who is God for you?  What is your God-image and how did it develop?  Is your current image of God the same image you had as a child?  Have you tried to manipulate or use God for your own agenda?”

Once you have finished your inventory, take time not only to confess what you regret but also to acknowledge your gifts and strengths.  Such a life review need only happen once in a lifetime and will give us a foundation for a daily self-examination – a time to reflect on when you were selfish, dishonest, resentful, fearful, greedy, impatient, judgmental, or a list of traits that are relevant for you. In the Roman Catholic monastic tradition, there are five steps to this daily examination:  gratitude for graces given, prayer for the light of insight, self-examination, acts of sorrow and contrition, and the resolution to do better.

Sometimes, confessions may be recorded in a journal.  Other times, they may be shared with a trusted friend, someone with a “holy heart” who can listen to our deepest hurts and hopes without judgment. 

The benefit of all this is to “allow us to become people who are at peace with ourselves, and who can therefore make peace with others.”  At the same time, we become more aware of the movement of the Spirit in our lives.  Next week, I will look at finding someone to accompany you on the journey and the gift of “spiritual direction.”

Evelyn Mann writes to ask if I know of the hymn, “Search Me, O God,” sung to the tune
Maori, which you might know as “Now Is the Hour.”  You can hear it sung by the The Cathedrals on YouTube.

 Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

 When I was a child, Columbus Day weekend was the time when we went to Vermont to visit my father’s folks on the farm in Weathersfield, north of Springfield, and also to attend the Little Brown Church in the Valley, in Williamsville, where my grandmother had been the minister for 20 years.  It was one of my favorite adventures growing up, watching my father’s half-brother Augustus make Apple Cider Jelly using the evaporator that he would use in the spring for syrup.  It’s where I learned how to milk a cow.  And in the Methodist Episcopal Church on Sunday, it’s where I wondered what it would be like to be a minister.

I never thought much about Christopher Columbus – the explorer who landed on our shores on October 12, 1492, the first European to explore the Americas.  He was on his way to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia, and when he sighted what is now Cuba, he thought it was mainland China.  It wasn’t until his third journey, that Columbus realized that he had stumbled upon a new continent.  However, he wasn’t the first.  The Vikings came about 996 to what is now Labrador and the coast of New England, leaving carvings on rocks in places like Provincetown and Newport.  Some speculate that because the Vikings were peaceful, that the later Europeans would be also, a big mistake!

We were taught that Columbus “discovered” America.  Yet, how could he be given credit for the discovery when people were already here?  He brutalized and enslaved the people, a fact that is left out of the history books when I was in school.  And he was given license to do so by the “Doctrine of Discovery” of 1493 by the Pope which justified Christian European explorers’ claims on land and waterways and promoted Christian domination and superiority over indigenous people.  This doctrine laid the foundation for colonization all over the world and gave Christians the spiritual, political, and legal permission to pillage, rape, and plunder whatever they found.

Now, as an alternative, we are more likely to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and to celebrate and honor our Native Americans and their histories and cultures.  My UCC calendar identifies Monday, October 12, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, so, since I’m sitting on Mashpee Wampanoag land, that’s what I’m calling it this year, and I hope to hear some drumming across Santuit Pond in celebration. 

 Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin is emailed on Saturday mornings and includes the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Reverend Betsy is preaching on Philippians 4:1-9, with a reflection on the church as “Safe Passage.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.  We welcome sisters and brothers from Rice City to join us this Sunday.

Rice City Worship

As Pastor Bob will be away, there will be no service at Rice City this Sunday.  He suggests that you worship with Moosup Valley on Zoom at 10:30 a.m. (see above), or watch Mt. Vernon’s worship service from Wednesday (see below) on their Facebook page, or worship live at Summit Baptist at 9:25 a.m.  The following Sunday, October 18, Rice City will be back inside.

 Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

 Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed with Reverend Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service. 

Evening Prayer

 Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn.  It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link. 

Special Prayers

 Celtic poet, philosopher, and scholar, John O’Donahue, writes that “Prayer is the act and presence of sending … light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them.  When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life.  He notes that, “In the kingdom of love, there is no competition.”

 Please hold a place in your heart and prayers…

  • For Ron Burge, for a quick recovery from a broken his ankle.
  • For Mary Joseph who has been not been feeling well. (Cards may be sent to her at 201 Plainfied Pike, Foster, RI 02825.)
  • For George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is in ICU in the Miriam Hospital with COVID-19.
  • For Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels.
  • Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, and his son-in-law Bart Duarte who is recovering from neck surgery.
  • For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.
  • For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI  02827)
  • For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.
  • For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.  
  • For Richard Lucky who has had throat surgery at Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
  • For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.
  • For our nation, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link. 

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Moosup Valley Memories

Submitted by Sonja Murray

The clam bake on Labor Day weekend was the biggest deal in Moosup Valley:  two bakes, 20 people per table and 15 to 20 tables under the “supper shed.”  The church held a bake sale the same day, and my mother always made pulla (Finnish coffee cake) which sold out almost before she got there.  It was sponsored by the Grange (their major money-maker for the year, without a doubt) and Mary Knudsen was in charge of ticket sales.  I think Fred Kennedy was Bake Master for years.  People came from near and far to eat!  Lydia Griffiths made the clam chowder for years.  Chowder and clam cakes to start; potatoes (white and sweet), fish with sausage in the brown bag, corn, clams (no lobster); drawn butter, tomato and cucumber slices on the table, brown bread, watermelon for dessert.  Does everyone remember it this way? 

Another big Valley event was the square dance held Saturday nights in the Grange; also a fundraiser, though nothing like the clambake.  Roger Leathers called, Priscilla Kennedy (piano) and Woody Lowden (drums) were in the band, and Burt Bennis was at the door.  Could admission have been 25 cents?  That was a “must be there” event!

Another memory was the Moosup Valley one-room school.  I was only there for only first grade, but not many of us even remember the school.  My parents sent me to Coventry for second grade and beyond, for I would have been the only one in grade two.  Laila Renvall, the girl I taught to read in first grade, went back to Finland with her parents.  Then she returned about a year later, and the teacher promoted her to grade three.  One student in a class was not practical! 

Are there other memories out there, waiting to be captured for this newsletter?

Foster Department of Human Services

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.  Cash donations to DHS, Town of Foster,

181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support! 

October food pantry donations needed:  canned tomatoes (diced, stewed), canned veggies, canned fruit, soup, pasta, low salt and gluten free items.

Thanksgiving Food Basket Donations

The Foster Department of Human Services is accepting donations now for Thanksgiving food baskets for your neighbors in need. The department anticipates helping 75 households again this year. Traditional food item suggestions are:  gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, instant and canned potatoes/yams, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk and pie crust mix. Surplus winter squash is always a treat, too! 

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. Please bring donations by November 5 to allow time to pack the holiday bags and have them ready for pickup.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated.  Thank you for adding just one more reason to be thankful.

Flu Clinic 

In addition to protecting yourself from the flu, you will receive a $5 CVS gift card! 

 

Flu shots are available for anyone ages 19 and older on Thursday, October 22, 10:00 a.m. to noon, and will be provided by CVS Pharmacy at the Community Room, Building B, at Hemlock Village (110 Foster Center Road, Foster).  The ‘super shot’ or ‘senior shot’ flu vaccine should be available.  Go to the Community Room

New this year:  Registration is required! Please call 392-9208 to schedule your appointment time and prefill the required paper work.  This will reduce the number of people at any one time and also streamline the process by having the paperwork completed when you get there.  Masks are required and physical distancing is recommended. There should only be a couple of people waiting at a time, given the appointment reservations this year.  Please use the visitor parking in the first lot on the left. (Parking in front of the buildings is reserved for the residents.) 

Closing Thought

Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology“Autumn Is Here”
By Catherine de Vinck

The day opens it first page
As the sun lifts itself out of the East.
No story yet, only the brief fluttering
of a passing bird, winging to the horizon.
Newly awake, the mind turns on its hinges
opens the door to its storerooms to find
shining thoughts, amulets of good luck
and the bones of memories abandoned
in the long corridors of our living.
No need to hurry. We listen hard:
We can hear the earth singing
in the chorus of morning glories
while water words wash us clean.
Time never stops, it goes on writing
a catalog of names and numbers:
phases of the moon, directions of the tides.
Autumn is here with baskets full of apples
gifts for the white ghosts of winter –It goes on like this, day in, day out
until metaphors shed their disguises
and we stand in the full truth of ourselves
and we find and are found.

 

Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825). 

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

********************************************

“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #37
October 2, 2020

This is the thirty-seventh issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;    The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Soul Feast: Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

Ultimately to fast means only one thing:
to be hungry—to go to the limit of that human condition
which depends entirely on food and being hungry,
to discover that this dependency is not the whole truth about [us],
that hunger itself is first of all a spiritual state
and that it is in its last reality hunger for God.
–Alexander Schmemann

So far, in this series on spirituality, we have reflected on communication with God through spiritual reading and prayer and communing with God, resting in God, and for the past two weeks, corporate worship and Sabbath. This week, I will explore Fasting, the practice of self-emptying, as a spiritual discipline. While fasting is not something Protestants have traditionally explored, Rev. Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast suggests, “I believe we need to recover the spiritual purpose of fasting precisely because of the character of contemporary culture.”

She reminds us that, in the ancient Jewish tradition, fasting had two primary purposes: to express personal and national repentance for sin as “a form of supplication before God in the face of calamity,” and “to prepare oneself inwardly for receiving the necessary strength and grace to complete a mission of faithful service in God’s name.” Think of the wilderness fasts of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus which prepared them to become bearers of God’s saving acts. And remember how Jesus combines prayer and fasting to overcome his temptations in the desert.

In Jesus’ time, fasting was a normal part of Jewish piety and, until recently, was viewed as normal in the life of Christians. It is still practiced by Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, although those of us in the tradition of the Reformation, have forgotten that our some of our greatest leaders – Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Edwards – were strong advocates of fasting. And while fasting can be taken to unhealthy extremes, the tradition also includes more moderate approaches:

Abba Joseph asked Abba Poemen, “How should one fast?” Abba Poemen said to him, “For my part, I think it better that one should eat every day, but only a little, so as not to be satisfied.”

We, on the other hand, grumble when our doctors insist we fast before medical test. We are not used to being deprived. Thompson writes, “Like the noise we have become accustomed to, or the frenetic busyness of our schedules, food is taken for granted as a constant in our lives. The very idea of intentionally being without it for even a day may threaten some of the unconscious assumptions on which our lives are built. This is precisely why fasting remains so relevant for people of faith today.” And further, “[fasting] reveals our excessive attachments and the assumptions that lie behind them. Food is necessary to life, but we have made it more necessary than God. … Fasting brings us face to face with how we put the material world ahead of its spiritual Source.”

According to Psychiatrist Gerald May, “St. Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them. If our hands are full, they are full of the things to which we are addicted. And not only our hands, but also our hearts, minds, and attention are clogged with addiction. Our addictions fill up the spaces within us, spaces where grace might flow. … [T]he spiritual significance of addiction is not just that we lose freedom through attachment to things, … [but] that we try to fulfill our longing for God through objects of attachment.”

Quaker Richard Foster distinguishes three different fasts: a normal fast “involves abstaining from all food, solid or liquid, but not from water.” A partial fast involves “a restriction of the diet but not total abstention,” perhaps not eating meat on Fridays, if one is Catholic, or giving up dessert during Lent, for example. And an absolute fast means “abstaining from both food and water,” something that might call for supervision of a physician.

And just as I wrote last week that Sabbath is more than one day of the week, fasting can be more than abstaining from food. Baptist minister Dallas Willard points out, “We dishonor God as much by fearing and avoiding pleasure as we do by dependence upon it or living for it.” Thompson adds that we need “disciplines of abstinence because we have come to relate to food, drink, sex, money, recognition, and many other things in life not as lovely gifts to be enjoyed in moderation and gratitude, but as objects of consumption to fill emotional voids. When what we consume is consuming us, and what we possess is possessing us, the only way back to health and balance is to refrain for using those things that have control over us.” So fasting might include taking a break from constant media stimulation, emails and texts, compulsive shopping, constant dieting (or eating), too much exercise (or none), judging others or ourselves too harshly, and from overfilled schedules. We need to ask ourselves: What do I do to excess?

John Calvin, our forefather in the Reformed faith, followed the biblical tradition of interpreting major disasters as divine messages and urged his followers “to accuse themselves and confess their guilt.” While Calvin’s words may seem quaint to us today, perhaps we would do well to repent our personal and social sins that abound everywhere we look, Thompson writes in the 1990s, words even more pertinent today:

If ever there was a time when repentance was called for on a national and
international scale, it is now. … World powers stand by while despots wreak
havoc on their own populations. Ancient hatreds continue to fuel wars all
over the globe. Racial and ethnic tensions threaten the cohesion of or own communities. Levels of violence and addiction exceed all bounds. Family structures crumble, and children become both victims and perpetrators of abuse in their homes and schools. Our way of life places intolerable burdens on the resources of the earth, fouling the very elements we depend on for life.

In conclusion, in the words of the Reverend James Earl Massey, “Fasting is not a renunciation of life; it is a means by which new life is released within us.”

Next week, I will move on to the practice of Conscience and Consciousness: Self-Examination, Confession, and Awareness.

Safe Passage

In her just published book, Hamnet, British author Maggie O’Farrell spins a fictional story of Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet, who dies at age 11 in 1596’s England. In the book, she writes a couple of paragraphs about the deep forests in England, how the townspeople were afraid to enter them. When Kim read me an excerpt, my response was, “There’s a sermon in there!” So here is that paragraph – and expect a sermon at Moosup Valley sometime soon about how the community that we know as the “church” can give us “safe passage.” To get you thinking:

“People who needed to go through the forest would stop to pray; there was an altar, a cross, where you could pause and put your safety in the hands of the Lord, hope that He had heard you, trust that He would watch for you, that He wouldn’t let your path intersect with those of the wood-dwellers or the forest sprites or the creatures of the leaves. The cross became covered, choked, some said, with tight skeins of ivy. Other travelers put their faith in darker powers: all around the fringes of the forest there were shrines where people tied shreds of their clothing to branches, left cups of ale, loaves of bread, scraps of crackling, strings of bright beads in the hope that the spirits of the trees might be appeased and give them safe passage.”

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted). The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document. This Sunday, World Communion Sunday, Reverend Betsy is preaching on the high drama story Jesus tells when he is confronting the powerful people in the temple, just before they plot to kill him: Matthew 21:33-46. Her reflection title is “Producing Fruit.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday, and please bring a piece of bread from your tradition and a cup of something for the communion service.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Pastor Bob reports: “Rice City continues to meet outside for worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it. So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp. Outside is the safest way we can gather together. We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary. The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside. It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement. Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home. Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.” The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

October Hymn Sing
The Hymn Sing for October has been moved to the first Sunday of the month, October 4th, 3:00 p.m., to avoid the holiday weekend. We are planning for a beautiful afternoon outside at Moosup Valley. However, if the weather is cold or inclement, we will meet inside at Rice City. Pastor Bob will post the meeting place on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook page (or you can call him at 401-440-7831), and he also will post a sign at Moosup Valley, if it has been moved to Rice City. If so, the Hymn Sing will be delayed to 3:15 to accommodate the people who went to Moosup Valley first. If at Moosup Valley, please bring your own chair, wear a mask, and plan to sit “socially-distant” with masks on.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed with Reverend Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers

Celtic poet, philosopher, and scholar, John O’Donahue, writes that “Prayer is the act and presence of sending … light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them. When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life. He notes that, “In the kingdom of love, there is no competition.”

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers…

 For Pat Safstrom who is having cataract surgery on Friday.

 For Mary Joseph who has been not been feeling well. (Cards may be sent to her at 201 Plainfied Pike, Foster, RI 02825.)

 For Bart Duarte, Carl’s son-in-law, who is recovering from neck surgery.

 For Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme.

 For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI 02827)

 For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.

 For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him swallow.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster Department of Human Services

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions. Cash donations to DHS, Town of Foster,
181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825. Thank you for you continued support!

October food pantry donations needed: canned tomatoes (diced, stewed), canned veggies, canned fruit, soup, pasta, low salt and gluten free items.

Thanksgiving Food Basket Donations

The Foster Department of Human Services is accepting donations now for Thanksgiving food baskets for your neighbors in need. The department anticipates helping 75 households again this year. Traditional food item suggestions are: gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, instant and canned potatoes/yams, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk and pie crust mix. Surplus winter squash is always a treat, too!

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. Please bring donations by November 5 to allow time to pack the holiday bags and have them ready for pickup. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Thank you for adding just one more reason to be thankful.

Flu Clinic

In addition to protecting yourself from the flu, you will receive a $5 CVS gift card!

Flu shots are available for anyone ages 19 and older on Thursday, October 22, 10:00 a.m. to noon, and will be provided by CVS Pharmacy at the Community Room, Building B, at Hemlock Village (110 Foster Center Road, Foster). The ‘super shot’ or ‘senior shot’ flu vaccine should be available. Go to the Community Room

New this year: Registration is required! Please call 392-9208 to schedule your appointment time and prefill the required paper work. This will reduce the number of people at any one time and also streamline the process by having the paperwork completed when you get there. Masks are required and physical distancing is recommended. There should only be a couple of people waiting at a time, given the appointment reservations this year. Please use the visitor parking in the first lot on the left. (Parking in front of the buildings is reserved for the residents.)

Closing Thought
By Walter Brueggeman, Biblical scholar, in “Prayers for a Privilege People”

The Noise of Politics

We watch as the jets fly in
with the power people and / the money people
the suits, the budgets, the billions.

We wonder about monetary policy
because we are among the haves,
And about generosity
because we care about the have-nots.

By slower modes we notice
Lazarus and the poor arriving from Africa,
and the beggars from Central Europe, and
the throng of environmentalists with their vision of butterflies and oil
of flowers and tanks
of growing things and / killing fields.

We wonder about peace and war,
about ecology and development,
about hope and entitlement.

We listen beyond jeering protesters and
soaring jets and
faintly we hear the mumbling of the crucified one,
something about
feeding the hungry / and giving drink to the thirsty,
about clothing the naked, / and noticing the prisoners,
more about the least and about holiness among them.

We are moved by the mumbles of the gospel,
even while we are tenured in our privilege.

We are half ready to join the choir of hope,
half afraid things might change,
and in a third half of our faith / turning to you,
and your outpouring love / that works justice and
that binds us each and all to one another.

Se we pray amid jeering protesters
and soaring jets.
Come by here and make new,
even at some risk to our entitlements.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),
Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #36
September 25, 2020

This is the thirty-sixth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other. If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;   The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Soul Feast: Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

The Sabbath itself is a sanctuary
which we build, a sanctuary in time.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

So far, in this series on spirituality, we have reflected on communication with God through spiritual reading and prayer and communing with God, resting in God, and last week, “gathering in the Spirit,” worshipping together. Building on worship, I decided to write something on the Sabbath and expanded on “Soul Feast” to consult three other books on my shelf about the Sabbath.

We know of the Sabbath as a day. “On the seventh day, God rested” (Genesis 2:3) we read in our creation story, a gift in people’s lives right from the beginning, and again its emphasis in the people’s lives, “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). We think of it as a day of rest from work of any kind – although that is difficult for ministers who are expected to lead worship and for mothers who are expected to have Sunday dinner on the table after church. Years ago, Sabbath was also a time for family and visiting. I’m old enough to remember when stores were closed on Sunday, do you? Sundays were the pause that refreshed us, a gentle, relaxing day. In addition to the quote above, Heschel reminds us that “Sabbath is an opportunity to mend our tattered lives; to collect rather than to dissipate time.”

When churches had bells – Rice City still does – they would lead us to worship, as this poem by Wendell Berry reminds us:

The bell calls in the town
Where forebears cleared the shaded land
And brought high daylight down
To shine on field and trodden road.
I hear, but understand
Contrarily, and walk into the woods.
I leave labor and load
Take up a different story.
I keep an inventory
Of wonders and of uncommercial goods.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk thinks it is fortunate that “there are church bells all over Europe.” He says:

Whenever I give a lecture in Switzerland, I always make use of the church bells to practice mindfulness. When the bells ring, I stop talking, and all of us listen to the full sound of the bell. We enjoy it so much.

When I visited England, I thought that if I lived there, I would be an Anglican because of the bells.

But Sabbath is more than a day; it is a time of mindfulness, as the Buddhist says. And the Rabbi teaches that, “The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space [think alarm clocks and schedules]; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.” And we don’t have to wait until Sunday to do so. In the midst of such a busy life, “Jesus was always taking time to get away from the pressures and to be alone, to pray, to spend time with God, to gain perspective, to be renewed, to regenerate his energy and that of his followers” (Don Postema, Catch Your Breath: God’s Invitation to Sabbath Rest, p. 31).

Too often, however, we use the Sabbath as a time to prepare for the week ahead, but Rabbi Heschel reminds us, “The Sabbath as a day of rest, as a day of abstaining from toil, is not for the purpose of recovering one’s lost strength and becoming fit for the forthcoming labor. The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life.” In that way, the Sabbath is God’s invitation to peace in the middle of feverish activity. Heschel again, “Does not our work always remain incomplete? What the verse means to convey is: Rest on the Sabbath as if all your work were done. Another interpretation: Rest even from the thought of labor.”

Sabbath also is a time to catch our breath. Postema writes, “When we exert ourselves, it’s as if our breath gets away from us and we have to grab it back again to renew our vitality.” And he uses childbirth as an example, “There are different breathing patterns for various parts of labor. Breathing is part of the birth process. When the baby is born, we immediately make sure it is breathing. Where there’s breath, there’s life.” Mystic Thomas Merton notes, “Every breath we draw is a gift of God’s love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted. In the same way, we sing this beloved hymn, “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love the way you love, and do what you would do.”

Harvard professor Diana Eck, in Encountering God, p. 127, writes, “Remembering our breath is one of the simplest ways of becoming aware of God. So various forms of meditation encourage us to be conscious of our breathing. The practice is very simple, though not easy. Concentrate on breathing in and breathing out. Such “resting the mind on the breath of a sustained period of the day [can be] a vehicle for resting in the Spirit. It is a vehicle for returning attention to the moment and for returning attention to God.”

And we don’t have to wait; we can have mini-Sabbaths throughout the day and every day of the week, as in the 23rd Psalm: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” We can do this on a regular basis; even eating a meal mindfully, if we are eating alone, can be a mini-Sabbath. Next week, I will explore “Fasting” as a spiritual discipline.

What We Can Learn from RBG?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg had a profound influence on American life, a remarkable, larger- than-life figure for many of us. When she died of pancreatic cancer earlier this month, she was already an icon for women’s rights and gender equality, and we remember her in her black jurist’s robes and her signature lace collar. What did we learn from her?
Many things, but I suggest several here, and encourage you to add your own.

First, that a woman can have a loving marriage and a successful career and children. Ginsberg had a lifelong marriage to Martin Ginsberg and raised two children. One can also have a life beyond work, given her love of the opera.

Second, that women suffered discrimination and still do. Although she was top of her class at Harvard Law School, she couldn’t find a job and had to hide her pregnancy in order to continue to work when she was finally hired. She successfully argued against gender discrimination, including one significant case where she argued and won a father’s right to say home and raise his child with SSDI benefits after his wife died in childbirth.

Third, that we need to be strategic in our goals. “Ginsberg was wise enough to know that if you pick your fights to build on your successes, there is a better chance of not only winning but having your victories accepted,” according to columnist Cynthia Stead.

Fourth, that we can be friends with people who hold different opinions from ours. She was a longtime friend of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with whom she was ideologically opposed on many issues.

Five, that she was a superhero for many people in this country, men as well as women, who desperately need women of intellect, character, and principle to look up to as well as rock stars. Stead writes, “She changed the law, and she changed society. She was a justice who trusted our judgment.”

Opera singer, Denyce Graves, a black friend accompanied by a white pianist and a personal friend of Ginsberg, composed a tribute which she sang at her memorial this week, “America, America, I gave my best to you.”

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted). The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document. This Sunday, Reverend Betsy is preaching on one of the “controversy stories,” Matthew 21:23-32. Her reflection title is “By Whose Authority?” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Pastor Bob reports: “Rice City continues to meet outside for worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it. So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp. Outside is the safest way we can gather together. We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary. The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside. It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement. Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home. Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.” The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

October Hymn Sing
The Hymn Sing for October has been moved to the first Sunday of the month, October 4th, 3:00 p.m., to avoid the holiday weekend. We are planning for a beautiful afternoon outside at Moosup Valley. However, if the weather is cold or inclement, we will meet inside at Rice City. Pastor Bob will post the meeting place on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook page (or you can call him at 401-440-7831), and he also will post a sign at Moosup Valley, if it has been moved to Rice City. If so, the Hymn Sing will be delayed to 3:15 to accommodate the people who went to Moosup Valley first. If at Moosup Valley, please bring your own chair, wear a mask, and plan to sit “socially-distant” with masks on.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks). The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed with Reverend Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God. If you wish, please bring a candle to light. Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs! The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Special Prayers: Please hold in your heart and prayers…

 For Bart Duarte, Carl’s son-in-law, who is recovering from neck surgery.

 For Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme.

 For Tina and Jim’s friend, Chris, who was active in assisting veterans and who has just died of a heart attack at age 54. He leaves a wife and children.

 For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

 For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI 02827)

 For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer and to manage the effects of the chemo.

 For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him swallow.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

SNEUCC Conference Praying for Us
Keep alive in me the forward look, the high hope, the onward surge.
Let me not be frozen either by the past or the present.
Grant me, [O God, your] sense of the future without which all life
would sicken and die. – Howard Thurman
With these words, our new Conference announced that each week, the staff prays for 12 of its churches, for their leaders and their ministries, and this week, Moosup Valley was one of them. They also ask for our prayers for them and the ministries of the Southern New England Conference. Special requests for prayer are always welcome.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study. Here’s how to participate:

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them. (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

September is Socks for Students Month!

School-aged children 5 – 18 years old could use your donation of socks. Please use the Foster Department of Human Services (DHS) food bins around town at the libraries, the post office, the Town Hall and the DHS office to leave your donations. Thank you!
Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.

Flu Shot Clinic: Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics. This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

To donate, send your checks for needy people, payable to DHS, Town of Foster, to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought
The Reverend Powell Davies, minister of All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s and 50s, offers this:

Life must have its sacred moments and holy places. We need the infinite, the limitless, the uttermost — all that can give the heart a deep and strengthening peace. We need religion with its faith and purpose; we need it as experience. We need the touch of beauty, bringing back to life its luster and its loveliness. We need the unutterable communion of our spirits with the spirit of the highest — all that joins the souls with what it yearns for, all that can raise the frailty of our incomplete humanity toward the level of the spirit’s aspirations — that our earthly dust may meet and mingle with the majesty and mystery of God.

Offerings may be mailed for:
Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),
Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.
Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #35

September 18, 2020

This is the thirty-fifth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;     The Church Is Open!
Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God,

to feed the mind with the truth of God,

to purge the imagination by the beauty of God,

to open the heart to the love of God,

to devote the will to the purpose of God.

William Temple

So far, in this series on spirituality, we have reflected on communication with God through spiritual reading and prayer and communing with God, resting in God. Today we turn to “gathering in the Spirit,” worshipping together.

You might not have thought of this as a spiritual discipline.  You might have thought of “going to church” as just something you do to be with friends and family and giving structure to your week.  You might even have thought that you could worship privately from home or through a televised service just as well.  However, there is no substitute for being together, even if through the internet during COVID-19.

The word “liturgy” from the Greek means “the service or work of the people,” and our corporate worship is just that, an opportunity to come together to offer ourselves as a sacrifice in thanksgiving as we listen to God’s Word and give ourselves wholly to God’s designs in the world.  We offer our will, strength, and gifts in gratitude for who God is and what God has done for us.  Rev. Thompson, author of “Soul Feast,” writes, “We worship because it is natural to respond to the mystery that irradiates life. … It asks us to disengage from the nose-length focus of daily life and see below the surface to life’s source. We can then reengage the realities of the world from a deeper and clearer perspective.”

In Mark 12: 29-30, when Jesus sets the first commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” he identifies worship as the center of human life.  Although in Western culture, “heart” and “head” describe separate spheres, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, “heart” is the seat and center of the whole person – the core of our personal character, our thoughts, emotions, intuition, and imagination.

Rev. Thompson writes, “When the heart is turned toward God, one is filled with grace and truth; when the heart turns away, a person dwells in delusion.”  So true worship means “responding to God … with our entire being.”  Opening up an understanding of worship as engaging both heart and mind, she notes, “Too many worshipping communities encourage only half-hearted worship.”  I have learned from my African clergy colleagues that if the congregation doesn’t “feel” anything, they haven’t worshipped.  So while I believe that at Moosup Valley we shouldn’t check our minds at the door, we also shouldn’t check our hearts.  One of the reasons I use so much music in worship in the singing of hymns and responses to prayers is that music can engage us on a deeper level than words alone.  I often feel our hearts begin to beat together in rhythm as we sing a beloved hymn together, have you?

So while we can and do, sometimes, worship privately in nature or when listening to an inspiring message or music, there is no substitute for gathering together.  We need to experience our Christian life as rooted in the larger community of faith.  Thompson again:  “Even our most personal disciplines need to be supported, broadened, clarified, and sometimes corrected in the light of corporate theology and practice.  Otherwise we become susceptible to privatized visions of spiritual truth.  Moreover, we need the prayers of others as they need our prayers. The way God provides for our deepest hopes is usually through the hands and hearts of others.”

Isaac Pennington says that people gathered for genuine worship “are like a heap of fresh and burning coals warming one another as a great strength, freshness and vigor of life flows into all.”  It is the rites and sacraments of public worship that form the Body of Christ.  They also lead us through the seasons of Jesus’ life and the life of the early church – Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost – drawing meaning of Jesus’ life in relation to our own lives.  Next week, I will continue reflecting on common worship with more reflections on the Sabbath and how to keep it.

Stay Healthy and Safe!

We have been isolated at home and socially-distanced and masked when we are out and about.  But it’s getting a little bit “old,” don’t you think, after six months?  The tendency is to become careless.  But our UCC Conference Minister, Chuck Erickson, writes:

While hiking with my family along the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail in Acadia National Park recently, I received a text on my phone which came from WABI, the local CBS affiliate in Bangor.  The text began: “There are now three deaths related to an August 7th wedding…”

Three.  Deaths.  Related to…a wedding.

You may have heard the story behind this headline on the national news.  A wedding held in Millinocket, Maine, was attended by 65 people, most of whom did not wear face masks or maintain social distancing at the wedding or at the reception that followed.  The last report I saw stated that 56 people who attended the wedding and reception had contracted the coronavirus, and when secondary and tertiary (third-party) cases are included, over 150 COVID-19 [latest reports say 175] cases have been traced back to the Millinocket wedding.  That number includes 82 people at the York County Jail over 200 miles away from the wedding location, and 21 more at a rehabilitation center in Madison, Maine.  Both of these locations have vulnerable populations.  Just imagine an inmate about to be paroled, or an ailing nursing home resident, having their future jeopardized due to someone else’s disregard for health precautions.

What can faith communities learn from this tragic incident?
Masks that cover our faces save lives.
Social distancing of six feet or more helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Being covered by the blood of Jesus will not protect you from catching, carrying or spreading the virus.
The pandemic we are immersed in right now is not a hoax or a deep state conspiracy.

We also learn from the Millinocket tragedy that:
Rushing to resume indoor worship in sanctuaries is unwise and potentially deadly.  [Betsy’s note:  While Rice City has the space and high ceilings to come inside while distanced and masked, Moosup Valley does not, so we will continue with worship by Zoom for the time being.] And we are reminded that Jesus never required followers to gather in buildings to worship, only that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  Believers can gather virtually online, via email threads, conference phone calls and other creative methods – and Jesus will be there among them.  I can only imagine that where worshipers gather in close proximity with faces uncovered inside the confined space of a sanctuary, Jesus will be with them also – only Jesus will be outside on the lawn frantically shouting, “Get out! Get out now and go somewhere safe, stopping only to buy a mask and wash your hands!”

What can churches do when faced with anxiety about losing money and parishioners?
We can remind each other that “we are blessed to remain safe at home with virtual worship.”
We can trust the medical experts, scientists and – in the case of faith communities – educated theologians who have no motivation other than to keep us all safe and keep us alive.

Our God speaks: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…” (Deut. 30:19, NRSV).  The choices we make going forward through this pandemic can most assuredly lead to blessings and life, or curses and death.  As faith communities, may we always choose wisely…choose with others in mind…and ultimately choose blessings and life.

Update on E.A.C.H. (Education Assistance for the Children of Haiti)

Several months ago, I asked Rose about our children in Haiti, how they were doing during the pandemic, and she provided us with an update.  Here is what happened after you heard the children were hungry:

Dear friends in Christ,

Just a great tremendous thank you for your support and generosity. Our schools opened the beginning of September, and I can say, so far so good.  Right now, the children are making up the two months they missed due to the virus.

Although it has been hard with COVID, I can say now, I have nine renewals for the 2020-2021 school year. I like the phrase, ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY.  I have faith that God will provide for his people. They are resilient and hard working.

I would like to take this time to send big hugs to our friends at Moosup Valley Church for supporting eight of our students at the Arcahaie School. I have designated that school to Moosup Valley.  If I receive any sponsorship from a member there, a child from that school will be blessed with an education for the year. Thank you so much, once again.

Respectfully yours,

Rose Desilus

Everyone Can Help

Barbara Cederfield sent me this story which proves that everyone can help someone, no matter one’s age:  “A gentleman stopped [on Cucumber Hill Road] to see if we wanted to sell our tractor.  He told me his 14-year-old daughter had decided to take over and restore their gardens this summer.  He said she did so well with the project that she raised a great deal of produce.  She was getting it ready and was going to deliver a truck load to the food bank near them [in the Westerly area].  She put in a lot of work over the summer to do this for others.  Bless her.”

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Reverend Betsy is preaching on the story of the Laborers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20:1-16.  Her reflection title is “God’s Generosity.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Pastor Bob reports:  “Rice City continues to meet outside for worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it.  So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp.  Outside is the safest way we can gather together.  We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary.  The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside.  It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement.  Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home.  Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.”  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed with Reverend Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn.  It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

An Evening Prayer

Evie Hopkins Mann of Summit Baptist Church in Greene, wrote, “I would like to contribute something for one of your newsletters if I may.  It is a verse from an old hymn that my mother used to sing every night before bedtime.”

“If I have wounded any soul today;

If I have caused one foot to go astray’

If I have walked in my own willful way,

Dear Lord, forgive!”

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Bart Duarte, Carl’s son-in-law, who is recovering from neck surgery.

Ø  For Tina and Jim’s friend, Chris, who was active in assisting veterans and who has just died of a heart attack at age 54.  He leaves a wife and children.

Ø  For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

Ø  For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer and to manage the effects of the chemo.

Ø  For Pat Safstrom’s Colorado granddaughter, Nicole, who is grieving the loss of her maternal grandmother, Phyllis Brackel.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him swallow.

Ø  For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

Concert in the Valley

Laurie Murphy coordinates Moosup Valley’s annual Concert in the Valley.  This Saturday, September 19, we would have been on the lawn, listening to lively home-grown music, enjoying delicious home-made food, and supporting our beloved church.  I have included a few pictures, below, to bring back fond memories.  Laurie writes this:

The Concert in the Valley would have been this upcoming Saturday. This is the first year since we started the concert about 15 years ago that the show won’t go on. Since this is the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year, we thought we’d give you a chance to donate to help support our beautiful church in the Valley. You can donate by mailing a check to Pat Safstrom, 76 Moosup Valley Rd., Foster, RI 02825, or by going online to our website, moosupvalley.church and clicking on the donate tab. This will bring you to the PayPal link. We thank you so much for your continued support. We hope that next year’s concert will be better than ever. And we also hope to begin our monthly music series next spring.  Enjoy the lovely fall weather and stay well and safe.

concert in the valley        Ray & Bill       concert band         concert performer

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

A Prayer for Our Times
Adaptation of Psalm 72, by Arville Earl, High Point, N.C.
From the Alliance of Baptists’ e-newsletter:

O God of love, / Grant to your faithful ones the grace
To represent you effectively in our Discordant world.

Give us courage enough / To put our lives on the line
In communicating truth and hope / To people all around us,
Wherever they may be found.

Where there is injustice, May we diagnose its cause / And discover its cure.

Where there is bigotry and hatred, /
Teach us to love and how to encourage others to love.

Where there is poverty, / Help us to share our wealth
That comes from your benevolence.

Where there is war and violence,
May we be peacemakers that help to lead those in conflict into Lasting peace.

Help us, O God, to become / What you have called us and Empowered us to become.

Where there is darkness, / May we become the rays
Of your sun that banish the gloom of lonely lives.

Where there is drought, / Let us be like fresh showers
That turn desolate land into / Green meadows.

When we are besieged by disaster, / May our faith be anchored in your grace.

Where there is ugliness and distortion, / Enable us to portray
The beauty and order of your / Will and purposes.

Great God, / You are here in our world. / Your presence is reflected
In your creation that surrounds us.

But there are those / Who do not feel your concern
Or acknowledge your love.

Is it because those / Whom you have called
Have not understood your will / And your mission in our world?

Forbid, O God, / That we be deaf to the cries of the poor and indifferent to their needs.

May we identify / With those who are oppressed
And help us to bear the burden / Of those who endure continuous suffering.

May we hear your voice of loving kindness and may your loving touch be extended through us, your faithful ones who are in this world to make known your all-inclusive grace.

The glory is yours, O God, / And we shall praise your name.

May we celebrate / your great work together. / Amen

September is Socks for Students Month!
School-aged children 5 – 18 years old could use your donation of socks. Please use the Foster Department of Human Services (DHS) food bins around town at the libraries, the post office, the Town Hall and the DHS office to leave your donations. Thank you!

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.  This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

To donate, send your checks for needy people, payable to DHS, Town of Foster, to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought:

The Reverend Powell Davies, minister of All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s and 50s, encourages us to grow up in our faith, to adopt a “freer” view that is worthy of our age:

There is no God in the sky. God is in the heart that loves the sky’s blueness…   It is not the supernatural that is spiritual. The supernatural is a flight from the spiritual — a flight into something projected as material — a thing of childish imagery…   If we are to be equal to the times we live in — and to the greater problems the future will bring — we must outgrow our childishness.  We cannot afford to trust the unreal, to exchange the courage of struggle for the cowardice of begging for miracles.

Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #34

 

September 11, 2020

This is the thirty-fourth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

 The great thing is prayer.  Prayer itself.

If you want a life of prayer, the way to get it is by praying.  …

You start where you are and you deepen what you already have.

-Thomas Merton

So far, in the last three issues, we have been discussing communication with God – through the spiritual disciplines of Divine Reading (Lectio Divina), listening to what God is saying to you as you read a passage of scripture or a poem or even a work of fiction and meditating on it, speaking what comes to you, and contemplating the message; and for the last two weeks, we have explored various kinds of Prayer — as communication with God.

This week, we look at communion with God, where the boundaries between you and God seem to blur and thus disappear.  Rev. Marjorie Thompson writes in Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, “Contemplative prayer is resting in God, allowing the Spirit to fill and move us as God wills.  It is pure receptivity and adoration.  It is quiet, tender, and sober, or playful, gentle, and joyous.”  It also has “the quality of an inner Sabbath … in a world driven where we judge one another on the basis of performance.”  In contemplative prayer, we join God in a little divine rest, not bothered by the need to accomplish and acquire.  An eighteenth-century priest asked an aged peasant what he was doing sitting for hours in the chapel, and the old man replied, “I look at [God], [God] looks at me, and we are happy.”

A more homey illustration might be that of our bringing home our new baby, or holding our first grandchild, feeling the warmth of her through the blanket, marveling at her   fingers and toes, watching her sleep, unconscious of time.  This is like contemplative prayer when we “move from communicating with God through speech to communing with God through the gaze of love.”  I imagine that spending time with Carol’s horses is like this, letting oneself “be loved by God into wholeness.”  In the Eastern tradition, icons are used as the object of one’s gaze, but you may also use works of art, a landscape, or the ocean.  For Sonja and Tom, it could be the roll of the field beyond the garden or the hummingbirds on the feeder.  Theologian Martin Buber might say this was an I-Thou experience, where you lose yourself in Something.

I love this description by physicist Alan Lightman who is motoring his little boat back to his island retreat off the coast of Maine.  He writes,

My story concerns a particular summer night, in the wee hours, when I had just rounded the south end of the island and was carefully motoring toward my dock.  No one was out on the water but me. It was a moonless night, and quiet. The only sound I could hear was the soft churning of the engine of my boat.  Far from the distracting lights of the mainland, the sky vibrated with stars. Taking a chance, I turned off my running lights, and it got even darker. Then I turned off my engine.  I lay down in the boat and looked up.  A very dark night sky seen from the ocean is a mystical experience.  After a few minutes my world had dissolved into that star-littered sky.  The boat disappeared.  My body disappeared.  And I found myself falling into infinity.  A feeling came over me I’d not experienced before.  Perhaps a sensation experienced by the ancients at Font-de-Gaume.  I felt an overwhelming connection to the stars, as if I were part of them.  And the vast expanse of time—extending from the far distant past long before I was born and then into the far distant future long after I will die—seemed compressed to a dot.  I felt connected not only to the stars but to all of nature, and to the entire cosmos.  I felt a merging with something far larger than myself, a grand and eternal unity, a hint of something absolute.  After a time, I sat up and started the engine again.  I had no idea how long I’d been lying there looking up.

Although Lightman did not describe this as a mystical experience or communing with God, we might understand it as such.  Certainly, it captures the essence of such a profound relationship.

We also can commune with the Holy simply by relaxing our bodies and minds and turning our attention to God’s presence.  And we can use a Breath Prayer, repeating a short phrase over and over, until it takes on a life of its own. One of the oldest is known as the “Jesus Prayer,” repeating these words in surrender, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!”  Or you might prefer a short scripture, such as “Be still and know that I am God,” or a hymn verse, “Be, Thou, My Vision, O Lord of my heart.”

There is much more we could study and learn, of course, and we practice some of this kind of prayer at our Evening Prayer on Wednesday evenings.  Next week in our “Gather ‘Round” series on Spirituality, we will turn to a new discipline – common worship.

Care of Creation

Sent by Tom Hall and Cheryl Hawes

Since the publication of Laudato Si’ five years ago, September 1 through October 4 has been celebrated by many Christians as the Season of Creation, whose theme this year is “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”

As the Pope writes in his message, “In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living. Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving. We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.”

 VOTES FOR WOMEN

Long and Winding Roads:  Women, Grange and Suffrage

By Carolyn Ostrander

Judi White sent me an article in the National Grange newsletter, “Good Day!,” that she wanted to share about women’s long struggle 100 years ago this year to attain the vote.  I covered voting several weeks ago, but I thought this article was worth our reading, especially since many of you have been active in the Grange, and also since we are on the eve of a national election.  I am attaching it to this “Gather ‘Round” as a PDF attachment.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Matthew 18:21-35, about forgiveness.  Her reflection title is “The Freedom of Forgiveness.” Join us and see what you think!  Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

 Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City continues to meet outside for worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it.  So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp.  Outside is the safest way we can gather together.  We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary.  The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside.  It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement.  Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home.  Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

Mt. Vernon Church Hymn Sing

 Mount Vernon Baptist Church’s monthly Hymn Sing will be held this Sunday, September 13, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. on the lawn at Moosup Valley Church, weather permitting.  Masks are required.  We ask that you bring your own chair and observe social distancing guidelines.  There is an abundance of parking at Green Acres which is right beside the lawn area. Handicapped parking is available in front of the church.  All are welcome.  Call Pastor Bob at 401-440-7831, or email him, if you would like to suggest a hymn or have questions about the weather.  Please note that Mt. Vernon’s semi-annual meeting, which was originally scheduled on the same date, has been cancelled.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn.  It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church streams a live service on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed with Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Joan Lacerda who is home, recovering from knee surgery.

Ø  For Bart Duarte, Carl’s son-in-law, who is preparing for neck surgery.

Ø  For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

Ø  For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  For the Sroka family.  Ronnie is recovered and back at work, and Randy is gaining strength, but Jane is still suffering from side effects from COVID-19.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer and to manage the effects of the chemo.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

September is Socks for Students Month!

School-aged children 5 – 18 years old could use your donation of socks. Please use the Foster Department of Human Services (DHS) food bins around town at the libraries, the post office, the Town Hall and the DHS office to leave your donations. Thank you!

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.  This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

To donate, send checks for needy people, payable to DHS, Town of Foster, to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

CLOSING THOUGHT

On the Self, the Soul

By Toni Packer

Most human beings take it totally for granted that I am “me,” and that “me” is this body, this mind, this knowledge and sense about myself which so obviously feels separate from other people. The language in which we talk to ourselves and to each other inevitably implies separate “me’s,” and “you’s” all the time. All of us talk “I” and “you” talk, we think it, write it, read it, and dream it with rarely any pause. There is incessant reinforcement of the sense of “I,” “me,” separate from others. Isolated. Insulated. Not understood. How is one to come upon the truth if separation is taken so much for granted, feels so common sense? The difficulty is not insurmountable. Wholeness, true being, is here all the time, like the sun behind the clouds. Daylight is here in spite of cloud cover.

Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Grange Article on Votes for Women  
   

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #33

September 4, 2020

This is the thirty-third issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

 More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Three weeks ago in “Gather ‘Round,” I introduced a series on spirituality to explore some of the ways that people over the centuries have drawn closer to God, however they understand “God.”  So far, we have looked at the discipline of Spiritual or Divine Reading as explored by Rev. Marjorie J. Thompson in “Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life,” and last week, we moved on to a second discipline – Prayer –

and thought about what prayer is, and what it is not, and ways to grow in our relationship with God.   We began with prayer as Listening to God, then Speaking what is in our hearts, and finally, Interceding in prayer for others.  With this issue, I open up less familiar ways to pray.

One of the most helpful to me is Imaging.  If I am sitting next to your bed in the hospital – or praying for you wherever you are – I am less likely to pray with words (unless you ask me to) than with pictures.  I sit quietly, breathing slowly, and imagine that God’s light and warmth is surrounding you.  I seek to become aware of the Holy Spirit as she, this Shekinah, the Glory of the Lord (the Spirit is feminine), fills my consciousness.  Ann Belford Ulanov writes, “Picturing God must precede any speaking about God, for our pictures accompany all our words and they continue long after we fall silent before God.”

When I pray with pictures, I lift you into God’s presence, visualizing God’s love bathing you, dissolving pain, cleansing wounds, shrinking the tumor, making you whole.  I might use such images as dark becoming light, ice melting, confusion ordered, hate and fear penetrated by divine love, relationships restored.  In “Soul Feast,” Rev. Thompson reminds us, “You are not trying to [tell God what to do], but envisioning with God the restoration of creation.”  So, if you are not so good with words, try praying for yourself or others with images.

If you are not so much a visual person as a feeling person, try writing your own psalm, and express your feelings (grief, anger, fear) to God in prayer.  Select one that voices the feelings you are afraid to speak.  Here are some suggestions:  Psalm 13:  “How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever? … How long must I bear pain in my soul?”  Or Psalm 22 which Jesus prayed on the cross:  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Or Psalm 42, “My tears have been my food day and night,…”  Or Psalm 77, “I cry aloud to God; … my soul refuses to be comforted.”  Psalm 88 is a good one during this pandemic:  “For my soul is full of troubles….”   Or perhaps the evil of racism is confronted for you in Psalm 94, “Rise up, O judge of the earth;…” and is the word you need to hear.

Your feelings are not good or bad; they are just feelings, and God can handle them.  So write your own psalm, using these suggestions as a way to start.  Or you might want to rewrite a psalm to express your own experience.  Here’s a sample, based on Psalm 44:

I have heard with my ears, O God,

What deeds you performed in the days of old.

Yet you have rejected and abased me.

You have made me the taunt of my relatives when I don’t travel to the wedding,

the laughing stock of my neighbors because I don’t wear a mask.

All this has come upon me, yet I have not forgotten you.

Why do you forget my affliction and misery?

Come to my help, for the sake of your love!

In addition to writing a psalm, we also can write a dialogue with a person from scripture.  Imagine a conversation with Jesus, like the Samaritan woman at the well who asks why Jesus is talking with her, or the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 who wants Jesus to heal her daughter, the one whom Jesus has just called her a “dog.”  The woman refuses to stop asking, to be pushed aside, until Jesus does as she asks.  Perhaps Jesus was growing in his understanding of God and his far-reaching ministry just as we grow in ours.

Prayer can also be experienced as action.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, most of whose family died in the Holocaust, wrote, “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for the minimum of reason.”  And when he marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to give Black Americans voting rights, he said, “When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying.”  So, too, are people often praying when they are bringing groceries to hungry people or collecting school supplies and socks for children in Foster.  Prayer is not limited to the church or the prayer book, but it also is whenever or wherever we live out our values and act as a force for goodness.

So far, in the last two issues, we have been discussing communication with God.  Next week, let’s look at communion with God.

Having a Tough Time?  You are not alone!

 In a recent study by Boston University, which was reported in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, half of the adults surveyed reported signs of depression and anxiety – hopelessness, feeling like a failure, little pleasure from doing things.  This is double from what it was two years ago, before COVID-19, isolation, and social distancing.  Plus many have lost loved ones in the 185,000 deaths we have experienced here in the United States, and, of course, we worry that we or a loved one will be among the 6 million who have contracted the virus.  And the civil unrest over social justice issues exacerbates our anxiety.

Our church families can help.  We can be there for each other through phone calls and notes.  We can worship together in safe ways.  We can try some of the spiritual “tools” I have been describing here in recent issues of “Gather ‘Round,” as a way to go deeper into our spiritual beings and find support in the “Something There Is,” who is seeking us.  And there is no shame in reaching out for professional help, if we need it.

In her piece on her horses, Carol Allen offers some helpful strategies.  Also, a walk in the woods, an evening spent looking at the stars, and gardening, even if it’s only watering your house plants, can be healing.  Animals and plants are sometimes the best teachers.

 Horses Help in the Time of Covid-19

 Arie and Rollin make another guest appearance in “Gather ‘Round,” thanks to their pal, Carol Allen:

 When we experience a pandemic for the first time in our lives, it reminds us how things are beyond our control.  Horses on the other hand can remind us to stay focused on what is important to us and to live in the moment.  Here are some tips that you may find helpful during these difficult and unusual times.

  1. Stay in the moment – horses live in a state of what yogis’ call “present moment awareness.” Horses are not thinking about what is going to happen next, they are happily grazing in the moment.
  2. Take care of yourself – try your best to eat well, get rest, and exercise.  Take a yoga session with my horses to experience both:  staying in the moment and taking care of yourself.
  3. Focus on the good things happening in your life, not what’s wrong with it.  If you are having a hard time doing this, schedule a personal wellness session with my horses and let them be the teachers.
  4. Stay connected with friends, family, and your support network.  It is easy with the use of technology or social media.  However, change it up and write a letter or send a card via postal mail.  Make a phone call to a long-lost friend instead of texting or emailing.

One of the foundations of yogic thought is the “realization that all things are impermanent.”  This pandemic may be the biggest inconvenience in our lives; however, this too will pass.  We may need to make some changes, but isn’t that what life is all about.  The advice that my horses, Arie and Rollin, would like to share — so we are able to reduce our anxieties — is to stay flexible, stay in the moment, and focus on the now.  Remember to breathe deeply!

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  This is a Communion Sunday, so prepare to bring a bit of bread or cracker and a glass or mug of something to the service.

The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Matthew 18:15-20, about restoring community in these troubled times.  Her reflection title is “Making Things Right.” Join us and see what you think!  So look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

 Rice City Outdoor Worship

It’s going to be another beautiful Sunday Morning at Rice City, so we will be meeting outside for Worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it.  So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp.  Outside is the safest way we can gather together.  We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary.  The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside.  It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement.  Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home.  Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

Mt. Vernon Church Hymn Sing

The next Hymn Sing is scheduled for Sunday, September 13, at 3:00 p.m. outside at Moosup Valley.  Please bring a mask, your own chair, and appropriate attire for the weather.  Call or email Pastor Bob to let him know if you would like to suggest a hymn in advance so he can print out the words.

 Evening Prayer

 Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.  Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

 Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed with Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…  Snoopy holding heart

Ø  For Mary Joseph whose son, Paul, died last week. (Her address is 201 Plainfield Pike, Foster, RI  02825 if you would like to send a card.)

Ø  For Joan Lacerda who recovering from knee surgery at home.

Ø  For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

Ø  For Jim Tynan, Tina Lavallee’s good friend, who was hospitalized for a dangerously racing heart rate and is now home and doing better with medication.  And for Tina’s sister and brother-in-law who are having a hard time following their mother’s death.

Ø  For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  For Claire’s son, Andrew, and his family in Georgia, who are recovering from COVID-19.  Also for her nephew, Dean, a nurse in ICU, and all his co-workers in LA where their hospital is full again and too many people are dying.

Ø  For the Sroka family.  Ronnie is recovered and back at work, and Randy is gaining strength, but Jane is still suffering from side effects from COVID-19.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

September is Socks for Students Month!

School-aged children 5 – 18 years old could use your donation of socks. Please use the Foster Department of Human Services (DHS) food bins around town at the libraries, the post office, the Town Hall and the DHS office to leave your donations. Thank you!

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.

This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

Donation in the form of checks for help to needy people can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought

 Life is not intended to be safe. A safe life has too small a name for a creature of eternity. Life at its noblest and highest has a hazard about it; it ponders tomorrow but does not know it; it sounds the depths of the ocean, but knows not the hazards of the bottom. Life at its best takes a chance on righteousness no matter the hazard, no matter the cost. Life, when answering to its true name, lifts on wings, feeling no invisible hands supporting it.  – Ethel Waters

Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #32

August 28, 2020

This is the thirty-second issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!
Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

All your love, your stretching out your hope, your thirst,

God is creating in you so that [God] may fill you ….

God is on the inside of the longing.

-Maria Boulding

Two weeks ago in “Gather ‘Round,” I introduced a series on spirituality and promised to explore some of the ways that people over the centuries have drawn closer to God, however they understand “God.”  Last week I looked at the discipline of Spiritual or Divine Reading as explored by Rev. Marjorie J. Thompson in “Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life.”  This week, we move on to a second discipline, that of Prayer.

Comedian Flip Wilson is known to have said, “I’m gonna pray now; anyone want anything?”  For too many people, this is what prayer is, as if God were Santa Claus and we were sending him our Christmas wish list.  While there is nothing wrong with asking for what we need in sincerity and trust, prayers of supplication can quickly become a one-way conversation with God, rather than a genuine dialogue.  And what happens then, when we don’t get what we need, no matter how hard we pray?  Do we then feel unloved, unworthy, or even punished?  And we question our faith, if it is good enough.

Perhaps it’s time to grow in our understanding of prayer as a relationship with God, as we might understand a relationship with a dear friend.  And just as any relationship requires listening as well as speaking, spending time with each other, and enjoying the gift of each other’s company, so, too, does prayer.  I am reminded of the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” which bespeaks of intimacy with the divine One.

So, let’s examine some approaches to prayer.  First, we need to understand prayer as Communication which can be expressed in a variety of ways:

Listening.  Soren Kierkegaard said, “A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening.”  Just as babies listen before they begin to talk, so, too, we need to listen for the Spirit speaking in us deep in our hearts.  This is confusing, of course, because we are trying to listen to the One who is invisible, intangible, inaudible, and inscrutable!  A place to begin is with Divine Reading, discussed last week.

For some of us, the most natural way to listen to God is through Creation.  Consider, for example, Psalm 19:

“The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork…. There is no speech, nor are there words,… yet their voice goes out through all the earth.”

Perhaps the distress signals of the earth – the fires and hurricanes, melting of the ice caps and global warming – are a message from God that we are destroying Creation with our excessive dependence on fossil fuels.

Another way we might listen to God is when someone says just the right word we have been waiting for.  Or our bodies send a message that we need to slow down or reorder our priorities. Dreams, too, as in the Bible, can be a vehicle of divine guidance, coming from our subconscious.  Ruben Alves writes, “To dream is to see love and desires transformed into symbols, words.  It should not be frightening, then, that God who is love, speaks to us through our dreams.”

Many seekers like you and me choose to keep a prayer journal to record our thoughts and questions, struggles and insights.  Or you may find yourself thinking, “It suddenly became perfectly clear to me.”  The Quakers have a phrase for when something inside us says, No – “a stop in the mind” – that alerts us that we are moving in the wrong direction or are holding onto a selfish attitude or behavior.

Virtually anyone or anything can be a divine messenger, God trying to get our attention through all aspects of our lives.  Of course, hearing requires discernment as well as attentiveness.  By now, we should recognize that prayer is broad, multifaceted, and inclusive of all of our lives.

Speaking.  The second primary expression of communication in prayer is speaking from the heart with unreserved honesty.  We may not know what God is trying to say to us, but surely we know what we are trying to say to God!  And God can handle whatever we put on the table – doubt, anger, hatred, despair, pain, fear, grief, whatever we are feeling.  Communication breaks down when we are not honest, and intimacy becomes impossible.  The psalms give voice to these emotions, so why shouldn’t we?  While a three-year-old might cover her eyes and say, “You can’t see me,” God sees into our hearts “where no secrets are hid.”  The Spirit awakens us to what is hidden in us, so God can free us for growth.

Prayers of Intercession.  These prayers are prayers for other persons, communities, nations, the earth and our fellow creatures.  (Most often the pastor’s prayer during worship is a prayer of intercession.)  Rev. Thompson writes, “People frequently feel confused about praying for others. Often our prayers are not answered in the way we desire or expect. We pray for healing and it does not come, pray for peace and conflict increases. We wonder whether God does not will the good we intend by our prayers, or if perhaps we are not praying rightly. We feel guilty that we do not have enough faith, and we feel angry that evil and suffering are allowed to destroy so much peace and happiness. Sometimes prayer seems to us the feeblest and least desirable option, but the only one left under the circumstances:  ‘All I can do for you in pray.’”

It helps to identify what we think we are doing and what God is doing when we pray for others.  Let me remind us that prayer does not change God; prayer changes us.  What we are doing is sharing our life-energies with another person who is connected with us, because all things are mystically connected in the universe. We also are joining our hearts in love with the love of God and trusting completely that God is willing life and goodness for others – yet remaining vulnerable with God to the limits imposed by evil and creation.

As Rev. Thompson says, “There is no substitute for giving time to the practice of prayer.  Like most things, we learn best by doing it.”  So consider when you might be able to set aside some time, free from distractions and interruptions.  So, let’s begin this week to set aside some time, listening and talking with God.  You may wish also to look at Spiritual Reading that I described last week as a way to begin your prayer time.  But there’s much more to say about prayer.  So next week, I will suggest some other ways to pray, some that are most helpful to me.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:9-21) and how to live a faithful life.  Her reflection will be on “Core Values.” Join us and see what these are!  The Zoom link and the Order of Worship will be sent on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed with Betsy’s Order for Evening Prayer before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Mary Joseph whose son, Paul, died earlier this week.

Ø  For Joan Lacerda who is having knee replacement surgery on Monday.

Ø  For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.

Ø  For Jim Tynan, Tina Lavallee’s good friend, who was hospitalized for a dangerously racing heart rate and is now home and doing better with medication.  And for Tina’s sister and brother-in-law who are having a hard time following their mother’s death.

Ø  For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  For Claire’s son, Andrew, and his family in Georgia, all of whom have COVID-19.  Her daughter-in-law, Shirley, has developed COPD and is having a hard time breathing.  Also for her nephew, Dean, a nurse, and all his co-workers in LA where their hospital is full again.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Strengthen the Church Offering

Mossup Valley Church has been an annual supporter of the UCC’s Special Offering, Strengthen the Church, to support the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC local congregations. Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.  As God calls our congregations to be the church in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults.  If you would like to contribute, please send a check to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825) marked “Strengthen the Church.”  Together, we grow stronger!

Foster Department of Human Services

Backpacks:  Carol Mauro is now all set with back-to-school items.  Thank you for helping to fill them!

Food Panty:   Items needed are canned corn, soup, dry pasta, mac ‘n cheese, tuna and canned meats, prepared rice/pasta packages, and canned tomatoes.

Socks for Students:  DHS is collecting socks in September for ages 5-18, both boys and girls.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.  This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought

Wise words from physicist Albert Einstein

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Only a life lived for others is worth living.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.
Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #31

August 21, 2020

This is the thirty-first issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Plans Series on Spirituality

The word of scripture should never stop sounding in your ears and working in you all day long, just like the words of someone you love. And just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did.

That is all. That is meditation….

Do not ask, “How shall I pass this on?” but “What does it say to me?”

Then ponder this Word long in your heart until

it has gone right into you and taken possession of you.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Last week in “Gather ‘Round,” I introduced a series on spirituality and promised to explore some of the ways that people over the centuries have drawn closer to God, however they understand God.  This week I will look at the disciple of “spiritual reading” as explored by Rev. Marjorie J. Thompson in “Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life.”

So what is spiritual reading? you might ask. Most of us read – books, magazines, the newspaper, emails, letters – on a daily basis.  Some of you also read a daily devotional, such as “The Upper Room” or another resource, where someone has collected a scripture, a reflection, and a brief prayer.  I read a Daily Devotional online from the UCC and a First Light Meditation from All Souls Church in NY City, but they are not a substitute for our own spiritual reading.

First, let us realize that there are two different kinds of reading.  The first is one for information.  Think of why you read the newspaper – for information:  for what is happening, for what you need to know, for example, the obituaries, the want ads, the sales, the weather, the score.  My Bible Study often is like this.  Who is writing to whom, when and where, and for what purpose?  We tear the scripture apart to see what it meant then, so we can decide what it means now.

The second kind of reading is spiritual, a time for reflection and prayer.  Think of reading a letter from a dear friend, finding a quiet corner to savor the words, a place where you can set side aside the unfinished tasks of the day and discover what your friend is thinking and feeling, experiencing and questioning.  You make time to spend with your friend, to read between the lines.  It’s as if your friend is present.  Spiritual reading is like drinking in the words of a love letter or pondering the meaning of a poem.  Some traditions call it Lectio Divina, divine reading.  Sometimes Bible Study is like this, too.

It’s not so much what you read but how you read it.  Rev. Thompson writes, “Spiritual reading is a meditative approach to reading which requires unhurried time and an open heart.”  Often it means reading a portion of the Bible, inspired by God’s Spirit and cherished over generations for faith and practice.  You may have read the Bible but never plumbed its depths.  You may never have given the Word of God, as it has been experienced by generations before you, an opportunity to interact with the God within you, to see how it relates to your life story.  It doesn’t matter so much what you read as it does how you read it.  It could be Shakespeare, Madeleine L’Engle, Frederick Buechner, Howard Thurman, or Alice Walker or any other number of authors whose work incorporates the spiritual.

So how to proceed with spiritual reading?  There are four basic phases – reading, meditation, speaking, and contemplation – which date to ancient times.  “Happy are those …. [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).  Its practice in the Christian church dates to Saint Benedict in the sixth century and later with such reformers as John Calvin and the Puritans, our ancestors in the faith.

Step One – READING:  Choose a passage of scripture and read it slowly, linger over each sentence as if you had never read it before, letting the meaning sink in and nourish your heart.  Pretend it’s a love letter, and there is a message in it for you.  Ask of the Holy One, what are you saying to me right now?

Step Two — MEDITATION:  Reflect on the passage.  Roll it around in your mind.  Let your life story intersect with the passage.  What memory, experience, thought, feelings, hopes, desires, intuitions, and intentions arise for you?  How does it lay on your heart?  Perhaps there is a word that jumps out at you.  Hold onto it, asking, What is it about my life right now that needs to hear this word?

Step Three — SPEAK:  Talk back to the Holy One.  What would you say to this passage or about this passage, perhaps as a prayer or just some thoughts that come to mind that you could share with the God?  What does your heart have to say about this passage?  Is there pain?  Guilt?  Gratitude?  You might say it out loud or write in your journal, if you have one.  Let a prayer emerge – perhaps for yourself or another.

Step Four — CONTEMPLATION:  Now it’s time for quiet and comfort, to rest in God’s presence, to just “be,” as Psalm 131 describes, “Enough for me to keep my soul tranquil and quiet like a child in its mother’s arms, as content as a child that has been weaned.”

Now take this word or experience or feeling into your daily life.

Generally the steps follow it this order, but they may be more fluid for you than that, which is okay.  They are more like a dance, moving first one way, then another….

Practically speaking, you will need to find a time and a place, turn off your phone, ask your family not to disturb you for a half-hour or so.  Then select your text.  Psalm 139 might be a good place to begin, with its “O Lord, you have searched me and known me….” in verse 1 and “Where can I go from your spirit?” in verse 7.  It’s a long psalm, so you might want to read only a few verses each time, making it last for several days.  Or you might want to read a passage from a contemporary author or from a mystic in the middle ages.  Michelle DiBiasio at Rice City is reading Julian of Norwich, for example.

Begin by reminding yourself that the purpose of your reading is to open yourself to the living God.  Trust that the Holy One is attending to you.  Read a verse or a sentence at a time and pause to let it sink in.  No need to hurry.

Let me know how this goes for you or if you have questions.  And give it some time.  Next week, I will focus on a second spiritual discipline, prayer.

Bloody Feet – Remembering Women’s Long Road to the Vote

This week, August 26, marks the 100th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote.  It’s hard to imagine now, but the vote did not come easily but only after years of struggle.  The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, the first women’s rights convention in the United States, kicked off the movement to which many women dedicated their lives – Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Victoria Woodhull, to name just a few.  But many others were arrested merely for picketing, or attacked while marching peacefully down Pennsylvania Avenue.  They were sent to a brutal workhouse in Virginia or jailed in D.C. where they were given inedible food, deprived of toilet paper and soap, and interrogated by psychiatrists – because any woman agitating to vote must be insane, right?  Men were afraid women might vote against child labor or for pacifism, or vote to close down the saloons.  Besides, many thought, women were inferior, not mentally fit to vote, not as smart as men – or even that they would turn into men – a mishmash of misogyny and political fear!  I have never forgotten the rallying cry, Bloody feet, sisters, have worn smooth the path by which you have come up hither! which I discovered upon visiting the Women’s Rights National Historical Park some years ago.

So, my sisters, as we approach the elections, remember that your foremothers suffered and died for you to exercise this right of citizenship.  If you need a ride to the polls, call someone.  If you are afraid to be in public because of the coronavirus, request a mail ballot.  You have until Tuesday, October 13, at 4:00 p.m. to deliver a mail ballot to your local board of canvassers.  Remember.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:1-8) and his urging to be a “living sacrifice.”  Her reflection will be “Transformed.”  Join us and see what this is all about!  The Zoom link and the Order of Worship will be sent on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Mario Mattiace whose family lost two members last weekend.  Please remember the families of Frank Villella and Rob Lorenco.

Ø  For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer and her son, Scott, and family as they had to put down their 16-year-old dog, Bud.

Ø  For Martha’s niece, Rev. Mindy, who is still struggling with health issues.

Ø  For Jim Tynan, Tina Lavallee’s good friend, who was hospitalized for a dangerously racing heart rate and is now home and doing better with medication.  And for Tina’s sister and brother-in-law who are having a hard time following their mother’s death.

Ø  For Rev. Barbara DaCosta whose beloved dog, Sunrise, died last week.

Ø  For Laurie Murphy’s cousin, Wendy, whose husband was killed in a fall.

Ø  For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  For Claire’s son, Andrew, and his family in Georgia, all of whom have COVID-19.  Her daughter-in-law, Shirley, is having a hard time breathing with her COPD.  Also for her nephew, Dean, and all his co-workers in LA where their hospital is full again.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s friends, Martha and Fifo, who are recovering from COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic, and now she also needs prayers for her cousin, Judy Dales, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Strengthen the Church Offering

Mossup Valley Church has been an annual supporter of the UCC’s Special Offering, Strengthen the Church, to support the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC local congregations. Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.  As God calls our congregations to be the church in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults.  If you would like to contribute, please send a check to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825) marked “Strengthen the Church.”  Together, we grow stronger!

Foster Department of Human Services

Backpacks:  Carol Mauro is now all set with back-to-school items.  Thank you for helping to fill them!

Food Panty:   Items needed are canned corn, soup, dry pasta, mac ‘n cheese, tuna and canned meats, prepared rice/pasta packages, and canned tomatoes.

Socks for Students:  DHS is collecting socks in September for ages 5-18, both boys and girls.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.  This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought:  What Matters

By Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Look at your life in the same way you’d look through an attic, deciding what you’re going to keep, what you’re going to throw out. You’re moving from a house with a large attic but you’ve got only a small trailer to make the move. Some things have got to get thrown out so that you have space in the trailer for the things that really mean a lot to you. In other words, there are things you’ve got to give up in order to have the time for the things that really make a difference, that really do give substantial results.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #30

August 14, 2020

This is the thirtieth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!
Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Plans Series on Spirituality

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;

My flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

-Psalm 63:1

With this issue and for the next several weeks, I plan to spend time reflecting on the Christian spiritual life.  Sorting books at the parsonage, I uncovered “Soul Feast: The Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life,” by Presbyterian minister, Marjorie J. Thompson, Director of Pathways Center for Christian Spirituality at the The Upper Room.  Writing 25 years ago, Rev. Thompson describes a “hunger abroad” in that time, “haunting lives and hearts,” and I think that is still true today – perhaps even more so in this time of pandemic.  While church attendance in denominations like ours is dropping, there is an impulse toward “wholeness,” if the number of books on spirituality in our bookstores is any indication.

Rev. Thompson identifies four cultural factors for this:  the focus on rational thought, the rate of change over the past century (consider everything from the automobile to the computer) leading to enormous social dislocation and stress, a culture that values material things over “values of enduring substance,” and the paralyzing fear of violent crime, drugs, and guns, not to mention fear of losing jobs and health insurance as well as nuclear disaster.  These fears contribute to both a pervasive anxiety and a spiritual yearning.  At the same time, we experience what humans have always experienced – suffering and tragedy – but now our community is more scattered and comfort is harder to come by, along with a framework of meaning and purpose.

She argues that human beings are innately religious, that we are made for a relationship with God – whether we understand God as “up there,” “out there,” or within us.  As St. Augustine confessed centuries ago, “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”   She tells the story of a colleague, a woman of deep prayer, who puts the question before Jesus every morning, “What do you want me to tell the people?”  For many years, the response she received was, Tell the people that I love them.  Then one day the reply came, Tell the people that I miss them.

To the reader, she asks, “Is our God a lover blinded by grief, calling out through the ache of our hunger—calling us to come home and be nourished with real life again?”  And if so, how do we do that?  Over the next several weeks, I will remind us of those traditional “disciplines” that have helped generations before us to open themselves to the divine – such disciples as spiritual reading, approaches to prayer, common worship, fasting, self-examination and confession, spiritual direction, hospitality, and developing a rule of life.  These are “tools” that we can use in our search for a relationship with God, however we understand God to be.  I find theologian Matthew Fox’s metaphor for God as “the ocean that we, the fish, are swimming in” helpful to me.  Quaker pastor Richard Foster cautions us that “By themselves, the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done… [They are] the means by which we place ourselves where [God] can bless us.”

So, I begin with next week’s “Gather ‘Round” to explore spiritual reading, generally with scripture but also with other writings.  In the UCC, after all, we say, “God is still speaking!” so contemporary works of fiction and poetry also are worthy materials to read to grow closer to the Something that calls to us.

How Are Our Children? 

I asked Rose for an update on E.A.C.H.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continuous support.

Just a quick update on the children in Haiti. I know you care about them just as much as I do.  I spoke to the superintendent in Haiti and they are getting ready to start the new year. As you know, they were out of school since the end of March due to the COVID-19. I cannot say they had distant learning because the families are unable to purchase chrome books and unable to afford internet. Even electricity is difficult to get. This year has been tough, and that’s why I did not send a renewal letter out to the sponsors. I have faith and I know God will provide. I have received a couple of renewals, thank you.  We are praying for an end to this virus so we can try and have a fundraiser to help with the schools.  Thank you, Rev. Betsy for the opportunity to write this note.

Blessings and God bless,

Rose Desilus, President of E.A.C.H.

(A note from Betsy:  If you would like to sponsor a child, or renew your current sponsorship, please mail your donation to Rose Desilus, E.A.C.H., at 1429 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827. A sponsorship is just $175.00, but you could fund a partial scholarship.)

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Jesus’ healing the daughter of a Canaanite woman, whom he has just called a “dog,” in her sermon on “Boundaries” (Matthew 15:10-28).  Join us and see what this is all about!  The Zoom link and the Order of Worship will be sent on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Jim Tynan, Tina Lavallee’s good friend, who has been hospitalized for a dangerously racing heart rate and is being prepared for a cardio conversion today.  Please pray for a successful day for him (and his wife, Kim, who is having a difficult time, since she can’t be with him due to COVID).

Ø  Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  She is back home now from Elmhurst Rehabilitation, where they were trying to adjust her medication.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  For Claire’s son, Andrew, and his family in Georgia, all of whom have COVID-19.  Her daughter-in-law, Shirley, is having a hard time breathing with her COPD.  Also for her nephew, Dean, and all his co-workers in LA where their hospital is full again.

Ø  For Judy (Engilis) Dexter on Moosup Valley Road who is in Miriam Hospital where she has had a pacemaker inserted.  She is tired but hopeful that she will be discharged soon.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s friends, Martha and Fifo, struggling with COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic.

Ø  Richard Lucky is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians 4 on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

In Response to the Pandemic, Mass Poetry Offers

“The Hard Work of Hope”

As the transmission rate creeps upward and conversations about education reckon with sharply rising case numbers in children, we offer poems to ground you in the hard work of hope. We recognize that in times of high anxiety and crisis the demand for poetry increases. Many people reach for poems when nothing else seems to make sense.  “The Hard Work of Hope” features poems from our community that respond to these difficult times. This week’s poems acknowledge lived costs and grief, rooting hope in the prayers or meditations that can focus it where it is needed most.  To see more poems, go to www.MassPoetry.org.  “Let Grief Come” was written by Rev. Betsy’s partner, Kim.

Let Grief Come
Kim Baker

Let the dark of winter afternoon
exhale from organ and pews, wrap family
in sadness as visitors thin.

Let fog envelope the window
as the widow clears her chair of the cat
and his hat.  Let grief come.

Let dust settle on the table, maple
and coffee stained.  Let spiders spin
and mice nibble at crumbs.

Let the owl wail in the tree.
Let rain pick at the pane.  Let the house
sigh inside.  Let grief come.

To one cup in the sink, to the sweater empty
in the dresser, to tears tearing cheeks,
let grief come to wash you clean.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid.  There is no way but
through, so let grief come.

Previously anthologized in LOON MAGIC and Other Night Sounds (Outrider Press, Inc., October 2019).
Bats — Friend or Foe?

Contributed by Sonja Murray

Although I know many people have firm beliefs about bats, I’d like to present both well-known and little-known facts about them, so your opinion is well-founded.

* Bats are the only flying mammal.  Mammals are warm-blooded animals with hair and mammary glands and include dogs, cows, elephants, whales and humans.

* There are over 1,300 known species of bats on earth (over 1/7th of the total mammal population) but none in the Arctic or Antarctica (too cold).  Most live in the tropics.

* Most bats are insect-eaters, including our local ones, though various species around the world have wide-ranging diets from fruits to blood (yes, some suck blood from larger mammals).  There are even fish and small-animal eaters.

* Often bats live in colonies.  You probably know that they inhabit caves but their habitats also include under cliffs, bridges, eves, roofs and trees.  The largest known colony of bats is in Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio, Texas, with over 15 million residents.

* Anatomically, a bat’s wings are the equivalent of our arms with the finger bones greatly elongated to support the double membrane of skin which allows it to fly.  The thumb is short with a claw used for climbing or walking.

* Bats come in all shapes and sizes from tiny (weigh 1/8 ounce/wing span 6 inches) to large (weight 2 pounds/wing span over 5 feet).

* Bats are nocturnal (active at night).  They move about by navigating with both eyesight and echolocation.  They emit a constant stream of sounds of varying frequencies which bounce back to their ears so they can locate both solid obstacles and their prey.

* Bats, like humans, give birth to well-developed young, usually singly but twins occur commonly in some species.  Babies, called pups, are raised by their mother with no involvement of the father.  When tiny, the baby will ride with mom as she hunts, but they are left in the roost as they grow too heavy to be carried.

* Like other mammals, bats can transmit diseases such as rabies.  Wild mammals should be treated with caution to avoid bites and potential infection.

* Bats frequently live in colonies.  In temperate regions, thousands will hibernate in caves where the temperature does not drop below freezing.

* A single brown bat (a local species) can eat more that 1,000 insects in a single night.  A favorite is mosquitoes!  In RI there are two species of bats:  big brown bats and little brown bats.

* Many types of bats living in the United States are now being decimated by a deadly illness known as “White-nose Syndrome” which is caused by a fungus.

* There are all-female nursing colonies (maternity roosts) where the young are raised.  One such colony is located in an old barn on Johnson Road.  The state is monitoring that colony by counting the number of bats that fly out at dusk on an evening in May or early June (adult females) and the number that fly out in late summer (adults and pups) to determine if  White-nose Syndrome is taking a toll.

Far more than these few facts are known about bats, though there is much to be learned.  In that bats LOVE to eat mosquitoes, and mosquitoes love to bite me, I am thrilled that we have bats in our midst dining on our prolific mosquito population!

Sources:

·       Encyclopedia of the Animal World, Elsevier International Project Ltd., London, 1972

·       The Bat Book by Conrad Storad, 2015.

Betsy’s note:  For my 80th birthday, I asked my son for a bat box, now installed on a southwest-facing tree at the parsonage.  I’m hoping for bats to eat the mosquitos, so I can sit on the porch in peace!   If you’d like to meet with me, let me know so we can make arrangements for a visit on the porch – masks on and socially-distanced – when I am in Foster.
Strengthen the Church Offering

Moosup Valley Church has been an annual supporter of the UCC’s Special Offering, Strengthen the Church, to support the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC local congregations. Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.  As God calls our congregations to be the church in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults.  If you would like to contribute, please send a check to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825) marked “Strengthen the Church.”  Together, we grow stronger!

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  canned vegetables, especially corn, and soups!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought

The temptation is always to reduce life to size.  A bowl of cherries.  A rat race.  Amino acids.  Even to call it a mystery smacks of reductionism.  It is the mystery.  As far as anybody seems to know, the vast majority of things in the universe do not have whatever life is.  Sticks, stones, starts, space—they simply are.  A few things are and are somehow aware of it.  They have broken through into Something, or Something has broken through into them.  Even a jelly fish, a butternut squash.  They’re in it with us.  We’re all in it together, or it in us.  Life is it.  Life is with.  -Frederick Buechner

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

ReplyForward

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #29

August 7, 2020

This is the twenty-ninth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!
Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Rev. Betsy Reflects:  The Things That Make For Peace

As [Jesus] came near and saw [Jerusalem], he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  (Luke 19:41-42)

The things that make for peace!  Jesus’ words keep coming to me this August, as I reflect on the anniversary of the United States’ nuclear attack on Japan.

Seventy-five years ago, on August 6, at 8:15 a.m., the crew of the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the first wartime atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.  Three days later, on August 9, the United States dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki.  Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, more eventually from the radiation.  Some of you who are older than I probably remember it; I was only six.

President Truman thought that bombing the city would motivate Japan to surrender – and thereby saving American lives that might surely have been lost if the war had continued – but it was not until we dropped a second bomb, this time on Nagasaki three days later, that the emperor did so.  Some historians also thought that Truman was sending a message to Russia.  What is certain is that he had kicked off the Cold War, and children like me went to school with a dog tag on a black ribbon around our necks in case we needed to be identified, and we practiced “duck and cover” drills in schools.

After observing the test of the first atom bomb, and considering the enormous potential for devastation, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called “father” of the atom bomb, in tears, quotes the Hindu scripture, Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”  Years later, thinking in theological language, he writes, “The physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge that they cannot lose.”

As he rides into Jerusalem, on what we now call Palm Sunday, Jesus weeps, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!”  To whom is Jesus speaking?  The text says that Pharisees were in the crowd, so he is addressing those with some authority and connections.

And what are those “things” that make peace possible?  I’ve heard it said that every war is a failure of negotiation.  Surely that was the case with Japan.  The U.S. had been negotiating with Japan for ten years before they bombed our military installation in Pearl Harbor in 1941.

But what, for Jesus, are some of those “things”?  He was aware of how his people suffered under the Roman occupation, how they were often cheated by the tax collectors – as well as the temple authorities who robbed them blind with the cost of a dove or a lamb for sacrifice.  He saw how the Romans had their collective knee on the people’s necks, and their hands in the people’s pockets, to pay for their villas on the Mediterranean coast.  He experienced how callous the Romans were about human life in the beheading of his cousin, John, just to save Herod’s ego.  Surely, for Jesus, one of “the things that makes for peace” is justice.

I remember Moosup Valley member Bob Salisbury who greeted everyone with “Shalom” after church.  And whenever I asked him what he’d like to pray for, his answer always was “peace.”  But Shalom means more than the absence of conflict.  Shalom means that everyone has what they need, that everyone can “sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one will make them afraid,” to quote the prophet Micah.  Shalom requires wellbeing, not just calm.

I imagine, if we were to ask Jesus about the “things that make for peace,” that understanding would be at the top of his list.  And compassion.  And humility.  And kindness.  And respect.  Because that’s the way he lived and loved.  This was the Way of Jesus.  This is what he expected of his disciples when he asked them to follow him.

We live in a world that is too often greedy, violent, and selfish, a world where money buys what it wants, a world where people prize independence over the common good.  A sign on the corner near where Kim and I live on the Cape, reads, “Tyranny is not a cure for COVID,” echoing “Don’t tread on me!” from another age – as positive cases begin to climb again on the Cape.

It’s one thing to read Jesus’ words, “the things that make for peace” on a personal level, but how do we translate those “things” in the international arena?   The United States is not the only nation with nuclear weapons now; we’re one of eight:  U.S., China, North Korea, France, Israel, India, United Kingdom, and Russia.  Soon, we hear, Iran, also could have the nuclear capacity, and Saudi Arabia is not far behind.

How do wars start?  An assassination, an invasion, uncompromising differences, a surge of nationalism, a leader’s ego.   As go the leaders, so go the nations.

In Hiroshima, there is a Peace Memorial Park and Museum, now a symbol of peace.  Artifacts and belongings of victims showcase the sorrow and agony of war:  the burned tricycle of a three-year-old, the charred lunch box of a thirteen-year-old.  One comes away thinking we must avoid war at all costs.

Writer, pastor, and theologian, Frederick Buechner, writes this about peace:

“Peace has come to mean the time when there aren’t any wars or even when there aren’t any major wars.  Beggars can’t be choosers; we’d most of us settle for that.  But in Hebrew, peace, shalom, means fullness, means having everything you need to be wholly and happily yourself.

“One of the titles by which Jesus is known is Prince of Peace, and he used the word himself in what seem at first glance to be two radically contradictory utterances. On one occasion he said to the disciples, ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’ (Matthew 10:34). And later on, the last time they ate together, he said to them, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you’ (John 14:27).

“The contradiction is resolved when you realize that, for Jesus, peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle, but the presence of love.”

Global Warming Threatens

While I was “wasting time” in New Hampshire in July, I picked up Bill McKibben’s book, Falter:  Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  I will share more in another issue of this newsletter, but for now, let me just ask you to reflect on how you have observed the climate changing in your lifetime.  For me, I used to have a sense of what each month would be like, weather wise.  No more!  And I saw the water level rising in East Greenwich Bay when Kim and I lived in Oakland Beach:  Seaweed in the driveway at a moon high tide. My cousin in Vermont sees changes in his maple trees as the winters become warmer, and it is affecting his syrup production.  What have you observed?  Please send me your thoughts for the newsletter.

Two weeks ago, I asked about your observations about global warming.  Does anyone have anything to share?  In the meantime, we could pay attention to these observations published in the New York Times this morning:

“In the past 60 years, every decade has been hotter than the last, and 2020 is on track to be among the hottest years yet. But the burden of extreme heat is not shared equally — it’s significantly worse for people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

“Extreme heat can exacerbate poor health, ravage crops and make it dangerous to work outside. And in many parts of the world, simple ways to alleviate those effects — like water, or electricity for fans and air-conditioners — are a luxury.

“Somini Sengupta, The Times’s international climate reporter, and a team of photographers have a new story that documents how rising temperatures are affecting people across multiple continents:

“In Athens, heat waves have increased fivefold over the last century. Diminished rains and longer dry seasons are destroying Guatemala’s farmlands, where Indigenous farmers could see crop yields fall sharply. In Nigeria, hotter nights make it easier for mosquitoes to breed, increasing the risk of mosquito-borne diseases. And in the United States, heat kills older people more than any other extreme weather event, including hurricanes.”

“We spoke with Somini about what she described as ‘one of the most profound inequities of the modern age.’

“’I have seen over the last couple of years the impact of what is truly a global problem,’ she said. ‘We know that high heat and humidity is a dangerous combination for health, agriculture and economies of whole regions — nearly everywhere around the world, heat waves are more frequent and longer lasting than they were 70 years ago.’

“What do experts recommend to combat rising temperatures?

“’Draw down the combustion of fossil fuels,’ Somini said. ‘The world is capable of getting off coal in many instances, capable of vastly reducing the burning of oil and gas.’

“’But the world also has to adjust to the extreme heat we’re seeing already,’ she said. ‘That includes making water, air-conditioners and fans more accessible, and planting trees to bring down temperatures in cities.’

“’It could also mean adjusting things you might not immediately think of, like labor laws so people don’t have to work for hours under the blistering sun, agricultural changes in farming methods or what is grown in what place to adapt to higher temperatures,’ she said.

“’In short, it requires doing everything pretty differently.’”

How Are Our Children?

I asked Rose for an update on E.A.C.H.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continuous support.

Just a quick update on the children in Haiti. I know you care about them just as much as I do.  I spoke to the superintendent in Haiti and they are getting ready to start the new year. As you know, they were out of school since the end of March due to the COVID-19. I cannot say they had distant learning because the families are unable to purchase chrome books and unable to afford internet. Even electricity is difficult to get. This year has been tough, and that’s why I did not send a renewal letter out to the sponsors. I have faith and I know God will provide. I have received a couple of renewals, thank you.  We are praying for an end to this virus so we can try and have a fundraiser to help with the schools.  Thank you, Rev. Betsy for the opportunity to write this note.

Blessings and God bless,

Rose Desilus, President of E.A.C.H.

(A note from Betsy:  If you would like to sponsor a child, or renew your current sponsorship, please mail your donation to Rose Desilus, E.A.C.H., at 1429 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827. A sponsorship is just $175.00, but you could fund a partial scholarship.)

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Jesus’ walking on the water and inviting Peter to “come,” in Matthew 14:22-33, “Stepping Out in Faith.”  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

Betsy Garland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Moosup Valley Service

Time: Jul 26, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85660298732?pwd=Qm5xTWcvUkpOU3REVEEvSndWdHlMZz09

Meeting ID: 856 6029 8732

Passcode: 152545

Telephone (if you need it):  1-929-205-6099

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin will be emailed on Wednesday mornings, along with the Zoom link.

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  She is back home now from Elmhurst Rehabilitation, where they were trying to adjust her medication.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  The people of Beirut, Lebanon, following the massive explosiona at their port this week, and the resulting deaths and injuries.

Ø  For those affected by Hurricane Isaias up and down the East Coast, including many of us in Foster and Greene.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s friends, Martha and Fifo, struggling with COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic.

Ø  Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø  Phyllis Dexter does not need surgery and is praying for strength and recovery.

Ø  Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, has been eating a little more and is gaining strength.  However, she is also feeling the effects of isolation because of COVID-19.

Ø  Rice City friends Jack in Maine and Lucky in Warwick who are healing and awaiting baptism.

Ø  Elsie Penta and her family who are looking forward to being able to visit at Genesis.

Ø  Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.

Ø  Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, who is resettling in Rhode Island (from Arizona) and praying to be restored to health and stability.

Ø  For Gertrude, for continued protection.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

The “Seven Social Sins”

Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948

Knowledge without character.

Science without humanity.

Wealth without work.

Commerce without morality.

Politics without principles.

Pleasure without conscience.

Worship without self-sacrifice.

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  canned vegetables, especially corn, and soups!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

From Carol:  I believe the schools have until August 16 to decide how they are going to reopen.  I am just going about business as usual since regardless of where the children will be learning, they will still need the supplies to support their learning.  I heard one commentary that if they do distance learning again, they may actually need more supplies.  I know that teachers often buy supplies out their own pockets during the school year.

The Foster Department of Human Services has been collecting supplies for more than 40 children’s backpacks for school this year – and some of you have been helping.  She still needs many of these items:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored), colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject spiral notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if it has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Closing Thought

By Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.
Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

ReplyForward

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #28

July 31, 2020

This is the twenty-eighth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!
Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

A Word from the Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the UCC

Given that the lessons this July in the Gospel of Matthew feature three stories about fields and crops, sowing and reaping, I wanted to share with you the following letter:

And some seed fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. –Matthew 13:8

Roots are going to shoot into whatever ground they land upon.  But not all soil is the same and not all ground will produce good grain.

A healthy root does many things: provides a firm foundation to secure the plant against threats like wind and erosion; binds the soil together so that the plant can stand tall; opens up its boundaries so that the water and nutrients from the soil can feed and sustain the plant.

A good harvest depends on a good root; and a good root depends on good soil.

Imagine if you will that you have some agency in where your roots grow.  Imagine if you will that every day you face that choice, that what you do today will either cultivate in the world and in your life a soil that sustains or a soil that erodes.

As you build your year, ask yourself; where is love?  Is the work that I am doing building love into the soil of my grounding?  Are the action I commit to expanding the fields and enriching the flowing of love in my world?

Each and every day your actions commit you to the construction of a life as you plant roots that take hold over time.  I am mindful of the opening lines of the beloved Hymn,

We would be building temples still undone, o’er crumbling walls their crosses scarcely lift, waiting till love can raise the broken stone and hearts creative bridge the human rift.

With a calendar [or a journal], record the actions of, and your commitment to, a life rooted in love – the good soil.

Take note of what you say yes to and what you say no to.  Each action will build upon the root either a life fed by love or something other than that.

What can the world become if each of us uses our time here, rooted in love, to raise the broken stone and bridge the human rift?

Let this year mark again the life that you commit to; and may that life be both rooted in love and therefore yield thirty and a hundredfold all that God can make possible with your toil of love.

Global Warming Threatens

While I was “wasting time” in New Hampshire, I picked up Bill McKibben’s book, Falter:  Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  I will share more in another issue of this newsletter, but for now, let me just ask you to reflect on how you have observed the climate changing in your lifetime.  For me, I used to have a sense of what each month would be like, weather wise.  No more!  And I saw the water level rising in East Greenwich Bay when Kim and I lived in Oakland Beach:  Seaweed in the driveway at a moon high tide. My cousin in Vermont sees changes in his maple trees as the winters become warmer, and it is affecting his syrup production.  What have you observed?  Please send me your thoughts for the newsletter.

How Are Our Children?

I asked Rose for an update on E.A.C.H.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continuous support. Just a quick update on the children in Haiti. I know you care about them just as much as I do.  I spoke to the superintendent in Haiti and they are getting ready to start the new year. As you know, they were out of school since the end of March due to the COVID-19. I cannot say they had distant learning because the families are unable to purchase chrome books and unable to afford internet. Even electricity is difficult to get. This year has been tough, and that’s why I did not send a renewal letter out to the sponsors. I have faith and I know God will provide. I have received a couple of renewals, thank you.  We are praying for an end to this virus so we can try and have a fundraiser to help with the schools.  Thank you, Rev. Betsy for the opportunity to write this note.

Blessings and God bless,

Rose Desilus, President of E.A.C.H.

(A note from Betsy:  If you would like to sponsor a child, or renew your current sponsorship, please mail your donation to Rose Desilus, E.A.C.H., at 1429 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827. A sponsorship is just $175.00, but you could fund a partial scholarship.)

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on the feeding of the multitude in Matthew 14:13-21, “Until All Are Filled.”  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

Betsy Garland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Moosup Valley Service

Time: Jul 26, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85660298732?pwd=Qm5xTWcvUkpOU3REVEEvSndWdHlMZz09

Meeting ID: 856 6029 8732

Passcode: 152545

Telephone (if you need it):  1-929-205-6099

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin will be emailed on Wednesday mornings, along with the Zoom link.

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Tina Lavallee’s mother, Judi, died on Tuesday.  Please remember her family, and also hold Tina in prayer as she continues to recover from her hand surgery.

Ø Joanne for continued healing and recovery from surgery.

Ø Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø Phyllis Dexter does not need surgery and is praying for strength and recovery.

Ø Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, who is failing, not only from normal aging but also isolation because of COVID-19.

Ø Rice City friends Jack in Maine and Lucky in Warwick who are healing and awaiting baptism.

Ø Elsie Penta and her family who are looking forward to being able to visit at Genesis.

Ø Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.

Ø Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, who is resettling in Rhode Island (from Arizona) and praying to be restored to health and stability.

Ø For Gertrude, for continued protection.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)  Note: No Bible Study on Tuesday, August 4th.

A Happy Home Recipe

Author Unknown

Submitted by Janice (Griffiths) Reynolds

4 cups of Love

2 cups of Loyalty

3 cups of Kindness

1 cup of Friendship

5 spoons of Hope

2 spoons of Tenderness

4 quarts of Faith

1 barrel of Laughter

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  canned vegetables, especially corn, and soups!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services has been collecting supplies for more than 40 children’s backpacks for school this year – and some of you have been helping.  She still needs many of these items:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored), colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject spiral notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if it has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Closing Thought

Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.  -Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1821–1881

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or for your convenience a donate tab has been placed on our website through PayPal.

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

********************************************************************

Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #27

July 10, 2020

This is the twenty-seventh issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;   The Church Is Open!
Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom.

Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Wasting Time at the Lake:  Reverend Betsy Reflects

I am awake by 5:00 a.m.  Sunrise is still a few minutes away, but the breeze has come up and is blowing the mist across the surface of the lake.  I imagine I am one of the ancients who observed this phenomenon when they wrote, “God moved across the face of the waters,” at the dawn of creation.  And so creation continues, always renewing itself.  This morning, at dawn, I feel myself part of that creation. The loon knows it, too; I hear his yodel as he flies low over the lake, claiming his breeding territory.

I realize this whenever I am at the lake, my lake where I have been coming all my life.  (I realize it, too, at Beaver Tail, another favorite spot, closer to Foster.)  For me, this is a  good reminder that we exist in the natural world, that we are a part of the natural world, of all that is.  We modern folks spend too much time indoors, on our gadgets, out-of-touch with nature.  And we think we are separate from nature, not part of it; but we are  awash in it.  The psalmist writes, “When I look at the stars and the moon, and the work of your fingers….” not realizing that we are fashioned, also, by God’s fingers.  In fact, we are all made up of atoms, we are all part of the physical universe, we are all one.  I resonate with theologian Matthew Fox’s assertion that God is the ocean and we are the fish that are swimming in that ocean.

I am more likely to have a mystical experience here at my lake than anywhere else.  When I was in divinity school, I read William James’, “Varieties of Religious Experience,” in which he writes:

I remember the night, and almost the very spot on the hilltop, where my soul opened out, as it were, into the Infinite, and there was a rushing together of two worlds, the inner and the outer. It was deep calling unto deep—the deep that my own struggle had opened up within being answered by the unfathomable deep without, reaching beyond the stars. I stood alone with Him who had made me, and all the beauty of the world, and love, and sorrow, and even temptation. I did not seek Him, but felt the perfect union of my spirit with His . . ..  Since that time no discussion that I have heard or the [lack of] proofs of God’s existence has been able to shake my faith.  Having once felt the presence of God’s spirit. I have never lost it again for long. My most assuring evidence of his existence is deeply rooted in that hour of vision in the memory of that experience.

Physicist Alan Lightman goes to his island off the coast of Maine to waste time.  He writes, “I have come to believe that it’s good to waste time. In fact, it’s probably essential to waste time. That’s when the mind has a chance to think about what it wants to think about, without being cudgeled and shoved by the external world.”   And so I am here at my lake to waste time (as well as visit with my family).  I hope you are wasting time, too, this summer — and not filling it with too much busyness.

Global Warming Threatens

While I was “wasting time” in New Hampshire, I picked up Bill McKibben’s book, Falter:  Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  I will share more in another issue of this newsletter, but for now, let me just ask you to reflect on how you have observed the climate changing in your lifetime.  For me, I used to have a sense of what each month would be like, weather wise.  No more!  And I saw the water level rising in East Greenwich Bay when Kim and I lived in Oakland Beach: seaweed in the driveway at a moon high tide. My cousin in Vermont sees changes in his maple trees as the winters become warmer, and it is affecting his syrup production.  What have you observed?  Please send me your thoughts for the newsletter.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises. This Sunday, Pastor Bob’s theme is “If … Because … God is.” The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded tomorrow.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning (along with Pastor Bob’s bulletin for Rice City), and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  Betsy is preaching on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans (chapter 8: 26-39), “If God Is For Us.”  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

Betsy Garland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Moosup Valley Service

Time: Jul 26, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85660298732?pwd=Qm5xTWcvUkpOU3REVEEvSndWdHlMZz09

Meeting ID: 856 6029 8732

Passcode: 152545

Telephone (if you need it):  1-929-205-6099

Evening Prayer

Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin will be emailed on Wednesday mornings, along with the Zoom link.

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Joanne for continued healing and recovery from surgery.

Ø Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø Tina Lavallee’s mother, Judi, who is dying.  Please remember her family, and also hold Tina in prayer as she continues to recover from hand surgery.

Ø Phyllis Dexter does not need surgery and is praying for strength and recovery.

Ø Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, who is failing, not only from normal aging but also isolation because of COVID-19.

Ø Rice City friends Jack in Maine and Lucky in Warwick who are healing and awaiting baptism.

Ø Elsie Penta and her family who are looking forward to being able to visit at Genesis.

Ø Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.

Ø Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, who is resettling in Rhode Island (from Arizona) and praying to be restored to health and stability.

Ø For Gertrude, for continued protection.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

My Recipe for a “Christian Garden”

Submitted by Janice (Griffiths) Reynolds

First, plant four rows of Peas:

Presence

Preparedness

Perseverance

Promptness

Next, plant two rows of Squash:

Squash gossip

Squash criticism

Now, put in three rows of Lettuce:

Let us be faithful

Let us obey rules and regulations

Let us love one another

No garden is complete without Turnips:

Turn up for meetings

Turn up with new ideas

Turn up on time

Turn up with determination to make everything count for something good and worthwhile

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  baked beans, pork & beans, box mac’n cheese, mayo, instant potatoes, gravy, canned fruit, cookies/desserts, and cooking oil.

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services will be helping over 40 children fill their backpacks for school this year.  The following school supplies are needed to complete these backpacks:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored),colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Closing

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Only a life lived for others is worth living.  -Albert Einstein

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

ReplyForward

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #26

July 10, 2020

This is the twenty-sixth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed;    The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 A Call for Commitment

How Christianity got derailed, and the religion of Jesus became a religion about Jesus

 Rev. Betsy Reflects on Tom Hall’s paper

 Two weeks ago in “Gather ‘Round,” (Issue #24), I asked the question, “In What Do You Have Faith?”  Foster resident and Biblical scholar Tom Hall sent me a copy of a paper he delivered recently to colleagues, A Call for Commitment, in which he argued,

To be part of a sustainable future, Christianity must change from a religion of belief to one of commitment, one that enlarges our vision of reality and thus possesses survival value.  We have too long treated religions as belief systems, and Jesus’ message has been trivialized by Paul and Luther, who championed salvation by faith alone – a notion alien to the prophet they claimed to represent.  The Greek pistis/pisteuo (belief, faith, believe) is better rendered “trust” or “faithfulness;” but even these terms name states of mind rather than ethical response, and today we live in a time when not only our religious traditions but [also] our very survival face grave challenges.  Any realistic hope for a sustainable religious or ecological future demands an active commitment to tikkum olam – repairing the world.

Tom begins by reminding us of some of our gospel stories which nudge us toward our Christian tradition’s imperative to care for each other and the world.  Please take the time to look up and study these examples and the messages therein, for example:

Mark 12:17, Emperor and God:  Spend your money and your life wisely;

Luke 16:1-8a, Forgive:  For you have long swindled your tenants;

Luke 15:11-32, Prodigal Son:  God’s kingdom goes by mothers’ rules, not fathers’;

Luke 10:30-35, The Samaritan:  Despise and hate foreigners at your mortal peril;

Matthew 13:33 & Luke 13:20-21:  The Leaven: The idea of God “leavening” the world;

Matthew 22:34-40 & Mark 12:31:  Love of Neighbor: sharing of one’s own bounty.

For a sermon once, I wondered aloud about the number of Christians in the world (we are almost of a third of the Earth’s 7.3 billion people) and why we – who profess to follow Jesus of Nazareth – still have poverty and war and refugee camps, and why we allow children to go to bed hungry at night.  We’ve had 2,000 years since Jesus walked in our midst and taught us how life should be lived and cared for.  What is taking us so long? 

Well, it’s not just about our response.  We are not alone.  Tom presents a global view of religion – “not only for the practical necessity of getting along in a shrinking world on an endangered planet, but to recognize some of our own flaws,” with these thumb-nail sketches which should ring true to Christians.  For example Judaism preaches ethical monotheism, denies anthropomorphism, and looks for corporate salvation; Islam, meaning “submission,” refuses to deify its founding prophet, offers pardon for charity and compassion; Hinduism (“Altman is Brahman”) reveres honesty, respect and compassion; Buddhism (“Namaste”), universal spiritual kinship, search for reality; Zoroastrianism values good thoughts, good words, good actions, responsibility, single reality;  and Sikhism values selfless service, justice and prosperity for all, no monopoly on truth; Taoism stands on the spiritual ground of reality, that the deity is a process, not a being; the Didache, similar to the Gospel of Matthew and the first example of Church Orders, reveals that it is “deeds,” not “creeds,” that matter, and the Eucharist (communion) means “thanksgiving;” the Quakers practice open creed, anti-war, community democracy, potluck replaces communion; and the Mormans value family and community and unselfish dedication to faith.  Tom suggests we would do well to “join the progressive thinkers in many faiths who are ready to recognize the symbolic or metaphoric truth of others’ doctrines and sacred stories,” and he sees this as necessary to achieve a just, peaceful, and sustainable world.

Why is it taking us so long to achieve the world we all say we want?  Tom suggests that it is because “religions are addicted to supernaturalism and to defining themselves by beliefs, which are cultural products of slowly evolving worldviews. Think of Paul assuring the Corinthians that any gospel other than the one revealed to him is false.  (Some Moosup Valley Bible Study members see Paul as arrogant!)  Think of the Israelites’ belief that the one supreme God had made them his chosen people and had ordered Joshua’s genocide.  I think of John 3:15, “For God so loved the world….” not just Christians, not just you and me.  And he cites another reason: Christianity’s promise of eternal life is more attractive than Judaism’s combination of demanding ethics and corporate salvation.”

Quoting a colleague, he writes, “Yet, religious doctrines and practices must not imprison us, but set us free.”  At the same time, I also believe that one’s faith informs one’s politics.  For example, if we really believe that God cares for everyone, even to counting the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7), then why don’t we provide health care for everyone?  If we really believe that Jesus sets us an example in the feeding of the multitude in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, and Luke 9:10), then why are so many people food-insecure in the richest country in the world?  If we really believe the creation story that God has granted humans dominion over everything that God has made, then why don’t we take better care of the Earth?

But Tom’s major concern in his paper is not our religious problem but the looming global ecological crisis, and for this he issues his call for commitment.  He writes, “[The global crisis] threatens the very survival of millions now alive and the additional two billion predicted by 2050.”  Examples of the urgency of the pending catastrophe include but are not limited to, the collapse of the CO2 balance of the Amazon rain forest, rising sea levels, population expansion endangering wetlands, loss of habitat, climate change, growing scarcity of farmland, migration, and other crises.

For there to be hope, he continues, there must be commitment on the religious front “to give an ancient tradition new life so that it may flourish in the 21st century. Doctrine and practice will have to have to change as never before; but above all we must answer the call to commitment and resolve to dedicate ourselves to the future of [human]kind and our only home.  To me, this means that a Sunday school education at age 7 is not sufficient for an adult faith at age 77, particularly in our highly sophisticated world.  We need new language and understandings to ground us in our faith.

Tom argues, further, Christians would do well to look at the narrative and practice of the Lord’s Supper and such new concerns as the environment and solar energy.  And we might do well to rethink our traditional understanding of “God,” and the role of religion to keep “God” under the institution’s “thumb,” a position that lets us “off the hook” for taking responsibility.  What must remain, Tom asks?  “The radical demands of love (universal justice, economic equity, forgiveness, compassion) and the authentic kingdom sayings and parables of Jesus.”  Because, as he points out, “While the problems confronting the first-century Galilean peasantry were very different from the existential threats we face today, Jesus’ core teachings remain as valid as ever.”

He argues, “For most that this will mean a new concept of religious observances centered on protecting natural resources by minimizing waste,” and “sermons on the sinfulness of consumerism,” as well as downsizing, heating less, and insulating more, changing from fossil fuels to renewable energy, turning off lights (especially public floodlighting), eating less meat, and refusing single-use plastics.  Like Thoreau, practice “Simplicity, simplicity!”  But everyone needs to be more responsible, not just Christians.  What Christians need to do, in particular, is to understand how “…the “dualistic and supernatural elements of classical Christianity that drove many away [and] reject them or take them metaphorically,” and [adopt] a more “critical reading of scripture” so as to bring more people “…to the lesson imparted by the parable of the Leaven and Zoroastrian and Sikh doctrines:  that our spiritual and secular lives constitute a single reality.  At that point we may begin to think and act our way into the perilous ties ahead.”

After reading Tom’s paper, I pulled three books off my shelves:  Episcopal Bishop Spong’s Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile, historian Robert Wuthnow’s Christianity in the 21st Century:  Reflections on the Challenges Ahead, and Chinese theologian, C.S. Song, of the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission, whose book, The Compassionate God, looks at Christianity from a non-European point of view.  Also, I committed myself to finish a book by Bill Mc Kibben that Ann Grenier loaned me a year ago:  Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? 

What is clear to me is that we are running out of time to address the kinds of problems that Tom has raised in his paper and that McKibben tracks.  We will soon be – if we are not already – at the point of no return.  It also is clear to me that Christianity has a vital role to play in helping us develop the religious language not only to motivate our members to wake up to the present reality of our planet but also to wake up to the damage caused by a faith that puts our personal salvation front and center instead of the Way of Jesus, which is other-centered, justice-centered, and love-centered.

Tom concludes with Catholic theologian and cultural historian Thomas Berry’s understanding that true religion is “…to live together graciously on this beautiful blue planet…and to pass it on to our children with the understanding that the great community of life can nourish, guide, and heal them as it has us.”

Thank you, Tom!

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

 Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin is attached here (and will be emailed again on Saturday along with Pastor Bob’s bulletin), and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  The gospel lesson this week is the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23), and Rev. Betsy’s reflection is “Sowing the Seeds of Abundance.”  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

 Join Sunday Morning Worship

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Phone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

 Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City has begun worshipping outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoy hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises and are thankful for good weather four weeks in a row!  This Sunday, Pastor Bob will be looking at Romans 3-6 and talking about “We Can’t, God Can, God Did, We Can Too!”  The Order of Worship Bulletin is attached.

Hymn Sing

The July 12th Hymn Sing will be held outside on the lawn at Moosup Valley Church at 3:00 p.m.  Rev. Doug Tourgee will be on the stage playing favorite hymns, and everyone will need to be extra socially distanced in order to sing safely.  (Please bring your own chair and a mask, and park one car-width away from each other.)  They will also be on Facebook for those who would like to sing along at home!

Evening Prayer

 Moosup Valley has begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (new time) by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. The Order of Prayer bulletin will be emailed before the service.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  (Betsy will be on the porch in New Hampshire – with real loons calling across the lake.)  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

NEW!  Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Cheryl’s Aunt Lyn is doing well after having had a pacemaker put in.

Ø  Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, is struggling with cancer.

Ø  Claire’s son, Jim, is now in a group home and doing well while waiting for permission to get his own apartment.

Ø  Joanne who has been able to attend the last two Rice City outdoor services.

Ø  Tina Lavallee has had surgery twice in the past two weeks, and she is doing well.  She goes back later this month to have the sutures and pins removed from her thumb and will then be in a cast for six weeks. Please keep her in prayer as she is experiencing some pain.

Ø  Phyllis Dexter is waiting for answers and strength.

Ø  Barbara Cederfield is home following knee replacement surgery and is recovering nicely, though in pain when she “does too much.”  Her husband David has an appointment with the Spine Center to see why he is falling.

Ø  Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, is failing and hoping to be signed on to Hospice soon.

Ø  Frances Shippee went for her six-month checkup and is cancer free – five years!  Prayers of thanksgiving are in order!

Ø  Rice City friends Jack in Maine and Lucky in Warwick are healing and awaiting baptism.

Ø  Elsie Penta and her family are looking forward to being able to visit at Genesis.

Ø  Jean Salemi is awaiting back surgery.

Ø  Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, is in Arizona and praying to be restored to health and stability.

Ø  Carol and Neil Swanson’s friend Gertrude lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Florida, but they are concerned because the son-in-law has tested positive for COVID-19.  They also are concerned for their son-in-law, Trinidad, who is in a difficult working environment in California.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  baked beans, pork & beans, box mac’n cheese, mayo, instant potatoes, gravy, canned fruit, cookies/desserts, and cooking oil.

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services will be helping over 40 children fill their backpacks for school this year.  The following school supplies are needed to complete these backpacks:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored),colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Behind the Scenes

 Mt. Vernon live stream worship has been blessed by being able to use Steve Carter’s Professional Equipment.  But he will be called into work more and more, Pastor Bob writes.  To make the ministry ideal, we are in need of a camera and a computer.  If you have upgraded (or now use your phone or tablet for a camera) and have one to spare we could use a donation (or a discounted rate) on items with these specifications:

PROSUMER CAMERA – HD in the 16×9 ratio, 720 minimum resolution (1080 preferable) – 4k is great, SDI or HDMI video output connection (composite is not acceptable), audio inputs (XLR preferable)  an SD card for video would be ideal.

COMPUTER – either a macOS high sierra or windows 10, processor: i7 quadcore 2.8GHz,Memory:  4-16 GB RAM, Hard Drive: 500GB solid state OS drive, graffix card: intel HD, Directx 11, NvidiaGef orce or AMD Radeon, 16GB video memory.  If you have one or know someone who might, please contact Pastor Bob.

 A Timely Story (Sent to me by a friend who also remembers the “good old days”!)

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green bag’ thing back in my earlier days.” The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.  Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

The older lady said that she was right, our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. The older lady went on to explain: Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.  But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.  But, too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts.  Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.

We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of tuning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the “green thing.”

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad, the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

2020-07-12 Moosup Valley – Pentecost 6             Issue 26 – SUNDAY Worship for Rice City (2)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #25

July 3, 2020

This is the twenty-fifth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. 

Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 

Rev. Betsy’s Thoughts on the Fourth of July

Our Pilgrim ancestors of the Congregational faith came to this land to seek a new life, to find freedom to worship at they choose, to pursue the Biblical vision of a City Set on a Hill.  They brought with them values from Europe and cultivated them here.

But in many ways, the model that the Puritans brought with them to the Massachusetts Bay colony was as oppressive as the one they were escaping.  Roger Williams’ thinking was revolutionary and caused him to be driven out of the commonwealth in the dead of winter, in the middle of the night, in a snowstorm.  He founded Providence “to hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained with full liberty in religious concernments.”

These emerging values shaped the emerging nation and formed the basis of the Declaration of Independence that was signed almost 250 years ago.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness has come true for those of us who have a job and sufficient income for a decent place to live, a health care plan when a family member is sick, a quality education and citizenship in the best country in the world.

But life in America is not perfect for everyone – we have unfinished business.  It helps to remember, when they adopted the Declaration, that they had unfinished business in 1776, too:  Women were not equal, slaves were not free, happiness was realized by relatively few.

Well, we’ve made progress, of course.  We have a middle class that, by and large, in the last 50 years, has found life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for those of us who are white – although gains made in the 20th century are slipping in the 21st century with our new global economy, computerization of almost every aspect of American life, and legislation that makes it easier for corporations to move jobs overseas – yes, still.

But we have not made gains everywhere:  Racism, homophobia, and poverty still dog us as a country, especially with each new wave of immigration.  We’re not the land of the free for everyone….

Perhaps the founders knew that their words did not describe the current reality – but that the Declaration described the end result to be pursued, the beginning of the work to create the “City Set on a Hill.”

Frederick Douglas wrote, “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”  And William Faulkner reminds us, “We must be free not because we claim freedom but because we practice it.”

Yes, we have challenges, and today’s issues are more complex: than ever.  How shall we deal with immigration, violence, racism, pandemics, tax reform, drug overdoses?  Yes, we have misdeeds – too many decision-makers act in self-interest, not the public interest.  Congress is split along party lines, held hostage by lobbyists.  Rhode Island’s General Assembly is notorious for making decisions in the middle of the night and adjourning with legislation still on their desks at the personal whim of the Speaker and his political cronies.  Yes, we have hate speech in campaigns, on the internet, in print and in the broadcast media which stifles dialogue and polarizes people.

I’m still chuckling over Rabbi Leslie Gutterman’s guest editorial in The Providence Journal a few years ago in which he told this story:

“A man was walking along the beach and bound a bottle. A genie appeared.  The        genie said, ‘I am so grateful to get out of that bottle, I’ll grant you one wish.’  ‘I

have always wanted to go to Hawaii,’ the man replied. ‘I’ve never been able to go

because I am scared of flying and become claustrophobic on a boat.  My wish is

for a road to be built from here to Hawaii.’

“The genie replied, ‘No, I can’t do that. Just imagine all the pilings and concrete

involved.’ The man then told the genie, ‘Okay. There is another possibility. I want

to know why this current election cycle is so mean-spirited.’ The genie considered

and then said, ‘So do you want two lanes or four?’

Yes, although we have unfinished business – and we know we have work to do – we’re still a country to be proud of:   The way citizens like us form nonprofit organizations when we see a need to better people’s lives and rise up with contributions of time and money to help in a disaster.  The way we abide by the law, most of the time, and can trust our public officials, most of the time.  The way we can hold vigils and rallies, and say what we need to say, without fearing repercussions.  The way we can count on a full night’s sleep without being dragged out of bed and arrested for some vague crime – at least most of us most of the time.  The way we celebrate the values of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness – even when we don’t always practice them.

Yes, God has blessed America!  And we’re blessed to live here and to raise our children and grandchildren here.  But scripture reminds us:  the greater the blessings, the greater the responsibility. God’s blessings are meant to be shared.  We have work to do.

Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder reminds us of this truth when we become nostalgic about our country’s history:

“The work of God is the calling of a people, whether in the Old Covenant or the

New.  The church is then not simply the bearer of the message of reconciliation, in

the way a newspaper or a telephone company can bear any message with which it

is entrusted.  Nor is the church simply the result of a message, as an alumni

association is the product of a school or the crowds in a theater are the product of

the reputation of the film.  That men and women are called together to a new

social wholeness is itself the work of God, which gives meaning to history.”

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – for all – that’s the business we’re in.  Today, we remember when it all started, and so join me in saying,

“Happy birthday, America!

Pastor Bob’s Remembering and Re-Living the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We hold it to be self-evident … A Continental Congress that argued about everything, did not see a debate about this.  It was evident!

That all men are created equal … Those men who wrote that were not all able to see the irony in those words.  Some of them considered only land owning men as equal.  Few of them considered women as equal.  Most of them considered the natives of this land as less than human – savages.  Some of them actually owned other human beings and saw them as property.  They were not open to non-Christian believers and, as a society, were not yet aware of sexual preference and gender identity as needing inclusion.   Let us now say and mean All People Are Created Equal – keeping in mind the other Creatures of this world that are not people but are also deserving of acknowledgement, care, and protection.

They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  ...  We have been given Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness by God, and those gifts cannot be transferred or taken away – they are unalienable!  Again, the writers of these words did not see the irony that they had taken or refused these rights to so many.  We must say these words.  We must mean these words for all people.  We must live these words.  We must make these words a real and living part of our government and society for all people, because .

Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.  

There is no debate … These rights must be insured by our government and in our society for all people!  Let us be about the work of our Creator and obtain these rights for ourselves and insure these rights for all!

E Pluribus Unum … Out of Many, One!

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  This Sunday, July 5, is a Communion Sunday, so please bring a piece of bread or cracker or the rest of your breakfast and a glass of juice or wine or a cup of tea or coffee – the Passover meal story upon which we base our communion service was essentially a congregational supper – to the computer with you.  The Order of Worship bulletin is attached here (and will be emailed again on Saturday along with Pastor Bob’s bulletins), and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

 Topic: Moosup Valley Sunday Morning Worship

Time: July 5, 2020 10:30 AM (Eastern time)

 Join Sunday Morning Worship

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Phone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

 

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City has begun worshipping outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked.  Order of Worship Bulletin is attached.

Evening Prayer

 Moosup Valley has begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (new time) by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. The Order of Prayer bulletin is attached, below, so you can see what the service is like.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

NEW!  Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship will be emailed on Saturday.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø  Joanne and David Newton were at Rice City’s service on Sunday, and everyone was so excited to see them!

Ø  Tina Lavallee had surgery on Monday and is doing well, but please keep her in prayer as she goes back for surgery on her thumb on Monday.

Ø  Phyllis Dexter has been able to see her heart doctor, and they will be doing some tests.

Ø  Barbara Cederfield is home following knee replacement surgery, but her son Jeff was hospitalized in Hartford with an infection, now home on antibiotics and fever is down.

Ø  Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, has fallen again – but no broken bones — in Assisted Living.

Ø  Ann Grenier who is fighting an infection caused by a tick bite.

Ø  Rice City friend Jack Greenleaf is receiving cardiac rehab at home.

Ø  Wayne Carlow is being treated for a health issue at home (non-COVID).

Ø  Richard Lucky is getting new treatment at the VA to help with swallowing.

Ø  Elsie Penta continues to be well at Genesis, and the family looks forward to a visit.

Ø  Please continue your prayers for Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.

Ø  Frances Shippee as she goes for her six-month cancer checkup on Monday.

Ø  Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, in Arizona and in need of prayers.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  baked beans, pork & beans, box mac’n cheese, mayo, instant potatoes, gravy, canned fruit, cookies/desserts, and cooking oil.

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services will be helping over 40 children fill their backpacks for school this year.  The following school supplies are needed to complete these backpacks:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored),colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Priscilla and Bob Rotondo

 The garden this year is very green, large and so far, it looks pretty darn good. We are experimenting with using clover as green mulch so we don’t have to weed so much. We planted the whole garden with clover in the spring and then later planted the vegetables in the clover. We will see if the yields are still good, but we really like it. No weeding!  We have planted 20 tomato plants, 12 pepper plants and lots of green beans, zucchini, lettuce, squash and basil. We are watering from the pond so that helps, too. The next challenge will be keeping the bugs away. Always something when you have a garden!

Behind the Scenes

 Mt. Vernon live stream worship has been blessed by being able to use Steve Carter’s Professional Equipment.  But he will called in to work more and more, like he was last week, Pastor Bob writes.  To make the ministry ideal, we are in need of a camera and a computer.  If you have upgraded (or now use your phone or tablet for a camera) and have one to spare we could use a donation (or a discounted rate) on items with these specifications:

PROSUMER CAMERA – HD in the 16×9 ratio, 720 minimum resolution (1080 preferable) – 4k is great, SDI or HDMI video output connection (composite is not acceptable), audio inputs (XLR preferable)  an SD card for video would be ideal.

COMPUTER – either a macOS high sierra or windows 10, processor: i7 quadcore 2.8GHz,Memory:  4-16 GB RAM, Hard Drive: 500GB solid state OS drive, graffix card: intel HD, Directx 11, NvidiaGef orce or AMD Radeon, 16GB video memory.  If you have one or know someone who might, please contact Pastor Bob.

 Closing Meditation

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Canadian Prose-Poet

 This is the reality we live: aspiring to be at our best, longing for and sometimes finding meaning and connection within ourselves and with that which is larger than ourselves, we are undone by messy bathrooms, traffic jams, and burnt toast.  I am not interested in spirituality that cannot encompass my humanness.  Because beneath the small daily trials are harder paradoxes, things the mind cannot reconcile but the heart must hold if we are to live fully: profound tiredness and radical hope; shattered beliefs and relentless faith; the seemingly contradictory longings for personal freedom and a deep commitment to others, for solitude and intimacy, for the ability to simply be with the world and the need to change what we know is not right about how we are living.

 Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

2020-07-05 Moosup Valley Service – Independence Day

2020-00-00 Evening Prayer TEMPLATE Rev

Issue 25 – SUNDAY Worship for Rice City (1)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #24

June 26, 2020

This is the twenty-fourth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 In What Do You Have Faith?

When I was a child I thought of faith as synonymous with a religion or even a set of beliefs, like a creed or doctrine that I was supposed to accept.  But now I think of faith as that which I love, what my heart leans into, what tugs at me.  One of my professors in divinity school was James Luther Adams who taught me about the early church and seeded in me the ideas that eventually became my “Gifts Discovery Course” that I led for the Women’s Retreat last year.  Dr. Adams wrote:

“The question concerning faith is not, Shall I be a person of faith? The proper question is, rather, Which faith is mine? Or better, Which faith should be mine? For, whether a person craves prestige, wealth, security, or amusement, whether a person lives for country, for science, for God, or for plunder, that person is demonstrating a faith, is showing that he or she puts confidence in something.”

 So, as an adult, I have changed my mind about faith.  In what do I have faith?  Surely in the Way of Jesus who taught us how life is to be lived and cared for, especially his commandments (drawn from the Hebrew Bible) to love God (Deut. 6:5) and our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:18) – for me, these commandments, together, are the heart of the gospel, and in these I put my faith.

And I have faith in science which teaches me about the natural world in which we live, and how to be a responsible caretaker for the environment; and I trust in the science that is trying to keep all of us safe during the pandemic.

I trust in people, too, most of them, most of the time – even the police whose job it is to keep our communities safe (recognizing some racist “bad apples,” of course).  But that’s my white privilege talking.  The last time I was stopped for speeding, I was told to get there safely and waived on my way without even a ticket. If I were a person of color, I would more likely have been ticketed or handcuffed and arrested – or worse.  (My colleagues-of-color are often stopped without apparent reason and ticketed.)

And I have faith in myself, in my resourcefulness and spiritual centeredness.  And I have faith in you, my family and friends.  So now, I ask you, in what do you have faith?  (Tell me and I’ll print your statement in an issue of “Gather ‘Round.”)

In the June 3rd issue of Christian Century magazine, Annie Dillard was asked to contribute an article to their new “How My Mind Has Changed” series – which I am inserting here as the next article.

Holding On To Holiness

By Annie Dillardauthor of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Holy the Firm, and For the Time Being

 How has my mind changed over many years?  I identify as a Christian.  Many Christians would disagree that I can use the term honestly.

I can’t and don’t give intellectual assent to many very established and agreed-upon Christian dogmas, if not most of them, if not all of them.

That Jesus of Nazareth is “the only begotten son of God, begotten not made, God of God, light of light, true God of true God” is something I always enjoy saying.  But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.  I wouldn’t render it to Caesar.  These are spiritual matters.  Their language merely resembles ours.  They need not make sense in worldly terms.

Did God create people?  Sure, if that’s how you like it.  We didn’t create ourselves.  We evolved, just us all other living beings evolved.  Every creature alive today is a pinnacle of creation.  So is every extinct creature.

Did a personal God – an unmoved mover – set creation in motion?  I doubt it.  (But I do like the term Deus absconditus for its vivid portrayal of God as a fox who absconds with the henhouse.

Fortunately, in life no one ever calls upon us to give –or to withhold – intellectual assent to anything.  No one cares about our intellectual assent.

I know only one thing for certain:  there is holiness.  Standing there, a person can sing myriad songs.

Maybe there is a divide between people who honor holiness – who bow down before it, who pray on their knees – and people who don’t.  The opposite of holiness is selfishness, egotism, pride.

I live comfortably with paradox, that something can be both true and untrue.  That annoys the daylights out of people if you proclaim it, but not if you don’t.  People who are 75 years old don’t take to proclaiming.  (We bore from within.)

As a serious Christian – humor me – I’m at home with Orthodox Jewish dogma, Hasidic dogma, Islamic dogma, godless Buddhist wisdom, and probably many other views.  Christianity is huge.  I’ve studied it for many years.  I see no reason to leave the religion of my birth, the religion I know best.

If when I die, Jesus says “I know you not,” he’ll be right, and I’ll eat my hat.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin is attached, here (and will be emailed again on Saturday along with Pastor Bob’s bulletins), and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

 Topic: Moosup Valley Sunday Morning Worship

Time: Jun 28, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

 Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Phone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

 Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City has begun worshipping outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked.  About their first outdoor service, Pastor Bob writes:

“During our Outdoor Worship, and other conversations this week, we talked about what we have experienced during the last three months.  A lot of people mentioned their interest in feeding and watching the birds. The conversation turned to the “new” birds that people had seen or been aware of.  Seeing a Baltimore Oriole or a Blue Bird or a Pileated Woodpecker have been some of the thrills.  It was a wonderfully celebrative discussion, especially in light of the divisions that the racial issues have divided our society.  Too often when we encounter people who look or think differently than we do, we get upset or scared or on guard.  As we were talking, I thought how excited we get when we are bird watching and we see something new!  We are invigorated by seeing something different!  Maybe we could adopt that attitude when we “watch” our neighbors.  Imagine how uplifting it would be if we were excited about people who were different and “new” to us.  Instead of being apprehensive, how would our life change if we wanted a closer look, wanted to know more about, and tried to figure out how to attract other people who were different than us?  I would like to live in that world!”

Evening Prayer

We have begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (new time) by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn before we join in ancient beloved prayers.  The Order of Prayer bulletin is attached, below, so you can see what the service is like.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

NEW!  Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship will be emailed on Saturday.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø Joanne Newton, at home and improving daily.  She hopes to be able to attend “drive in” worship soon. The family asks us not to call because they are afraid she will stumble, running for the phone.  Cards are welcome, however.  Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI 02827.

Ø Phyllis Dexter is glad that her doctor is back to the office and is hopeful that he can help her out.

Ø Barbara Cederfield is home from Woodpecker Hill where she had been for rehab  following her knee replacement.  She is very happy to be home!

Ø Beverly’s Aunt Helen, 94, who has fallen again.  She is in Assisted Living.

Ø Ann Grenier who is fighting an infection caused by a tick bite.

Ø Mary Joseph as she prepares to celebrate her 90th birthday on June 28.  Cards may be mailed to 201 Plainfield Pike, Foster, RI 02825

Ø Jack Greenleaf is hospitalized in Portland, Maine, for vascular problems.

Ø Richard Lucky is getting new treatment at the VA to help with swallowing.

Ø Elsie Penta is still staying safe and healthy at Genesis in Coventry.

Ø Please continue your prayers for Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.
Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  baked beans, pork & beans, box mac’n cheese, mayo, instant potatoes, gravy, canned fruit, cookies/desserts, and cooking oil.

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services will be helping over 40 children fill their backpacks for school this year.  The following school supplies are needed to complete these backpacks:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored),colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Kitty Looking for a Good Home

The Rev. Dr. Donnie Anderson retired from the Rhode Island State Council of Churches and moved to Provincetown to serve as minister of the United Methodist Church there.  Because his landlord will not allow pets, Donnie is looking for a home for his lovely kitty, “Honey,” an orange tabby who will be 6 in August.  She is a happy house cat, and a lot of company.  Please call Rev. Betsy if you know of someone who might be interested.

Behind the Scenes

Mt. Vernon live stream worship has been blessed by being able to use Steve Carter’s Professional Equipment.  But he will called in to work more and more, like he was last week, Pastor Bob writes.  To make the ministry ideal, we are in need of a camera and a computer.  If you have upgraded (or now use your phone or tablet for a camera) and have one to spare we could use a donation (or a discounted rate) on items with these specifications:

PROSUMER CAMERA – HD in the 16×9 ratio, 720 minimum resolution (1080 preferable) – 4k is great, SDI or HDMI video output connection (composite is not acceptable), audio inputs (XLR preferable)  an SD card for video would be ideal.

COMPUTER – either a macOS high sierra or windows 10, processor: i7 quadcore 2.8GHz,Memory:  4-16 GB RAM, Hard Drive: 500GB solid state OS drive, graffix card: intel HD, Directx 11, NvidiaGef orce or AMD Radeon, 16GB video memory.  If you have one or know someone who might, please contact Pastor Bob.

 Closing Meditation

And while we are thinking about “faith,” here’s a poem by one of my favorite poets who finds the Holy One through the natural world and all its creatures:

 Mysteries, Yes
By Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

 Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

2020-06-28 Pentecost – 4

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #23

June 19, 2020

This is the twenty-third issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed;         The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 NEW!  Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church will begin holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, beginning this Sunday, June 21, Fathers’ Day, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m.  Members of the congregation will take part in readings and prayers, and Martha will play the hymns from home – to which we will sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin is attached which includes the words to the hymns and prayers for Father’s Day, everything all in one PDF document.  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

 Join Zoom Service:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

 NEW!  Rice City Outdoor Worship

Now that we are in Reopening Phase 2, Rice City will begin worshipping outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – beginning June 21.  The theme will be Father’s Day.

A Few Stories of Our Fathers….

My step-father used to take us skiing, and he would get lost on the way, and Ma wanted him to stop at the nearest gas station, but he would keep going and going telling her he knew where he was!  He did not know!  When we would meet people, he would say, “Hi, Mac.”  Ma would ask him who it was, and he would say he didn’t know, but the guy looked familiar.  He pronounced Colorado “Codorado,” and she could not seem to correct him.  I guess it was a spelling problem.  He would be in the living room reading the paper, and I would be in the kitchen with Ma, and he would always tell her he was going to read the death notices to her.  She would look at me cross-eyed! He was a great guy.  I miss them both.  –Anonymous

 My dad took a lot of pride in the homestead.  He raised cows, pigs, and turkeys.  He had a garden to beat the band.  He would offer vegetables to friends and family, “just bring your own bag.”  Weekends were working in the wood lot on Plainwoods Road for a warm winter.  –Susan

 My father had a nickname for everyone he liked, such as Mert and Gert, Boomer, Bubba, Guin-A-Babe, Puddles, Gabby, Mad-e-line, the General, Lish the Dish, and Patrick.  [You know who you are.]  My great grandma was Eva Paine and Dad called her Little Eva – I swear, she was about 4 feet tall – she always wore a full apron and when he walked into our grandma’s house he would holler “Hello, Little Eva” and then proceed to untie her apron.  She always pretended to be angry with him, but again, if he didn’t do the two things simultaneously, she would think something was wrong.  Do I know where all these nicknames originated?  No…. but I know anyone Dad had a nickname for looked forward to him bellowing out their nicknames whenever he was with them.  He loved to tease, but these were affectionate terms for all of us.  I would give anything to hear Dad call me by my nickname again.  -Cheryl Annabanana

My father was a Vermonter who came down to Rhode Island to study engineering at Brown where he met my mother.  He was thoughtful about people and their behavior, and he talked to me a lot when I was a teenager.  He would ask, “Why do you think your Aunt was so angry?”  Or, “Why do you think so-and-so did this or that?”  And he loved animals.  I have a memory of his walking through the house with our cat, Mittens, in a football carry on his hip, and he said once, “When you think about how much love an animal needs, think about how much more love a person needs.”  -Rev. Betsy

The Sun Changes His Mind:  A Pondering

And the sun stands still, skidding in place like a bowling ball at the end of the alley, after its six-month climb towards the light, and then, it is as if the Sun changes his mind about continuing northward, and he stands still.  It’s the Summer Solstice, and, actually, we’re the ones who stand still, not the sun – the Earth stands still.  Twice a year we make the long journey from darkness to light and then back again.  Ancient peoples would have been afraid of being abandoned by the Sun as they watched the days growing shorter and then joyful as the sun climbed back into the sky.  Their crops, their lives depended on the sun.  They would have made sacrifices – perhaps their first-born son – to appease the Sun God.  They would have promised anything to get him to change his mind.

In the same way, our scriptures are filled with “meaning stories” of how God changed God’s mind.  We humans make meaning through stories, and our Biblical stories express something, teach something, explain something.  They aren’t based on science; they are stories about faith.  They are true about human life, even if they aren’t factual.

In the Hebrew Bible, we have the familiar story of Jonah who had been commissioned by God to cry out against the City of Nineveh, which God plans to wipe out.  But Jonah takes the first boat in the other direction, and God caused a great storm to rise up against the ship.  The crew blames Jonah and throws him overboard, where he’s swallowed by a big fish, giving him three days to think it over.  And God thinks it over, too, and in response to Jonah’s prayers, changes his mind and causes the big fish to throw Jonah up onto dry land.  And again God charges Jonah to go to Nineveh, and this time he does.  And the king of Nineveh and his nobles repent and turn from their evil ways.  And, as the story goes, “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:10) 

 Even Jesus changes his mind in a New Testament story.  In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 15: 21-28, a Canaanite woman comes to him asking him to heal her daughter, but Jesus declines because she is not a Jew, responding, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” … and “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  But the woman will not be put off and responds, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  And Jesus changes his mind.  These stories mean something, often many things – not only that Jesus has his blind spots, but also that the Gospel of God’s love is for everyone, not just the “in group.”

Over the years, as science has opened up the mysteries of the universe, we have had to change our minds.  We accept that the Earth was not made in seven days, and that the Creation story is poetry and not science.  We accept the science that the Earth is not the center of the universe – and not flat.  Humankind tries to understand, and we create stories to “explain” the way things are, and we create doctrines to give us license to take what we want for our selfish purposes.[1]  And not just physical stories, but also social ones.

Hundreds of years ago, we created the story of Whiteness to give us an excuse for slavery and the relocation of Native Americans.   We created the myth of inferiority – that persons of color are less than human – to justify racism.  Whenever we label some of the people as “other” – different – a different color, a different gender, a different sexuality, a different nationality, a different religion – we create the conditions to marginalize them and to justify our own behavior.  This is what Hitler did to the Jews in Germany.

In the United States, we built our economy on slavery, not just in the South but also in the North, even in Rhode Island.  And now the country is changing its mind about racism, seeing it widely for the first time, perhaps:  The damage racism has done not only to our communities of color, but also how it has warped our “white” minds and allowed the oppression our black sisters and brothers have experienced for 400 years.  Let us pray that, in the words of another ancient anthropomorphic story in Revelations, a complex book filled with plagues, warfare and bloodshed, in an end-times battle between Good and Evil, God says, “Behold I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5).

The sun will have climbed to the highest point in the sky this Saturday afternoon at 5:43, a long journey begun on the winter solstice in December.  Our Biblical storytellers would understand it as a long journey into the light, before the sun turns again to descend into the darkness.  Let us pray that our nation will use this metaphorical opportunity to change our minds about some things, to be enlightened, to break the yoke of racism and to live into the love and justice of our sacred texts.  May it be so!  Amen.

 Outdoor Services

The Mt. Vernon Larger Parish met on Monday evening and agreed that, to minimize the risk and to not have to turn anyone away because of the limited number of chairs that could be set up, each church would hold their own service when they thought it safe to do so.   However, the churches are considering the feasibility of holding an outdoor Hymn Sing together on July 12th and August 9th, at Moosup Valley because of the large lawn, stage with an electrical outlet for a keyboard, and available parking.  We will keep an eye on COVID-19….   Pastor Bob hopes to live stream the Hymn Sing.

 Evening Prayer

We have begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Please let Rev. Betsy know if you are willing to read or sing.  We will join in ancient beloved prayers.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

NEW!  Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church will begin live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m., beginning Wednesday, June 24th.  The Order of Worship will center on Isaiah 43 – A Child of God – and is attached.  (This was last week’s service which was not able to be streamed.) The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø  Joanne Newton, now recuperating at home.  The family asks us not to call because they are afraid she will stumble, running for the phone.  Cards are welcome, however.  Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI 02827.

Ø  Barbara Cederfield is at Woodpecker Hill for rehabilitation, following her knee replacement.  Pray for a quick recovery and healing; O.T. and P.T. are working her hard!

Ø  Beverly’s Aunt Helen, 94, who has fallen in Assisted Living and may have a broken hip.

Ø  Richard Lucky has received good news in hopes of healing for this throat.

Ø  Mary Joseph as she prepares to celebrate her 90th birthday on June 26.  Cards may be mailed to 201 Plainfield Pike, Foster, RI 02825

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing the lectionary texts and selected psalms on Zoom.  Contact her for the link at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

Puddle Cake

Laila reminded us at Bible Study of the most delicious chocolate cake ever that has no eggs or dairy, is easy to make right in the pan – but you can double it for a birthday cake or make it as cupcakes, just adjust the baking time.  She grew up calling it “Puddle Cake,” and some of us knew it as “Crazy Cake.”  It’s a King Arthur Flour recipe.  A good cake for Father’s Day!  Here is the recipe:

 Sift these dry ingredients directly into an ungreased 8-inch cake pan:

1 ½ cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of baking cocoa

1 teaspoon of soda, ½ teaspoon of salt

Dig three holes in the dry mixture and put these wet ingredients in the holes:

6 tablespoons of salad oil, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Pour one cup (8 ounces) of cold water over everything and stir with a fork.

Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven and invert to cool.  Remove from pan or  right from  the pan.

 Behind the Scenes

Mt. Vernon live stream worship has been blessed by being able to use Steve Carter’s Professional Equipment.  But he is called into work more and more, like he was last week, Pastor Bob writes.  To make the ministry ideal, we are in need of a camera and a computer.  If you have upgraded (or now use your phone or tablet for a camera) and have one to spare we could use a donation (or a discounted rate) on items with these specifications:

PROSUMER CAMERA – HD in the 16×9 ratio, 720 minimum resolution (1080 preferable) – 4k is great, SDI or HDMI video output connection (composite is not acceptable), audio inputs (XLR preferable)  an SD card for video would be ideal.

COMPUTER – either a macOS high sierra or windows 10, processor: i7 quadcore 2.8GHz,Memory:  4-16 GB RAM, Hard Drive: 500GB solid state OS drive, graffix card: intel HD, Directx 11, NvidiaGef orce or AMD Radeon, 16GB video memory.  If you have one or know someone who might, please contact Pastor Bob.

 Closing Meditation

One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.  –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

[1] The Doctrine of Discovery established a spiritual, political, and legal justification for colonization and seizure of land not inhabited by Christians. It has been invoked since Pope Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” in 1493.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)  Moosup Valley Church Worship-Issue 23 – Bulletin – 2020-06-21 – Father’s Day

Mt. Vernon Streams- Issue 22 – Order of Worship for June 24 – Hollis 

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #22

June 12, 2020

This is the twenty-second issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, June 14, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 9:00 a.m.  The theme is “I Am a Child of God.”  The Order of Worship is attached.  The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

Mt. Vernon Hymn Sing

Sunday, June 14 at 3:00 pm.  We are not ready to get together yet, but Doug Tourgee is going to play some of our favorites so that we can sing along at home.  You can join us on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Page.  Pastor Bob and Doug will go live on facebook live at 3:00 pm.   These are some of the songs we will sing:  “In The Garden,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “To God Be The Glory,” “Blessed Assurance,” “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” “It is Well With My Soul,” “God Bless America,” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

Evening Prayer

We have begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Please let Rev. Betsy know if you are willing to read or sing.  We will join in ancient beloved prayers.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.  In addition to Pastor Bob’s Sunday bulletin, I am attaching the Evening Prayer Order of Service so you can follow along.

 NEW!  Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church will begin holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, beginning on Sunday, June 21, Fathers’ Day, at 10:30 a.m.  Congregational participation will be sought for readings, scriptures, and responses.  Martha Safstrom will play from home, and words to the hymns will be shared so participants can sing along (while muted).  The Zoom link will be inserted in the newsletter next week.

 Moosup Valley Congregational Christian Church, UCC

Stand outside our small white church on Moosup Valley Road on Sunday mornings and hear some of the same hymns played when the church was new, 152 years ago – although now interspersed with newer hymns and melodies for the twenty-first century.

Step up on the hand-hewn granite steps which were dragged up Moosup Valley Road by oxen over two days and walk through one of its two original front doors.  See the sun shine through the simple glass windows.  Sit on one of the wooden benches, plain and sturdy, and notice the well-used Bible.  Look up at the stern face of our first pastor, Elder George W. Kennedy, who performed 164 weddings and served his small rural parish for 30 years.  Notice the wooden collection box made by Bradford Battey, the hymn board made by Skip Pendegraph, and the child-sized table and red chairs which many Foster residents sat in as children.

The church was built as a meeting house for community lectures and religious services.  Until that time, Moosup Valley families traveled to Rice City, Foster Center, or the old Dorrance School on Kennedy Road for worship.  Others attended services and Sunday School in the Moosup Valley School, called the Vestry School, now moved across the road and part of the library.

But Ira Brown changed that when he leased a plot of land to the Moosup Valley Association of Foster for 99 years.  Sixty-five people pledged their money, materials and labor.  A Mrs. Brayton of Moosup Valley wrote in a letter on August 25, 1864, “The Meeting House is to be put up this afternoon.”  It was finished in 1865.

In one of its first actions, the Moosup Valley Association set up a schedule that allowed the Christian denomination to use the meeting house two Sundays a month.  The Association left the two remaining Sundays open for lectures or worship by other denominations.  The Christians probably got the extra attention because Rice City, just south of Moosup Valley, was the center of a strong local Christian Church movement.  At one point the Rice City Church listed 450 members.

For the Christians, Christ was the only head of the church, and the Bible was a sufficient rule for faith and practice.  Each person had the right of private judgment and liberty of conscience, and character was the only requirement for church membership.  The Christian movement was appealing and Moosup Valley grew, and on March 19, 1868, just three years after the meeting house was built, families formed the Moosup Valley Christian Church and unanimously chose George Kennedy, who had been traveling to Rice City to preach, as its first pastor.  A year later, the church register listed 50 members and reached a high of nearly 100 by 1879.

These were busy times.  Sterry Foster, who lived on Potter Road, was Sunday School superintendent.  Classes in the Vestry School were filled not only with children but also adults.  Old journals record the names of each pupil.  There were Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor meetings in the 1890s, other youth groups, picnics and croquet games, prayer meetings and church suppers.  Box Socials and apron-necktie suppers brought young people together.

Even so, Moosup Valley couldn’t maintain a large, strong congregation and so shared its minister with other congregations.  In 1890, there were “union” services with the Line, which meant that two churches shared a pastor or they held joint services.  In 1928, a similar arrangement was made with Rice City and Clayville.  These and other informal unions eventually led to the formation of the Mt. Vernon Larger Parish, an organization of small Baptist and Congregational churches in the area, which provided a partial salary for the pastor while allowing the church to be autonomous.

There were denominational changes in 1931 when the Christian Church merged with the Congregational Church and again in 1961, when Moosup Valley voted unanimously to join the United Church of Christ with its roots in the Christian, Congregational, Evangelical and Reform movements.  Since then, church membership has waxed and waned as children have grown up and moved away and generations have passed on and new people have moved in, seeking a church community.

The Living Crèche pageant, started by the Rev. Joy Utter 30 years ago, continues to be an annual highlight.  The Christmas Tree Lighting and the Concert in the Valley have been expanded to monthly live music events under the leadership of Laurie Murphy.  When it’s too cold to be outside, the meeting house is turned into a warm and cozy coffee house with punch and cookies, and the pulpit is moved to make room for area musicians.  In warm weather, neighbors visit with each other around the campfire built by Jake McCormick.

Many of the families listed in the old records have descendants who are active members today, and new people continue to come, some because of the timely website maintained by Pat Safstrom, some drawn by the restored garden along the stone wall and the plantings, paving stones, and window box under the front window.  Under the leadership of Moderator Carl Safstrom, a permanent stage is being built on the lawn and plans have been designed for an addition to accommodate a new furnace and meeting and storage space.

Small churches are important in the country.  They bring neighbors together around shared values, create networks of people who care for one another, and witness to the birthing and passing of generations.  They also welcome new people into a community and offer friendship and hospitality and support – “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey.”

Moosup Valley Church, 152 years old this year, stands as a beacon on a well-traveled country road and invites those who are intrigued by its history, yet looking for a vibrant faith suitable for this new age, to step across its threshold.

Note:  This history is based on research by Margery I. Matthews, a member of Moosup Valley Church, together with Virginia I. Benson and Arthur E. Wilson, found in Churches of Foster: A History of Religious Life in Rural Rhode Island, published in 1978.

 Thanks for the Memories

 From Laila:  In the Valley, as we Valley girls called it, there was a group of us that hung out together. This included me, Susan, Eileen Luther Butler, her sisters and the Hawes girls, also my sister.  Sometimes we let the boys tag along — Steven Norden and Fred Salisbury.  We used to meet at the Norden’s house and play baseball in their field. If we got tired of that, we would go over to the grange supper shed and play 1, 2, 3 Red Light.

The summers where the best times. We all got together almost daily, and our parents didn’t worry about us because we were always together.

From Susan:  When I was a little girl, in the summer I would sit on the stone wall at our house and listen to Grandma Kennedy playing the organ and singing at church.  I would also watch Aunt Vivian walk down the road when it was communion with the silver holder with glasses filled with grape juice.  I couldn’t wait to see Grandma come out the door, and I would run to meet her.  I loved her so very much.  My mom, Priscilla Norden, started playing organ at the church at age six.

From Sonja:  My mother, Sylvia Bassett, was very active at Moosup Valley.  She went to church regularly and was very involved in the Women’s Fellowship, the philanthropic arm of the church.  The group met at different members’ homes, and they would often meet at our house.  Mrs. Byron O. Waterman was President, and I can still remember some of the women who were members:  Bertha Bennis, Grace Dunbar, Christine Saltinstall, Elsie Kivisto, Ruth Salisbury, and there were others, I am sure.  Pat Safstrom joined the group, but that was after I had gone to college.  I remember that one of their fundraisers was a bake sale held on Labor Day when the grange had their clam bake.  My mother always made a number of loaves of “pulla,” Finnish coffee cake, which sold fast.

The fact that the library (which is now attached to what was Moosup Valley School) stood beside the church is well known.  I attended only first grade in that school, and there were two of us.  When Laila Renvall (the other first grader) moved to Finland, and I was destined to be the lone second grader, my parents tuitioned me to the newly built Western Coventry Elementary School.  Moosup Valley School closed when Captain Isaac Paine School opened.

From Cheryl:  The one thing I remember most about going to Sunday School and Church is that often Mrs. Harrington would bring in a load of violets and give each child a violet upon leaving…I remember her being busy about the church – organizing and making sure everything was in its proper place.  It is funny that I cannot remember her speaking to us much except when it was about plants – usually violets.

And how can we talk about the church without talking about the Valley?

From Cheryl:  My sister, Brenda, and I would often go for horseback rides early in the day and get home before dark with our dog, Friskie, tagging along with us wherever we went.  We rode all the dirt roads around Moosup Valley.  One of our favorite places to ride was Johnson Road before it was tarred.  Once it became tarred, they left a strip unpaved in front of Alton Bassett’s place (across from where Sonja lives now – the house she grew up in) – it was the best place because it was a nice stretch, and we could race each other there, and we loved to do that until they paved that area too.  Brenda and I used to go to the Ginny B Campground on Saturday nights because they had a live band playing there and it was usually guys from Ponagansett that had formed a band.  Alton invited the kids in Moosup Valley to attend because, quite frankly, there was nothing else to do.  So many a Saturday night you could find a few of us at the Ginny B listening to older classmates playing the latest songs with the kids from the campground.

The grange used to hold square dances on Saturday nights that I went to with some of my older Moosup Valley friends.  I would play lookout for a couple of my older girlfriends because their fathers did not like the boys that they were seeing, so I became the official lookout.  There were two other events that the grange put on and I loved them both:  Every year the grange put on a minstrel, and when I was old enough I got to be in it the chorus and sang the old standby songs that my parents sang all the time when we were riding in the car, such as “Bicycle Built for Two” and “Sweet Rosie O’Grady.”

The other event, when I got old enough, was to work the annual Labor Day Clam Bake.  It seemed everyone turned out to help get the bake going, and then mostly the girls would wait on the tables:  it was a hot, long, gruesome day, but oh so much fun!

Also the grange use to put on a fair that my family loved to go to; we would see all our friends there – they had the old time things – such as catching the greased pig, that was something to watch.  I remember if you had to use the bathroom, then you had to use the old outhouse in back of the grange, and whenever you used it, someone always seemed to scare you by banging on the walls of the outhouse whenever we would go in.

One of my most favorite things to do was to walk to the Tyler Free Library (which was next to the church then) and get new books for the next two weeks….I read a lot of the books they had.  Our neighbor was Jessie Bennis, the librarian, and as much as she liked me, she used to get mad at me every other Saturday for taking out too many books…I can hear her to this day saying, “Cheryl Hawes, why do you take so many books, you will never read them all before they are due back,” and I used to say to her, “Yes, I will Mrs. Bennis, honest I will,” and I did.

My father used to get fireworks almost every 4th of July and our neighbors and dear friends, the Luthers, who lived two houses away but on a little hill, used to sit on their roof and watch the fireworks from their house, and we could hear them cheer…why they didn’t come to the house to watch, I don’t remember.  Growing up in the Valley was a wonderful way to grow up.  We had two farms up the road from us, both of which were Dexter’s:  We were really friendly with Hebert Dexter and his family, the one closest to us, and we were in and out of their house and barn whenever we felt like it, like they were family to us.

There used to be baseball games at Moosup Valley Ball Field.  I don’t remember the names of the teams, but our Dad played and Mr. Luther (Ed) played as well.  So all of us kids would be there playing in the field beside the ball field – sometimes watching the games, but not so much.  Dad and Ed were both hotheads from time to time.  I remember one time my father looking up at Ed – he was pretty tall – and Ed looking down at my Dad.  It was almost like they were nose to nose arguing about some call, and all of us kids thinking they were going to get into a fist fight, but nothing ever came of it except a lot of yelling.  After the game, it was all back to being friends again.

Obviously, as I sit here thinking, I could go on and on and on.  I know that the Nordens, Luthers, Luthers (two sets of Luthers), and Salisburys were at most of these events together.  We were like a little community within a community if you know what I mean.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.  Her daughter, Ayla, is recovering from surgery and doing well.

Ø Joanne Newton, now recuperating at home.  The family asks us not to call because they are afraid she will stumble, running for the phone.  Cards are welcome, however.  Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI 02827.

Ø Barbara Cederfield had knee replacement surgery on Wednesday, which went really well.  She is going to Woodpecker Hill for rehabilitation.  Pray for a quick recovery and healing.  She has been enjoying her mini-vacation!

Ø Pastor Doug Tourgee’s sister and brother-in-law are both now at home and doing well.

Ø Our nation following the tragic death of George Floyd and so many other people of color, and that God may teach us how best to be agents of compassion, strength, witness, and justice.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing the lectionary texts and selected psalms on Zoom.  Contact her for the link at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Philippians:  The Rice City Bible Study is focusing on Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

Enrich your Spiritual Life with a Mystic

Michele DiBiasio has an extra copy of “Julian of Norwich, Selections from Revelations of Divine Love – Annotated and Explained” that she would be happy to give to anyone interested.  She writes, “I am really enjoying this book and learning a lot. I was hoping someone was interested, and I could send or drop off my extra copy. New, hardcover. Great read!

Prayer for Peace

Dermot Donnelly in “How to Survive the Rest of Your Life: A Practical Users’ Guide”

Submitted by Michelle DiBiasio

Lord,

You are the God of all peace.

I present to you

all places of conflict

in our world.

As there is no ideology,

political thought,

culture or particular

way of life greater than

the life of the humblest person.

I pray for peace.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen

Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Issue 22 – Order of Worship for June 14                2020-06-17 Evening Prayer FINAL

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #21

June 5, 2020

This is the twenty-first issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

The Buildings Are Closed;

The Church Is Open!
Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, June 7, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 9:00 a.m.  In the midst of all the struggles, Pastor Bob has decided to use the summer on virtual worship to look at and celebrate our favorite scriptures. This week, he will look at the 23rd psalm!  Join us in celebration of “The Lord Being our Shepherd.” The Order of Worship is attached, and here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

Mt. Vernon Hymn Sing

Next Sunday, June 14, we will continue Mount Vernon Streams at 9:00 a.m., but we will also have a virtual hymn sing.  Pastor Bob will film Pastor Doug Tourgee who will play your favorite hymns in his Tennessee Mountain Gospel Style.  You can sing along at home!  Send Pastor Bob the names of the hymns you would like to hear!  The time will be announced Sunday.

Mt. Vernon Church over the Years

Celebrating its 225th birthday in 2020, the building that currently houses the Mount Vernon Baptist Church has had a long and varied life.  Originally built in 1795 as a Quaker Meetinghouse, the 20′ by 30′ building had a fireplace at either end and a partition in the middle separating the men’s and women’s sides.  When membership shrank, the Quakers were disbanded in 1846 and the property was sold.

Changing owners over the next 50 years, the building served various uses including hay storage and dance hall.  In the late 1880s an offshoot of the very strong Rice City Christian denomination was established and the property was donated to the group.  Dedicated workers solicited money and devoted time, energy, and love to rebuild the structure and furnish it with seating and an organ.  A Sabbath school was established and a preacher engaged three Sundays per month.  However, the “Christian” association was short-lived for the practical local farmers discovered the monies available under the Richard Waterman Trust which specified:  “the interest of which is to be paid annually to a Calvinistic Baptist minister who shall preach within two miles of my dwelling house.”  A meeting was held in 1894 of four members of different churches, and it was agreed to form a Baptist church.  The ceremony was held the same year, and officially the name was changed from the Mount Vernon Christian Society to the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in 1895.  By 1905 the Waterman Trust Fund provided enough assistance that services could be held weekly.  In the ensuing years the church built horse sheds on the east side of the lot, held harvest suppers and entertainments.  Groups were formed and the pace was steady as was typical for country churches.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s small rural churches were having a difficult time.  Richard Waterman’s generosity led to the establishment of the Mount Vernon Larger Parish, an association of small churches whose existence was threatened by their inability to support a minister.  An agreement was worked out whereby the member churches shared a pastor who was paid by the Waterman Trust Fund.  Member churches in the Larger Parish have varied over the years, but the lynch pin is Mount Vernon, the only BAPTIST church that is currently a member.

Over the years, membership and services have withered at Mount Vernon, though it has been able to maintain hymn sings.  On October 31, 2014, the church was knocked off its foundation and feared lost.  However, the congregation voted to restore the building to its original design as a Quaker Meetinghouse and, between generous donations and insurance, it was reopened in July 2017.  Recently attempts have been made to garner a following by offering “Open Mic” and Quaker services.  Currently, in the midst of the pandemic, Rev. Robert Hollis is offering a service on-line by video streaming which will, hopefully, transition to a weekly worshiping congregation in the fall.

My Childhood Memories of Mt. Vernon Church

By Janice Reynolds

It’s my belief that my brother and I started going to Mt. Vernon about the early 1950s.  We lived on Waterman Hill Farm.  We used to walk to church, weather permitting, about one-half a mile.  We did look forward to church on Sunday.

Per Mrs. Elsie Paine, the door would always be unlocked early each Sunday.  My brother and I would be the first over there; we’d go inside and the fun would begin.  Michael would pretend to be the preacher.  He’d go up and read from the big Bible.  In between, I tried to play the piano.  It was so crazy because I didn’t know how to play it.  All was make-believe.  I tried to play some favorite hymns, and we’d sing at the top of our lungs.  And, yes, once in awhile we’d get caught.  But believe me, no one scolded us.  Church and school was a special “out” for me.  Looked forward to both.

Back to the farm and home, we had a pet dog, “Peggy.”  My Dad always said she was my dog.  He got her when I was very young.  She also would attend church with us.  One Sunday she went inside and settled down under a back pew.  No one said anything until Rev. Waterman started his sermon and some of the youngsters started to laugh.  You can guess what happened next.  Why are you laughing?  Because there is a dog in here.  Rev. Waterman had the dog taken out.  But she did stay in the hallway until we came out to go home.

Peggy was a smart dog.  Our Dad would tell her to go get the “girls” for milking time.  She always knew what he wanted.  We had, on and off, cats and dogs, pet ducks, a pet rooster, “Oscar,” who liked to play basketball with us kids. Also, during cold weather, he slept in the dog house where the dog also helped keep him warm.

For now, the final pet story is we had a pet crow, “Jimmy.”  Actually our Dad was his favorite.  He’d sit on Dad’s shoulder while he was working in the garden.  Also Jimmy would often fly up to my second floor bedroom window.  I’d give him bright colored marbles and colored ribbons.  One day Dad was coming home from the barn, and walking in the field between the barn and our house, he came across the nest with the colored items Jimmy had gotten from me.  He would also for some Sundays fly ahead of us going to church.  And he really would wait for us to come out of church.  Everyone at this time was so amazed.

My finale to this story is, I’m proud to say, Rev. Waterman had married my husband and me on November 19, 1960, here in Mt. Vernon Church.  A quote from Mr. Waterman:  “Just remember, Janice, once a Baptist, always a Baptist.”

Early on a Sunday Morning

By Tracey Griffing

Sunday May 31, 2020

As usual, I’m up early in the morning. I’m a daily coffee-drinking news-watcher. Not just today, but all this week, the commentaries and the footage of the inexcusable killing of another black life, footage repeated again and again. The killing at the hand of a white man, an officer sworn to keep the peace, while other officers stood, watched, and did nothing.

The destruction of property, cars, buildings and churches ensued.  Violence brought about by violence.  This has been a terrible week for humankind, again. Anotherneedless and senseless killing in this country because of ignorance and intolerance.  This is only one of many instances reported this year alone.  How is it that, in 2020, some still find this an acceptable way to treat another human being?  The complete lack of listening and hearing of one another that is still happening in this country is disheartening. We can successfully work together to send people into space for exploration of another world, but  we can’t meet each other half-way for humanity in this world.

I was emailing with a friend early this Sunday morning.  He sent a song and a note about the need for more love. The song was “More Love” by Mark Miller. He talked about Agape love, the highest love, love that extends past all human understanding and emotion.  It’s the love that defines God’s immeasurable love for us.  A more parental, mature, sacrificial kind of love.  A love that Jesus was willing to die for.

My friend is right, it is about the love. A few years ago my nephew was getting married.  My brother’s son.  When Jim called me to tell me of the upcoming wedding, I don’t know why, but right away I said to him, I would love to play my guitar and sing a song for Travis and Jill.  He said, really?  It’s completely unlike me to offer something like that without even thinking about it.  The Spirit was working. The song I played was “Love Can Build a Bridge” by the Judds.

It just so happens it was the same day as the Royal Wedding. The minister for the bride’s family had preached that morning at the Royal wedding. All he kept saying was, It’s about the Love.  He was right.  When I was in the hotel practicing that morning I knew it was all about the love.  Of course the love between the couple getting married but also the Agape love is what I felt from him, because of the turmoil over the economic differences that surrounded the Royal wedding.  More of that love needs to be spread across our nation.

Emotions that are running high in this country, on both sides of the aisle. Why have the lines between right and wrong become so blurred?

Creator,

We pray Your love comes in abundance

Abundance that only You can provide

Abundance given to us freely for the asking.

For the people of this country to start to listen, to start to hear one another,

To focus on Your love in our hearts, Agape love.

Love not focused on our physical differences but on our common welfare.

Leaving indifference and the fuel of hate behind, to come to a place of mutual respect.

To begin to heal our Land.

Amen.

New!  Evening Prayer

We have begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Please let Rev. Betsy know if you are willing to read or sing.  We will join in the ancient beloved prayer, “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.  Tend the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.” It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Michelle DiBiasio’s daughter, Ayla, who is dealing with post-op complications.

Ø  Joanne continues her slow but steady progress in healing from brain surgery with the help of doctors, therapists, loving family and prayers!

Ø  Prayers of thanksgiving for a successful cardiac ablation for Carl’s cousin, The Rev. Mindy Reed, and prayers for successful surgery for her partner, Ancilma Peters, who is going in for cataract surgery and possible corneal transplant.

Ø  Phyllis Dexter was not able to have the cardiac stent inserted this week, and she is very disappointed.  However, she hopes a new medication will help, and she thanks everyone for their cards and concern.

Ø  Janice Reynolds is in need of healing and strength in her legs.

Ø  Barbara Cederfield will have knee replacement surgery on Wednesday, and also asks for prayers for her brother Rev. Bob, a retired Episcopal priest, who fell and has bleeding in his brain.

Ø  Pastor Doug Tourgee’s sister and brother-in-law are both in the hospital in need of prayer.

Ø  Pray for our nation following the tragic death of George Floyd, and that God may teach us how best to be agents of compassion, strength, witness, and justice.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing the lectionary texts and selected psalms by Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Philippians:  The Rice City Bible Study is focusing on Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

A Personal Note from Pastor Bob

This has been such a tough week for so many people.  I want to respond but I am afraid to say or do the wrong thing!  And so I pray.

I pray for the family of George Floyd.  I pray for the officers and their families who seem to be complicit in his death.

I pray for the family of St. Louis City’s Captain David Dorn, killed in the riot there.

I pray for small businesses who were rebounding from the virus only to be ransacked.

I pray for the peaceful demonstrators who want justice, not more violence.

I pray for black and brown people who have been put down for generations and who feel rage and use rage to bring things to the forefront.

I pray for people who take advantage of strife and chaos for their own gain.

I pray for our first responders, police, National Guard, and military who try to serve and protect in strained and confusing times.

I pray for our leaders who try to make decisions for protection, justice, safety, and order.

I pray for people who feel passionately and respond, and for folks who feel deeply but don’t know how to respond.

I pray for our churches to say we are here to listen and learn, we are here to stand for justice, we are here to offer hands of compassion, we are here to try to figure out what we could be here to do!

I pray for myself and will gladly pray for all of you who want to be representatives of Jesus’ call to love our neighbors!

Closing Reflection

Those of us who live in places like Foster and Greene think that life is peaceful everywhere, that justice prevails everywhere, that our country offers opportunity to everyone who is willing to work hard.  But that is not the experience of many.  For your reflection, I offer this poem by novelist, social activist, and playwright Langston Hughes:

Let America Be America Again
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

————

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #20

May 30, 2020

This is the twentieth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

 Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. 

Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 Call for Stories about Mt. Vernon

We have enjoyed learning about the Rice City Christian Church.  Now, let’s share some about Mt. Vernon Baptist.  Sonja is summarizing the history, and Janice Reynolds has sent me a wonderful piece about her childhood memories of Mt. Vernon.  There also was a Mt. Vernon village, I believe, with a tavern.  Does anyone have a story about that?

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 31, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 12:30 p.m.  The service will be about Pentecost:  “If God Is with Us.”  The Order of Worship is attached.  To log in, go to:  https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

About Pentecost, Pastor Bob writes, “Pentecost is the Jewish Celebration of Shavuot, the blessings of the Wheat Harvest and the Commemoration of the day God gave the Torah through Moses to the Israelites.  It is the Christian Celebration of the day that God shared God’s Holy Spirit with all who would believe!  Our Live Stream Worship will celebrate the sharing of the Holy Spirit and what a difference it makes in our lives.  Many churches wear red on Pentecost to symbolize the tongues of fire that rested on all the believers.  If you are joining us for worship, it would be good for you to meditate beforehand on Romans 8:26-39, and then please read on through verse 39 and the well-known passages, 31b “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And vs. 38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 New!  Evening Prayer

Beginning the first Wednesday in June (THIS Wednesday), Rev. Betsy will begin offering Evening Prayer, Vespers, by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer at 7:00 p.m., a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you would like to participate by reading or singing, please let me know, and I will send you the materials.  In any event, everyone is welcome to come and listen.  Please bring a candle.  We will join in the beloved ancient prayer, “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.  Tend the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.” It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the link:

Betsy Garland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Evening Prayer

Time: This is a recurring meeting:  Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  +19292056099

 Special Online Hymn Sing   

Pastor Bob writes, “June 14 is our normal Hymn Sing Day at Mount Vernon.  We cannot, as of yet, gather safely together, but we will have Hymn Sing nonetheless.  Please send Pastor Bob (RevBobH@gmail.com) one of your favorite hymns (and a story of why it is your favorite if you would like), and I will give it to Doug.  Doug will play for us, and at home we can all sing to our heart’s content.  By then, the Governor will allow gatherings of 15 or less, so if you have 15 people that you are safe with, join together and have a Hymn Sing in your back yard as Doug plays for us all!  Or from the solace of your living room, or the sanctuary of your Nursing Home Room, or the Refuge of your Quarantine Space, sing out as loud as you want! It will do all our hearts good to sing (virtually) together!”

Rev. Betsy Reflects on Pentecost:  When Did the Holy Spirit Come? 

Read Acts 2:1-21

 Growing up in Sunday School, we learned that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and all those gathered in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost.  Remember the violent wind and the tongues of fire?  But was that the way it really was?  Was Pentecost a real, historical event or simply a beloved story – one of many – marking the birthday of the church?  Recent scholars tell us that Luke, who not only wrote his gospel story about the life of Jesus, but also wrote Acts early in the second century, the story of what happened to Jesus’ followers after the resurrection.  It was Luke who created this wind and fire not-very-historical story to prove that the rapid expansion of the Jesus Movement across the known world was God’s doing.  And we know it as “Pentecost,” because Luke stages it in Jerusalem when Jews from all over the world were there, hence the profusion of languages, for the Jewish agricultural festival of Pentecost, and he gives his story credibility by building on the ancient prophecy of the prophet Joel.

And where had the Spirit been before then?  In our morning Bible Study sessions, we have been reading all the Pentecost scriptures and recognizing that the Holy Spirit has been here all along.  The complex Hebrew noun ruah can be translated as “wind,” “breath,” or Spirit,” and our differing biblical translations have chosen one of these three possible option as most appropriate for each context.  So in Genesis 1:2, what is it that comes from God to sweep over the waters?  In Genesis 2:7, what does God give to the creature of the dust that it may become a human?  In Psalm 104, we have understood the Spirit of God granting life to the whole creation.  Thus, on Pentecost Sunday, we might think of God’s power resting not only on us as individuals and on our churches but also throughout the cosmos, burning with divine mystery and calling us to witness to God’s ruah, in our midst and breaking down artificial barriers of speech, class, and nation that separate us from each other and God’s blessings for all of creation.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Carl’s cousin, the Rev. Mindy Reed, had her surgery for Atrial fibrillation, and it went very well, and her partner, Ann Cilma, who is going in for cataract surgery and possible corneal transplant in June.

Ø Joan Lacerda on the death of her mother this week, of whom Joan says, “She was a very independent woman with a wonderful sense of humor, a friendly smile, and literally would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it.  She surely will be missed.” Prayer also for Pat Safstrom for whom Joan’s mother was like a second mother to her when they were growing up.

Ø Joanne is home and continues her slow but steady progress in healing from brain surgery.  She sounds like herself on the phone and still has her sense of humor!

Ø Phyllis Dexter is planning to have a stent put in on Wednesday and hopes to have more strength and energy after that procedure.

Ø Janice Reynolds is in need of healing and strength in her legs.

Ø Everyone in the Sroka family has been retested for COVID-19 following their recovery.  Jane has tested negative twice, but Ronnie and Randy are still testing positive – which the doctor thinks is because they are shedding old cells slowly.

Ø For Beverly’s Aunt Helen who has fallen and broken a leg in her assisted living facility.

 An Unlikely Pentecost Story

 I ran across this story recently about a relationship between the Irish in the Potato Famine, which raged from 1845 to 1849, exacerbated by English agricultural policies, and Native Americans, whose lands were stolen and who knew what it was like to be stripped of their farms and fishing grounds and livestock and forced-marched to strange lands not fit for farming or fishing.  A story about then and now.  And it seems to me an unlikely Pentecost story because of unspoken understanding.

It begins in Ireland with the generations-old conflict between the British Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic to the south.  There had been hopeless blood-letting for decades, but it erupted into war on so-called Bloody Sunday in 1969, but most historians recognized that the roots of the conflict, much more than a war between Protestants and Catholics, were economic and cultural.  And about the same time as the Potato Famine in Ireland, in which it is estimated more than a million men, women and children starved to death, people of color and Native Americans in the United States knew what it was like to be ruled under the thumb of others, and they took pity on the Irish.

In 1847, the Choctaw Indians had suffered as much as any.  Then, practically penniless themselves, they scraped together $170 and sent it to Ireland.  The Irish remembered, and today, as the Navajo Nation (including some Choctaw) die from coronavirus infection on their reservation, at one of the highest rates in the country, an Irish charity has raised $3 million for the 3,500 American Indian families there, with $100 packages of supplies arriving every day.  One hundred seventy-three years later.  Understanding born of suffering and oppression.  The power of God’s Spirit reaching across oceans and cultures and centuries, a modern-day Pentecost.  –Based on a story in the Cape Cod Times, “If you give, just wait.  It comes back,” written by Dan McCullugh, a former Rhode Islander.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Pentecost scriptures by Zoom.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Philippians:  The Rice City Bible Study has finished the Gospel of John and decided to focus on Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob by telephone.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

Window on Wildlife

 As I am sure you have noticed, there is a great deal of activity among the birds now.  As trees leaf out, many are now building nests which will be camouflaged from predators.  Bushes and shrubs are favorite nesting sites, as well.  Depending upon your patience (some would say boredom) you can locate nests by paying attention to the “bird traffic” around your house.  Sitting quietly where you can survey the surrounding trees and bushes, pay attention to vegetation that seems to have a particular species of bird entering and exiting regularly.  Right now there is nest-building and egg-laying happening.  Then it will be quiet for a bit while the eggs are incubated and then both parents will be busy feeding hungry mouths.

An interesting activity is putting out nesting materials.  If you have yarn, hair, thread, twine, etc., cut it into lengths from an inch or 2 to 6-8 inches, unravel the strands and offer it to the birds.  I use jute, soak it so it unravels somewhat and then I separate the fibers, draping it on the yew in front of my window.  The orioles are very busy right now gathering the strands.  Other birds like soft fibers and cotton-like material.

Unobtrusively, you can locate nests by checking the bush or tree with the traffic.  However, do not become a pest, for the birds may abandon the location.  Just the ordinary use of our yard discouraged the bluebirds who started to build a nest near our house. After the babies hatch, you can keep track of growth but be careful not to approach when they are close to fledging (leaving the nest) for they may panic, try to fly away unsuccessfully and be on the ground.  Then they are totally vulnerable and will probably perish.

Although we are all eager to get back to some form of “normalcy,” we are blessed in Foster to be able to stop and watch God’s creations right in our own yards.  Look closely at the tree as it goes from buds to flowers to leaves.  Watch the growth of plants you set out, paying attention to the details of its development.  Observe animal activity and rituals.  Instead of allowing yourself to become frustrated and depressed, embrace this slow-down as a time to bask in the luxuriousness of our beautiful environment and its creatures.  As you observe closely over the next weeks and months, paying attention to the small details, your experiences will be the equivalent of a course in environmental studies and it will be free!

Closing Reflection

The first Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) took place on May 30, 1868, more than 150 years ago today, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.  One of my professors, Father Henri J. M. Nouwen, known by contemporaries as “the spiritual writer who most influenced our generation,” wrote this prayer for Memorial Day, and it rings true today, in the suffering we see around us due to COVID-19, environmental devastation, violence and poverty.

Dear God,

with you everything is possible.

Let the cup of war,

killing and destruction,

the cup of bloodshed,

human anguish and desolation,

the cup of torture,

breakage in human relationships and abandonment…

Dear God,

Let this cup pass us by.

We are afraid.

We are trembling in the depths of our being.

We feel the sweat and tears

of thousands of people all over the world,

people who are afraid—

afraid to fight,

afraid to kill,

afraid of being killed,

afraid of an uncertain future.

Amen.  –Henri J.M. Nouwen

Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

————

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

***********************************************************************

MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #19

May 21, 2020

This is the nineteenth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 24, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 12:30 p.m.  The theme is, “God Is God, and I Am Not.” https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  Order of Worship is attached.

First Christian Church of Coventry (the Rice City Church)

Thanks to Sonja for this history from “The Churches of Foster: A History of Religious Life in Rural Rhode Island,” by Margery Matthews, Virginia Benson and Arthur Wilson.

 The prominence and influence of the Rice City Church on the spread of the Christian denomination in western Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut can hardly be over-stated.  Elder Douglass Farnum, a revival leader who had received a great deal of publicity, was invited to preach in Rice City in 1812.  People from near and far came to Rice City for salvation.  Kneeling they repeated the 26th verse of Acts II:  “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).  This was the beginning of the Christian Church in Coventry, and Farnum returned to Rice City many times.  At the time of the revival the Christian Church was only an embryo and would not become recognized as a national body until 1820.

While the foundation for the Christian Church in western RI was led by the charismatic Elder Douglass Farnum, an enduring structure was built by James Burlingame.  Baptized by Elder Farnum in 1812, he soon began preaching and was ordained in 1821.  In 1824 he was called to reorganize and restore the Christian Church of Coventry.  Having found his calling, Elder Burlingame devoted his life to conducting an itinerant ministry in Coventry, Scituate, Foster Center and Connecticut, frequently traveling over 40 miles a day, preaching in three different places.  In those days pastors were rarely paid salaries so, to support his large family, he depended on donations, his farm and teaching school.

The golden age of the church called Christian was from 1810-1840.  During that century there were churches or fellowships at Rice City, Foster Center, Moosup Valley, Mount Vernon, Clayville and Rockland in Scituate.  Rice City, with 450 members, had the largest membership ever registered by any church in the area.

 The Christians

They were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26)

Of all the United Church of Christ traditions, the Christian Churches were most uniquely American in origin and character. In Virginia, Vermont, and Kentucky, the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s stirred the hearts of quite disparate leaders and their followers with the impulse to return to the simplicity of early Christianity. The first group was gathered in 1794 in Virginia by a Revolutionary soldier, James O’Kelley. He, with many other Methodists, left the church over their objection to bishops. Methodism, they felt, was too autocratical. They wanted the frontier churches to be freed to deal with the needs and concerns that were different from those of the more established churches. They declared that the Bible was their only guide and adopted as their new name, the Christian Church.

A few years later, at Lyndon, Vermont, Abner Jones and his followers objected to Calvinist Baptist views. In 1801, they organized the First Free Christian Church, in which Christian character would be the only requirement for membership, and in which all who could do so in faith, were welcome to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Christ was seen to be more generous than to withhold Communion from all but those who had been baptized by immersion. Jones was later joined by Baptist Elias Smith, who helped to organize a Christian church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and began publishing, in 1808, the Herald of Gospel Liberty. Smith’s paper became a means of drawing the separate Christian movements together.

With a minimum of organization, other churches of like mind were established and the movement became known as the “Christian Connection.” The “Connection” had been organized in 1820 at the first United General Conference of Christians, during which six principles were unanimously affirmed:

  • Christ, the only head of the Church.
  • The Bible, sufficient rule of faith and practice.
  • Christian character, the only measurement for membership.
  • The right of private judgment, interpretation of scripture, and liberty of conscience.
  • The name “Christian,” worthy for Christ’s followers.
  • Unity of all Christ’s followers in behalf of the world.

Farmer Richard Waterman was concerned that this new denomination was moving into western Rhode Island, along with Free Will Baptists, and were preaching that all were “saved.”  He thought there should be a little more “fire and brimstone” and left $500 in bank stocks to pay for “Calvinistic Baptist preaching” within two miles of his homestead.  It is through the interest from that initial investment – the Waterman Trust – that Pastor Bob and I are compensated.

The Christians Led the Way: First to Ordain a Woman!

By Rev. Richard H. Taylor, Historian

By looking at one of her photographs you might perceive Ellen G. Gustin as a serious prim and proper Victorian woman. She was. But she was much more as well. She was a revival preacher. A series of meetings she held in 1877 at the Christian Church in Westerly, Rhode Island, caused such a commotion in town that it got national attention in an article in the Herald of Gospel Liberty. The local Church responded by calling her as their pastor.

But she was also the inspiration for the first known case of a denominational religious body changing its language to be gender inclusive. Ellen Gustin was the third woman to receive full ordination in the Christian denomination.  (Her actual ordination service was at the church to which she was called in West Mansfield, MA.)  While some women had been ordained earlier, those were often by ex parte councils that did not grant full standing in a denomination.

At the request of a local church, the September 1869 meeting of the Rhode Island and Massachusetts Christian Conference agreed to her ordination; the vote was taken at the Broad Street Christian Church in Providence, just up the street from Beneficent. What is even more astonishing is that the very next item in the Conference’s minutes votes “to alter the constitution so that the feminine gender be coupled with masculine wherever it occurs.”

Ellen Gustin served over twenty-three years as a pastor to three different churches. For many years she was the only ordained woman in New England.  But a great passion of hers was Foreign Missions. The American Christian Convention began its first foreign work in Japan in 1887. Within a year a Women’s Board for Foreign Missions was formed, with Gustin as the first Corresponding Secretary. Later she gave long service as the President of the Board.

Writing her annual report for the 1902 national Convention, she coupled her evangelical Christianity with a passion for women’s rights. She says there can be “no more encouraging sign of greatness of a people, community, state, or nation socially or politically, than the elevation of its women.” Writing nearly two decades before women had the right to vote, she uses her report to honor women scientists, authors and those in “halls of legislation, the professions of law, medicine, and theology [where women] have had their honored representatives.”

A Bit of the Past (Provided by Jeanne Lavoie)

From “Pleasant Places in Rhode Island”

Published about 1890

 “Rice City, wee hamlet as it is, makes a pretty picture as we come upon it over the rising road, the hard level turnpike running through it.  Two huge elms towering over the whole place before the big square.  Southward facing, house known as the Hutchinson Place [originally the Rice Tavern], birthplace of Judge Matteson.  The little white church here was known for years as the Christian Church, and their own Elder Burlingame, the first licensed state temperance lecturer, preached for 65 years.  It was this church that the old slave attended who is remembered still in the walled field known as the “Jack lot.”

“Jack was a slave kidnapped in the old fashioned when the slave trade most flourished, brought direct to Warren from the Guinea Coast with a young girl companion.  He was brought to Foster, where he proved a faithful and willing servant, though he never spoke but two words of the English language, which were, singularly enough, the two ones for a foreigner’s tongue, was January and February.  Jack had a deeply religious nature, and managed to convey the ideal of his wish to join the church, for he was an adept in his invented sign language.  Being examined by the church worthies, he gave them to understand that his religious beliefs were similar to Richard Waterman, a leading citizen.  This was satisfactory, and the old slave was admitted, and thereafter took part in the Conference meetings with great enjoyment, rising and repeating “January,” and “February,” numberless times with much solemnity and satisfaction.

“Jack worked hard, saved his money, bought himself and his kidnap companion, married her and ended his days in a bit of a home in the old Jack lot.”

 What Rice City Church Means To Me

By Michelle DiBiasio

 In the span of 24 months I lost both my mother and my father. A few weeks later my beloved dog died.  I lost my village.  I was lost.

I remembered years ago worshiping at Rice City Church with Mary Knowlton, who invited me to join her. I remembered how small and intimate the service was and how welcomed I felt. God works in mysterious ways, and I was led back to Rice City Church.

This church has become my family. Pastor Bob has been amazing. He has changed my life. Everyone there genuinely cares for each other and looks out for each other.

I am so grateful to Pastor Bob and my church family. I feel saved.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Carl’s cousin, The Rev. Mindy Reed, who is being scheduled for ablation for her atrial fibrillation, and her partner is going in for cataract surgery and possible corneal transplant.

Ø Joanne is home and continues her slow but steady progress in healing from brain surgery.

Ø Phyllis Dexter is hoping to have a stint put in soon.

Ø Janice Reynolds is in need of healing and strength in her legs.

Ø Everyone in the Sroka family has been retested for COVID-19, and they are awaiting results.  All are feeling much better.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures by Zoom.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Philippians:  The Rice City Bible Study has finished the Gospel of John and decided to focus on Paul’s letter to the Philippians when they met on Wednesday.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob by telephone.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

The Day Will Surely Come…

In anticipating our being able to return to our churches (with fewer than 20 people and modifications), hopefully soon, we will need gloves, masks, sanitizer, and wipes.  Pastor Bob has bought masks to supplement the ones you have made.  If you have leads on other supplies, please let me or Pastor Bob know.  We may never be back to “normal,” but the day will surely come when we will be back in our pews.

Closing Reflection

We often make our faith too complicated.  The Christians attempted to make it less so.  I love this poem by Mary Oliver, which says it all:    

 Mysteries, Yes
By Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

 Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

————

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Issue 19 – Order of Worship for May 24

***********************************************************

MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #18

May 16, 2020

This is the eighteenth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Call for information:  Historian Rev. Rick Taylor has sent me an article on the first woman ordained by a Christian church in Westerly, so I thought I’d focus on the Christians, one of the four denominations that came together to found the United Church of Christ.  And since we have The First Christian Church of Coventry, the Rice City Church, in our midst, I thought I’d share a little about that denomination in our newsletter next week.  Sonja is sending me some history about the Rice City Church from the “Churches of Foster,” and I invite members of Rice City to send me reflections about their church. 

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 17, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 12:30 p.m. with the theme:  “Being in the right place at the right time.” https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship is attached.

Rev. Betsy Reflects on Staying Connected

Read Acts 2:42-47 and Psalm 23

While the Gospels are the stories of Jesus and his mission and ministry, Acts of the Apostles is the story of the Early Church – actually more the story of the Jesus Movement before it became the early church.  But Acts tells us what happened to the disciples after the crucifixion and resurrection – what they did when they did not go back to fishing – and how the Holy Spirit rested like tongues of fire on them on the Day of Pentecost.

The text, above, immediately follows that Pentecost experience and gives us a window into the life of that primitive church:  how they gleaned everything they could about Jesus from those who had first-hand knowledge of him; how they shared everything they had with anyone in need; how they prayed together in the temple every day; and how they broke bread together in their homes.  Their joy was so great, the text tells us, that they attracted everyone around them, and their numbers grew by leaps and bounds!

The Teaching Assistant in my New Testament class described Acts as a “romantic novella,” a little novel.  There is history in it, of course, just as there is history in James Michener’s novel, “Hawaii,” – but history loosely held together.  What was tightly held together in the Early Church was their relationship with the life and ministry of Jesus as told by those who had spent three years with him on the mission front – stories about how he loved life, how he cared about people, how he healed them when they were sick and fed them when they were hungry. How Jesus treated everyone with love and respect – even if they were of a different race or class, even if they were a woman or child or slave who had no social standing, even if they were engaged in shady businesses like collecting taxes or prostitution.  No matter who they were or where they were on life’s journey, Jesus welcomed them into his company, into a place of shalom.

The early church feasted on these stories of Jesus, his love for the “least of these” and his works of mercy, and they connected to a vision of how life is meant to be lived and cared for. This, before the church was corrupted by power and the need for control. The text describes a church that stayed connected to Jesus and began a movement that changed the world.

In the 23rd psalm, a text often pared with this passage from Acts, we read, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” often read at memorial services.  Another meaning is suggested by the Jerusalem Bible’s translation of the familiar, “I shall not want,” as “I lack nothing.”  I have enough. With God, I am enough. Right now. Right here.  A lot of problems in life can be traced to a gnawing fear, a corrosive feeling that, “I am not enough.” Inadequate, lacking, insufficient, overlooked and under-valued — not enough.

If I get this, then I’ll be enough.  If I attain that, then I’ll be enough.  If they honor me, then I’ll be enough. All sorts of voices — parent’s voices, advertiser’s voices, coach’s voices, the devil’s voice — whisper to us, hiss at us, and play on our fears — “You are not enough.”  These are lies. With God, we are enough.  “I lack nothing,” sings the Psalmist. What boldness, joy, life. With you, O Lord, I am enough, and more than enough. My cup is full to overflowing.  By the grace of God, you are enough. Just as you are. Trust this, rise up and live.

And the members of the early church did rise up and live.  They were often called “People of the Way,” people who followed the revolutionary “way” of Jesus, the “way” that gave them worth and dignity and value in God’s eyes.  And everyone who heard about them wanted a piece of that action!

And they not only stayed connected with the revolutionary way of Jesus, they stayed connected with each other.  This is a good thing to remember in our world of technology and busyness, where emails and texts and tweets take the place of relationships, where we have lost the art of conversation and letter writing, where the list of errands, before COVID-10, squeezes out time for tea with a friend or a rock on the front porch with a neighbor.  Now we reply on Zoom to bring us together when we long to see each other’s faces.

Perhaps this is what our modern world has needed, some time off from noise and rushing about, from busyness to a time of quiet and contemplation and kindness.  A life that isn’t directed by television or computers or money, a life where the welfare of those around us is as important as our own, a life where we are in touch with the rhythm of nature and the simple moral guidance of the church. A period when the earth can recover from the damage that our pollution inflicts on it.

We are fortunate to live here in Greene and Foster, in our villages and in our valley, with our history of shared living and caring for our neighbors, and for this scripture from Acts about the first Christians which is easier to understand in the country than anywhere else. The Christian denomination tried to recreate that early experience.  More on that denomination in the next issue!

Spring!

 Ø  Ann writes, “I came across this poem on a website called On Being, and it soperfectly captures the feeling I experienced yesterday as I stood on Potter Road beside the wetland on our southern boundary, which is also the Foster/Coventry line.  Standing over the culvert that runs under the road, and looking west toward the Moosup River, the expanse of skunk cabbage is incredibly beautiful: lush beyond a small pool a few feet from the culvert pipe.  I stood for a while in awe of this unexpected wild beauty on the edge of our cultivated yard. Carol has mentioned several Wisdom Walkers who pass by lately, and I wonder if anyone has stopped to notice how such wild beauty hides itself in such as the overlooked, seldom appreciated, yet amazing areas inches from our roadsides. I hope you have a chance to take a look soon before the plants grow larger; it was a sunny morning, sun facing east into the wetland. This poem is spoken by a gentleman with a lilting Irish brogue which adds a special quality somehow.”  Click on https://onbeing.org/poetry/the-one/.  And if you can’t get hear the poem read, here are the words:

The One

By Patrick Kavanagh

Green, blue, yellow and red –
God is down in the swamps and marshes
Sensational as April and almost incred-
ible the flowering of our catharsis.
A humble scene in a backward place
Where no one important ever looked
The raving flowers looked up in the face
Of the One and the Endless, the Mind that has baulked
The profoundest of mortals. A primrose, a violet,
A violent wild iris – but mostly anonymous performers
Yet an important occasion as the Muse at her toilet
Prepared to inform the local farmers
That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful God
Was breathing His love by a cut-away bog.

Ø  Tracey writes, “I have three tulips in my yard, all by themselves. I had maybe a

dozen of them when I started, but through the years the chipmunks, I think, have been making a snack of them. Every year there a few less. I’m grateful when I see them coming up but am leery of the critters eating them. It’s okay they do because I don’t want anyone hungry. Critters or people. I worry about the hunger in the world. Now with the pandemic I know it’s worse. Not enough food in some places and not enough clean running water. I am grateful for what I have, and I have growing concern for others with much less, sometimes not enough of food and water for the day.”

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Carl’s cousin, The Rev. Mindy Reed, who is being scheduled for ablation for her atrial fibrillation, and her partner is going in for cataract surgery and possible corneal transplant.

Ø  Joanne is home and continues to improve, but still waiting for the swelling to go down.   She awaits the day when we can be back in church together again, and we await the day to hear her lovely voice!

Ø  The Sroka family is recovering.  Jane and Randy getting stronger day by day.  Ronnie is still busy taking care of everyone, though tired.  Jane plans to have the house professionally cleaned to be sure they are rid of the virus.

Ø  Rose’s relatives, the Pierre family, who have lost four members to COVID-19, including her cousin’s wife, a nurse practitioner and mother of three little ones.

Ø  Claire’s son, Jim, is much improved, with a normal temperature now.  He expects to move to the group home by the end of May.  However, Claire’s nephew in California is treating COVID-19 patients and so many have died, all ages!

 Keeping Perspective (Submitted by Jane Sroka)

American Author Unknown

Imagine you were born in 1900. On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war.

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years.

On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%.

When you turn 39, World War II starts. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish.

At 55 the Vietnam War begins. 4 million people perish in that conflict.

On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War.

When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that?

When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85 year old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art, refined as time goes on, and enlightening like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s try and keep things in perspective.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures by Zoom.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

New Topic Pending:  The Rice City Bible Study has finished the Gospel of John and will be meeting on Wednesday to determine what book of the Bible to study next.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob by telephone.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

The Day Will Surely Come…

In anticipating our being able to return to our churches (with fewer than 20 people and modifications), hopefully soon, we will need gloves, masks, sanitizer, and wipes.  Pastor Bob has bought masks to supplement the ones you have made.  If you have leads on other supplies, please let me or Pastor Bob know.  We may never be back to “normal,” but the day will surely come when we will be back in our pews.

Closing Reflection

 The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry

 When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)


Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Issue 18 – Order of Worship for May 17

************************************************************************

MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #17

May 13, 2020

This is the seventeenth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 Rev. Betsy Reflects on Truth and Trust

 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.  I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved (Ps. 16:1-2, 5-8).

 Scripture tells us that Pilate asks of Jesus, What is truth?  These days we wonder the same thing; it’s hard to tell with all the conflicting voices in the news.  Reading the psalms at our Bible Study Zoom sessions, some of us lament that it’s hard to know whom to trust.  Psalm 16, above, is known as a psalm of trust or confidence.  We can trust the broad sweep of scripture to tell us what God cares about, truth that is made manifest in the life of Jesus of Nazareth: the poor and the hungry, the lame and the blind, widows and orphans, the outsiders and uppity women.  It was his advocacy for those who were cheated and taken advantage of in the temple that threatened the religious and political leaders and their economic system, their privileged “way of life,” that finally got him arrested and killed.

So if Pilate cared about “truth” rather than just carrying out his job to keep the peace for Caesar during the Passover, he would have known that Jesus meant only goodness for the multitude.  So what do I trust as your pastor?  I trust and believe in the ministry of Jesus who taught us how life should be lived and cared for.  As the WWJD bracelet that some of you have worn asks, “What Would Jesus Do?”  So our first question when we are confronted with voices in the news, is to ask ourselves if a given action is in line with the Good News of the Gospel.  Poet Adrienne Rich asks:  “With whom do you cast your lot?”  I cast mine with the One whom John claimed was “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).  In other words, does this or that program or policy benefit the common good or only a few?

But, the world is more complicated these days than in Jesus’ day.  How do we sort out what is true and what is “fake” news?  Two summers ago, the University of Rhode Island published an article in their alumni magazine entitled, “The Age of Disinformation,” which highlighted the problem.  They noted that identifying credible sources of information – what’s factual versus what’s fabricated – is now one of the core competencies students are required to develop in order to graduate.  The author identified six types of fake news:  disinformation, propaganda, hoaxes, satire/parody, partisanship, and inaccuracies in journalism.  Honest mistakes always occur, of course, and newspapers are duty bound to correct them as soon as possible.

But this age of disinformation goes further – and it’s not new!  Examples of fake news go back as far as the 6th century.  And during the American revolution, Benjamin Franklin swayed British opinion by printing fake newspaper stories in London papers.  And even the Spanish-American War in 1890 was started by two New York newspapers competing with each other.

As a current example, the URI article begins with a story that circulated on the internet during the 2016 Presidential campaign that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a D.C. pizza parlor.  Where do these stories come from?  This one was conjured out of a WikiLeaks dump on a social media message board, and the idea floated through the internet on sites like InfoWars, picking up details that involved occult practices, and was intensified on Facebook and Twitter.  An unhinged story, put together like a puzzle out of whole cloth by a lot of players.

But this made-up story, through repetition, acquired the gloss of truth for some.  So much so, that a 28 year-old man from North Carolina showed up at the Comet Ping Pong Pizza parlor with an assault rifle and a handgun to save the imaginary child sex slaves.

Where do these stories come from?  The URI article cited young tech savvy webmasters in Eastern Europe, where jobs are scarce, who have discovered they can make a good living by creating websites, and they don’t care about their sources.  People read these stories, think they are real or funny, and circulate them to their network of family and friends.  And a man who cares about kids gets his rifle and gets in his truck.

People have always looked for easy answers that confirm what they already believe. And now we are so polarized as a country that we tend to stick with the news that tells us only what we want to hear – and we never listen to those that offer a different opinion and from whom we might learn.   It doesn’t help that television outlets – like Fox News and MSNBC, opposite ends of the political spectrum – often mix straight news reporting with their opinion.  And with the capacity of the internet to spread words across the globe with the click of a mouse, disinformation has become a big problem.

So what’s factual and what’s fake?  What word can we trust?  What word can we believe?  John’s Gospel says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  “And the Word became flesh and lived among us,..” making his case that Jesus is the Word.  This Jesus, who speaks the words of the Torah:  You shall love God and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  This Jesus, who speaks the word of the prophet Isaiah:  I have come to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captive, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed.

This Jesus, says John, is God with us.  This Jesus is God’s Word for our lives.  And this Word is not fake news.  This Word is true and trustworthy.  This Word is the Light that overcomes the darkness.  This Word is the Word by which we are to judge all other words.

Jesus, making God’s Word known to us, giving us power to become children of God, bringing to life God’s Word in us.  What’s in a word?  Nothing less than our life.  Our truth.  Our future.

Springtime Beauty

Beverly Griffith sent me a beautiful picture of her cherry tree with a cardinal perched on the top of a branch.  To share it with you, I am sending it as an attachment.

And Kim and I are enjoying all the bright tulips in bloom all over the Cape right now!  How are they in Rhode Island?

Morning Poem   (Submitted by Laurie Murphy)

by Mary Oliver

Every morning

the world

is created.

Under the orange

sticks of the sun

the heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches-

and the ponds appear

like black cloth

on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.

If it is your nature

to be happy

you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination

alighting everywhere.

And if your spirit

carries within it

the thorn

that is heavier than lead-

if it’s all you can do

to keep on trudging-

there is still

somewhere deep within you

a beast shouting that the earth

is exactly what it wanted-

each pond with its blazing lilies

is a prayer heard and answered

lavishly,

every morning,

whether or not

you have dared to be happy,

whether or not

you have ever dared to pray.

The Work of Our Hands

 Tracey was thinking about Carol’s horse stories and how beautiful they are.  It reminded her of something she engraved on a piece of wood for someone a couple of years ago, included below as an attachment.

Did anyone (besides me) make Barbara’s Cream Tea Scones?  They are delicious!  I warmed one up a couple of days later with butter and strawberry preserves.  The recipe was in Issue #11.  I’m going to make another batch soon.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

The Sroka family is still under quarantine due to still having symptoms and their doctor says this is still “uncharted territory.”  They are grateful that Randy is well and gaining strength – and keeping him this way and not relapsing is their goal.  Ronnie is still busy taking care of everyone, though tired.  They will see what next week brings.

Rose’s relatives, the Pierre family, who have lost four members to COVID-19, including her cousin’s wife, a nurse practitioner and mother of three little ones.

Joanne is home and continues to improve, but still waiting for the swelling to go down.   She awaits the day when we can be back in church together again, and we await the day to hear her lovely voice!

Claire’s son, Jim, is much improved, with a normal temperature for two days now.  He expects to move to the group home by the end of May.  However, Claire’s nephew in California is treating COVID-19 patients and so many have died, all ages!

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study.  Here’s how to participate:

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures by Zoom.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob by telephone.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)  Next week he continues in the Gospel of John 20-21.

Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 10, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 12:30 p.m. with the theme:  “Being in the right place at the right time.” https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

The Day Will Surely Come…

In anticipating our being able to return to our churches (with fewer than 20 people and modifications), hopefully soon, we will need gloves, masks, sanitizer, and wipes.  Pastor Bob has bought masks to supplement the ones you have made.  If you have leads on other supplies, please let me or Pastor Bob know.  We may never be back to “normal,” but the day will surely come when we will be back in our pews.

Benediction

To hear this sung, google The UK Blessing. (Suggested by Cheryl Hawes after she and her sister Kathy received the Video from a friend.  Note:  This was the benediction at their Dad’s memorial service in 2015.  But it is especially moving when sung.   )

May God bless you and keep you.

May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

May God look upon you with kindness and give you peace.

 Weekly Offerings may be mailed for: 

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827),

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

Rice City to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).

————

Reverend Betsy can be reached at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com or 401-463-8697.

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Attachments    cherry tree                  Issue 17 – Horse quote for newsletter – Tracey

*******************************************************************

MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #16

May 9, 2020

This is the sixteenth issue of our E-newsletter, “Gather ‘Round,” to call us together through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  If you have a tale to tell or a perspective to share, please send it on for the next issue!

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. 

Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab marked “Gather ‘Round E-Newsletter.”

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 10, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 12:30 p.m.  Pastor Bob will celebrate Moms and all those who help to take care of us and set us an example for how to live.  The songs will be in the Public Domain, so there should be no interruption from Facebook this week.  Go to

https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship is attached.

 I Remember Momma!

I was my mother’s firstborn.  Moms aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I was her favorite. She loved me so much. I could always count on my mother to be my biggest fan. I miss you Mom. Happy Mother’s day!  (Michelle)

My mother was my best friend!  She loved to garden. When my sister and I were little, she made all of our dresses, and her mother made our coats for Easter Sunday.  She loved all of her children and her grandchildren.  I miss her every day!  (Laila)

My mom was an avid reader, writer, lover of British comedies. She started a book club and a bible study in Orleans where we lived for many years. She loved to swim, and we trekked to the beach almost every day in the summer. She loved antiques and had several antique shops on the Cape at different times. She was a liberal woman. She fought for civil rights and women’s rights. We had a VW bus with “No Nuke” bumper stickers. She and my dad had dear friends who held the same values. I miss my mom dearly, and I will miss her especially this Mother’s Day, as we always gathered at my mom’s home to celebrate her! This will be my first Mother’s Day without her here.  (Laurie)

My mother was amazing.  She was the one who cut the grass with the old-fashioned push mower, made repairs on the house, baked the most awesome Swedish coffee bread, and never swore, but when upset would say, “O shoot!”  The house was always immaculate, and she’d be disgusted with me!  She wouldn’t laugh like we do; it would be a “ach, ach, ach,” with a Swedish accent.  We knew she loved us even though she didn’t express it with hugs and kisses.  (Martha)

My mother was a hard worker, bringing up six children.  She was a fabulous cook who was known for a chocolate cake she made without a recipe that no one could reproduce.  She crocheted afghans for all of her children and grandchildren before she died. (Phyllis)

My mother was a hard-working, dedicated, unpretentious, goodhearted soul who was extremely dedicated to her family, her church (MVCCC) and her community.  (Sonja)

I am lucky I still have my mom.  She will be 92 on May 19th.  She is and has been a very strong woman and very good natured.  She was the glue that kept our family of four kids together when we were growing up, the one who brought laughter to our home, and made the best Irish stew.  She is in a nursing home of her choosing, taking that decision out of her children’s hands.  She is a wonder.  (Joan)

A deeply broken woman from childhood abuse by her father, my mother suffered from many fears. But she was also a gorgeous woman with an exquisite sense of style. Also a deeply loving woman; Ginny was compassionate to friends and strangers. And always, always so loving towards and proud of me. “The sweetest kid I could ever have hoped for.” (Kim)

Besides the faith in God that my mother shared with me through songs, scripture, prayer, and service to others, the thing I remember her saying is that she “was put on earth to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”  (Pastor Bob)

One day I came home from school heavy-hearted because I was afraid I had failed an exam.  I got as far as the yard where my mother was out raking leaves and burst into tears.  She wrapped her arms around me and said, if I did fail the course, that I could go to summer school and make up the credit – like she had done once!  Perhaps this is when I learned to trust, in the words of mystic Julian of Norwich, that “All shall be well. And all shall be well.  And all manner of things shall be well.” (Rev. Betsy)

 And Pat has had something hanging on her wall that her mother wrote for her birthday many years ago, “A Snippet for Pat,” sharing how pleased they were to have a girl as well as her six-year-old brother, Bill.  She writes of your toddler years, “Your brother Bill would be at Boy Scout meetings, and Dad, you and I would go over to church to meet Bill.  When we arrived, or I should say, when you arrived, the boys would literally scoop you up and place you on the kitchen counter where you entertained them with smiles, laughter and clapping your hands.”  She was so proud of you and felt blessed to have a daughter!

Sometimes the mothers do the remembering.  Here is a poem that Priscilla’s mom wrote recently when her Independent Living Facility did a newsletter.  They are quarantined in their rooms, so the facility was creating things for them to do. She turns 95 in September.

BEING 95

ALL THE THINGS I WANTED TO DO,

I’VE DONE.

I REMEMBERED THE DAY WHEN I WAS REALLY ALIVE,

THAT WAS WHEN I WAS 25.

I THINK 55 WAS SORT OF A BORE,

I GOT A LOT DONE BUT MOST WAS JUST A

CHORE.

65 WAS REALLY DIRE,

THEY TOLD ME I HAD TO RETIRE.

ALL THOSE OLDEN DAYS THEY TELL ME

I SHOULD RECALL.

TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH,

I’VE HAD A BALL!

By Ellie, 94

Rev. Betsy Reflects:  Remembering Mother Eagle

Our scriptures are full of metaphors for God, figures of speech to make a comparison between two things that aren’t alike but do have something in common.  God is like, for example, a loving Father, but there are many other metaphors in our Bibles.

One of my favorites is that of God as Mother Eagle.  The ancients, who spent more time studying the sky than we do, knew that it is the mother eagle who decides when it is time for flight practice and pushes the chicks out of the nest.  The eaglets struggle to fly, and when it seems that they will surely be dashed on the rocks, mother eagle flies underneath them and lifts them up on her wings.  My old King James Bible reads, “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:  so the Lord alone did lead him, . . ” (Deuteronomy 32:11-12a, KJV).  It is unfortunate that later translators changed “her” to “it” or even “his” to accommodate their own biases that God is only “Father.”  You are familiar with this metaphor because we often sing, “And God will raise you up on eagles wings, bear you on the breath of dawn….”

Also in the Old Testament, Isaiah portrays God as a nursing mother when he writes, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?  Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (49:15, NRSV).  God loves us like a nursing mother – yet, even though a human mother may fail her children, Mother God will never forget her little ones.  In Job, Yahweh (God) speaks out of the whirlwind, with a passage full of homey images that are reminiscent of raising a toddler:

Who shut in the sea with doors / when it leaped tumultuous out of the womb, When I wrapped it in a robe of mist / and made black clouds its swaddling bands; When I marked the bounds it was not to cross / and made it fast with a bolted gate?

Come thus far, I said, and no farther . . .  Job 38:8-11.

Yes, and there are many other texts that portray God as a mother caring for difficult and disobedient children.  In the New Testament, Shepherd Jesus seeks to protect his flock.  Looking out over Jerusalem, both the gospels of Matthew (23:37) and Luke (13:34) report that Jesus lamented that his ministry was rejected:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those that are sent to it!  How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

We should not miss that Jesus longed to gather the city under his wings like a mother hen.  I’ve heard the phrase, “Jesus our Brother;” might we, then, think of “Jesus our Mother,” as did the Middle Ages’ mystic Julian of Norwich?  After all, Jesus chastises us for our unkind and life-killing behavior toward each other and invites us, like children, to cuddle in the safety of her wings.

And when hungry people were gathered on the hillside, Jesus divided bread and fish to feed the multitude.  In John’s gospel, Jesus calls himself the living bread, the bread of life, the bread from heaven (6:31-35) – even though we know that, in first century Palestine, it was the women who did the baking.   And God not only bakes, but she sweeps.  In chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells three lost-and-found stories:  the lost sheep, the prodigal son, and sandwiched between them, the lost coin and the woman who sweeps her house until she finds it.  The writer of Luke is careful to balan