Gather ‘Round E-News- During COVID-19 Crisis

Gather ‘Round E-News

Rev. Betsy A. Garland

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

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

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

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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

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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 balance his metaphors to appeal to women who are listening – as well as to men.

For the Bible reader who has eyes to see and ears to hear, then, God is portrayed as both Father and Mother – a good message for a 21st century Mother’s Day.

Window on Wildlife

 Sonja brought my attention to the live camera feed of Peregrine Falcon hatchlings in a nest box located 26 floors above the city in Providence’s “Superman Building,” brought to you by Audubon Society.  They have a brood of four chicks.  One adult is currently keeping the babies warm while the other hunts and brings back a carcass to feed the family.  If you google “peregrine falcon cam ri,” you can watch the little ones moving around under Momma’s wings. When she is just sitting on the young, you have to watch closely to see any movement, but it gets interesting when feeding occurs.  This is definitely worth watching!

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

The Sroka family has survived COVID-19.  Randy has been fever free for a week and is gaining strength.  Jane’s fever is down, but she’s very weak. Ronnie’s incredible care kept them out of the hospital and alive, even while ill himself.  Jane describes this devastating disease as a “nightmare.”

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 and awaits the day when we can be back in church together again.

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.

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.

A Prayer for Mothers

O Great Spirit, whose care reaches to the uttermost parts of the earth; we humbly beseech thee to behold and bless those whom we love, now absent from us, and defend them from all dangers of soul and body. –Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal)

 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 40

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Issue 16 – Worship Script for May 10 (1)

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

MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #15

May 6, 2020

This is the fifteenth 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 this “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 “Gather ‘Round” E-Newsletter.

Sunday is Mothers’ Day: Make It Personal!

Sunday is Mother’s Day and, while we can’t gather to celebrate in person, we still can remember our mothers and share what they mean/meant to us in the next issue of “Gather ‘Round.”  Send a simple memory or very brief story to

BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.  Finish the statement, “I remember Momma when _____.”  Or, “I could always count

on my mother to ______.”  Or, “When I was happy/sad/hurt/scared, she would _______.”  Or, “No matter how tired she was ________.”  Or, tell us if she liked to sing or raise flowers, cook or sew, worked outside the home to put food on the table, taught Sunday School, ran church events or PTA or Grange.  You get the idea!  They don’t have to be happy thoughts.  Not everyone’s home was happy, and if your childhood was traumatic, we will grieve with you.  Email (or phone me) your contribution by Friday noon!  (I won’t publish your name unless you ask me to.)

Rev. Betsy Reflects:  When Did We See You Sick? 

Read Matthew 25:31-46

The world is in turmoil.  Nations spar with nations.  The sea rises and storms intensify. Refugees flea violence and children die of hunger.  And in the midst of it all, a virus lurks, unseen, ready to invade our cells and make us sick, or worse!

While we are busy tending to our own lives and all the inconveniences and fears and troubles (and, yes, griefs) that COVID-19 has foisted upon us, some of us are suffering more than others.  In “Gather ‘Round” issue #13, I summarized four new “classes” of people emerging from this pandemic:  The Remotes, The Essentials, The Unpaid, and The Forgotten.  The virus is affecting us disproportionately.

Some of us are “Remotes,” those of us who are professional “white collar workers,” who, aside from having cabin fever and the complications of working from home, are more likely to be white and middle class.  But we are able to stay out of harm’s way by sheltering in place, going out only for groceries and pickups at the pharmacy drive-through window.

Those of us who are “Essentials,” those of us who are hands-on “blue collar workers,” especially health care employees, are more likely to be black and brown – and we are getting sicker and dying at a greater rate.  We cannot stay safe when we are caring for others in hospitals and nursing homes, staffing our emergency services, gathering our orders from shelves in warehouses.  We are exposed more often and, on top of that, we are exhausted!

On April 3, the American Medical Association, representing some 250,000 doctors, implored the Department of Health and Human Services to release coronavirus data by race.  “It is well documented that social and health inequities are longstanding and systemic disturbances to the wellness of marginalized, minoritized and medically underserved communities,” the doctors wrote.  And further, “While COVID-19 has not created the circumstances that have brought about health inequities, it has and will continue to severely exacerbate existing and alarming social inequities along racial and ethnic lines.”

Not only has Governor Raimondo and Health Department Director Doctor Alexander-Scott noticed, but also the United Church of Christ.  Our Southern New England UCC staff, including Rev. Marilyn Kendrix whom we know well, writes “While this medical and economic emergency is having a severe impact on everyone in America, this impact pales when compared to what is being experienced by our African American communities and other communities of color.”

And in the midst of this pandemic, where in the world is Jesus?  This was a big question for the first followers of Jesus.  He was not in the tomb, but where was he?  They did not remember that he had told them exactly where he would be – wherever someone feeds the hungry or gives drink to the thirsty, welcomes the stranger, gives clothing to the naked, cares for the sick and visits those in prison.  Where in the world is Jesus?  He is where we are when we care for God’s people.  Regardless of what “new class” the virus has put us in, this concerns us!  We are called to pay attention and to speak up.  I have attached our leaders’ “Pastoral Letter on the Disparate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color,” for more information.

Coloring Pages – Not Just for Kids!

 Sandra Moore of the United Methodist Federal Credit Union and a friend and colleague,

has created three coloring pages – “Faith,” “Hope,” and “Thank You” – which you can

color in with crayons or markers and then send to essential service workers and anyone

who could use a boost of appreciation.  I have attached all three below (in one PDF file,

8 ½ x 11, end-to-end) for you to download.  It will do your heart good as well.

Medical Debt

Medical debt in this country is a huge problem, causing the poorest among us to cut back on some of the most important necessities, including food and clothing, while simultaneously putting them at risk of having needed heath care services refused.  Not only has the UCC nationally raised money to help, but also it is one of the first justice actions the new Southern New England Conference is working on in our region.

This is a problem that can be addressed. With every $100 raised, we can eliminate $10,000 in medical debt in some of the neediest Southern New England communities, including Springfield, Bridgeport, Hartford, and Providence.  How?  By working with the nonprofit, RIP Medical Debt, the same organization that worked with Chicago area churches to erase $5.3 million in debt and with St. Louis area churches to erase $12.9 million there.  This is a very good deal – a small investment with a huge payout!

I have already made a contribution in my own name because I have seen in my own family how crippling medical debt can be.  But it would be good if our churches stepped up as well.  Please consider sending a check to Pat, Moosup Valley Church treasurer (see below), and which church she should credit.  And I will make another contribution to match yours!  (But do it soon; the deadline is May 18th!)

Tracey’s Adventure!

Nature is a wonderful thing. I love to be outside working, enjoying the sun.  Even in the cold of the winter, I love the snow and the crisp clean feel of the air – as long as there isn’t too much wind.  I’m not a wind lover; I stay inside hiding from it.

Karen and I are planting a garden this year.  We’ve talked about it for many years but couldn’t decide on a spot.  We have one now.  On the weekend we erected a 5×5 prefab green house. Karen planted some seeds in little pots, and we put them in there. Well, yesterday, the wind blew it over.  I was talking on the phone; one minute it was fine, and the next time I looked, it was on its side. I stood it back up, weighted it down with rocks, picked up the pots.  Some were fine, others need some work or a complete overhaul.

I am not really the gardener; Karen is – from a long line of planters. Being from Ireland, her father always had a garden and gave us more vegetables than we could ever eat or give away.  So Karen aspires to be a robust gardener, too.  Last year she started lots of little pots which we took in and out of the house every day.  My job was to move the containers, dig the land, carry the dirt, move the rocks, ready the space.

Last year, the little pots started to sprout. Still we were taking them in and out because it was chilly in the mornings and overnight.  When some of the veggies were about two inches tall or so, I came out one evening to bring them in.  I looked, and looked again, and was surprised to see that all the little sprouts were gone.  Something had snacked on them.  Everything was gone.  Now the worst to come, I have to tell Karen that something happened to her little plants.  Hence, this year a green house.

So yesterday when I saw the greenhouse on its side, I again had to tell her the news. She was sad to go out to the yard and see the greenhouse on the side, the plant pots astray inside.  Today she went out and straightened up the little pots, committed to trying again.  This year we will have a Victory Garden!

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Everyone in the Sroka family, struggling with COVID-19, better now with Ronnie’s incredible care that kept them out of the hospital and alive, even while ill himself.  Fevers are down and they are getting stronger.

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, still very tired from the surgery, but being well taken care of by David and Viana.  She appreciates our prayers and expression of love.

Claire’s son, Jim, who continues to recover from COVID-19.

 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.)  Tonight he continues in the Gospel of John, chapter 20.

Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 10, will be on Facebook Live on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish page at 12:30 p.m. – 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.

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)

2 Attachments        Issue 15 – Faith_Hope_ThankYou_coloring_pages                                  Southern New England Conference UCC – Issue 15 – Pastoral+Letter+4-23-2020 

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #14

May 2, 2020

This is the fourteenth 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!

Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 3, will be on Facebook Live on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish page at 12:30 p.m.  Pastor Bob will look at “Popularity, Wealth, Kindness, Security,” https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The software is upgraded, so the reception should be improved!  To follow along, the Order of Worship is attached.

 Rev. Betsy Reflects on Life Abundant

 Read John 10:1-10

Most of us don’t know much about sheep, even if we live in Foster.  But if we were to visit Africa, we might see how the people of a village know each other’s sheep the way neighbors here know each other’s children and each other’s dogs.  We could be sitting in the village square, and a person would stop by, “Have you seen my sheep, Mary?” identifying his own sheep by name.  And through the dark night we would hear villagers calling out names.  “They are calling their sheep,” we would be told. “They will all find each other.”  The people who heard Jesus’ words in the first century knew about sheep, like the people in the village in Africa.

In traditional agrarian societies across the world, farmers would construct an enclosure for the sheep, often a stone wall adjacent to the house, perhaps topped by branches of thorns to discourage climbing.  To get in and out, there would be one gate which could be locked shut to prevent anyone from coming in to steal the sheep.  Theft was common, and the loss of even one animal could be devastating, since sheep provide meat and milk and clothing as well as a source of trade between farmers.

In the story John tells, there also is a “gatekeeper” who guards the entrance, particularly at night. This would imply that the sheepfold was sufficiently large to justify a hired hand as a gatekeeper.  Often several families would agree to pen their herds together.  At night, the gatekeeper would stretch out across the entrance to protect the flock with his own body.  In the morning, the shepherd would call his own sheep who knew the sound of his voice and followed him.

And so it is that John’s gospel capitalizes on the ancient metaphor of the Messiah as a shepherd, a Biblical narrative that fulfills the ancient prophecy.  The story gives him the platform to declare that Jesus is that shepherd and to proclaim Jesus’ role in God’s plan:  “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Today’s lesson is of the “good shepherd” who takes us from our separate lives and brings us together as a community – where everyone is safe and cared for and nurtured – that we may have life abundant.

This image of the Good Shepherd also calls us back to a time of simplicity, sacrifice, and solidarity – needed in a world where so many have lost their way.

 Celebrating Earth Day Everyday — Carol Allen Reflects

Being on the farm each day helps one appreciate the fact that if it was not for nature, what would we truly have?  Living on a small farm, I am blessed to have all of nature’s beauty around me every minute of the day.

My conversations with Ron each morning are generally centered around farm talk or what project needs tending to. Each day an array of duties needs to be performed if you are to keep God’s creatures safe, happy, and content.  Your reward is their respect, love, gentleness, and gratitude.

If you truly want to feel grounded and one with nature, take a ride on the back of a horse in the woods, plant a garden or some flowers and watch them grow and produce their beauty, go for a hike in the woods and breath in all its wonder, or go for a walk on a clear night, look up, and see the endless vast of stars.

When I’m with nature, it allows me to forget the stress and anxiety we are enduring during these difficult times.  So, when you are struggling with all that is going on around you, turn to nature to comfort you and give you strength.  After all, God created nature for humans to enjoy, feel free, and explore a world that has endless beauty.

I wanted to share one of my favorite poems by William Wordsworth with you all.

Daffodils

By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

The Meaning of Land

Carol has shared what the farm and nature mean to her and Ron.  And it rings true to Kim and me as we shelter in place on the Cape in Mashpee, ancestral home of the Wampanoag tribe.  Right now the tribe is in need of our prayer and action in their battle with the federal government to retain their reservation status.  From an article in Cape

Cod Times on April 27: “A Wampanoag woman might say:  What if the meaning of home is more than the house you live in and the land that surrounds it?  What if home is the Mashpee River running with herring, the circling of osprey, the color of the morning sky over Punkhorn Point, the lay of the land when winter unfolds, the returning of the peepers every spring, the many colors of green in the pines and grass, the scent of warm damp earth and moss under bare feet, the garden waiting for seeds, the wind on the path between Mashpee and Wakeby Ponds, the fire for tobacco offering and prayer…  what if all these things arehome?  What if the heart of your home is the community you love?  “A white man might say:  I was born in 1953 and lived a privileged life as a white American male.  However, at the age of 15, I became aware that this privileged life I had known was not available to everyone, as I had been led to believe.  Today, my heart continues to ache for my Native American neighbors for all the suffering they and their families have and continue to experience from the racism of my people. I say now is a time for us, the nonnative people of this nation, to stand in support with the Mashpee Wampanoag Nation, just as their ancestors were there for the Colonists 400 years ago, welcoming them, feeding them, and keeping them alive.”

The Tribe is suffering a massive loss of resources and services due to the uncertainty of the trust status of the Reservation. Millions of dollars of funding are being lost or delayed for clean water program, children’s education through their Mukayuhsak Weekuw immersion pre-school and kindergarten, and critical community service programs. It’s also a direct threat to their emergency services, housing, and substance abuse program. So in addition to preparing for court proceedings on Tuesday, the Wampanoag people have been holding sacred prayer fires, often for days at a time, praying to the tribe’s ancestors for help, as they have been going through a similar fight for hundreds of years.  And the Native Land Preservation Action committee invites us all to pray for the Wampanoag in their time of need.  And, if we can, to light a fire or a candle. We are all one family inhabiting this sacred earth. We need to stop standing apart and come together as one to survive and to thrive.  Justice for one is justice for all.  Claire at Moosup Valley tells me that other tribes across the country are facing the same reservation land-grab.  If you feel called to take a simple action, you can sign their petition (as I have done).  Google Land is Sacred: Stand With the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe,” and a petition will come up through MoveOn.org.  A petition willalso come up through the Southwest Conference of the UCC because reservations in their region are suffering the same fate.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

The Sroka family, all of whom have COVID-19.  Randy is improving, but Jane has a way to go.  Ronnie is still holding his own.

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 continues to recover in ICU at RI Hospital and expects to be home early in the week.  David appreciates all our thoughts and prayers.

Claire’s son, Jim, who continues to recover from COVID-19.

 Window on Wildlife

Sonja writes, “The hummers are back!  The first male ruby-throated hummingbird was spotted at our feeder on April 28.  Flying from Central America where they winter, usually across the Gulf of Mexico, the birds often return to where they were born.  Often one can be spotted peering in a window where the feeder hung last year as if saying, “Hey, I’m back!  Where’s the food?”  Males arrive first and the females follow.  In late August the males depart first, before the females.  Occasionally there may be a tenacious male who lingers, guarding his favorite feeder, allowing no one else to use it.  They are a pugnacious bunch and will even dive bomb people who encroach on ‘their feeder.’

“Males have a bright ruby-colored throat and females have a white throat so, upon close inspection, it is easy to tell the sexes apart.  Finding nests can be difficult for they are camouflaged with lichen on the outside and are made with spider webs holding soft plant material together.  They are smaller than a baseball and are located in trees, often 10-40 feet above ground.  Usually 1 to 3 eggs are laid.”

(Betsy adds:  Scientists tells us that a hummingbird flaps its wings about 50 times/second, and its heart beat is about 1,600 times/second.  For us humans, it’s about 4 and 125, respectively.  Physicist Alan Lightman wrote, “…when I’m looking at the birds, suspended in space, I don’t think numbers or gravity I just watch and am amazed.”)

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited or check for the Zoom meeting notice.

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob, resuming on May 6, now by telephone call.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)  You won’t be able to see each other, but the voices will be clear.  This week it’s about the resurrection stories about Mary and Jesus, Peter and John from the Gospel of John, chapter 20.

Chief Seattle Speaks

In 1876, all Native Americans are ordered to move into reservations. Teach your children what we have taught our children—that the earth is our mother.  Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.  If men spit upon the ground, They spit upon themselves. This we know. The earth does not belong to us; We belong to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.We did not weave the web of life; We are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web,we do to ourselves.

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)      Issue 14 – Worship Script for May 3

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #13

April 29, 2020

This is the thirteenth 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!  Since it’s spring, I would love to receive some stories about putting in a garden or cleaning up the yard, sprucing up an out-building or digging a fire pit, painting the barn or building a tree-house.  Surely someone has something to share with all of us!  (You don’t need to be a great writer to send me something for “Gather ‘Round.”)

 The Buildings Are Closed;

The Church Is Open!

Shalom:  Rev. Betsy Reflects

 When Bob Salisbury died a week ago today, the Moosup Valley Church community was stricken!  Emails flew back and forth, telling stories about Bob and what an important part of the community he was.  More often than not, people remembered how he would greet people after church with a handshake and “Shalom.”  As his pastor, I would visit him at Coventry Health Center, and whenever I would ask him what he’d like to pray for, he would say “peace.”

Now we might think that Shalom means peace, but that’s only partly true, because Shalom has a deeper and broader meaning than the absence of conflict.  The kids stop bickering in the yard, the neighbor stops complaining, the sirens stop wailing, and we breathe a sigh of relief, “Peace!”  I believe Bob understood that, when he prayed for peace, that he was wanting more than quiet.  He wanted people to get along with each other; he wanted the politicians to stop throwing mud at each other, the gun-owners and gun-control advocates to listen to each other, the nations to work out their differences, the world’s religions to recognize what they have in common.  Bob wanted more than the cessation of conflict; he wanted Shalom.

Shalom appears 237 times in our Bibles with various meanings, primarily tranquility, security, and especially “wholeness.”  In the Old Testament, when Numbers 6:26 says, “May God lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace,” the word “peace” is Shalom.  In the New Testament, in Luke 2:14, when the angel says, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace,” the word “peace” is Shalom.  And while Shalom may be a greeting for an individual, it also may be a blessing for the entire community as in these two situations.  So Shalom is not just peace, but peace with justice for all.

In fact, there can be no Shalom without wholeness and justice, its foundation.  Wholeness for everyone.  I am not whole until everyone is whole.  These days we might think of Shalom as working for the common good. This may not always sit well with our American spirit of independence and entrepreneurial spirit.  We rush to the store to stock up without thinking about those who come after and find the shelves empty.  We rally to liberate our states without thinking about those who will die if we open up too soon.  We lose sight of the common good, of wholeness for everyone, of Shalom.

Although we never talked about this specifically, I believe Bob Salisbury understood this.  He trusted his Creator.  He lived simply and honestly.  He cared about people and was wise and kind.  We pray that he has found the Shalom in death that he lived in life.  He will be missed!

Before you know what kindness really is

By Naomi Shihab Nye

 Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness…

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

The Great Coronavirus Divide

 Years ago I saw a film titled “Who you are is where you were when.”  The idea is that we are shaped by the world we grew up in, our family circumstances, the experiences we have had, what has happened to us along the way.  People who grew up during the World War and rationing, for example, are savers; a person who is loved as a child grows up to feel that she is lovable and capable; another person who grew up with an alcoholic parent, has had to learn to be sensitive to moods and to take more responsibility at home; a child who grew up in a home with books and has a good education is at an advantage in the marketplace.  You get the idea.  We all are different, and we view the world differently.  Even children in the same family grow up differently because the birth of each new child means that they are born into a new family.

So what will COVID-19 mean to us?  Are we restless because we are cooped up?  Are we experiencing PTSD because we have to report for work every day?  Are we out of work and afraid we will lose our homes?  Are we so ill that we pray to die?  I wonder if it isn’t a matter of this:  who we are and where we sit (and stand) as we live through this pandemic.  Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor, writes about four new classes of people emerging, and I wonder how you and will come out of this crises and how we can help each other.  They are:

The Remotes:  People like me who can work from home – professionals, managers, teachers, technical workers – about 30-35 % of the workforce.  We are inconvenienced, and some of us may even have lost some income.  But we are trying new things, learning new things.  We will be okay.

The Essentials:  People like my children who provide dispatch and warehouse services, health care workers and pharmacy workers, farm hands and food processors, truck drivers and police officers, firefighters and sanitation crews – about 30% of the workforce, many of them women.  They go to work at great risk to themselves and their families, often without the supplies and support they need.  Many, not all, do not have adequate income, health insurance, and paid sick leave to begin with.  Many have historically been under-appreciated in the workforce.  We depend on them.  I pray that they will be able to depend on us when this is over to advocate for better working conditions for them.

The Unpaid:  People who have lost their jobs because they have been furloughed or have used up their paid leave – about 25% of the workforce.  Almost half of adults have lost their jobs or someone in their families has, and that means health care, too.  They are the retail and restaurant and hospitality workers, the hairdressers and massage therapists.  They are getting desperate and would rather risk going back to work (“reopen the economy”) to put food on the table long before it’s safe.  What can we do for them?

The Forgotten:  People most of us don’t see – in prisons, homeless shelters, nursing homes, on Native American reservations – people already in poor health.  Because they are often living in crowded conditions and health care resources are scarce, they are likely to become infected disproportionately, and it will be harder to contain the virus for months, if not years.  How can we advocate for services for them?

We are all in this together.  The pandemic will impact us differently, for sure, depending on which of the groups we are in.  But we are interconnected and dependent on each other.  COVID-19 has made that clear!  Either we look out for each other – or we fail as a society.  This is a pivotal moment for America as we know it.  This is a moment that tests our faith.

For your reflection, I am attaching a prayer, Poverty Amidst Pandemic: A Moral Response to the Pandemic – A Litany, from the Poor People’s Campaign, endorsed by the UCC with participation by our much loved Rev. Traci Blackmon. 

 This just in from Carol at Foster DHS

DHS can use the following items to keep pantry shelves stocked:  soup, pasta, cereal, coffee, canned proteins (tuna, ham, Spam, chicken) and canned fruit.  They are located at Foster Town Hall, 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825.
Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

The Sroka family – Jane, Ronny, and Randy – who have COVID-19 and are very ill, for strength and breath and support.

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.

Pat and Carl’s son, Peter, who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

Joanne who is recovering nicely physically but having trouble with the isolation.  She will be in ICU for a few more days, then hopefully home or rehab.

The residents of Woodpecker Hill Health Center, all of whom, so far, are virus free!

Claire’s son, Jim, who continues to recover from COVID-19.

Window on Wildlife

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and after I send this “Gather ‘Round,” I’m going for a walk.  And I’m going to look for ravens with this hint from Sonja: “Have you seen some large “crows” lately but noticed their voice seemed unusual?  It was not the usual “caw, caw, caw.” We have ravens locally. It is hard to tell the difference visually, though a raven’s beak is heavier and you might notice shaggy throat feathers.  The voice is the notable difference.  A raven is several inches longer than a crow and in flight they “flap and glide” while a crow “flaps.”

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited or check for the Zoom meeting notice.

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob, resuming on April 29, when they will look at Chapters 19-20.  To join the Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82510374020?pwd=bEp6eC9PNFpqV1prL3ViZytMRDkydz09

Meeting ID: 825 1037 4020
Password: 028468    Phone number if you need it:  +16465588656

Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 3, will be on Facebook Live on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish page at 12:30 p.m.  Pastor Bob will look at “Popularity, Wealth, Kindness, Security,” https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

We give because someone gave to us

By Alberto Rios

We give because someone gave to us.

We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.

We give because giving could have changed us…

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,

Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.

Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you

What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

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)

Issue 13 – Poverty Amidst Pandemic

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #12

April 25, 2020

This is the twelfth 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!

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, April 26, will be on Facebook Live on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish page at 12:30 p.m.  Pastor Bob will look at “A Wonderful Thing Happened on the Way to Prayer” from Acts 3:1-10:  https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship is attached.

When All Seems Lost:  Rev. Betsy Reflects

Read Luke 24:13-35

Your best friend, your beloved leader, your only hope for your beloved Israel, has been killed by the Romans:  You watched his suffering, how he cried out to God, “Why have you forgotten me!”  And you don’t know where to put yourself, what to do, how you will go on.  And so you hit the road to Emmaus. A walk will give you a purpose, occupy your mind, calm the restlessness.

Theologian Frederick Buechner suggests that Emmaus is probably not an actual, physical village, even though it may show up on a map in our Bibles.  He suggests instead that Emmaus is the place where “we throw up our hands and say ‘Let the whole damned thing go to hang.  It makes no difference anyway.’”  It’s the place of desolation.  It’s the young mother holding her stillborn baby, counting her toes before handing her over to the hospital morgue.  It’s COVID-19.

And then a stranger joins the disciples on the road, falls into step, engages them in conversation.  They fill him in on the latest events, how their leader Jesus was crucified by the Romans, and how, this very morning, his body was found stolen by women who had gone to the tomb to anoint him.  The stranger takes this news in stride.  Says it was foretold by the prophets.  He walks them through the scriptures.  They relax in his company, whoever he is.

Night begins to fall, darkness gathers around them. It’s not safe to be on the road.  Where is the stranger going?  “Stay with us,” they urge him.  Friends have a meal awaiting them nearby, and they know their Jewish obligation is to offer hospitality to strangers. The stranger accepts and sits with them at table. He needs no invitation to assume his rightful place among them. He takes up the loaf of bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to them. And with that simple action – one they had witnessed so many times – they recognize him!

And not just around the table had they watched him take, bless, break, and give.  They had seen him take a child on his knee. Bless her. Break the fever that was killing her.  Give her back to her parents, healed. They had seen him take the hand of the man possessed. Bless him with his presence, break the demon’s hold, and give him back his life. They had seen him approach the money changers in the temple, offer a prayer, break down their table where they cheated the people, and give the pieces back to them – promising he would do this, and more, in the days to come.

They didn’t understand then, and they don’t understand now.  But they have seen this pattern before.  Take.  Bless.  Break.  Give.  They must have, because in this moment they look up from the table, their eyes are opened, and through their tears, they recognize him. He had been with them all along. On the mission journey these past three years. A Presence on the walk to Emmaus, when all seems lost.  Especially when all seems lost.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” the psalmist sings, “thou art with me.”  “Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone,” write Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Is this not the way the Holy enters our lives?  Not in the miraculous, but in ordinary taking, blessing, breaking, giving?  In the hug of a long lost friend, in a note to the widow, in a hand sprucing up the church, in our gifts to the food pantry, in the blessing of an evening meal together, in the talk around the fire to the call of the peepers.

With our eyes opened in the midst of our everyday lives, we are reminded that all is not lost.  We are not defeated or alone.  Love always wins.  Easter is here to stay.

 Uncertain Times

By Robin Smith-Johnson

(Laurie Murphy submitted this poem by her sister.)

It is early spring
and the world is waking up.
Only we are indoors,
waiting for news.

Small things matter:
a cardinal at the bird feeder,
a neighbor waving from a safe distance,
a violinist playing a solo.

In a few months, life will return
to something like normal.
We will come together again.
For now the waiting is hard.

Embrace light. Be kind.
It is early spring
and a single voice joins the violin.
Listen.

 Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Joanne as she continues to recover from surgery. She is thankful for your love and prayers. She has been able to talk with David, and the RI Hospital chaplain visits.

Robert Salisbury’s family, and those who loved him at Moosup Valley Church, following his death on Wednesday. Bob had been failing for a week or two.  This is

his final Shalom.

Claire’s son, Jim, is recovering from COVID-19 with pneumonia and is now strong enough to sit up for a longer period.  Prayers that he continues to grow stronger.

 Can Anything Good Come Out of the Pandemic?

 Barbara remembers the Polio epidemic of 1949, a disease that placed tens of thousands of children inside iron lungs and thousands more quarantined at home.  Her brother Bob had a mild case of it, and some of her classmates were in braces or on crutches; others didn’t return to school.  She writes, “Oh the memories!  I lived in Charlotte, NC, through that epidemic.  One fall, we extended our vacation in Vermont to avoid the disease.  Everyone else had left the summer cottages, so we missed all our friends. We didn’t have Candy Land.”

Candy Land was invented by a young San Diego schoolteacher named Eleanor Abbott as a patient inside a polio ward to give the immobilized children around her a momentary sense of freedom and mobility.  The game board featured an illustration of a boy with a leg brace.  Milton Bradley bought the game from Abbott, and to this day, Candy Land continues to be popular, more than 65 years after the disease was eradicated.   Of course, so many of us played this game as kids, but I found the back story fascinating. Who knew?  Barbara wonders, “What will be invented from this pandemic?”

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited or check for the Zoom meeting notice.

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob, resuming on April 29, when they will look at Chapters 19-20.  To join the Join Zoom Meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82510374020?pwd=bEp6eC9PNFpqV1prL3ViZytMRDkydz09

Meeting ID: 825 1037 4020
Password: 028468    Phone number if you need it:  +16465588656

A Poem for the Pandemic

By Pastor Bob

This virus has us all at home, distant from each other.

We surely miss our time together with our sisters and our brothers.

The Concerts in the Valley, Breakfast with the Men,

We sure would like to be with Doug, singing once again!

A Pot Luck Supper would be grand or worshiping together,

Visiting the Nursing Homes – just talking ’bout the weather!

We surely miss the ones we love. Sometimes we just can’t bear it,

But while we’re isolated now, we will be joined in spirit!

Blessing to the Mount Vernon Larger Parish!

 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)

Issue 12 – Order of Worship Script   Order of Worship for live streaming

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #11

April 22, 2020

This is the eleventh 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!

Celebrate Earth Day Today!

After witnessing the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969, Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, came up with the idea for a national day to focus on the environment.  Earth Day was founded 50 years ago and is widely celebrated across the world.  We are all invited to think about how to serve the planet this week—cleaning up litter, planting a tree, considering solar energy, or simply enjoying companionship with nature!

Recognizing that love of Creation is our most ancient and holy calling, the United Church of Christ invites us to plant a tree as part of our 3 Great Loves Initiative — sharing of God’s love through our love of neighbor, love of children, and love of creation, so that “together in community, as a church, united, bonded, bound, connected to one another, we can change the world.”  Why trees?  They produce oxygen as they absorb carbon dioxide, reducing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They intercept airborne particulates and help reduce smog.  Planted around a home, they reduce energy use, provide shade and act as natural air conditioners.

This year, Earth Day stands out because we had forgotten how noisy, how dirty, how polluted Earth had become – until COVID-19 shut down the machinery, grounded the planes, tied up the boats.  Our cities quieted, our waters settled, our skies brightened.  It’s as if Mother Earth were taking a deep breath, resting, cleaning herself up – a sabbatical of sorts.  But she needs more from us than a one-day focus.

In response to a New Yorker article, Tom Hall commented that “the current corona virus pandemic could well be seen as a sort of wake-up call to the human race – if we don’t start treating the planet better, there will be worse to follow. Or to employ a Genesis metaphor, this is only the first plague and more are in the offing if with our endless pursuit of fun and luxuries we continue our flagrant waste of Earth’s limited natural resources.”  He reminds us of James Lovelock’s Gaia theory (named for an ancient Greek earth goddess) “which viewed the planet as a highly complex organism. And like our individual organisms, which have natural immune systems capable of eliminating many threats to our continued well-being, is capable of eliminating elements that endanger the delicate balance of our ecosystem.  Elements like us.”

Mashpee Wampanoag Request Support

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is asking people to take part in a social media campaign beginning today, Earth Day, calling for the protection of Mashpee lands against the federal government’s move to disestablish the reservation. “The protection of Indigenous rights = the protection of Mother Earth.”  Our SNEUCC Conference has joined the fight and urges us to become involved:  tinyurl.com/mw-webinar #StandwithMashpee. (Kim’s and my condo in Mashpee abuts the tribe’s land, and often in the evening, we hear drumming across Santuit Pond.  This is very cool!)

 A Spiritual Reflection on Earth Day by Kim Baker

 For a recording of Kim’s reading, go to:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1_76pdl6tj75ZPcXI97iJittgObHfdFKq

 Or read it here:

God invites us to take refuge in God, especially in nature. What do you like to do in nature, alone or with others? How does it bring you peace and clarity, love and joy, inspire service to the poor and powerless, embrace diversity?

In the Book of Job, God calls us to find refuge in God, especially in nature.  But we ask,

how will we find refuge in nature?  And the ancient writer says, ask the animals, and they will teach you. The birds of the air, and they will tell you. The plants will educate you. And the fish of the sea will declare to you.

We ask, has the hand of God done all this?  And we are told, In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.  The only way to respond in faith is to declare, Let us find refuge in God by finding refuge in God’s gift to us: nature!

We pray,

Life is sometimes hard, Holy One.

Thank you for the gifts of nature, this good earth, to bring us peace and clarity, healing and love.  We see you in the trees and plants and animals.  We are united as one creation.

Thank you for nature, for this majestic way to pray – the way a poet prays:

5AM in the Pinewoods

By Mary Oliver

I’d seen
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.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Joanne is having surgery today (new date) as we go to press.

Let us affirm, Joanne is … in peace, …in truth, …in health, …in God’s love.

Claire’s son, Jim, is still experiencing the effects of COVID-19 with possible pneumonia and is now isolated with other infected patients at Worcester Hospital.  Prayers that he comes out of this and can be moved to a group home.

Wayne Carlow’s brother, Warren, is in the hospital (not COVID-19).

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO?

 Barbara Is Baking:  And she encourages us to try King Arthur Flour’s Cream Tea Scones – quick and easy and “yummy”!  I have attached the recipe below and am going to make a batch as soon as I send this latest “Gather ‘Round” on its way.

Kim Is Reading:  And, in light of our Earth Day theme, she encourages us to read the highly acclaimed Greenwood by Michael Christie, an exhilarating eco-parable that spans a period from the great depression to a bleak prediction of the very near future.  I’m going to start it, and maybe I’ll begin reading with a cup of tea and a scone at my elbow!

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited or check for the Zoom meeting notice.

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob, resuming on April 22, tonight, when they will look at Chapter 19.  To join the Join Zoom Meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82510374020?pwd=bEp6eC9PNFpqV1prL3ViZytMRDkydz09

Meeting ID: 825 1037 4020
Password: 028468    Phone number if you need it:  +16465588656

Window on Plant Life

Excerpts from “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren. 

 “A seed knows how to wait.  Most seeds wait for at least a year before starting to grow; a cherry seed can wait for a hundred years with no problem. What exactly each seed is waiting for is known only to that seed. Some unique trigger-combination of temperature-moisture-light and many other things is required to convince a seed to jump off the deep end and take its chance—to take its one and only chance to grow.

…….

“A coconut is a seed that’s as big as your head. It can float from the coast of Africa across the entire Atlantic Ocean and then take root and grow on a Caribbean island. In contrast, orchid seeds are tiny: one million of them put together add up to the weight of a single paper clip. Big or small, most of every seed is actually just food to sustain a waiting embryo. The embryo is a collection of only a few hundred cells, but it is a working blueprint for a real plant with root and shoot already formed.

…….

“When the embryo within the seed starts to grow, it basically just stretches out of its doubled-over waiting posture, elongating into official ownership of the form that it assumed years ago. The hard coat that surrounds a peach pit, a sesame or mustard seed, or a walnut’s shell mostly exists to prevent this expansion. In the laboratory, we simply scratch the hard coat and add a little water and it’s enough to make almost any seed grow. I must have cracked thousands of seeds over the years, and yet the next day’s green never fails to amaze me. Something so hard can be so easy if you just have a little help. In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you’re supposed to be.

…….

“Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.”

Rev. Betsy reminds us of the words of Genesis 1:12: “The earth brought forth vegetation:  plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.” 

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, April 26, will be on Facebook Live on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish page at 12:30 p.m.  Pastor Bob will look at “A Wonderful Thing Happened on the Way to Church” from Acts 3:1-10:  https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

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)

2 Attachments

Issue 11 – Cream Tea Scones

MEDITATION FOR EARTH DAY                                                                                                   

 

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #10

NOTE:  Carl Safstrom just called me to say he received a strange email from me this morning and that I had probably been “hacked,” so if you see something from me that says to call right away, it’s not from me!  

April 18, 2020

This is the tenth 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!

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Pastor Bob will continue to stream his Sunday Worship on April 19 at 12:30 p.m.  Go to go to the MVLP Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks) where you will find MOUNT VERNON STREAMS pinned close to the top of the page, and click on that.  The Order of Worship is attached below so you will be prepared to follow along.

 God’s Breath:  Rev. Betsy Reflects

Read John 20:19-31

 On the Day of Resurrection, after Mary had found the tomb empty and run and told the disciples, that same evening, Jesus came and stood among the disciples and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And then Jesus breathed on them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  Before the violent wind and tongues of fire of Pentecost, Jesus himself bestowed the Holy Spirit on his disciples and sends them out. We might think of this as Jesus’ “succession” plan to bring his compassion to bear on a wounded world, to provide the comfort, advocacy and peace that the world needs so desperately.

So, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we – you and I – are commissioned to carry on God’s mission in the world.  Now, we might protest that we are not qualified for such an assignment because we have doubt.  While Thomas has carried the burden of being the “doubter” through the centuries, he’s not the only one:  Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus until he spoke her name in the garden and she had a personal encounter with him.  The disciples dismissed Mary’s breathless “I have seen the Lord” – she is a woman, of course, not to be taken seriously – until Jesus came to where they were hiding in Jerusalem, until they had a personal encounter.  And, of course, we doubt.

Human beings like certainty, to have the world around us conform to expectations, to have the universe behave in a way consistent with our experience.  Our minds search for order; we want to make sense out of our world; we need to organize the information that our senses bring to us – what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch.  And when it doesn’t, we doubt.  Doubt is a sign that we have critical thinking skills:  If the earth is flat, why don’t we fall off?  Why do some people get sick and others do not?  Doubt moves the world forward.  Doubt is a gift of God.

In his gospel account, John has Jesus say, “Do not doubt but believe,” doubt versus belief, one or the other.  But this is a false dichotomy.  The opposite of doubt is not belief but unquestioning acceptance, acquiescence, obedience, stasis, “blind” faith.  What if faith is strengthened by doubt, by openness to new ideas, to learning? After all, in the United Church of Christ we claim that “God is still speaking.”

We assume by “believe,” John means “have faith.”  Historically and linguistically, these are not the same.  Beliefs are sets of theological ideas, principles to live by, rules for living, ways of understanding the world.  We think about beliefs.  Beliefs are important as guides in our lives, but they are not the same as faith.

In his research into the original meaning of the word “belief,” British theologian Wilfred Cantwell Smith discovered the Anglo-Saxon “byleue” in its medieval, early English connotation had to do with holding in high esteem, cherishing.  “To believe” was the verb form of the noun “faith,” and it meant “to hold dear,” “to prize,” “to give allegiance,” “to be-love.”  John, then, is asking us to choose love.  He could have helped us if he had described “believe” as “faith-ing.”  Faith is a feeling, not a list of theological ideas.

There is no reason for us to feel guilty, thinking we don’t have faith, because we don’t ascribe to a particular set of theological precepts.  The human mind wants evidence.  That’s what Thomas received.  But the human heart, the part of us that loves, needs something else: assurance.  The resurrected Jesus cannot be stopped by locked doors or even locked hearts.  Thomas received this assurance in Jesus’ presence, just as we do through the love we experience in our church community as we hear the stories, share our prayers, and gather around the table.

So it is in this passage in the Gospel of John, as the Holy Spirit is breathed into us, that Jesus passes the “ball,” the “baton” in the race called life, the responsibility of carrying on his ministry to us – to you and me – of all people!  May the Spirit remind us that our lives matter and have purpose, that we are called simply to love the world as Jesus did, and that will be faith enough.  May it be so!  Amen.

What Are You Up To?

 v Laurie Murphy:  “I read what Cheryl wrote about old movies. I’ve been watching Schitt’s Creek for the last week or two and find it hilarious. It feels good to laugh if for an hour or so. I honestly didn’t think I’d like this show, but I decided to give it a try. There is more to it than meets the eye, and I can see this family growing and learning as the show goes on.  Have you seen it?”

v In Zoom Bible Study on Friday, we reflected on Psalm 16 and taking refuge in God and the ancient writer’s message of trust and hope in fearful times.  Kathy shared this affirmation that brings her comfort:  “I am in peace, in truth, in health, in God’s love.”  We can pray this for each other:  “[Name] is … in peace, …in truth, …in health, … in God’s love.”

 Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Chris Desilus has recovered from COVID-19 and is anxious to get back to work.

Claire’s son, Jim, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after being sick for two weeks with fever, headache, and cough.  He will remain at Worcester Hospital unless he worsens.  Claire spoke with him Thursday and said he is breathing better.  Prayers that he comes out of this and can be moved to a group home.

Joanne has had her MRI, will have pre-op testing on Monday and surgery on Tuesday.  Let us affirm, Joanne is … in peace, …in truth, …in health, …in God’s love.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited with your email or phone number to be included in the meeting notice.

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob, resuming on April 22 when they will look at Chapter 19.  Contact Bob at revbobh@gmail.com.

 Window on Wildlife

While the coronavirus keeps humans inside, wild animals are taking over (taking back?) our cities.  Newspapers are reporting wild boar descending onto the streets of Barcelona, buffalo walking on an empty highway in India, mountain goats snacking on flowers in window boxes in Wales, whales swimming into Mediterranean shipping lanes, turtles hatching on Brazilian beaches without human interference, and a mountain lion asleep in a tree next to a college building in Boulder, Colorado.  But for those who have lawns, this is nothing new.  Sonja writes:  “The battle is on – Tom vs. Canadian Geese!  The geese love our one-acre pond with the grassy field beside it as they are herbivores and grass is their main diet.  That’s why golf courses have so much trouble with them.  Of course, what goes in must come out, and they leave piles of “doo” along the edge of the pond where we want to walk.

“To think they were so scarce 35 years ago that we built a raft with a nesting box trying to attract a pair!  We had no success but once we did have a nesting pair on the rock island in the pond and that was after we learned what a nuisance they are!  Tom addled the eggs.  Then we had the pair with 10 goslings take up residence.  We built a corral, herded them in, caught them by throwing a blanket over each, loaded them into Tom’s pickup truck, which had a cap, and relocated them to my girlfriend’s pond for they had none and she wanted some!

“Now when groups come into our pond Tom discourages them by making loud noises, driving his lawnmower up and down the side of the pond, chasing them in the rowboat, which has a small motor, and chasing them with his small remote-controlled boat.  Eventually they will find nesting sites elsewhere and we will not be so bothered.”

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).

 Is There an Angel in the House?

By Pat Schneider

 Is there an angel in the house?

If there is,

come to me…

and if you aren’t too tired,

or otherwise occupied,

and if it isn’t too tacky a request,

please rock me.

I am bruised.

If you will hold me until morning,

I promise I will rise and light the fire

and break the bread and put back on my shoulder

my corner of the world.

But for now I could use the shelter of a wing.

Excuse me,

Excuse me,

is there an angel in the house?

————

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)

CLICK BELOW FOR THE BULLETIN FOR MT. VERNON LARGER PARISH SUNDAY WORSHIP AT 12:30

Issue 10 – Order of Worship

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #9

April 15, 2020

This is the 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!

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. –John 16:20

 Remember the Good:  Rev. Betsy Reflects

For weeks now, we’ve sheltered at home, kept our distance, washed our hands.  For weeks now, we’ve ventured out only for groceries, avoided contact with potential carriers, weighed the necessity of a mask.  Although governments had been warned by infectious disease experts for years, COVID-19 was an interruption you and I could not have imagined at the beginning of this one.

And here we are, uncertain and uneasy, but staying in touch, doing what we can to help.  We are making masks and phone calls, teaching and learning on-line, checking on our neighbors, leaving meals on porches, telling stories of other difficult times.  We wait impatiently to get back to “normal,” but there will be no “normal.”  Just as lives changed after the World Wars, our lives will change after this one, too – World War “C.”

Some of us have lost jobs and income; others of us are considered “essential” and risk our lives to tend to the sick, to keep the economy going, to protect the public.  I read that close living quarters has spawned an increase in domestic violence and fear spurred the sale of guns across the country.  And that loved ones of all ages are dying alone, and we hunker down, mourning, afraid.  This is nothing new, of course.  Humankind has always suffered wars and pandemics and disasters.  Centuries ago, the writer of Psalm 103 acknowledges with gratitude a merciful God, “You save us from the snares of fear,…” and indeed, we as a country, are snared.  (See Psalm 103, attached.)

At the same time, there is “good” to be acknowledged and remembered.  “Going back” is still weeks away, but I challenge us now to reflect on what is good now.  When we are able to gather for worship under the same roof, will we remember how close we felt when we chatted by phone, studied scriptures by Zoom, worshiped by Facebook?  This catastrophe has proved, even to those of us who have love/hate relationships with technology, that proximity and accessibility no longer mean the same thing; we no longer must be standing next to each other to be with each other.  Today, no matter where we live and worship, even miles apart, we can still be sitting in the same pew.

When we are back to work and school and meetings, will we remember each other with the same commitment?  Look out for each other with the same intentionality?  Care for each other with the same sense of community?  “Years ago,” Ira Byock writes, “anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones.  But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.  A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. ‘Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts,’ Mead said.”

So what of this time of trouble has been “good,” too good to let go?  What will we save, what will we discard in our re-claimed busyness?  What will we make time for?  What will be essential in our new reality following the pandemic of our time?  I pray that we save what is good in this time, for it is in the “good” that we find God, in the community that we find joy.

What Are You Up To?

 v Last Saturday, Cheryl Hawes, wrote, “I love old movies, and I saw they were showing the 1950 film, “The Next Voice You Hear,” so I watched it while I ate my breakfast.  [It’s about the Voice of God broadcast daily all over the world for six days with a message to be kind to each other.]  The movie moved me in many ways: so close to Easter, the world-wide pandemic, how fortunate I am with my family close and well, living in my own home, having a good job, being able to give some back to the Town I love, having a close church family, and just realizing how much I have to be thankful for!  While it’s sappy, the message is the same whether it was then or now.”  Betsy asks:  What are you watching that is moving you?

 v And, if you haven’t already done so, please complete your 2020 Census form.  I waited and waited to receive my letter before deciding that nobody knew a person was living at 210 Plainfield Pike – so I went on line and filled in a form (which took about two minutes, if that!).  It’s important because the number of Representatives in Congress is based on our population – and RI is in danger of losing one – and because the allocation of resources for the next 10 years is based on population.

Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v Joanne had her MRI yesterday and is awaiting word from her doctor about next steps.

v Rose and Herold’s son, Chris, and his fiancée are recovering from COVID-19 virus – fever down and aches and pains gone, but please keep them in prayer.  Also, prayers for Rose and her Aunt Ermite Pierre whose husband Lifaito’s service was yesterday.

v Claire asks for prayers for her son, Jim, who is not feeling well and is miserable, anxious to move to a group home, now delayed because of COVID-19.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited with your email or phone number to be included in the meeting notice.

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms and the Easter scriptures.  Contact BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob, resuming on April 22 when they will look at Chapter 19.  (No study tonight, April 15.)  Contact Bob at revbobh@gmail.com.

Window on Wildlife

It is mating season, nest-building season.  As I walk our condo grounds in search of fresh air in the daytime, I see robins busy with worms.  As I walk in the evening, a Great Horned Owl hoots to claim his territory, to call a mate.  Soon we will hear coyotes hunting for food for pups, and walks will be taken with extra caution.

Sonja writes, “Have you seen a pileated woodpecker locally?  They are here!  There was a nesting pair in a dead tree across the road from Rice City Church several years ago, but they have moved.  A pileated woodpecker is large, about the size of a crow, with a flaming red crest, black body and white under-wing areas.  They are usually sighted in wooded areas.”  Kim and I walked along the shore of Santuit Pond last week, and on the way to the water, we found standing trees with big holes running up the bare trunks.  Pileated?  I will be listening for them!

Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Pastor Bob will continue to stream his Sunday Worship on April 19 at 12:30 p.m.  Go to go to the MVLP Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks) where you will find MOUNT VERNON STREAMS pinned close to the top of the page, and click on that.  I will attach the Order of Worship to Saturday’s newsletter so you will be prepared to follow along.

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).

 Pandemic
By Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—

the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world

different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love –

for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

————

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 9 – Psalm 103

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #8

April 11, 2020

This is the 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!

 As the church through the ages has proclaimed: 

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Happy Easter, Everyone!

 Easter Sunrise Service

Moosup Valley Church invites everyone to our annual Easter Sunrise Service on April 12 at 7 a.m. at Green Acres behind the church.  Carl is going to stand by the cross with his mobile phone when he joins us by Zoom!  The bulletin for the service is attached, below, so you can participate; bring a piece of bread when you sit down at your table.   (Pastor Bob just asked people to post favorite sunrise pictures on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook page.)

 

Join Zoom meeting:

https://zoom.us/s/103098713
  Or if your computer doesn’t have speakers and a microphone, dial in (301-715-8592).
  Meeting ID:103 098 713

Easter Morning Worship & Reflection

After we have joined together for Easter Sunrise Service on Zoom, Pastor Bob is going to flood the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit) with Easter music and inspirations. At 10 a.m. (EDT), he will share an Easter Reflection on Facebook Live on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook Page followed by more music and inspirations!  We will continue Mount Vernon Streams on Sunday, April 19.

 Unbinding Love:  Rev. Betsy Reflects

 The Sabbath is over; the Galilean women who have been traveling with Jesus, are anxious to come to the tomb to anoint his body with spices, the custom after the death of a loved one – one last loving touch.  In John’s account, Mary comes alone.  How could she not?  He was her best friend and she, his closest disciple – until the politics in the early church pushed her to the background, scorned her as a harlot.

And so she comes, brokenhearted, to be near her beloved teacher, to stand at his tomb, to witness to love.  Jesus had taught them a new way of being, of caring for one another, of serving the least and the lost.  They had had such hope.  How can they possibly go back to a life without him?  Just hours ago when they celebrated the Passover in that upper room, Jesus had talked about love, demonstrated his love for them by washing their feet, commanded them to love one another.  And now it is over.

Imagine her shock, her confusion, her disbelief, when she arrives at the tomb and finds the stone rolled away.  Has she gone to the wrong tomb?  Has his body been moved to another?  Even worse, stolen?  Does Peter know something she does not?  She runs to tell, the first witness to the empty tomb.  We can imagine her, breathless, heartsick, “Help me find him!”

Peter and Thomas come running.  They enter the tomb but find it empty – except for what Jesus has left behind:  The burial linen that had bound Jesus is laid there by itself, alongside the strips of cloth that had bound his head.  Grave robbers wouldn’t have taken the time to unwrap the body, surely.  Jesus is not only dead – but now he also is gone.

What happened at the tomb?  We don’t know.  Had it been a struggle to work his way out of the grave cloths?  There is no videotape of a resurrection.  No public factual account.  No witnesses to the actual event.  Jesus is in the tomb one day – and gone the next.  Yet, he’s not gone, he’s everywhere.  His love is everywhere.  After the resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples in Jerusalem, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” “Look at my hands and feet; see that it is I, myself.  Touch me and see;…”   And they find him on the road to

and cooking for the disciples on the beach after they have gone back to fishing.  The one who commanded his followers just three days earlier to “love one another as I have loved you,” cannot be kept in the grave.  Love loosens the bindings and sets him free.

What if the mystics are right?  Can we conceive of love as the foundation of the universe?  That we are made for love, the ultimate reality?  I wonder if we are all so “bound up” that we are blind to the love that surrounds us, that we live in a darkness of our own making and can’t imagine a light to unbind us in that darkness.  The mystics tell us that the way to become enlightened is not to dwell in the light but to carry the light into our own darkness.  “O, death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?”

Easter is not only a story about an event that happened on a hill far away, it is also a story about love and you and me, and rolling away the stones in our own lives, and loosening the guilt and grief that bind us so that we can really live and love.  Easter is a story about unbinding the strips of sorrow, peeling away the layers of anger, loosening the grip of fear, so that we can be free – free of everything that binds us and walls us up in the tombs of our own making.  It’s easy to roll the stones in place, but it’s hard to roll them away.

We have been created for resurrection, but first we have to let love unbind us from whatever we cling to that does not bring us life.  For most of us, it is a struggle to work our way out of the grave cloths.  But that’s what Easter is all about:  We are called to be God’s resurrection people!  Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Day One

 By William Jones

An imaginative poem of Jesus’ awakening:

wondering what next after this,

he woke to cave’s pierced-darkness

edged by light stone sought to block,

but could not this bright morning

loosing the wrappings death held close,

falling to floor he reaches his hand

un-bent, un-bleeding, into cool air

and, risking life, begins breathing

slowly it dawns it has been undone,

bruised yet healing from wounding

wondering what next after this,

he rises and eases through walls

clinging close the still-moist earth,

upending the plot tended by mourners

stumbling, tripping what they hadn’t sought,

newly un-dead, rooting deep seed

pulling himself up into the living,

harder than dying his hand gripping mine

dried blood and cooling the fever his brow,

he rises and eases through walls.

(William B. Jones, “Day One” (Maren C. Tirabassi & Maria I. Tirabassi, eds., Before the Amen: 

Creative Resources for Worship, Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 1989), 80-81.)

Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v Claire has asked for prayers for her son, Jim, who is showing signs of COVID-19.

v Rose and Herold’s son Chris is still coping with the COVID-19 virus, and he and his fiancée need our prayers.  Also, prayers for Rose’s Aunt Ermite Pierre whose husband Lisaito died this week.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited with your email (or phone number) to be included in the meeting notice.

 Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms. Continues Tuesday, April 14. Contact (by Monday) BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

 Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob.  Continues April 15 for a discussion of chapter 19.  Contact (by Wednesday morning) Bob at revbobh@gmail.com.

Window on Wildlife

In this season of transformation – in the woods, in the gardens, in the tomb – I welcome Sonja’s question, “How do birds change color?”  She writes, “We are watching the male American goldfinches transform from drab olive in color to bright yellow.  The color in the feathers of many birds becomes more distinct during the breeding season.  The goldfinches molt (shed their feathers) twice a year, once in the spring and again in early fall.  In the spring, the males grow black feathers on their foreheads and bright yellow feathers on the rest of their bodies as they shed the drab olive ones.  However, they do not shed their primary wing feathers.  Those are the long black feathers used in flight. Then in September they again molt, this time shedding the primary black feathers as well as the bright yellow ones, changing back to drab olive which helps protect them from predators.  The black primary feathers grow back black.  All birds molt, for feathers wear out and must be replaced.”

Easter Prayer

Long after the lilies have bloomed and the alleluias have faded away, grant us, O God, the grace to remember this day and the promise of new life Easter celebrates.  Because you are with us, we gain courage to meet the challenge of the day, everywhere we go, choosing life and not death.  Help us to be your signs of life in all the places of death in this brokenhearted world of ours.  May we answer each crucifying doubt, fear, and pain with the cry of the faithful:  “He is risen, indeed,” because he is risen in us.  Amen.

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)            Easter Sunrise Bulletin

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #7

April 8, 2020

This is the 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!

Maunday Thursday 

 Our Holy Communion and Tenebrae Service will happen tomorrow, Thursday, April 9, at 7:00 p.m.  Bring a candle and a glass of grape juice/wine and a bit of bread to your table when you “gather ‘round.  I have attached the Order of Worship to this email.  Those of you volunteering to read a scripture have already received the text.  (If not, let me know right away so I can send it to you.)

How to attend the service?  If you receive this newsletter, you have been invited.  Simply click on the link provided here:    

Topic: Betsy’s Zoom-Maundy Thursday

Time: Apr 9, 2020 06:30 PM (Okay to log in early; service starts at 7 PM.)

  • Join Zoom Meeting at https://zoom.us/j/183836947
  • Or, if your computer doesn’t have speakers and a microphone, you can dial in (301-715-8592).
  • If you need it, this is the Meeting ID (183 836 947).  

Good Friday

The Foster Churches Association will hold its annual Good Friday service on Friday, April 10, at noon, with a reading of scriptures, prayers, and a reflection on the Passion of the Cross, with Pastor Scott Knox, presiding.  The Order of Worship is attached to this newsletter.  To participate:

Robert Hollis is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Good Friday Worship  Foster Churches Association
Time: Apr 10, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/768078368?pwd=RW1QN3dOa1ViUFd3Qk5XMTNwTnVDUT09

Meeting ID: 768 078 368
Password: 025438

If you need to call in, use this number (253-215-8782)

The Heart of the Gospel:  Rev. Betsy Reflects

 It is the Passover.  Jesus and his disciples – and probably a number of women followers, who else would have been in the kitchen making the matzoth balls? – have gathered in an upper room to share the meal.  They have been doing this all their lives, since they were young children.  And now they are celebrating this meal with their teacher and their closest friends.  Picture them sitting around, reclining on one elbow, dipping pieces of pita bread in bowls of hummus, licking their fingers, talking quietly, laughing, raising their mugs of wine, nodding to the women for a refill.  It’s like any other thanksgiving meal any of us might share, remembering the Exodus centuries earlier, glad to be in Jerusalem on this special night.

I don’t imagine they were thinking what was to come next.  Jesus had been talking nonsense about dying, but he always seemed to have things under control. The crowds had been spellbound all week by his teaching.  Tomorrow, he will show the high priest a thing or two, overthrow the Romans, usher in the kingdom of God.  Jesus will have it all planned.

And then, something extraordinary happens.  Jesus gets up, takes off his robe, ties a towel around his waist, and kneels down to wash the disciples’ feet.  What is he doing?  This is the work of servants, not the work of their beloved teacher! As he makes his way around the circle, pouring water over dusty, callused feet, rubbing them dry with a towel, the mood changes to uncomfortable, awkward.  The conversation ceases, the room goes silent. Jesus reaches Peter who protests.  “You’ll never wash my feet.” Jesus has a ready answer:  “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”  Peter is ready to jump in all over.  He loves his teacher.

When everyone is washed, Peter too, Jesus puts on his robe and comes and sits with them at the table.  “Do you know what I have done to you?” he asks.  Jesus is as hard to understand as ever. They must be missing something….    And then he tells them:  “I have set you an example.” I, your teacher, have assumed the role of servant in this act of hospitality. This is what it means to be great:  to serve one another.  If I, your teacher, can wash your feet, surely you can wash each other’s feet.

And then Jesus takes this activity and turns it into a principle:  “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  This is the heart of the gospel.

Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v Rose and Herold’s son, Chris Desilus, and their daughter-in-law, have both tested positive for  COVID-19.  Pray for their recovery.

v Ellen and Charlie Wilkinson’s friend, Patricia Sanders Miller (and a Luther cousin) who lives in Cantonment, Florida, lost her husband to a heart condition last week.  Ellen asks for us to keep Pat and family in our prayers.

v Carl asked for prayers for his cousin, the Rev. Mindy Reed, who is suffering from the final stage of Multiple Sclerosis.

v For Glen McCrea, Barbara’s friend, whose doctor sent him for testing because he was running a fever.  He discovered that there are now four sites in RI, and it’s quick and easy and safe.  Praying that he’s negative.

v For all the health care workers who are risking their lives to help those who are infected, that they may have the resources and stamina they need to stem the tide.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited with your email or phone number to be included in the meeting notice.

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms. Continues Tuesday, April 14. Contact (by Monday) BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob.  Continues April 8 for a discussion of chapters 18-19.  Contact (by Wednesday morning) Bob at revbobh@gmail.com.

What Are You Up To?

 v Walk & Talk participants are rethinking where to walk.  To find out where and when, call Sonja at 397-4455.

 v Sonja is not the only one filling the feeders.  Jeanne Lavoie has two “squirrel-proof” bird feeders, but her squirrels can’t read!

 Window on Wildlife

Pink Moon:  Yesterday, April 7, the full moon was a supermoon, the closest it will be to Earth in 2020.  Tonight it will still be big, although if you look carefully enough, it will appear slightly out-of-round on the right side. This moon is called the Pink Moon by Native Americans because spring wildflowers are blooming.  Kim and I drove to Craigville Beach to see it rise over the water.  Amazing!

v Remember, too, Easter is based on the moon.  It’s always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox – which explains why some years Easter is in late March and other years in early to mid-April.  Who knew?  Now you do!

v Speaking of spring, is anyone hearing peepers?

Easter Sunrise

 Moosup Valley Church invites everyone to our annual Easter Sunrise Service on April 12 at 7 a.m. at Green Acres behind the church.  Carl is going to stand by the cross with his mobile phone when he joins us by Zoom!  I will attach the bulletin for the service to the next issue of “Gather ‘Round,” which will go out on Saturday, so everyone will be able to follow along.

Easter Worship

 Pastor Bob will offer an Easter Reflection at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook page.  More information will be available in the next issue of “Gather ‘Round” on Saturday.

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).

 Prayer for People Critically Ill or Facing Great Uncertainty
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.  Amen.
– Adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book

 

————

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 #6

April 4, 2020

This is the 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!  Three readers have told me “What they are up to!”  Please see below….

 Mt. Vernon Streams Palm Sunday Service

Pastor Bob will stream his Sunday Worship at 12:30 p.m.  Go to the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks) where you will find MOUNT VERNON STREAMS pinned close to the top of the page, and click on that. Elaine and Brooke will sing “This Little Light of Mine.”  (Bob says to send him your email if you don’t have Facebook.)  The Order of Worship is attached.

 More information about Holy Week Services is posted below.

 Rev. Betsy Reflects on Palm Sunday

People could see the dust kicked up several miles away, and as the procession grew closer, watchers could hear marching feet, the beat of drums, the creak of leather harnesses, the glint of sun on golden eagles and sabers.  Riding in from the west, from his garrison on the coast, was Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea, heading a column of cavalry and soldiers, riding in to keep the peace.

At the same time, another procession was coming into the city from the east; this was a peasant procession which was making its way down from the Mount of Olives.  A lone figure sat on a donkey, and as he passed, watchers spread out their cloaks and laid down palm branches in his path, singing the words of Psalm 118, “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Jesus of Nazareth, from Galilee about 100 miles to the north, had pre-arranged this counter-procession, even down to the colt of a donkey he was to ride.  The pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem to observe the Passover yearned for the Jerusalem of memory, for justice and peace, for God’s restoration.  This crowd is enthusiastic, wild with joy!  Spellbound….  Some Pharisees in the throng call out to Jesus, “Order your disciples to stop!”  Are they embarrassed by all this emotion?  Do they resent that Jesus identifies himself with the Messiah?  Are they afraid Rome will see all this commotion and, fearing an insurrection, retaliate?

By Jesus’ day, Jerusalem had become the seat of political oppression.  The religious leaders in the temple have colluded with the Roman occupiers to preserve their own position of wealth and power.  Peasants have lost their ancestral land and are taxed heavily to support Rome.  The elite live in luxury; the poor are hungry.

In one parade, coming in on the west side of the city, the peace is kept by those who sweep in on chariots, with swords ready to maintain power and control.  Today we might understand that kind of peace as governments that promise reform, then rule with oppression; institutions that cover up abuse of children; corporations that pay exorbitant income to top executives while workers struggle to make ends meet or people are dropped from health insurance because they get sick.

In the other parade, the one coming in on the east side of the city, the peace is kept by one who comes alone and vulnerable and who brings the peace of healing and hope.  Today, we might understand that kind of peace as aid workers building clinics and schools in Haiti, businesses retrofitting machinery and women sewing medical masks, churches raising money for One Great Hour of Sharing, people collecting goods for food pantries.

Into this city, then, the City of David, come two processions, two parades – one from the west representing the power of empire; one from the east representing the power of God.  The question then and now, for all of us, is – in which parade are we marching?

These days with our global economy, it’s difficult to tell.  We live in a complicated world.  We can be spellbound by pomp and circumstance, lulled by smooth talk, blindsided by prejudice.  Just turn on your TV.  But for those of us who pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth,..” there is nothing to do but to call out, “Blessed is he who comes….” and to wave our palms and to lay down our priorities and to sing not only for the peace of power and glory, but also for the peace of goodness and justice!  May it be so!

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO?

 Ø Bob and Priscilla Rotando, “It feels good to move and be outside.”  Thank you so much for the Gather Round newsletter! It is so nice to read, and it feels like we are staying connected with everyone.  We have been outside, splitting firewood, and when that project is over, on to gardening.  All these projects keeps my worry mind at bay, at least a little anyway.

 Ø Robin Petrarca:  Distance Learning with First Graders

It felt so good to read the Gather Round News.  It just popped up as I was working on learning and doing “distance learning” with my first graders and their families.  The children are doing very well!  At the beginning [of our Zoom sessions] we greet each other, and the children eagerly share stories and projects they have been working on – and then on to math and reading.  I look forward to preparing my lessons and sharing something new I found for them to explore.  I encourage them to get outside for a walk each day with their family and [I encourage] you folks, too, to take a daily walk.  Out of this time of uncertainty we will all learn new things.  We will all grow in new, unexpected ways. Love to you all!

Ø Wayne Carlow Composed a Hymn

 Gather Round       

By Wayne Carlow

 Vs. 1. Christ preached to the multitudes. / Healed many who were sick.

Baptized His people by the shores of the sea. / Taught from the mountain top,

from the synagogues. / Or where-ever a gathering may be.

 Chorus

So gather round, gather round. / Gather round the Man from Galilee.     

He who died on the Cross at Calvary. / Gave Salvation to you and me.                 

Gather ‘round The Man of Galilee.

 Vs. 2. He is still there for us today. / To help and protect us in every way.

He is the Light of Hope when darkness falls. / There’s His Word and Love to share.

As for one another we do care. / Yes we all now “Gather Round.”

Chorus     (Rights Reserved)

Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v Please lift Herold and Rose’s son Chris Desilus to the healing arms of God.  He is very sick and needs rest, but he worries about leaving his coworkers short.

v Positive outcomes for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe whose reservation status was rescinded and land taken by the federal government as the Tribe is about to open desperately needed affordable housing on the Cape.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading Bible Study by Zoom. To participate, ask to be invited with your email or phone number to be included in the meeting notice.

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms. Continues Tuesday, April 7. Contact (by Monday) BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob.  Continues April 8 for a discussion of chapters 18-19.  Contact (by Wednesday morning) Bob at revbobh@gmail.com.

Holy Week Services by Zoom

Maunday Thursday:  Our Holy Communion and Tenebrae Service will happen this year on Thursday, April 9, at 7:00 p.m.  I will attach the Order of Worship to Wednesday’s email so you can follow along.  Prepare to bring a candle and a glass of grape juice/wine and a bit of bread when you gather ‘round.  I need some of you to read scriptures (emailed ahead).  Please let me know if you are willing to read.

 Good Friday:  Pastor Bob is inviting members of the Foster Churches Association to participate in Rev. Scott’s HMoG’s Reading of the Passion at noontime on April 10.

 Easter Sunrise:  The sunrise service will take place at 7:00 a.m.  I will send you the Order of Worship with Saturday’s email.

 Window on Wildlife

Given the drama of Palm Sunday with its two “parades,” it seems appropriate to share Sonja’s story about the suet blocks:  “Who is boss of the suet blocks?  Yes, there is a “pecking order” among the woodpeckers. At the bottom are the downy woodpeckers who will usually stand up to a bossy sparrow or a white-breasted nuthatch, but they quickly leave when any other woodpecker approaches. The hairy woodpeckers are much larger, though their markings are amazingly similar. They scare the downy away.  However, the “kings” of the blocks are the red-bellied woodpeckers.  Everyone departs when one arrives for they have been seen pecking intruders and spitting out the plucked feathers. Flickers are ground feeders and do not compete. Of course, many birds like the suet, so the blocks are usually busy, but the smaller birds depart when woodpeckers arrive.  Sometimes someone will sneak up on the other side of a block where they are unseen and out of striking distance.  Everyone flees when the hawk swoops over the peak of the house or out of the yew which is close by.”

 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).

 A Prayer for Palm Sunday

Jesus, whom people celebrated with cries of “Hosanna!” – “Save us!” – you have brought us again to this holiest of weeks, when you claim us for your own.  Be with us as we walk through it, that we might never again be the same.  Amen.

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

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-4

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 #5

April 1, 2020

This is the 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!  So, please share what you are reading and watching and writing and knitting and cooking and building while you are sheltering at home.  Two of our readers have done so for this issue; see below.

Timely Tip!  Pastor Bob is hosting a study of the last part of the Gospel of John tonight at 6:30 p.m.  To participate, send him (revbobh@gmail.com) your email (if you want to see and be seen) or your telephone number if you just want to hear and be heard.  He would love to have you join them!

Holy Week:  For information about Holy Week services, see below.

Rev. Betsy Reflects:  How Is It with Your Soul?

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism in England in the 1700s, would ask, “How is it with your soul?”  An English cleric and evangelist, he preached out of doors, organized small discipleship groups, and encouraged people to participate in addressing the social issues of the day.  While we may not be burdened by cruel labor conditions of the coal mines, or refugees from the country crammed into narrow disease-infested streets of London, we are living in a time of crisis.

Philosophers would call it an existential crisis, one that strikes at our identity, our sense of self, who we are, what it all means.  Most of the time we live on the surface:  too busy to reflect on these questions, too busy doing – going to work, running errands, getting through each day.  And then calamity strikes, this time in the guise of a deadly virus, and we are forced to stop.  For the first time in a long time, we aren’t quite so busy doing; we have more time for being.

Who are you?  What do you think about when there’s time to reflect?  What do you do when you have choices about how you spend your time?  Most of us, most of the time, are so busy doing, that we don’t reserve enough time and space for being.  It is the existential crises of our time.

Sunday, Kim and I streamed “Unorthodox” – a film based on the life of a teenager in a strict Jewish Orthodox family in Brooklyn, a mostly true story about her flight from rules and religious convention — a journey to find her own truth, a journey to find herself.  It was billed by Netflix as four one-hour episodes.  We watched it all in one evening with a short break to walk the dog of a neighbor who has pneumonia.

How is it with your soul?  I have been reading Reza Aslan’s “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” and Marcus Borg’s “Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary,” to understand this Jesus I have loved since I was a little girl.  I sit on the couch with the rain drumming on the windows.  My kitty climbs up and gets in my lap, purring as I scratch under his chin, around his ears, shifting my hold on my book to catch the light.

How is it with your soul?  Jesus says, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34).  Kim dragged her guitar out of the closet and tuned its rusty strings and leafed through a book of music she’s had since she was 13.  I listen as she teaches herself how to play Leonard Cohen’s “Alleluia.”

For most of us, this is an unprecedented time.  Some of us have lost our jobs and wonder what will replace them, how long the savings will last.  We find shortages in grocery stores, if we dare venture out.  We wonder how we will refill our prescriptions, buy new ink cartridges for our printers, buy a stamps to mail a birthday card.  We smell uncertainty in the air.  We wait to get back to normal.

Christian writer and theologian C.S. Lewis, who lived through two World Wars, argues that “normal” is an illusion, that there is no normal.  And when I hold in my heart and prayers those who are sick and dying and lost, I realize Lewis is right.  There is always something waiting to be healed, to be grieved, to be found.

Rev. Don Remick, one of our UCC Conference Bridge Ministers, wrote to us this week about the Pandemic and asked, “Will we survive?  Will we thrive?”  He quoted Economist Milton Friedman:  “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change.  When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”  So how are we coping – as individuals and as congregations?

What new ways of ministry are we discovering?  How is this crisis forcing us to change?  What will we keep from this time?  What will be different when the virus subsides, for now?  Will we continue our slide into irrelevancy for our young people, or will we have found new purpose?  Rev. Nancy Taylor of Old South Church in Boston made an observation after 9/11 – that people flocked to our churches during that time only to discover why they left in the first place.  That is our challenge.  Are we irrelevant?  Or are we essential?  That may depend on how we reinvent ourselves during this time.  Remick urges us to be faithful to this incredible moment of possibility.

How is it with your soul?  Don’t waste this reflection time, waiting to hurry back to an illusory “normal.”  This is the only life we have, at least for now.  Let’s not waste it!  After his four daughters were drowned at sea, Horatio Spafford gave up his profession as a lawyer, and he and his wife became missionaries. He is best known for the hymn which ends, “It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

How is it with your soul?

Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v  Pat Safstrom’s daughter, Erin, is sick with what they hope is only a bad cold, but now Chris, Sean and Katie are also quarantined for two weeks.

v  Barbara Cederfield’s doctor called Tuesday morning, postponing her knee replacement until the virus abates, and she is very relieved.

v  Tina Lavallee was thrilled to come home from the VA on Monday, her birthday!

v  Joanne Newton is “hanging in there” and will see her doctor next week.

Amazing Grace redux

By Tom Hall

Amazing grace that we might find / In serving others’ needs

A glow of hope and peace of mind / Not drawn from ancient creeds.

For when our lives give forth both light / And warmth as does the sun,

An end to mankind’s ancient plight / Will have at last begun.

Howe’er we name the Power supreme / That rules the cosmos vast,

‘Tis we alone who must redeem / The sins of ages past.

Our lives we therefore dedicate / To those with whom we live:

Not to destroy, but to create; / No more to get, but give.

Editor’s note:  Tom’s rewrite of this beloved hymn for the 21st century is borne out as people step up to cook for strangers, go out of their way to deliver groceries, sew medical masks, retrofit equipment to make shields, contribute financial help to people out of work – no more to get, but give – during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

 Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are leading online Bible Study by Zoom, an internet conferencing resource.  To participate, decide which virtual “table” you wish to gather around, and send your email to Betsy or Bob to “invite” you (ahead of time).

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms. Continues Friday, April 3. Contact (by Thursday) BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30.  Begins tonight, April 1 – no fooling!  Contact (by Wednesday morning) Bob at revbobh@gmail.com.

Window on Wildlife

Cheryl writes, “Sonja’s bird story and your references made me realize that I am not crazy in finding so much enjoyment in the cardinals that visit my feeders. The other day I had nine males and almost as many females on the feeders and in the scrub brush.  They were dotting in and out, beautiful spots of red color as they flew around the yard. I have other beautiful birds as well, but my eyes automatically seek out the cardinals – which give me such comfort and joy.  I feel they are always watching over me, and I become obsessed in the most glorious way!”

And it’s not just about the birds.  Sonja, our scientist, writes, “The West Meadow Brook goes under Johnson Road just south of our house. I’ve been noticing mud, footprints, and wet tracks crossing the road at the bridge and can see a pathway in the gravel/sand/grass on both sides of the road.  Earlier, the footprints were smaller, but Tuesday it was obvious that a good sized animal had crossed.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that a tree had been girdled (the bark chewed off) all the way around to a height of over two feet.  Beaver on the move!”

HOLY WEEK PLANS

Psalm Sunday:  Mt. Vernon Streams

Pastor Bob will stream his Palm Sunday Service on April 5 at 12:30 p.m., and I will send his Order of Worship with the “Gather ‘Round” that will be emailed on Saturday so you can follow along.  (If you have ever wondered how to fold a palm branch to make a cross, just google the question and see all the videos that pop up!)

 Maundy Thursday, Good Friday (?), & Easter Sunrise Services will be offered by Zoom.  Please email me in advance if you want to be included.  The bulletins will be attached to the issue of “Gather ‘Round” closest to the service.

Easter Service will be streamed on Facebook by Pastor Bob.

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).

A Prayer for April Fool’s Day

Give me a sense of humor, / Give me the grace to see a joke,

To get some pleasure out of life / And pass it on to other folk.  –Anonymous

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 #4

March 28, 2020

Mount Vernon Streams

For Pastor Bob’s live service from Mt. Vernon Church tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., go to the MVLP Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/) where you will find MOUNT VERNON STREAMS pinned close to the top of the page.  You also will find music there as Pastor Bob explores “Amazing Grace”!  If you want to follow the readings or don’t have Facebook, you will find the service as an attachment to this email.

The Birds of the Air:  A Reflection

 When Sonja suggested we add a wildlife corner to this newsletter, I immediately thought of Jesus’ words, “Look at the birds of the air,…” and the “lilies of the field,…” from passages found in both Matthew and Luke, included in their gospels to assure us that our life is more than food, the body more than clothing, a good message for us in this time of quarantine and sheltering at home.

It is not unusual to find images of birds in our scriptures where there are nearly 300 references to wings and feathers and flying.  How does Noah know the flood is over?  He sends out a dove, and God sends a dove at Jesus’ baptism.  The Psalmist asks for God’s care with, “Hide me in the shadow of your wings,” and Jesus cries over Jerusalem, “Wish I could gather you under my wings like a Mother Hen.” The ancient writer in the wilds of Arabia watches the majestic eagle soaring over his camp and writes, “As an eagle stirs up her nest, hovers over her young, spreads her wings, takes them up, bears them aloft on her wings: so the Lord alone [leads us].” The lesson was elemen­tary and lucid; they, God’s people, would soar above their troubles.

We modern folks have lost touch with much of God’s creation because we spend so much time inside, preoccupied with our gadgets.  Our “sheltering at home” is perhaps a blessing in disguise if we take the time to walk out of doors, breath fresh air on a daily basis, watch the birds from our windows.  This is a time to get perspective, to see life as more than “stuff,” to remember that we are part of God’s creative order and rejoice in all of it.

Prayer:  Dear God, remind me every time I see a bird that you love me.  And remind me of what I love rather than what I fear.  Amen.

Window on Wildlife

Sonja writes….

This winter our feeders (sunflower seed and suet blocks) have drawn quite a following of birds.  We have enjoyed chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, sparrows, slate-colored juncos, and cardinals.  The first three prefer to get a seed from the feeder and the latter three  prefer the ground, settling for the castoffs of the birds on the feeder and what we scatter when filling it.  However, Mrs. Cardinal has mastered the feeder as has a song sparrow.

We also have enjoyed woodpeckers coming to our suet blocks.  We’ve had several pairs of downy woodpeckers, one pair of hairy woodpeckers and a pair (at least one) of red-bellied woodpeckers.  Flickers do not come to the feeders though we occasionally see one under our hemlocks.  Despite the fact that we are out in the open the suet draws them and, once here, they tend to stay.  Now that it is warming up, we are confident there will be insects, grubs, etc., for them to eat.

Although robins have been around for many weeks, we had a flock foraging in the field where the green grass is poking through.  Black birds (starlings, cow birds and red-winged blackbirds) have been back for a couple of weeks, but they are ground feeders.  Now the grackles have arrived.  Once the grackles master raiding our suet blocks, it will be so frustrating that we will cease putting them out.  We will take in the sunflower seed feeder soon, as well.  (See also Sonja’s story about “The Nesting Box,” attached.)

Betsy adds:  In the meantime, what have you observed so far this spring?  Kim and I walked at the Cooke Farm in Sandwich yesterday and saw daffodils in bloom in protected spots.  I sat on a rock that had been nicely warmed by the sun and watched kids fishing as water spilled noisily over a dam.  Vines in the woods are sprouting leaves, and Weeping Willows are looking light greenish.  While we hunker down, Mother Nature is exploding in all her glory, God’s glory.  Don’t miss this miracle, and please share what you are seeing and feeling and hearing with the rest of us!  I’ll put you in the next issue!

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

Both Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are setting up online Bible Study by Zoom, an internet conferencing resource.  To participate, decide which virtual “table” you wish to gather around and ask to be “invited,” which means that, when Betsy or Bob sets up their  Zoom meetings, they will invite you to join by your email.  You must ask ahead of time to be able to join in.  Although it takes a while to get the hang of it, it works!  You can also join on your smart phone.  Here are your options:

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing selected psalms. Begins Tuesday, March 31. Contact (by Monday) BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Note:  Tracey suggests you google the song “You Have Searched Me and Known Me,” sung by

Esther Mui, based on Psalm 139:1-18.

Gospel of John:  Wednesday evenings at 6:30.  Begins April 1 – no fooling!  Contact (by Wednesday morning) Bob at revbobh@gmail.com.

Sewing Medical Face Masks

Laila Bennett writes from Collierville, Tennessee…

With us all being home because of Covid-19, we are looking for things to keep us busy. My daughter-in-law Brittany told me that there was a quilt shop in Collierville that was donating cut material to make medical face masks. As we all know, there is a shortage all over the country.  Because I sew, she asked me if I would make some. Of course I said sure, what else do I have to do?

My son, Ian, picked up the first ten masks for me to make. Then I had to figure out the pattern. My sister, Helena, had turned me on to DIYs on YouTube a few months ago.  So I thought, well I will go onto YouTube to see what they have. There are a ton of tutorials on how to make face masks. Who would have thought!  My first two attempts were a disaster. But then I got the hang of it, and now I sew about five a day.

There are people all over my community that are making these masks for health care workers. If you need something to do and you can sew, check with your local quilting supply shop. Maybe they are willing to help the cause by donating material.

Looking Ahead to April & Holy Week

 v Next Sunday, April 5, is Palm Sunday, and we have palms for the Mt. Vernon Larger Parish and Holy Mother of God.  Pastors Scott Knox and Bob Hollis will bring them to everyone who wants them and leave at your door.  If you are a member of Moosup Valley, please ask Betsy to put you on her list to give to Bob and Scott.

v Rev. Betsy and Pastor Bob are planning to gather us by Zoom for a Maundy Thursday Service, April 9, and an Easter Sunrise Service, April 12.  You will receive the Order of Worship for Maundy Thursday and the Sunrise Service as attachments to “Gather ‘Round” Issue #5 that I will send out on Wednesday.

v Pastor Bob’s Easter Service will be streamed on Facebook as usual.

 v  Rice City’s Turkey Supper scheduled for April 25 has been cancelled.  They hope to host a Strawberry Supper in June.

 Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v  Tina Lavallee is at the VA Hospital for testing – but anxious to be home!  Prayers, please, for diagnosis and healing!

v  Rev. Betsy’s brother Bill Aldrich came through surgery well on Thursday and hopes to be home soon.  He says it only hurts when he laughs!

Reach Out & Touch Someone by Phone

Before we hardly knew the extent of the virus keeping us apart, Jeanne Lavoie was on the phone early this week, checking in and connecting us to the rest of us.  I was so glad to hear her message and to know that we are in this together.  Some of the rest of you are doing the same.  So let’s all follow their lead and keep those phone calls coming, especially to those who live alone!

One Great Hour of Sharing

 When you give to the One Great Hour of Sharing, your gifts do more than you can imagine!

Churches across the country are receiving offerings not only for themselves but also for One Great Hour of Sharing for disaster, refugee, and global sustainable development ministries across the world.  Both the UCC and ABC participate.  Heaven knows, our gifts are needed this year more than ever!

To contribute to the OGHS – and to send your regular offerings – mail your Mt. Vernon donations to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827), Moosup Valley donations to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), and Rice City donations to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).  OGHS checks should be made out to the church which will issue one check to the denomination.

Benediction:

May God bless you with the brush of soft feathers on your cheek.

May God carry you on outstretched holy wings, strong enough to bear all your anxiety, all your fear, all your sorrow.

May God teach you how to fly, even when body and mind grow timid and weak.

May you be lifted by God, today and every day, trusting in God’s love, now and forevermore.

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 #3

March 25, 2020

Dear Friends,

This is the 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!  I invited Pastor Bob to bring the reflection in this issue.

Pastor Bob Reflects

 These are trying times. This newsletter helps us to feel connected.  At the same time, we also are feeling isolated in our homes – as well as nervous about being out of them.  Some of us feel that way within ourselves because of the life choices that we have made or still are making.

One of the images that I remember most from 9/11 was when the first tower fell and all the people came running out of the cloud of dust on the NYC streets – except for the fireman and police and other first responders who were running against the tide through the crowd toward the falling tower.  There is a popular Christian song, “The God Who Stays,” by Matthew West:  You’re the God who stays. You’re the One who runs in my direction when the whole world walks away.  You’re the God who stays.

God is the One whom we can count on to be there when we are socially distant from one another, when we are sick and the whole world has had to walk away, when we drive people away with our anxiety and irritability, when we feel like the prodigal child who has wasted or misused what was given us.

When we feel overwhelmed, insignificant, alone, or abandoned, we can hear God say in the words of the Hebrew writer: Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified. For the Lord your God is with you. God will never abandon you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6 NIV).  And in the words of the Apostle Paul:  You are hard pressed on every side, but you are not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV).   

I invite you to think about these two scriptures and google “You’re the God Who Stays” and feel God’s Presence rush into your social distance, your isolated soul to say I am with you and I will never, ever leave you alone!  The Almighty God is with you now, with your loved ones in their places, and all this in God’s Hands and Heart.

Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v  Tina Lavallee was taken by rescue to the VA Hospital this morning.  Prayers, please, for medical intervention and healing!

v  Joanne Newton is home and doing well.  In a few weeks, she will go back for a second surgery to get the rest of the tumor.  She says, “Please, pleaseplease, everyone, pray for me, so I can get back to my life!”

v  Phyllis Dexter is eating better now and says she feels stronger.

v  Rev. Betsy’s brother Bill Aldrich is going into the Miriam for surgery tomorrow and asks for prayers for quick healing (so he can get back to his volunteer work)!

Welcome Home to Rev. Byron!

Yesterday, Rev. Byron Waterman moved back to Rhode Island from his home of many years in Connecticut, and his house there is going on the market.  He has moved into Senior Housing in Johnston, and his new address is Anchor Bay, 12 Old Pocasset Lane, Johnston, RI  02919.  I’m sure he’d love a card or note!

 Walk & Talk is taking a hiatus for now because of weather and concerns about the virus – even when we are keeping our distance.  Individuals might be able to walk on the track at Woody’s, although the playground is officially closed.  In the meantime, Carol and her Tamarack Farm horses are giving us a rain check.  Carol has contributed a poem, the text of which I am including here, and also as an attachment so you can see Arie and Rollin beside the poem:  “The Legend of the Arabian Horse” by James L. Manniso.

The morning sun painted a red desert sky, / Praises and prayers were chanted on high.
Whispering winds moved over the land, / Restlessly shifting the parched, white sand.

The sky grew dark, from crimson to gray, / Shadowy clouds mounted in swirling arrays.
Torrents of sand eclipsed the sun, / Earth and Sky became as one.

From this mystical play of Earth and Sky / Came a shrieking, thundering, mighty cry –
Like the shrieking call of a million birds, / Like the thundering hoofs of a mighty herd.

Swiftly this tempest of swirling sand / Raced the lightning across the land. /

Then God reached out, seizing this whirlwind force, / And from its fury formed the Arabian horse.

The creature’s beauty was unsurpassed, / Its gait elegant, its speed lightning fast.
Intelligent, graceful, a regal force – / God’s masterpiece, the Arabian horse.

Mount Vernon Streams

Pastor Bob will offer live-stream worship again from Mount Vernon on Sunday, March 29, at 12:30 p.m.  Although it was not easy for everyone to find last week, this time he has set it up differently.  Go to the MVLP Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/) where you will find MOUNT VERNON STREAMS pinned close to the top of the page where you also will find songs that will be sung as Pastor Bob explores “Amazing Grace”!

Foster DHS:  Carol Mauro has quite a few volunteers on a list who have contacted her and are willing to grocery shop, pick up prescriptions, etc., but needs grocery bags (both paper and plastic) for delivery of meals and groceries to family doorsteps.  Right now, all types of food are welcome – cereal, coffee, soups, condiments and prepared foods especially.  Yesterday, she participated in a coordinated regional program for the delivery of food for kids on free/reduced lunches when they are in school.

Technical Assistance Needed

Wayne Carlow has tried to send an email to Pastor Bob of a video of his singing “The Church in the Wildwood” that he thought would be nice for people to listen to during these difficult times – but it won’t go through.  He needs advice from someone who might advise him how to condense the video so it can be emailed.  Wayne’s email is WayneCarlow2014ri@gmail.com.

A Blessing

 And now, in keeping with Pastor Bob’s reflection, let us experience the light of God around us, the love of God enfolding us, the power of God protecting us, and the presence of God watching over us.  Let us remember that wherever we are, God is.  Amen.

——-

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 area

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #2

Dear Friends,

Scripture to Center Us:  Jesus speaking to his disciples….  

What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. … . You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you [everything you need.] 

Luke 12:32-34 adapted from Peterson’s “The Message.”

This is the 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 to me for the next issue!

MVLP Worship Today (Sunday):  Pastor Bob will provide live worship from Mt. Vernon Church at 12:30 p.m. on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook Page.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/.

Reflection 

By her own admission, my mother was a worrier.  If I heard her once, I heard her say countless times, “And another thing I’m worried about….”  As I grew up, I would ask her, “What’s the first thing, then, that you are worried about?”  Of course, she never had an answer.  She worried about everything.

Now, worry can be helpful.  When we are in the midst of a pandemic, worry reminds us to wash our hands, check on our neighbors, stay out of crowds.  But hand-wringing worry without a corrective action can wear us out.  And worry that causes us to over-react by stock-piling food and paper goods so that the shelves are empty is not helpful for the common good.  Or for us – as we slip down the rabbit hole of self-centeredness and isolation.

Yes, I know we are afraid – of not having enough, of uncertainty, of being found in a strange new place where we are uncomfortable and out of control.  And, yes, bad things do happen to good people.  And when they do, we will “Gather ‘Round” to help and hug, to say we’re sorry, to turn things right side up again as best we can.  We are not alone.

One Great Hour of Sharing

 When you give to the One Great Hour of Sharing, your gifts do more than you can imagine!

This Sunday, March 22, is when most churches would receive their One Great Hour of Sharing offerings to support disaster, refugee, and global sustainable development ministries across the world.  Several denominations participate in this offering, including ours – UCC and ABC.  Heaven knows, our gifts are needed this year more than ever!

To contribute to the OGHS – and to send your regular offerings – mail your Mt. Vernon donations to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI  02827), Moosup Valley donations to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), and Rice City donations to Phyllis Dexter (53 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825).  OGHS checks should be made out to the church which will issue one check to the denomination.

Walk & Talk is off to a great start.  Although the Town of Foster closed Woody Lowden’s – we don’t know if that includes the track – Carol Allen has invited us to come and Walk & Talk with her horses and then to take a walk around the pond.  (You can read all about them in the first issue of “Gather ‘Round.”)  We will meet Tuesday, March 24, at Tamarack Farm, 116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene at 10:00 a.m. (historic house at intersection of Vaughn Hollow and Potter).  Carol says to wear boots or hiking boots and bring spray for ticks for your pant legs.  As we have been doing, we can keep our distance, our hands in our pockets, and refrain from hugging as we give our immune systems and spirits a boost.  All are welcome!

Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v  Joanne Newton’s brain surgery went well Thursday, but she will need time to recover and will be in RI Hospital for a few days.  A second surgery will be needed at a later date.

v  Tina Lavallee’s surgery on her thumb went well, and she’s back home and enjoying this little E-newsletter!  Knowing we were praying helped her to relax.

v  Marilyn, Barbara Cederfield’s friend, has been given a clean bill of health after surgery for cancer and is thankful for the prayers and good wishes.

v  Rev. Betsy’s brother Bill Aldrich is having surgery on Thursday and asks for prayers for quick healing (so he can get back to his volunteer work, he says!).

v  Phyllis Dexter is eating better and getting a little stronger.

Foster DHS:  Carol Mauro needs help stocking the shelves, particularly quarts of shelf-stable milk as well as easily prepared foods that children can make when they are home from school and taking care of sick parents.  The run on food has been tremendous.  Call the office (392-9208) to offer delivery or help from a healthy distance.

And now 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.  Amen.

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 #1

Dear Friends,

Scripture:   For though [we are] absent in body, yet [we are] with you in spirit, and [we] rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.  Colossians 2:5.

In the uncertain times of a Pandemic, we are still the Church, and Pastor Bob and I are still your pastors.  Social distancing will be the “new normal,” I’m afraid, for a few weeks or more, and while we aren’t holding worship services in our buildings and attending meetings, we still need to stay in touch and hold each other in our hearts and prayers.

So I am creating an E-newsletter for the MVLP that I’m calling “Gather ‘Round” to call us together virtually through the internet to share news and needs and stories with each other.  I’m planning a twice-weekly posting and encourage you to send me content to share with everyone.  Here’s what I have right now:

  1. Special Prayers:  Please remember…

v  Joanne Newton’s brain surgery went well yesterday at RI Hospital, but she will require a second surgery at a later date.

v  Tina Lavallee fell out of her wheelchair and ruptured tendons and muscles in her right thumb and wrist. She is having surgery today at the VA Hospital.

v  Phyllis Dexter is eating better today but still shaky.  She says she feels well taken care of by visiting nurses and therapists.  No visits but calls are appreciated.

  1. Foster DHS:  Carol Mauro needs 14 dozen quarts of shelf-stable milk as well as easily prepared foods that children can make when they are home from school and taking care of sick parents.  The run on food has been tremendous.  Call the office (392-9208) to offer delivery or help from a healthy distance.
  2. Walk & Talk:  This week I began what I am calling “Walk & Talk with Betsy” — although one doesn’t need me to do this!  I have invited people to come and walk at Woody Lowden’s on Howard Hill Road and identified the day and time to gather.  Four of us met and walked twice, keeping a safe six-foot distance and yet close enough to hear each other.  Two beautiful days restored our spirits and boosted our immune systems!  I will suggest days and times for next week when I see about the weather.  All are welcome! (Oops! Town of Foster just closed Woody’s!  Please stand by.)
  3. Horse Ministry:  Carol Allen sent me a link to an article in the RI Monthly magazine featuring her equine-assisted empowerment program.  You can read the article and see Carol and her beautiful horses by going to www.rimonthly.com/horsepowerment.coventry.  You also can find wonderful pictures and testimonies by googling Tamarack Farm Coventry directly.
  4. World Wide CommunityThis pandemic reminds us that we are all connected across the world. Everyone is our neighbor that Jesus calls us to love.  I received this prayer from a colleague who is active with the RI Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty:

Solidarity Prayer for a Pandemic

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

Amen

  1. MVLP Worship on Sunday: Pastor Bob will provide live worship from Mt. Vernon Church at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook Page. Go to https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/.

 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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