Gather ‘Round E-Newsletter

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 #39
October 16, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

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

Window Box Fall

We are grateful to Tom and Pam of Natural Designs for our
Moosup Valley Church’s Window Box with this beautiful fall arrangement.

Soul Feast: Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

Spiritual direction is the act of paying attention to God,
calling attention to God, being attentive to God
in a person or circumstances or situation….
It notices the Invisibilities in and beneath and around the Visibilities.
It listens for the Silences between the spoken Sounds.
Eugene H. Peterson

For weeks now, I have given us all a lot to think about, using Rev. Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. Everyone talks about Spirituality. Our children say they are “spiritual” but not “religious.” But not too many of us invest time in developing our relationship with God, however we understand who or what we mean by “God,” (which may be different for each of us). We have reflected on a number of “tools” to develop a relationship with the Divine: spiritual reading, prayer, corporate worship, Sabbath, fasting, and self-examination,

It’s a lot to digest, let alone follow. So this week, I will focus on inviting someone to accompany us on that journey. In the Christian tradition, this is known as Spiritual Direction, and while having a spiritual guide in some traditions, such as Roman Catholic and Episcopalian, it is less so for Protestants, except maybe for clergy. However, everyone who is open to the possibility of a deeper life in the Spirit, can benefit from having someone with whom to meet on a regular basis, whatever they are called: priests, ministers, rabbis, gurus, elders, mentors. Think of Jesus and his disciples in a teacher-learner relationship as an example of someone offering spiritual guidance, and the Apostle Paul in his relationship with the little house churches he set up on his missionary journeys. Jesus was unique, however, in that he embodied what he taught.

One’s spiritual director need not be a religious “professional,” however. In the Protestant tradition, we believe in the “priesthood of all believers,” that the Spirit is poured out on all Christians. The best Spiritual Directors are those who are humble, compassionate, wise, and able to speak the truth in love. So what do they do? Margaret Guenther writes, “So what does the spiritual director teach? In the simplest and also most profound terms, the spiritual director is simultaneously a learner and a teacher of discernment. What is happening? Where is God in this person’s life? What is the story? Where does this person’s story fit in our common Christian story?”

Middle age mystic, Teresa of Avila, counsels, “Beginners need counsel to help them ascertain what benefits them most. To this end a director is very necessary, but only a director of experience will avoid making many mistakes and leading souls along without understanding them or without allowing them to learn to understand themselves.” Rev. Thompson in her Soul Feast identifies five roles:

1. A spiritual guide listens to us. He or she offers time and space for us to tell our story and to ask our questions, giving permission for doubts and experiences, helping us to clarify unresolved issues.

2. A spiritual guide helps us to notice things, to find the grace of God hidden in the midst of ordinary life, to find God’s “still small voice” in our daily encounters and experiences.

3. A spiritual guide helps us to respond to God with greater freedom. When we begin to notice God’s presence and challenges, we are faced with choices. We may have to change – which may not be easy. Our guide can help us let go of old habits and ways of being.

4. A spiritual guide points us to practical disciples of spiritual growth, helping us to put in place such disciplines as spiritual reading and prayer and help keep us accountable. I always think that if I’ve told someone I’m going on a diet, that I can’t eat that second piece of cake without letting myself down.

5. A spiritual guide loves us and prays for us, probably the most important function. People at Moosup Valley often say that knowing the congregation was praying for them made it easier to go into surgery, trusting they were not alone.

So, how to get started? I would look for someone whom I imagine has a certain maturity of faith. Someone with lots of life experience, familiar with the scriptures and with a life of prayer. Someone knowledgeable about the ways of the human heart. Someone who knows he or she is not perfect. Someone who is flexible, rather than rigid; someone I trust with my deepest secrets. A good listener who is open to all kinds of feelings without condemnation and who is willing to stand before God with me as a forgiven sinner. Who would you want as your spiritual guide? Eugene H. Peterson says of his spiritual director, “I felt a large roominess in his company—a spiritual roominess, room to move around, room to be free. He didn’t hem me in with questions; he didn’t suffocate me with “concern.”
Ask God to help you find one. Perhaps you already have someone – a prayer partner, a Bible Study group, someone you might consider a “spiritual friend,” someone with whom you already explore who God is in your life. Or you may want to identify someone new, someone who will hear your story in a new way. Rev. Thompson suggests that, “People who have genuine spiritual gifts are usually humble, ordinary folk who are deeply conscious of their own spiritual struggles and failures. And they may be shocked that you are asking them and turn you down, not thinking they are worthy of the role. But you are not looking for a Messiah; you are looking for a companion along the spiritual way, and who better than one is doesn’t think he or she is worthy.

Once you have identified your spiritual guide and identified what you want to work on, the next step is to decide practical matters – how often (once a month or once or twice a year), where you will meet and for how long. And like any new relationship, you may want to “give it a go” and see how it works for you. There is no reason why you can’t drop out if the guide is not a good “fit” for you. Remember, too, that spiritual direction is not psychological counseling which tends to focus on self-image, relationships, or work issues in a problem-solving way. Spiritual direction keeps God in the picture. Tilden Edwards offers this bit of wisdom: “The primary relationship in spiritual friendship is between God and the friend, not between the friends themselves.”

Or perhaps a spiritual guide is not what you need right now. The general teaching and preaching of the church may be sufficient for you. You might find what you are looking for in books. St. Teresa of Avila acknowledged centuries ago that “when we cannot find a living Cristian to guide us, we can rely on good spiritual books.” However, you may yearn for one other flesh-and-blood person who can give you concentrated time and attention with an outsider’s perspective to walk with us in our life journey. Such companionship may be a precious grace in your life.

Next week, we will look at the Spirit of Hospitality – Entertaining Angels Unawares.

The End of the Pandemic. What Would Jesus Do?

With thanks to Tom Hall for bringing this to my attention,
and with excerpts from Isabella Piro’s summary.

Pope Francis has written a new encyclical – a letter to be distributed to Catholics around the world – that has something to say of value for all Christians, not just Catholics. This one is known as “Fratelli Tutti” and seeks to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with the contribution of all people and institutions, and an emphatic confirmation of a ‘no’ to war and to globalized indifference. He writes that the global health emergency has helped demonstrate that “no one can face life in isolation” and that the time has truly come to “dream, then, as a single human family” in which we are “brothers and sisters all.” We might understand this as answering the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”

Here are a few of his themes and points:

• The Pope sounds the alarm on a “culture of walls” fueled by fear and loneliness and the many distortions of the contemporary era: the manipulation and deformation of concepts such as democracy, freedom, justice; the loss of the meaning of the social community and history; selfishness and indifference toward the common good; the prevalence of a market logic based on profit and the culture of waste; unemployment, racism, poverty; the disparity of rights and its aberrations such as slavery, human trafficking,…

• We are all called – just like the Good Samaritan – to become neighbors to others, overcoming prejudices, personal interests, historic and cultural barriers. Love builds bridges and “we were made for love,” the Pope adds, particularly exhorting Christians to recognize Christ in the face of every excluded person.

• The right to live with dignity cannot be denied to anyone, and since rights have no borders, no one can remain excluded, regardless of where they are born.

• To the theme of migration, we should have “a heart open to the whole world.” With their lives “at stake,” fleeing from war, persecution, natural catastrophes, unscrupulous trafficking, ripped from their communities of origin, migrants are to be welcomed, protected, supported and integrated. Unnecessary migration needs to be avoided, by creating opportunities to live with dignity in the countries of origin. But at the same time, we need to respect the right to seek a better life elsewhere.

• Politics [should be] placed at the service of the common good, centered on human dignity.

• Life is the “art of encounter” with everyone, because “each of us can learn something from others.” The miracle of “kindness” is an attitude to be recovered.

• Peace is connected to truth, justice and mercy. Far from the desire for vengeance, it is “proactive” and aims at forming a society based on service to others and on the pursuit of reconciliation and mutual development. Forgiveness does not mean to forget, but to renounce the destructive power of evil and the desire for revenge. Never forget “horrors” like the Shoah, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, persecutions and ethnic massacres.

• War is “a constant threat” that represents “the negation of all rights,” “a failure of politics and of humanity” and “a stinging defeat before the forces of evil.” Moreover, due to nuclear chemical and biological weapons that strike many innocent civilians, today we can no longer think, as in the past, of the possibility of a “just war,” but we must vehemently reaffirm: “Never again war!” In addition, the death penalty must be abolished worldwide.

• Terrorism is not due to religion but to erroneous interpretations of religious texts, as well as “policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression” A journey of peace among religions is possible and that it is therefore necessary to guarantee religious freedom, a fundamental human right for all believers. Interreligious dialogue [should] be adopted as the way, common cooperation as conduct, and mutual knowledge as method and standard.

It Begins with You and Me
By Marge Piercy
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people can join to form
a committee, a wedge. ..
It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they say no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted). The Order of Worship bulletin is emailed on Saturday mornings and includes the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document. This Sunday, Reverend Betsy will reflect on Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (1:1-9), and her message is entitled “Steeple People,” which is what we are called to be. Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

Rice City Worship

This Sunday, October 18, Rice City will be back inside, socially distanced, windows open, and masked. Pastor Bob’s theme is “My Strength and My Song.” A copy of the Order of Worship will be emailed with Moosup Valley’s service on Saturday morning.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

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

Evening Prayer

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

Special Prayers

Celtic poet, philosopher, and scholar, John O’Donahue, writes that “Prayer is the act and presence of sending … light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them. When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life. He notes that, “In the kingdom of love, there is no competition.”

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers…

 For Ron Burge, for a quick recovery from a broken his ankle.

 For Mary Joseph who has been not been feeling well. (Cards may be sent to her at 201 Plainfied Pike, Foster, RI 02825.)

 For George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is recovering from COVID-19 at the Miriam Hospital, now being moved out of ICU to a private room.

 For Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, and his son-in-law Bart Duarte who is recovering from neck surgery.

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

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

 For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.

 For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 For Richard Lucky who has had throat surgery at Deaconess Hospital in Boston.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster Department of Human Services

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions. Cash donations to DHS, Town of Foster,
181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825. Thank you for you continued support!

October food pantry donations needed: canned tomatoes (diced, stewed), canned veggies, canned fruit, soup, pasta, low salt and gluten free items.

Thanksgiving Food Basket Donations

The Foster Department of Human Services is accepting donations now for Thanksgiving food baskets for your neighbors in need. The department anticipates helping 75 households again this year. Traditional food item suggestions are: gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, instant and canned potatoes/yams, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk and pie crust mix. Surplus winter squash is always a treat, too!

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. Please bring donations by November 5 to allow time to pack the holiday bags and have them ready for pickup. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Thank you for adding just one more reason to be thankful.

Flu Clinic

In addition to protecting yourself from the flu, you will receive a $5 CVS gift card!

Flu shots are available for anyone ages 19 and older on Thursday, October 22, 10:00 a.m. to noon, and will be provided by CVS Pharmacy at the Community Room, Building B, at Hemlock Village (110 Foster Center Road, Foster). The ‘super shot’ or ‘senior shot’ flu vaccine should be available. Go to the Community Room

New this year: Registration is required! Please call 392-9208 to schedule your appointment time and prefill the required paper work. This will reduce the number of people at any one time and also streamline the process by having the paperwork completed when you get there. Masks are required and physical distancing is recommended. There should only be a couple of people waiting at a time, given the appointment reservations this year. Please use the visitor parking in the first lot on the left. (Parking in front of the buildings is reserved for the residents.)

Neighbors in Need

Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that
supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support ministry with Native Americans, and two-thirds supports a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. Your offerings may be mailed to Pat Safstrom, Treasurer of Moosup Valley Church, at the address, below. (Please note in the memo NIN)

Closing Thought
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.

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


Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), please note offering in the memo of your check or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

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

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

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #38

October 9, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

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

 Window Box Fall

We are grateful to Tom and Pam of Natural Designs for our

Moosup Valley Church’s Window Box with this beautiful fall arrangement.

 

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality


 
Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my thoughts.

See if there is any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

So far in this series on spirituality, we have reflected on spiritual reading, prayer, corporate worship, Sabbath, and fasting as spiritual disciplines.  This week, we move on to Self-Examination, Confession, and Awareness with the Rev. Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast.   She begins this discipline by noting, “God is the searcher of every human heart,… where we are able to find the healing and restoration we so desperately need. … why scripture and Christian teaching urge us to examine ourselves and to confess what we find before God and to others.”  Why is this important?  Because, she reminds us, “Self-examination and confession do not call us to self-hatred or self-condemnation; they open the door of our heart to cleansing, renewal, and peace.”  Yet, we shy away from doing so.  As M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Traveled,” says, “Examination of the world without is never as personally painful as examination of the world within.”

Rev. Thompson directs us to two basic truths before we begin:  First, that we are loved by God, no matter that we are not, probably, good, pure and lovable.  God’s love isn’t something we deserve or earn; it’s the divine nature, a gift.  The second truth is that we are creatures damaged by the disorientation of sin, meaning we are “off target,” like an arrow wrongly directed by self-centered desires, chained to unmet needs, compelled by illusions, and seeking to be in control, manipulating others.  Thompson writes, “Even if we think we believe in God, we effectively stand in God’s place.  As long as we are turned in on ourselves, we deny our essential dependence on God.  We do not see how compulsively we try to manufacture our own security and meaning in life.”  She reminds us that, “Turning to face God instead of self is the beginning of Good News, the beginning of personal and relational transformation. This is what scripture calls ‘repentance.’” And repentance frees us … “to look honestly at who we are.  Bathed in God’s love, we can see clearly and nondefensively all the destructive patterns of our false self: the facades we have hidden behind, the excuses we have relied on to avoid taking responsibility, our habits of deception and control, our failure to love God, others, or ourselves adequately.” 

So, how to proceed?  First, we can examine our conscience, to place the “soul under the gaze of God,” to become conscious of the things that must be forgiven and put right before it can continue to love.”  She suggests we begin with a “life review,” which is similar to Step Four in a Twelve-Step program, in which one makes a “fearless inventory” of those personality traits, inclinations, attitudes, and behaviors that interfere with our truest good and the good of others.  We discover where and why our lives and relationships are out of order; we gain self-knowledge.  This may take days, weeks, or longer – perhaps it is part of the life journey – and it may make us uncomfortable.  We may have to let go of perfectionism and struggle with our human tendency to protect ourselves.  One way to do this review is to take pieces of paper and write a single focus on the top of each, such as Fears, Resentments, Emotional Security, Material Security, Social Acceptance, Sexuality, and Faith.  Then go back to your earliest memories and identify your particular experiences (people, circumstances, institutions); write them down on the appropriate sheets and for each, identify the effect on you and how your response contributed to the situation.  Eventually, you will begin to see the patterns which shape your adult life. 

Years ago, I worked nights as a nurse in a nursing home, and late into the evening one of my patients would still be awake, rocking in her chair and talking to herself.  I would ask, “What are you doing, Mary?”  She would reply, “Remembering the sins of my youth.”  This process of introspection doesn’t have to wait until we are dying, however.  We can look back when we are still able to understand ourselves and the choices we made and to make amends where needed.

Thompson reminds us the “An important part of a life review concerns your experiences and struggles in faith.  Who is God for you?  What is your God-image and how did it develop?  Is your current image of God the same image you had as a child?  Have you tried to manipulate or use God for your own agenda?”

Once you have finished your inventory, take time not only to confess what you regret but also to acknowledge your gifts and strengths.  Such a life review need only happen once in a lifetime and will give us a foundation for a daily self-examination – a time to reflect on when you were selfish, dishonest, resentful, fearful, greedy, impatient, judgmental, or a list of traits that are relevant for you. In the Roman Catholic monastic tradition, there are five steps to this daily examination:  gratitude for graces given, prayer for the light of insight, self-examination, acts of sorrow and contrition, and the resolution to do better.

Sometimes, confessions may be recorded in a journal.  Other times, they may be shared with a trusted friend, someone with a “holy heart” who can listen to our deepest hurts and hopes without judgment. 

The benefit of all this is to “allow us to become people who are at peace with ourselves, and who can therefore make peace with others.”  At the same time, we become more aware of the movement of the Spirit in our lives.  Next week, I will look at finding someone to accompany you on the journey and the gift of “spiritual direction.”

Evelyn Mann writes to ask if I know of the hymn, “Search Me, O God,” sung to the tune
Maori, which you might know as “Now Is the Hour.”  You can hear it sung by the The Cathedrals on YouTube.

 Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

 When I was a child, Columbus Day weekend was the time when we went to Vermont to visit my father’s folks on the farm in Weathersfield, north of Springfield, and also to attend the Little Brown Church in the Valley, in Williamsville, where my grandmother had been the minister for 20 years.  It was one of my favorite adventures growing up, watching my father’s half-brother Augustus make Apple Cider Jelly using the evaporator that he would use in the spring for syrup.  It’s where I learned how to milk a cow.  And in the Methodist Episcopal Church on Sunday, it’s where I wondered what it would be like to be a minister.

I never thought much about Christopher Columbus – the explorer who landed on our shores on October 12, 1492, the first European to explore the Americas.  He was on his way to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia, and when he sighted what is now Cuba, he thought it was mainland China.  It wasn’t until his third journey, that Columbus realized that he had stumbled upon a new continent.  However, he wasn’t the first.  The Vikings came about 996 to what is now Labrador and the coast of New England, leaving carvings on rocks in places like Provincetown and Newport.  Some speculate that because the Vikings were peaceful, that the later Europeans would be also, a big mistake!

We were taught that Columbus “discovered” America.  Yet, how could he be given credit for the discovery when people were already here?  He brutalized and enslaved the people, a fact that is left out of the history books when I was in school.  And he was given license to do so by the “Doctrine of Discovery” of 1493 by the Pope which justified Christian European explorers’ claims on land and waterways and promoted Christian domination and superiority over indigenous people.  This doctrine laid the foundation for colonization all over the world and gave Christians the spiritual, political, and legal permission to pillage, rape, and plunder whatever they found.

Now, as an alternative, we are more likely to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and to celebrate and honor our Native Americans and their histories and cultures.  My UCC calendar identifies Monday, October 12, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, so, since I’m sitting on Mashpee Wampanoag land, that’s what I’m calling it this year, and I hope to hear some drumming across Santuit Pond in celebration. 

 Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin is emailed on Saturday mornings and includes the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Reverend Betsy is preaching on Philippians 4:1-9, with a reflection on the church as “Safe Passage.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.  We welcome sisters and brothers from Rice City to join us this Sunday.

Rice City Worship

As Pastor Bob will be away, there will be no service at Rice City this Sunday.  He suggests that you worship with Moosup Valley on Zoom at 10:30 a.m. (see above), or watch Mt. Vernon’s worship service from Wednesday (see below) on their Facebook page, or worship live at Summit Baptist at 9:25 a.m.  The following Sunday, October 18, Rice City will be back inside.

 Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

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

Evening Prayer

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

Special Prayers

 Celtic poet, philosopher, and scholar, John O’Donahue, writes that “Prayer is the act and presence of sending … light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them.  When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life.  He notes that, “In the kingdom of love, there is no competition.”

 Please hold a place in your heart and prayers…

  • For Ron Burge, for a quick recovery from a broken his ankle.
  • For Mary Joseph who has been not been feeling well. (Cards may be sent to her at 201 Plainfied Pike, Foster, RI 02825.)
  • For George Weavill, former UCC Business Manager, who is in ICU in the Miriam Hospital with COVID-19.
  • For Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels.
  • Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme, and his son-in-law Bart Duarte who is recovering from neck surgery.
  • For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer.
  • For Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery. David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards! (Send to 51 Victory Hwy., Greene, RI  02827)
  • For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.
  • For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.  
  • For Richard Lucky who has had throat surgery at Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
  • For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.
  • For our nation, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link. 

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Moosup Valley Memories

Submitted by Sonja Murray

The clam bake on Labor Day weekend was the biggest deal in Moosup Valley:  two bakes, 20 people per table and 15 to 20 tables under the “supper shed.”  The church held a bake sale the same day, and my mother always made pulla (Finnish coffee cake) which sold out almost before she got there.  It was sponsored by the Grange (their major money-maker for the year, without a doubt) and Mary Knudsen was in charge of ticket sales.  I think Fred Kennedy was Bake Master for years.  People came from near and far to eat!  Lydia Griffiths made the clam chowder for years.  Chowder and clam cakes to start; potatoes (white and sweet), fish with sausage in the brown bag, corn, clams (no lobster); drawn butter, tomato and cucumber slices on the table, brown bread, watermelon for dessert.  Does everyone remember it this way? 

Another big Valley event was the square dance held Saturday nights in the Grange; also a fundraiser, though nothing like the clambake.  Roger Leathers called, Priscilla Kennedy (piano) and Woody Lowden (drums) were in the band, and Burt Bennis was at the door.  Could admission have been 25 cents?  That was a “must be there” event!

Another memory was the Moosup Valley one-room school.  I was only there for only first grade, but not many of us even remember the school.  My parents sent me to Coventry for second grade and beyond, for I would have been the only one in grade two.  Laila Renvall, the girl I taught to read in first grade, went back to Finland with her parents.  Then she returned about a year later, and the teacher promoted her to grade three.  One student in a class was not practical! 

Are there other memories out there, waiting to be captured for this newsletter?

Foster Department of Human Services

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.  Cash donations to DHS, Town of Foster,

181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support! 

October food pantry donations needed:  canned tomatoes (diced, stewed), canned veggies, canned fruit, soup, pasta, low salt and gluten free items.

Thanksgiving Food Basket Donations

The Foster Department of Human Services is accepting donations now for Thanksgiving food baskets for your neighbors in need. The department anticipates helping 75 households again this year. Traditional food item suggestions are:  gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, instant and canned potatoes/yams, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk and pie crust mix. Surplus winter squash is always a treat, too! 

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. Please bring donations by November 5 to allow time to pack the holiday bags and have them ready for pickup.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated.  Thank you for adding just one more reason to be thankful.

Flu Clinic 

In addition to protecting yourself from the flu, you will receive a $5 CVS gift card! 

 

Flu shots are available for anyone ages 19 and older on Thursday, October 22, 10:00 a.m. to noon, and will be provided by CVS Pharmacy at the Community Room, Building B, at Hemlock Village (110 Foster Center Road, Foster).  The ‘super shot’ or ‘senior shot’ flu vaccine should be available.  Go to the Community Room

New this year:  Registration is required! Please call 392-9208 to schedule your appointment time and prefill the required paper work.  This will reduce the number of people at any one time and also streamline the process by having the paperwork completed when you get there.  Masks are required and physical distancing is recommended. There should only be a couple of people waiting at a time, given the appointment reservations this year.  Please use the visitor parking in the first lot on the left. (Parking in front of the buildings is reserved for the residents.) 

Closing Thought

Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology“Autumn Is Here”
By Catherine de Vinck


The day opens it first page
As the sun lifts itself out of the East.
No story yet, only the brief fluttering
of a passing bird, winging to the horizon.
Newly awake, the mind turns on its hinges
opens the door to its storerooms to find
shining thoughts, amulets of good luck
and the bones of memories abandoned
in the long corridors of our living.
No need to hurry. We listen hard:
We can hear the earth singing
in the chorus of morning glories
while water words wash us clean.
Time never stops, it goes on writing
a catalog of names and numbers:
phases of the moon, directions of the tides.
Autumn is here with baskets full of apples
gifts for the white ghosts of winter –It goes on like this, day in, day out
until metaphors shed their disguises
and we stand in the full truth of ourselves
and we find and are found.

 

Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

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

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

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

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

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“MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #37
October 2, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed;    The Church Is Open!

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

Soul Feast: Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

Ultimately to fast means only one thing:
to be hungry—to go to the limit of that human condition
which depends entirely on food and being hungry,
to discover that this dependency is not the whole truth about [us],
that hunger itself is first of all a spiritual state
and that it is in its last reality hunger for God.
–Alexander Schmemann

So far, in this series on spirituality, we have reflected on communication with God through spiritual reading and prayer and communing with God, resting in God, and for the past two weeks, corporate worship and Sabbath. This week, I will explore Fasting, the practice of self-emptying, as a spiritual discipline. While fasting is not something Protestants have traditionally explored, Rev. Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast suggests, “I believe we need to recover the spiritual purpose of fasting precisely because of the character of contemporary culture.”

She reminds us that, in the ancient Jewish tradition, fasting had two primary purposes: to express personal and national repentance for sin as “a form of supplication before God in the face of calamity,” and “to prepare oneself inwardly for receiving the necessary strength and grace to complete a mission of faithful service in God’s name.” Think of the wilderness fasts of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus which prepared them to become bearers of God’s saving acts. And remember how Jesus combines prayer and fasting to overcome his temptations in the desert.

In Jesus’ time, fasting was a normal part of Jewish piety and, until recently, was viewed as normal in the life of Christians. It is still practiced by Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, although those of us in the tradition of the Reformation, have forgotten that our some of our greatest leaders – Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Edwards – were strong advocates of fasting. And while fasting can be taken to unhealthy extremes, the tradition also includes more moderate approaches:

Abba Joseph asked Abba Poemen, “How should one fast?” Abba Poemen said to him, “For my part, I think it better that one should eat every day, but only a little, so as not to be satisfied.”

We, on the other hand, grumble when our doctors insist we fast before medical test. We are not used to being deprived. Thompson writes, “Like the noise we have become accustomed to, or the frenetic busyness of our schedules, food is taken for granted as a constant in our lives. The very idea of intentionally being without it for even a day may threaten some of the unconscious assumptions on which our lives are built. This is precisely why fasting remains so relevant for people of faith today.” And further, “[fasting] reveals our excessive attachments and the assumptions that lie behind them. Food is necessary to life, but we have made it more necessary than God. … Fasting brings us face to face with how we put the material world ahead of its spiritual Source.”

According to Psychiatrist Gerald May, “St. Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them. If our hands are full, they are full of the things to which we are addicted. And not only our hands, but also our hearts, minds, and attention are clogged with addiction. Our addictions fill up the spaces within us, spaces where grace might flow. … [T]he spiritual significance of addiction is not just that we lose freedom through attachment to things, … [but] that we try to fulfill our longing for God through objects of attachment.”

Quaker Richard Foster distinguishes three different fasts: a normal fast “involves abstaining from all food, solid or liquid, but not from water.” A partial fast involves “a restriction of the diet but not total abstention,” perhaps not eating meat on Fridays, if one is Catholic, or giving up dessert during Lent, for example. And an absolute fast means “abstaining from both food and water,” something that might call for supervision of a physician.

And just as I wrote last week that Sabbath is more than one day of the week, fasting can be more than abstaining from food. Baptist minister Dallas Willard points out, “We dishonor God as much by fearing and avoiding pleasure as we do by dependence upon it or living for it.” Thompson adds that we need “disciplines of abstinence because we have come to relate to food, drink, sex, money, recognition, and many other things in life not as lovely gifts to be enjoyed in moderation and gratitude, but as objects of consumption to fill emotional voids. When what we consume is consuming us, and what we possess is possessing us, the only way back to health and balance is to refrain for using those things that have control over us.” So fasting might include taking a break from constant media stimulation, emails and texts, compulsive shopping, constant dieting (or eating), too much exercise (or none), judging others or ourselves too harshly, and from overfilled schedules. We need to ask ourselves: What do I do to excess?

John Calvin, our forefather in the Reformed faith, followed the biblical tradition of interpreting major disasters as divine messages and urged his followers “to accuse themselves and confess their guilt.” While Calvin’s words may seem quaint to us today, perhaps we would do well to repent our personal and social sins that abound everywhere we look, Thompson writes in the 1990s, words even more pertinent today:

If ever there was a time when repentance was called for on a national and
international scale, it is now. … World powers stand by while despots wreak
havoc on their own populations. Ancient hatreds continue to fuel wars all
over the globe. Racial and ethnic tensions threaten the cohesion of or own communities. Levels of violence and addiction exceed all bounds. Family structures crumble, and children become both victims and perpetrators of abuse in their homes and schools. Our way of life places intolerable burdens on the resources of the earth, fouling the very elements we depend on for life.

In conclusion, in the words of the Reverend James Earl Massey, “Fasting is not a renunciation of life; it is a means by which new life is released within us.”

Next week, I will move on to the practice of Conscience and Consciousness: Self-Examination, Confession, and Awareness.

Safe Passage

In her just published book, Hamnet, British author Maggie O’Farrell spins a fictional story of Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet, who dies at age 11 in 1596’s England. In the book, she writes a couple of paragraphs about the deep forests in England, how the townspeople were afraid to enter them. When Kim read me an excerpt, my response was, “There’s a sermon in there!” So here is that paragraph – and expect a sermon at Moosup Valley sometime soon about how the community that we know as the “church” can give us “safe passage.” To get you thinking:

“People who needed to go through the forest would stop to pray; there was an altar, a cross, where you could pause and put your safety in the hands of the Lord, hope that He had heard you, trust that He would watch for you, that He wouldn’t let your path intersect with those of the wood-dwellers or the forest sprites or the creatures of the leaves. The cross became covered, choked, some said, with tight skeins of ivy. Other travelers put their faith in darker powers: all around the fringes of the forest there were shrines where people tied shreds of their clothing to branches, left cups of ale, loaves of bread, scraps of crackling, strings of bright beads in the hope that the spirits of the trees might be appeased and give them safe passage.”

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted). The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document. This Sunday, World Communion Sunday, Reverend Betsy is preaching on the high drama story Jesus tells when he is confronting the powerful people in the temple, just before they plot to kill him: Matthew 21:33-46. Her reflection title is “Producing Fruit.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday, and please bring a piece of bread from your tradition and a cup of something for the communion service.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Pastor Bob reports: “Rice City continues to meet outside for worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it. So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp. Outside is the safest way we can gather together. We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary. The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside. It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement. Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home. Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.” The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

October Hymn Sing
The Hymn Sing for October has been moved to the first Sunday of the month, October 4th, 3:00 p.m., to avoid the holiday weekend. We are planning for a beautiful afternoon outside at Moosup Valley. However, if the weather is cold or inclement, we will meet inside at Rice City. Pastor Bob will post the meeting place on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook page (or you can call him at 401-440-7831), and he also will post a sign at Moosup Valley, if it has been moved to Rice City. If so, the Hymn Sing will be delayed to 3:15 to accommodate the people who went to Moosup Valley first. If at Moosup Valley, please bring your own chair, wear a mask, and plan to sit “socially-distant” with masks on.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

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

Evening Prayer

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

Special Prayers

Celtic poet, philosopher, and scholar, John O’Donahue, writes that “Prayer is the act and presence of sending … light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free, and bless them. When there is love in your life, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life. He notes that, “In the kingdom of love, there is no competition.”

Please hold a place in your heart and prayers…

 For Pat Safstrom who is having cataract surgery on Friday.

 For Mary Joseph who has been not been feeling well. (Cards may be sent to her at 201 Plainfied Pike, Foster, RI 02825.)

 For Bart Duarte, Carl’s son-in-law, who is recovering from neck surgery.

 For Randy Sroka, that he may be back to pre-COVID levels.

 Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme.

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

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

 For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.

 For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him swallow.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

 For our nation, that we will listen to each other and pray for each other and hold to whatever we believe is true and honorable.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study is on hold until after Thanksgiving.

Foster Department of Human Services

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions. Cash donations to DHS, Town of Foster,
181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825. Thank you for you continued support!

October food pantry donations needed: canned tomatoes (diced, stewed), canned veggies, canned fruit, soup, pasta, low salt and gluten free items.

Thanksgiving Food Basket Donations

The Foster Department of Human Services is accepting donations now for Thanksgiving food baskets for your neighbors in need. The department anticipates helping 75 households again this year. Traditional food item suggestions are: gravy (cans/jars/packages) stuffing mix, instant and canned potatoes/yams, canned vegetables, pickles/olives, cranberry sauce, biscuit/roll/muffin mix, butter, pie filling, evaporated milk and pie crust mix. Surplus winter squash is always a treat, too!

Drop boxes for donations are at the Foster DHS office, Town Hall, post office, outside at Foster Public Library and Tyler Free Library. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are also helpful. Please bring donations by November 5 to allow time to pack the holiday bags and have them ready for pickup. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Thank you for adding just one more reason to be thankful.

Flu Clinic

In addition to protecting yourself from the flu, you will receive a $5 CVS gift card!

Flu shots are available for anyone ages 19 and older on Thursday, October 22, 10:00 a.m. to noon, and will be provided by CVS Pharmacy at the Community Room, Building B, at Hemlock Village (110 Foster Center Road, Foster). The ‘super shot’ or ‘senior shot’ flu vaccine should be available. Go to the Community Room

New this year: Registration is required! Please call 392-9208 to schedule your appointment time and prefill the required paper work. This will reduce the number of people at any one time and also streamline the process by having the paperwork completed when you get there. Masks are required and physical distancing is recommended. There should only be a couple of people waiting at a time, given the appointment reservations this year. Please use the visitor parking in the first lot on the left. (Parking in front of the buildings is reserved for the residents.)

Closing Thought
By Walter Brueggeman, Biblical scholar, in “Prayers for a Privilege People”

The Noise of Politics

We watch as the jets fly in
with the power people and / the money people
the suits, the budgets, the billions.

We wonder about monetary policy
because we are among the haves,
And about generosity
because we care about the have-nots.

By slower modes we notice
Lazarus and the poor arriving from Africa,
and the beggars from Central Europe, and
the throng of environmentalists with their vision of butterflies and oil
of flowers and tanks
of growing things and / killing fields.

We wonder about peace and war,
about ecology and development,
about hope and entitlement.

We listen beyond jeering protesters and
soaring jets and
faintly we hear the mumbling of the crucified one,
something about
feeding the hungry / and giving drink to the thirsty,
about clothing the naked, / and noticing the prisoners,
more about the least and about holiness among them.

We are moved by the mumbles of the gospel,
even while we are tenured in our privilege.

We are half ready to join the choir of hope,
half afraid things might change,
and in a third half of our faith / turning to you,
and your outpouring love / that works justice and
that binds us each and all to one another.

Se we pray amid jeering protesters
and soaring jets.
Come by here and make new,
even at some risk to our entitlements.

Offerings may be mailed for:

Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),
Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

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

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

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #36
September 25, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed;   The Church Is Open!

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

Soul Feast: Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

The Sabbath itself is a sanctuary
which we build, a sanctuary in time.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

So far, in this series on spirituality, we have reflected on communication with God through spiritual reading and prayer and communing with God, resting in God, and last week, “gathering in the Spirit,” worshipping together. Building on worship, I decided to write something on the Sabbath and expanded on “Soul Feast” to consult three other books on my shelf about the Sabbath.

We know of the Sabbath as a day. “On the seventh day, God rested” (Genesis 2:3) we read in our creation story, a gift in people’s lives right from the beginning, and again its emphasis in the people’s lives, “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). We think of it as a day of rest from work of any kind – although that is difficult for ministers who are expected to lead worship and for mothers who are expected to have Sunday dinner on the table after church. Years ago, Sabbath was also a time for family and visiting. I’m old enough to remember when stores were closed on Sunday, do you? Sundays were the pause that refreshed us, a gentle, relaxing day. In addition to the quote above, Heschel reminds us that “Sabbath is an opportunity to mend our tattered lives; to collect rather than to dissipate time.”

When churches had bells – Rice City still does – they would lead us to worship, as this poem by Wendell Berry reminds us:

The bell calls in the town
Where forebears cleared the shaded land
And brought high daylight down
To shine on field and trodden road.
I hear, but understand
Contrarily, and walk into the woods.
I leave labor and load
Take up a different story.
I keep an inventory
Of wonders and of uncommercial goods.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk thinks it is fortunate that “there are church bells all over Europe.” He says:

Whenever I give a lecture in Switzerland, I always make use of the church bells to practice mindfulness. When the bells ring, I stop talking, and all of us listen to the full sound of the bell. We enjoy it so much.

When I visited England, I thought that if I lived there, I would be an Anglican because of the bells.

But Sabbath is more than a day; it is a time of mindfulness, as the Buddhist says. And the Rabbi teaches that, “The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space [think alarm clocks and schedules]; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.” And we don’t have to wait until Sunday to do so. In the midst of such a busy life, “Jesus was always taking time to get away from the pressures and to be alone, to pray, to spend time with God, to gain perspective, to be renewed, to regenerate his energy and that of his followers” (Don Postema, Catch Your Breath: God’s Invitation to Sabbath Rest, p. 31).

Too often, however, we use the Sabbath as a time to prepare for the week ahead, but Rabbi Heschel reminds us, “The Sabbath as a day of rest, as a day of abstaining from toil, is not for the purpose of recovering one’s lost strength and becoming fit for the forthcoming labor. The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life.” In that way, the Sabbath is God’s invitation to peace in the middle of feverish activity. Heschel again, “Does not our work always remain incomplete? What the verse means to convey is: Rest on the Sabbath as if all your work were done. Another interpretation: Rest even from the thought of labor.”

Sabbath also is a time to catch our breath. Postema writes, “When we exert ourselves, it’s as if our breath gets away from us and we have to grab it back again to renew our vitality.” And he uses childbirth as an example, “There are different breathing patterns for various parts of labor. Breathing is part of the birth process. When the baby is born, we immediately make sure it is breathing. Where there’s breath, there’s life.” Mystic Thomas Merton notes, “Every breath we draw is a gift of God’s love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted. In the same way, we sing this beloved hymn, “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love the way you love, and do what you would do.”

Harvard professor Diana Eck, in Encountering God, p. 127, writes, “Remembering our breath is one of the simplest ways of becoming aware of God. So various forms of meditation encourage us to be conscious of our breathing. The practice is very simple, though not easy. Concentrate on breathing in and breathing out. Such “resting the mind on the breath of a sustained period of the day [can be] a vehicle for resting in the Spirit. It is a vehicle for returning attention to the moment and for returning attention to God.”

And we don’t have to wait; we can have mini-Sabbaths throughout the day and every day of the week, as in the 23rd Psalm: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” We can do this on a regular basis; even eating a meal mindfully, if we are eating alone, can be a mini-Sabbath. Next week, I will explore “Fasting” as a spiritual discipline.

What We Can Learn from RBG?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg had a profound influence on American life, a remarkable, larger- than-life figure for many of us. When she died of pancreatic cancer earlier this month, she was already an icon for women’s rights and gender equality, and we remember her in her black jurist’s robes and her signature lace collar. What did we learn from her?
Many things, but I suggest several here, and encourage you to add your own.

First, that a woman can have a loving marriage and a successful career and children. Ginsberg had a lifelong marriage to Martin Ginsberg and raised two children. One can also have a life beyond work, given her love of the opera.

Second, that women suffered discrimination and still do. Although she was top of her class at Harvard Law School, she couldn’t find a job and had to hide her pregnancy in order to continue to work when she was finally hired. She successfully argued against gender discrimination, including one significant case where she argued and won a father’s right to say home and raise his child with SSDI benefits after his wife died in childbirth.

Third, that we need to be strategic in our goals. “Ginsberg was wise enough to know that if you pick your fights to build on your successes, there is a better chance of not only winning but having your victories accepted,” according to columnist Cynthia Stead.

Fourth, that we can be friends with people who hold different opinions from ours. She was a longtime friend of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with whom she was ideologically opposed on many issues.

Five, that she was a superhero for many people in this country, men as well as women, who desperately need women of intellect, character, and principle to look up to as well as rock stars. Stead writes, “She changed the law, and she changed society. She was a justice who trusted our judgment.”

Opera singer, Denyce Graves, a black friend accompanied by a white pianist and a personal friend of Ginsberg, composed a tribute which she sang at her memorial this week, “America, America, I gave my best to you.”

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church. Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted). The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document. This Sunday, Reverend Betsy is preaching on one of the “controversy stories,” Matthew 21:23-32. Her reflection title is “By Whose Authority?” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Pastor Bob reports: “Rice City continues to meet outside for worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it. So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp. Outside is the safest way we can gather together. We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary. The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside. It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement. Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home. Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.” The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

October Hymn Sing
The Hymn Sing for October has been moved to the first Sunday of the month, October 4th, 3:00 p.m., to avoid the holiday weekend. We are planning for a beautiful afternoon outside at Moosup Valley. However, if the weather is cold or inclement, we will meet inside at Rice City. Pastor Bob will post the meeting place on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Facebook page (or you can call him at 401-440-7831), and he also will post a sign at Moosup Valley, if it has been moved to Rice City. If so, the Hymn Sing will be delayed to 3:15 to accommodate the people who went to Moosup Valley first. If at Moosup Valley, please bring your own chair, wear a mask, and plan to sit “socially-distant” with masks on.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

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

Evening Prayer

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

Special Prayers: Please hold in your heart and prayers…

 For Bart Duarte, Carl’s son-in-law, who is recovering from neck surgery.

 For Carl Safstrom’s friend and colleague, Dan Syme.

 For Tina and Jim’s friend, Chris, who was active in assisting veterans and who has just died of a heart attack at age 54. He leaves a wife and children.

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

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

 For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer and to manage the effects of the chemo.

 For Carol and Bob‘s friend, Kathy, from Coventry who is battling a very rare cancer.

 For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him swallow.

 For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

SNEUCC Conference Praying for Us
Keep alive in me the forward look, the high hope, the onward surge.
Let me not be frozen either by the past or the present.
Grant me, [O God, your] sense of the future without which all life
would sicken and die. – Howard Thurman
With these words, our new Conference announced that each week, the staff prays for 12 of its churches, for their leaders and their ministries, and this week, Moosup Valley was one of them. They also ask for our prayers for them and the ministries of the Southern New England Conference. Special requests for prayer are always welcome.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings: Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom. Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening: The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them. (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

September is Socks for Students Month!

School-aged children 5 – 18 years old could use your donation of socks. Please use the Foster Department of Human Services (DHS) food bins around town at the libraries, the post office, the Town Hall and the DHS office to leave your donations. Thank you!
Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.

Flu Shot Clinic: Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics. This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

To donate, send your checks for needy people, payable to DHS, Town of Foster, to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought
The Reverend Powell Davies, minister of All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s and 50s, offers this:

Life must have its sacred moments and holy places. We need the infinite, the limitless, the uttermost — all that can give the heart a deep and strengthening peace. We need religion with its faith and purpose; we need it as experience. We need the touch of beauty, bringing back to life its luster and its loveliness. We need the unutterable communion of our spirits with the spirit of the highest — all that joins the souls with what it yearns for, all that can raise the frailty of our incomplete humanity toward the level of the spirit’s aspirations — that our earthly dust may meet and mingle with the majesty and mystery of God.

Offerings may be mailed for:
Mt. Vernon to Ron Allen (116 Barbs Hill Road, Greene, RI 02827),
Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or go on the website (moosupvalley.church) and donate through PayPal.

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

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

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #35

September 18, 2020

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

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

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God,

to feed the mind with the truth of God,

to purge the imagination by the beauty of God,

to open the heart to the love of God,

to devote the will to the purpose of God.

William Temple

So far, in this series on spirituality, we have reflected on communication with God through spiritual reading and prayer and communing with God, resting in God. Today we turn to “gathering in the Spirit,” worshipping together.

You might not have thought of this as a spiritual discipline.  You might have thought of “going to church” as just something you do to be with friends and family and giving structure to your week.  You might even have thought that you could worship privately from home or through a televised service just as well.  However, there is no substitute for being together, even if through the internet during COVID-19.

The word “liturgy” from the Greek means “the service or work of the people,” and our corporate worship is just that, an opportunity to come together to offer ourselves as a sacrifice in thanksgiving as we listen to God’s Word and give ourselves wholly to God’s designs in the world.  We offer our will, strength, and gifts in gratitude for who God is and what God has done for us.  Rev. Thompson, author of “Soul Feast,” writes, “We worship because it is natural to respond to the mystery that irradiates life. … It asks us to disengage from the nose-length focus of daily life and see below the surface to life’s source. We can then reengage the realities of the world from a deeper and clearer perspective.”

In Mark 12: 29-30, when Jesus sets the first commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” he identifies worship as the center of human life.  Although in Western culture, “heart” and “head” describe separate spheres, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, “heart” is the seat and center of the whole person – the core of our personal character, our thoughts, emotions, intuition, and imagination.

Rev. Thompson writes, “When the heart is turned toward God, one is filled with grace and truth; when the heart turns away, a person dwells in delusion.”  So true worship means “responding to God … with our entire being.”  Opening up an understanding of worship as engaging both heart and mind, she notes, “Too many worshipping communities encourage only half-hearted worship.”  I have learned from my African clergy colleagues that if the congregation doesn’t “feel” anything, they haven’t worshipped.  So while I believe that at Moosup Valley we shouldn’t check our minds at the door, we also shouldn’t check our hearts.  One of the reasons I use so much music in worship in the singing of hymns and responses to prayers is that music can engage us on a deeper level than words alone.  I often feel our hearts begin to beat together in rhythm as we sing a beloved hymn together, have you?

So while we can and do, sometimes, worship privately in nature or when listening to an inspiring message or music, there is no substitute for gathering together.  We need to experience our Christian life as rooted in the larger community of faith.  Thompson again:  “Even our most personal disciplines need to be supported, broadened, clarified, and sometimes corrected in the light of corporate theology and practice.  Otherwise we become susceptible to privatized visions of spiritual truth.  Moreover, we need the prayers of others as they need our prayers. The way God provides for our deepest hopes is usually through the hands and hearts of others.”

Isaac Pennington says that people gathered for genuine worship “are like a heap of fresh and burning coals warming one another as a great strength, freshness and vigor of life flows into all.”  It is the rites and sacraments of public worship that form the Body of Christ.  They also lead us through the seasons of Jesus’ life and the life of the early church – Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost – drawing meaning of Jesus’ life in relation to our own lives.  Next week, I will continue reflecting on common worship with more reflections on the Sabbath and how to keep it.

Stay Healthy and Safe!

We have been isolated at home and socially-distanced and masked when we are out and about.  But it’s getting a little bit “old,” don’t you think, after six months?  The tendency is to become careless.  But our UCC Conference Minister, Chuck Erickson, writes:

While hiking with my family along the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail in Acadia National Park recently, I received a text on my phone which came from WABI, the local CBS affiliate in Bangor.  The text began: “There are now three deaths related to an August 7th wedding…”

Three.  Deaths.  Related to…a wedding.

You may have heard the story behind this headline on the national news.  A wedding held in Millinocket, Maine, was attended by 65 people, most of whom did not wear face masks or maintain social distancing at the wedding or at the reception that followed.  The last report I saw stated that 56 people who attended the wedding and reception had contracted the coronavirus, and when secondary and tertiary (third-party) cases are included, over 150 COVID-19 [latest reports say 175] cases have been traced back to the Millinocket wedding.  That number includes 82 people at the York County Jail over 200 miles away from the wedding location, and 21 more at a rehabilitation center in Madison, Maine.  Both of these locations have vulnerable populations.  Just imagine an inmate about to be paroled, or an ailing nursing home resident, having their future jeopardized due to someone else’s disregard for health precautions.

What can faith communities learn from this tragic incident?
Masks that cover our faces save lives.
Social distancing of six feet or more helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Being covered by the blood of Jesus will not protect you from catching, carrying or spreading the virus.
The pandemic we are immersed in right now is not a hoax or a deep state conspiracy.

We also learn from the Millinocket tragedy that:
Rushing to resume indoor worship in sanctuaries is unwise and potentially deadly.  [Betsy’s note:  While Rice City has the space and high ceilings to come inside while distanced and masked, Moosup Valley does not, so we will continue with worship by Zoom for the time being.] And we are reminded that Jesus never required followers to gather in buildings to worship, only that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  Believers can gather virtually online, via email threads, conference phone calls and other creative methods – and Jesus will be there among them.  I can only imagine that where worshipers gather in close proximity with faces uncovered inside the confined space of a sanctuary, Jesus will be with them also – only Jesus will be outside on the lawn frantically shouting, “Get out! Get out now and go somewhere safe, stopping only to buy a mask and wash your hands!”

What can churches do when faced with anxiety about losing money and parishioners?
We can remind each other that “we are blessed to remain safe at home with virtual worship.”
We can trust the medical experts, scientists and – in the case of faith communities – educated theologians who have no motivation other than to keep us all safe and keep us alive.

Our God speaks: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…” (Deut. 30:19, NRSV).  The choices we make going forward through this pandemic can most assuredly lead to blessings and life, or curses and death.  As faith communities, may we always choose wisely…choose with others in mind…and ultimately choose blessings and life.

Update on E.A.C.H. (Education Assistance for the Children of Haiti)

Several months ago, I asked Rose about our children in Haiti, how they were doing during the pandemic, and she provided us with an update.  Here is what happened after you heard the children were hungry:

Dear friends in Christ,

Just a great tremendous thank you for your support and generosity. Our schools opened the beginning of September, and I can say, so far so good.  Right now, the children are making up the two months they missed due to the virus.

Although it has been hard with COVID, I can say now, I have nine renewals for the 2020-2021 school year. I like the phrase, ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY.  I have faith that God will provide for his people. They are resilient and hard working.

I would like to take this time to send big hugs to our friends at Moosup Valley Church for supporting eight of our students at the Arcahaie School. I have designated that school to Moosup Valley.  If I receive any sponsorship from a member there, a child from that school will be blessed with an education for the year. Thank you so much, once again.

Respectfully yours,

Rose Desilus

Everyone Can Help

Barbara Cederfield sent me this story which proves that everyone can help someone, no matter one’s age:  “A gentleman stopped [on Cucumber Hill Road] to see if we wanted to sell our tractor.  He told me his 14-year-old daughter had decided to take over and restore their gardens this summer.  He said she did so well with the project that she raised a great deal of produce.  She was getting it ready and was going to deliver a truck load to the food bank near them [in the Westerly area].  She put in a lot of work over the summer to do this for others.  Bless her.”

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Reverend Betsy is preaching on the story of the Laborers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20:1-16.  Her reflection title is “God’s Generosity.” Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Pastor Bob reports:  “Rice City continues to meet outside for worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it.  So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp.  Outside is the safest way we can gather together.  We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary.  The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside.  It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement.  Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home.  Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.”  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

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

Evening Prayer

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

An Evening Prayer

Evie Hopkins Mann of Summit Baptist Church in Greene, wrote, “I would like to contribute something for one of your newsletters if I may.  It is a verse from an old hymn that my mother used to sing every night before bedtime.”

“If I have wounded any soul today;

If I have caused one foot to go astray’

If I have walked in my own willful way,

Dear Lord, forgive!”

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Bart Duarte, Carl’s son-in-law, who is recovering from neck surgery.

Ø  For Tina and Jim’s friend, Chris, who was active in assisting veterans and who has just died of a heart attack at age 54.  He leaves a wife and children.

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

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

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer and to manage the effects of the chemo.

Ø  For Pat Safstrom’s Colorado granddaughter, Nicole, who is grieving the loss of her maternal grandmother, Phyllis Brackel.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him swallow.

Ø  For all those suffering from the fires on the West Coast and from the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

Concert in the Valley

Laurie Murphy coordinates Moosup Valley’s annual Concert in the Valley.  This Saturday, September 19, we would have been on the lawn, listening to lively home-grown music, enjoying delicious home-made food, and supporting our beloved church.  I have included a few pictures, below, to bring back fond memories.  Laurie writes this:

The Concert in the Valley would have been this upcoming Saturday. This is the first year since we started the concert about 15 years ago that the show won’t go on. Since this is the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year, we thought we’d give you a chance to donate to help support our beautiful church in the Valley. You can donate by mailing a check to Pat Safstrom, 76 Moosup Valley Rd., Foster, RI 02825, or by going online to our website, moosupvalley.church and clicking on the donate tab. This will bring you to the PayPal link. We thank you so much for your continued support. We hope that next year’s concert will be better than ever. And we also hope to begin our monthly music series next spring.  Enjoy the lovely fall weather and stay well and safe.

concert in the valley        Ray & Bill       concert band         concert performer

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

A Prayer for Our Times
Adaptation of Psalm 72, by Arville Earl, High Point, N.C.
From the Alliance of Baptists’ e-newsletter:

O God of love, / Grant to your faithful ones the grace
To represent you effectively in our Discordant world.

Give us courage enough / To put our lives on the line
In communicating truth and hope / To people all around us,
Wherever they may be found.

Where there is injustice, May we diagnose its cause / And discover its cure.

Where there is bigotry and hatred, /
Teach us to love and how to encourage others to love.

Where there is poverty, / Help us to share our wealth
That comes from your benevolence.

Where there is war and violence,
May we be peacemakers that help to lead those in conflict into Lasting peace.

Help us, O God, to become / What you have called us and Empowered us to become.

Where there is darkness, / May we become the rays
Of your sun that banish the gloom of lonely lives.

Where there is drought, / Let us be like fresh showers
That turn desolate land into / Green meadows.

When we are besieged by disaster, / May our faith be anchored in your grace.

Where there is ugliness and distortion, / Enable us to portray
The beauty and order of your / Will and purposes.

Great God, / You are here in our world. / Your presence is reflected
In your creation that surrounds us.

But there are those / Who do not feel your concern
Or acknowledge your love.

Is it because those / Whom you have called
Have not understood your will / And your mission in our world?

Forbid, O God, / That we be deaf to the cries of the poor and indifferent to their needs.

May we identify / With those who are oppressed
And help us to bear the burden / Of those who endure continuous suffering.

May we hear your voice of loving kindness and may your loving touch be extended through us, your faithful ones who are in this world to make known your all-inclusive grace.

The glory is yours, O God, / And we shall praise your name.

May we celebrate / your great work together. / Amen

September is Socks for Students Month!
School-aged children 5 – 18 years old could use your donation of socks. Please use the Foster Department of Human Services (DHS) food bins around town at the libraries, the post office, the Town Hall and the DHS office to leave your donations. Thank you!

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.  This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

To donate, send your checks for needy people, payable to DHS, Town of Foster, to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought:

The Reverend Powell Davies, minister of All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s and 50s, encourages us to grow up in our faith, to adopt a “freer” view that is worthy of our age:

There is no God in the sky. God is in the heart that loves the sky’s blueness…   It is not the supernatural that is spiritual. The supernatural is a flight from the spiritual — a flight into something projected as material — a thing of childish imagery…   If we are to be equal to the times we live in — and to the greater problems the future will bring — we must outgrow our childishness.  We cannot afford to trust the unreal, to exchange the courage of struggle for the cowardice of begging for miracles.

Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

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

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

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

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

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #34

 

September 11, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed;The Church Is Open!

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

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

 The great thing is prayer.  Prayer itself.

If you want a life of prayer, the way to get it is by praying.  …

You start where you are and you deepen what you already have.

-Thomas Merton

So far, in the last three issues, we have been discussing communication with God – through the spiritual disciplines of Divine Reading (Lectio Divina), listening to what God is saying to you as you read a passage of scripture or a poem or even a work of fiction and meditating on it, speaking what comes to you, and contemplating the message; and for the last two weeks, we have explored various kinds of Prayer — as communication with God.

This week, we look at communion with God, where the boundaries between you and God seem to blur and thus disappear.  Rev. Marjorie Thompson writes in Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, “Contemplative prayer is resting in God, allowing the Spirit to fill and move us as God wills.  It is pure receptivity and adoration.  It is quiet, tender, and sober, or playful, gentle, and joyous.”  It also has “the quality of an inner Sabbath … in a world driven where we judge one another on the basis of performance.”  In contemplative prayer, we join God in a little divine rest, not bothered by the need to accomplish and acquire.  An eighteenth-century priest asked an aged peasant what he was doing sitting for hours in the chapel, and the old man replied, “I look at [God], [God] looks at me, and we are happy.”

A more homey illustration might be that of our bringing home our new baby, or holding our first grandchild, feeling the warmth of her through the blanket, marveling at her   fingers and toes, watching her sleep, unconscious of time.  This is like contemplative prayer when we “move from communicating with God through speech to communing with God through the gaze of love.”  I imagine that spending time with Carol’s horses is like this, letting oneself “be loved by God into wholeness.”  In the Eastern tradition, icons are used as the object of one’s gaze, but you may also use works of art, a landscape, or the ocean.  For Sonja and Tom, it could be the roll of the field beyond the garden or the hummingbirds on the feeder.  Theologian Martin Buber might say this was an I-Thou experience, where you lose yourself in Something.

I love this description by physicist Alan Lightman who is motoring his little boat back to his island retreat off the coast of Maine.  He writes,

My story concerns a particular summer night, in the wee hours, when I had just rounded the south end of the island and was carefully motoring toward my dock.  No one was out on the water but me. It was a moonless night, and quiet. The only sound I could hear was the soft churning of the engine of my boat.  Far from the distracting lights of the mainland, the sky vibrated with stars. Taking a chance, I turned off my running lights, and it got even darker. Then I turned off my engine.  I lay down in the boat and looked up.  A very dark night sky seen from the ocean is a mystical experience.  After a few minutes my world had dissolved into that star-littered sky.  The boat disappeared.  My body disappeared.  And I found myself falling into infinity.  A feeling came over me I’d not experienced before.  Perhaps a sensation experienced by the ancients at Font-de-Gaume.  I felt an overwhelming connection to the stars, as if I were part of them.  And the vast expanse of time—extending from the far distant past long before I was born and then into the far distant future long after I will die—seemed compressed to a dot.  I felt connected not only to the stars but to all of nature, and to the entire cosmos.  I felt a merging with something far larger than myself, a grand and eternal unity, a hint of something absolute.  After a time, I sat up and started the engine again.  I had no idea how long I’d been lying there looking up.

Although Lightman did not describe this as a mystical experience or communing with God, we might understand it as such.  Certainly, it captures the essence of such a profound relationship.

We also can commune with the Holy simply by relaxing our bodies and minds and turning our attention to God’s presence.  And we can use a Breath Prayer, repeating a short phrase over and over, until it takes on a life of its own. One of the oldest is known as the “Jesus Prayer,” repeating these words in surrender, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!”  Or you might prefer a short scripture, such as “Be still and know that I am God,” or a hymn verse, “Be, Thou, My Vision, O Lord of my heart.”

There is much more we could study and learn, of course, and we practice some of this kind of prayer at our Evening Prayer on Wednesday evenings.  Next week in our “Gather ‘Round” series on Spirituality, we will turn to a new discipline – common worship.

Care of Creation

Sent by Tom Hall and Cheryl Hawes

Since the publication of Laudato Si’ five years ago, September 1 through October 4 has been celebrated by many Christians as the Season of Creation, whose theme this year is “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”

As the Pope writes in his message, “In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living. Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving. We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.”

 VOTES FOR WOMEN

Long and Winding Roads:  Women, Grange and Suffrage

By Carolyn Ostrander

Judi White sent me an article in the National Grange newsletter, “Good Day!,” that she wanted to share about women’s long struggle 100 years ago this year to attain the vote.  I covered voting several weeks ago, but I thought this article was worth our reading, especially since many of you have been active in the Grange, and also since we are on the eve of a national election.  I am attaching it to this “Gather ‘Round” as a PDF attachment.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church holds Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Matthew 18:21-35, about forgiveness.  Her reflection title is “The Freedom of Forgiveness.” Join us and see what you think!  Look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

 Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City continues to meet outside for worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it.  So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp.  Outside is the safest way we can gather together.  We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary.  The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside.  It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement.  Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home.  Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

Mt. Vernon Church Hymn Sing

 Mount Vernon Baptist Church’s monthly Hymn Sing will be held this Sunday, September 13, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. on the lawn at Moosup Valley Church, weather permitting.  Masks are required.  We ask that you bring your own chair and observe social distancing guidelines.  There is an abundance of parking at Green Acres which is right beside the lawn area. Handicapped parking is available in front of the church.  All are welcome.  Call Pastor Bob at 401-440-7831, or email him, if you would like to suggest a hymn or have questions about the weather.  Please note that Mt. Vernon’s semi-annual meeting, which was originally scheduled on the same date, has been cancelled.

Evening Prayer

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

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

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

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Joan Lacerda who is home, recovering from knee surgery.

Ø  For Bart Duarte, Carl’s son-in-law, who is preparing for neck surgery.

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

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

Ø  For the Sroka family.  Ronnie is recovered and back at work, and Randy is gaining strength, but Jane is still suffering from side effects from COVID-19.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer and to manage the effects of the chemo.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

September is Socks for Students Month!

School-aged children 5 – 18 years old could use your donation of socks. Please use the Foster Department of Human Services (DHS) food bins around town at the libraries, the post office, the Town Hall and the DHS office to leave your donations. Thank you!

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.  This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

To donate, send checks for needy people, payable to DHS, Town of Foster, to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

CLOSING THOUGHT

On the Self, the Soul

By Toni Packer

Most human beings take it totally for granted that I am “me,” and that “me” is this body, this mind, this knowledge and sense about myself which so obviously feels separate from other people. The language in which we talk to ourselves and to each other inevitably implies separate “me’s,” and “you’s” all the time. All of us talk “I” and “you” talk, we think it, write it, read it, and dream it with rarely any pause. There is incessant reinforcement of the sense of “I,” “me,” separate from others. Isolated. Insulated. Not understood. How is one to come upon the truth if separation is taken so much for granted, feels so common sense? The difficulty is not insurmountable. Wholeness, true being, is here all the time, like the sun behind the clouds. Daylight is here in spite of cloud cover.

Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

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

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

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Grange Article on Votes for Women  
   

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #33

September 4, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

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

 Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

 More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Three weeks ago in “Gather ‘Round,” I introduced a series on spirituality to explore some of the ways that people over the centuries have drawn closer to God, however they understand “God.”  So far, we have looked at the discipline of Spiritual or Divine Reading as explored by Rev. Marjorie J. Thompson in “Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life,” and last week, we moved on to a second discipline – Prayer –

and thought about what prayer is, and what it is not, and ways to grow in our relationship with God.   We began with prayer as Listening to God, then Speaking what is in our hearts, and finally, Interceding in prayer for others.  With this issue, I open up less familiar ways to pray.

One of the most helpful to me is Imaging.  If I am sitting next to your bed in the hospital – or praying for you wherever you are – I am less likely to pray with words (unless you ask me to) than with pictures.  I sit quietly, breathing slowly, and imagine that God’s light and warmth is surrounding you.  I seek to become aware of the Holy Spirit as she, this Shekinah, the Glory of the Lord (the Spirit is feminine), fills my consciousness.  Ann Belford Ulanov writes, “Picturing God must precede any speaking about God, for our pictures accompany all our words and they continue long after we fall silent before God.”

When I pray with pictures, I lift you into God’s presence, visualizing God’s love bathing you, dissolving pain, cleansing wounds, shrinking the tumor, making you whole.  I might use such images as dark becoming light, ice melting, confusion ordered, hate and fear penetrated by divine love, relationships restored.  In “Soul Feast,” Rev. Thompson reminds us, “You are not trying to [tell God what to do], but envisioning with God the restoration of creation.”  So, if you are not so good with words, try praying for yourself or others with images.

If you are not so much a visual person as a feeling person, try writing your own psalm, and express your feelings (grief, anger, fear) to God in prayer.  Select one that voices the feelings you are afraid to speak.  Here are some suggestions:  Psalm 13:  “How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever? … How long must I bear pain in my soul?”  Or Psalm 22 which Jesus prayed on the cross:  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Or Psalm 42, “My tears have been my food day and night,…”  Or Psalm 77, “I cry aloud to God; … my soul refuses to be comforted.”  Psalm 88 is a good one during this pandemic:  “For my soul is full of troubles….”   Or perhaps the evil of racism is confronted for you in Psalm 94, “Rise up, O judge of the earth;…” and is the word you need to hear.

Your feelings are not good or bad; they are just feelings, and God can handle them.  So write your own psalm, using these suggestions as a way to start.  Or you might want to rewrite a psalm to express your own experience.  Here’s a sample, based on Psalm 44:

I have heard with my ears, O God,

What deeds you performed in the days of old.

Yet you have rejected and abased me.

You have made me the taunt of my relatives when I don’t travel to the wedding,

the laughing stock of my neighbors because I don’t wear a mask.

All this has come upon me, yet I have not forgotten you.

Why do you forget my affliction and misery?

Come to my help, for the sake of your love!

In addition to writing a psalm, we also can write a dialogue with a person from scripture.  Imagine a conversation with Jesus, like the Samaritan woman at the well who asks why Jesus is talking with her, or the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 who wants Jesus to heal her daughter, the one whom Jesus has just called her a “dog.”  The woman refuses to stop asking, to be pushed aside, until Jesus does as she asks.  Perhaps Jesus was growing in his understanding of God and his far-reaching ministry just as we grow in ours.

Prayer can also be experienced as action.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, most of whose family died in the Holocaust, wrote, “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for the minimum of reason.”  And when he marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to give Black Americans voting rights, he said, “When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying.”  So, too, are people often praying when they are bringing groceries to hungry people or collecting school supplies and socks for children in Foster.  Prayer is not limited to the church or the prayer book, but it also is whenever or wherever we live out our values and act as a force for goodness.

So far, in the last two issues, we have been discussing communication with God.  Next week, let’s look at communion with God.

Having a Tough Time?  You are not alone!

 In a recent study by Boston University, which was reported in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, half of the adults surveyed reported signs of depression and anxiety – hopelessness, feeling like a failure, little pleasure from doing things.  This is double from what it was two years ago, before COVID-19, isolation, and social distancing.  Plus many have lost loved ones in the 185,000 deaths we have experienced here in the United States, and, of course, we worry that we or a loved one will be among the 6 million who have contracted the virus.  And the civil unrest over social justice issues exacerbates our anxiety.

Our church families can help.  We can be there for each other through phone calls and notes.  We can worship together in safe ways.  We can try some of the spiritual “tools” I have been describing here in recent issues of “Gather ‘Round,” as a way to go deeper into our spiritual beings and find support in the “Something There Is,” who is seeking us.  And there is no shame in reaching out for professional help, if we need it.

In her piece on her horses, Carol Allen offers some helpful strategies.  Also, a walk in the woods, an evening spent looking at the stars, and gardening, even if it’s only watering your house plants, can be healing.  Animals and plants are sometimes the best teachers.

 Horses Help in the Time of Covid-19

 Arie and Rollin make another guest appearance in “Gather ‘Round,” thanks to their pal, Carol Allen:

 When we experience a pandemic for the first time in our lives, it reminds us how things are beyond our control.  Horses on the other hand can remind us to stay focused on what is important to us and to live in the moment.  Here are some tips that you may find helpful during these difficult and unusual times.

  1. Stay in the moment – horses live in a state of what yogis’ call “present moment awareness.” Horses are not thinking about what is going to happen next, they are happily grazing in the moment.
  2. Take care of yourself – try your best to eat well, get rest, and exercise.  Take a yoga session with my horses to experience both:  staying in the moment and taking care of yourself.
  3. Focus on the good things happening in your life, not what’s wrong with it.  If you are having a hard time doing this, schedule a personal wellness session with my horses and let them be the teachers.
  4. Stay connected with friends, family, and your support network.  It is easy with the use of technology or social media.  However, change it up and write a letter or send a card via postal mail.  Make a phone call to a long-lost friend instead of texting or emailing.

One of the foundations of yogic thought is the “realization that all things are impermanent.”  This pandemic may be the biggest inconvenience in our lives; however, this too will pass.  We may need to make some changes, but isn’t that what life is all about.  The advice that my horses, Arie and Rollin, would like to share — so we are able to reduce our anxieties — is to stay flexible, stay in the moment, and focus on the now.  Remember to breathe deeply!

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  This is a Communion Sunday, so prepare to bring a bit of bread or cracker and a glass or mug of something to the service.

The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Matthew 18:15-20, about restoring community in these troubled times.  Her reflection title is “Making Things Right.” Join us and see what you think!  So look for the Zoom link and the Order of Worship on Saturday.

 Rice City Outdoor Worship

It’s going to be another beautiful Sunday Morning at Rice City, so we will be meeting outside for Worship and will continue to do so as the weather allows it.  So please bring weather appropriate attire in case it is a little breezy, a little chilly, or even a little damp.  Outside is the safest way we can gather together.  We will, at some point, make the transition to inside worship in the sanctuary.  The high ceilings, the windows that open, and the ability to socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols allows us to keep safe as we worship together inside.  It is ready for us on any Sunday that is inclement.  Obviously, if you are sick or showing symptoms, please stay safe at home.  Otherwise, we are ready to worship in person at Rice City at 9:00 a.m. every Sunday Morning.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Moosup Valley’s on Saturday.

Mt. Vernon Church Hymn Sing

The next Hymn Sing is scheduled for Sunday, September 13, at 3:00 p.m. outside at Moosup Valley.  Please bring a mask, your own chair, and appropriate attire for the weather.  Call or email Pastor Bob to let him know if you would like to suggest a hymn in advance so he can print out the words.

 Evening Prayer

 Moosup Valley holds Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. It is acceptable to come in your PJs!  The Order of Prayer bulletin is emailed on Wednesdays, along with the Zoom link.  Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

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

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…  Snoopy holding heart

Ø  For Mary Joseph whose son, Paul, died last week. (Her address is 201 Plainfield Pike, Foster, RI  02825 if you would like to send a card.)

Ø  For Joan Lacerda who recovering from knee surgery at home.

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

Ø  For Jim Tynan, Tina Lavallee’s good friend, who was hospitalized for a dangerously racing heart rate and is now home and doing better with medication.  And for Tina’s sister and brother-in-law who are having a hard time following their mother’s death.

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

Ø  For Claire’s son, Andrew, and his family in Georgia, who are recovering from COVID-19.  Also for her nephew, Dean, a nurse in ICU, and all his co-workers in LA where their hospital is full again and too many people are dying.

Ø  For the Sroka family.  Ronnie is recovered and back at work, and Randy is gaining strength, but Jane is still suffering from side effects from COVID-19.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

September is Socks for Students Month!

School-aged children 5 – 18 years old could use your donation of socks. Please use the Foster Department of Human Services (DHS) food bins around town at the libraries, the post office, the Town Hall and the DHS office to leave your donations. Thank you!

Please contact Foster DHS at 392-9208 for any questions.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.

This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

Donation in the form of checks for help to needy people can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought

 Life is not intended to be safe. A safe life has too small a name for a creature of eternity. Life at its noblest and highest has a hazard about it; it ponders tomorrow but does not know it; it sounds the depths of the ocean, but knows not the hazards of the bottom. Life at its best takes a chance on righteousness no matter the hazard, no matter the cost. Life, when answering to its true name, lifts on wings, feeling no invisible hands supporting it.  – Ethel Waters

Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

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

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

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #32

August 28, 2020

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

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

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Continues Series on Spirituality

All your love, your stretching out your hope, your thirst,

God is creating in you so that [God] may fill you ….

God is on the inside of the longing.

-Maria Boulding

Two weeks ago in “Gather ‘Round,” I introduced a series on spirituality and promised to explore some of the ways that people over the centuries have drawn closer to God, however they understand “God.”  Last week I looked at the discipline of Spiritual or Divine Reading as explored by Rev. Marjorie J. Thompson in “Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life.”  This week, we move on to a second discipline, that of Prayer.

Comedian Flip Wilson is known to have said, “I’m gonna pray now; anyone want anything?”  For too many people, this is what prayer is, as if God were Santa Claus and we were sending him our Christmas wish list.  While there is nothing wrong with asking for what we need in sincerity and trust, prayers of supplication can quickly become a one-way conversation with God, rather than a genuine dialogue.  And what happens then, when we don’t get what we need, no matter how hard we pray?  Do we then feel unloved, unworthy, or even punished?  And we question our faith, if it is good enough.

Perhaps it’s time to grow in our understanding of prayer as a relationship with God, as we might understand a relationship with a dear friend.  And just as any relationship requires listening as well as speaking, spending time with each other, and enjoying the gift of each other’s company, so, too, does prayer.  I am reminded of the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” which bespeaks of intimacy with the divine One.

So, let’s examine some approaches to prayer.  First, we need to understand prayer as Communication which can be expressed in a variety of ways:

Listening.  Soren Kierkegaard said, “A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening.”  Just as babies listen before they begin to talk, so, too, we need to listen for the Spirit speaking in us deep in our hearts.  This is confusing, of course, because we are trying to listen to the One who is invisible, intangible, inaudible, and inscrutable!  A place to begin is with Divine Reading, discussed last week.

For some of us, the most natural way to listen to God is through Creation.  Consider, for example, Psalm 19:

“The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork…. There is no speech, nor are there words,… yet their voice goes out through all the earth.”

Perhaps the distress signals of the earth – the fires and hurricanes, melting of the ice caps and global warming – are a message from God that we are destroying Creation with our excessive dependence on fossil fuels.

Another way we might listen to God is when someone says just the right word we have been waiting for.  Or our bodies send a message that we need to slow down or reorder our priorities. Dreams, too, as in the Bible, can be a vehicle of divine guidance, coming from our subconscious.  Ruben Alves writes, “To dream is to see love and desires transformed into symbols, words.  It should not be frightening, then, that God who is love, speaks to us through our dreams.”

Many seekers like you and me choose to keep a prayer journal to record our thoughts and questions, struggles and insights.  Or you may find yourself thinking, “It suddenly became perfectly clear to me.”  The Quakers have a phrase for when something inside us says, No – “a stop in the mind” – that alerts us that we are moving in the wrong direction or are holding onto a selfish attitude or behavior.

Virtually anyone or anything can be a divine messenger, God trying to get our attention through all aspects of our lives.  Of course, hearing requires discernment as well as attentiveness.  By now, we should recognize that prayer is broad, multifaceted, and inclusive of all of our lives.

Speaking.  The second primary expression of communication in prayer is speaking from the heart with unreserved honesty.  We may not know what God is trying to say to us, but surely we know what we are trying to say to God!  And God can handle whatever we put on the table – doubt, anger, hatred, despair, pain, fear, grief, whatever we are feeling.  Communication breaks down when we are not honest, and intimacy becomes impossible.  The psalms give voice to these emotions, so why shouldn’t we?  While a three-year-old might cover her eyes and say, “You can’t see me,” God sees into our hearts “where no secrets are hid.”  The Spirit awakens us to what is hidden in us, so God can free us for growth.

Prayers of Intercession.  These prayers are prayers for other persons, communities, nations, the earth and our fellow creatures.  (Most often the pastor’s prayer during worship is a prayer of intercession.)  Rev. Thompson writes, “People frequently feel confused about praying for others. Often our prayers are not answered in the way we desire or expect. We pray for healing and it does not come, pray for peace and conflict increases. We wonder whether God does not will the good we intend by our prayers, or if perhaps we are not praying rightly. We feel guilty that we do not have enough faith, and we feel angry that evil and suffering are allowed to destroy so much peace and happiness. Sometimes prayer seems to us the feeblest and least desirable option, but the only one left under the circumstances:  ‘All I can do for you in pray.’”

It helps to identify what we think we are doing and what God is doing when we pray for others.  Let me remind us that prayer does not change God; prayer changes us.  What we are doing is sharing our life-energies with another person who is connected with us, because all things are mystically connected in the universe. We also are joining our hearts in love with the love of God and trusting completely that God is willing life and goodness for others – yet remaining vulnerable with God to the limits imposed by evil and creation.

As Rev. Thompson says, “There is no substitute for giving time to the practice of prayer.  Like most things, we learn best by doing it.”  So consider when you might be able to set aside some time, free from distractions and interruptions.  So, let’s begin this week to set aside some time, listening and talking with God.  You may wish also to look at Spiritual Reading that I described last week as a way to begin your prayer time.  But there’s much more to say about prayer.  So next week, I will suggest some other ways to pray, some that are most helpful to me.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:9-21) and how to live a faithful life.  Her reflection will be on “Core Values.” Join us and see what these are!  The Zoom link and the Order of Worship will be sent on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

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

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

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

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Mary Joseph whose son, Paul, died earlier this week.

Ø  For Joan Lacerda who is having knee replacement surgery on Monday.

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

Ø  For Jim Tynan, Tina Lavallee’s good friend, who was hospitalized for a dangerously racing heart rate and is now home and doing better with medication.  And for Tina’s sister and brother-in-law who are having a hard time following their mother’s death.

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

Ø  For Claire’s son, Andrew, and his family in Georgia, all of whom have COVID-19.  Her daughter-in-law, Shirley, has developed COPD and is having a hard time breathing.  Also for her nephew, Dean, a nurse, and all his co-workers in LA where their hospital is full again.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s cousin, Judy, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Strengthen the Church Offering

Mossup Valley Church has been an annual supporter of the UCC’s Special Offering, Strengthen the Church, to support the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC local congregations. Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.  As God calls our congregations to be the church in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults.  If you would like to contribute, please send a check to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825) marked “Strengthen the Church.”  Together, we grow stronger!

Foster Department of Human Services

Backpacks:  Carol Mauro is now all set with back-to-school items.  Thank you for helping to fill them!

Food Panty:   Items needed are canned corn, soup, dry pasta, mac ‘n cheese, tuna and canned meats, prepared rice/pasta packages, and canned tomatoes.

Socks for Students:  DHS is collecting socks in September for ages 5-18, both boys and girls.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.  This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought

Wise words from physicist Albert Einstein

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Only a life lived for others is worth living.

Offerings may be mailed for:

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

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

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

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

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.
Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

ReplyForward

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #31

August 21, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

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

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Plans Series on Spirituality

The word of scripture should never stop sounding in your ears and working in you all day long, just like the words of someone you love. And just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did.

That is all. That is meditation….

Do not ask, “How shall I pass this on?” but “What does it say to me?”

Then ponder this Word long in your heart until

it has gone right into you and taken possession of you.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Last week in “Gather ‘Round,” I introduced a series on spirituality and promised to explore some of the ways that people over the centuries have drawn closer to God, however they understand God.  This week I will look at the disciple of “spiritual reading” as explored by Rev. Marjorie J. Thompson in “Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life.”

So what is spiritual reading? you might ask. Most of us read – books, magazines, the newspaper, emails, letters – on a daily basis.  Some of you also read a daily devotional, such as “The Upper Room” or another resource, where someone has collected a scripture, a reflection, and a brief prayer.  I read a Daily Devotional online from the UCC and a First Light Meditation from All Souls Church in NY City, but they are not a substitute for our own spiritual reading.

First, let us realize that there are two different kinds of reading.  The first is one for information.  Think of why you read the newspaper – for information:  for what is happening, for what you need to know, for example, the obituaries, the want ads, the sales, the weather, the score.  My Bible Study often is like this.  Who is writing to whom, when and where, and for what purpose?  We tear the scripture apart to see what it meant then, so we can decide what it means now.

The second kind of reading is spiritual, a time for reflection and prayer.  Think of reading a letter from a dear friend, finding a quiet corner to savor the words, a place where you can set side aside the unfinished tasks of the day and discover what your friend is thinking and feeling, experiencing and questioning.  You make time to spend with your friend, to read between the lines.  It’s as if your friend is present.  Spiritual reading is like drinking in the words of a love letter or pondering the meaning of a poem.  Some traditions call it Lectio Divina, divine reading.  Sometimes Bible Study is like this, too.

It’s not so much what you read but how you read it.  Rev. Thompson writes, “Spiritual reading is a meditative approach to reading which requires unhurried time and an open heart.”  Often it means reading a portion of the Bible, inspired by God’s Spirit and cherished over generations for faith and practice.  You may have read the Bible but never plumbed its depths.  You may never have given the Word of God, as it has been experienced by generations before you, an opportunity to interact with the God within you, to see how it relates to your life story.  It doesn’t matter so much what you read as it does how you read it.  It could be Shakespeare, Madeleine L’Engle, Frederick Buechner, Howard Thurman, or Alice Walker or any other number of authors whose work incorporates the spiritual.

So how to proceed with spiritual reading?  There are four basic phases – reading, meditation, speaking, and contemplation – which date to ancient times.  “Happy are those …. [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).  Its practice in the Christian church dates to Saint Benedict in the sixth century and later with such reformers as John Calvin and the Puritans, our ancestors in the faith.

Step One – READING:  Choose a passage of scripture and read it slowly, linger over each sentence as if you had never read it before, letting the meaning sink in and nourish your heart.  Pretend it’s a love letter, and there is a message in it for you.  Ask of the Holy One, what are you saying to me right now?

Step Two — MEDITATION:  Reflect on the passage.  Roll it around in your mind.  Let your life story intersect with the passage.  What memory, experience, thought, feelings, hopes, desires, intuitions, and intentions arise for you?  How does it lay on your heart?  Perhaps there is a word that jumps out at you.  Hold onto it, asking, What is it about my life right now that needs to hear this word?

Step Three — SPEAK:  Talk back to the Holy One.  What would you say to this passage or about this passage, perhaps as a prayer or just some thoughts that come to mind that you could share with the God?  What does your heart have to say about this passage?  Is there pain?  Guilt?  Gratitude?  You might say it out loud or write in your journal, if you have one.  Let a prayer emerge – perhaps for yourself or another.

Step Four — CONTEMPLATION:  Now it’s time for quiet and comfort, to rest in God’s presence, to just “be,” as Psalm 131 describes, “Enough for me to keep my soul tranquil and quiet like a child in its mother’s arms, as content as a child that has been weaned.”

Now take this word or experience or feeling into your daily life.

Generally the steps follow it this order, but they may be more fluid for you than that, which is okay.  They are more like a dance, moving first one way, then another….

Practically speaking, you will need to find a time and a place, turn off your phone, ask your family not to disturb you for a half-hour or so.  Then select your text.  Psalm 139 might be a good place to begin, with its “O Lord, you have searched me and known me….” in verse 1 and “Where can I go from your spirit?” in verse 7.  It’s a long psalm, so you might want to read only a few verses each time, making it last for several days.  Or you might want to read a passage from a contemporary author or from a mystic in the middle ages.  Michelle DiBiasio at Rice City is reading Julian of Norwich, for example.

Begin by reminding yourself that the purpose of your reading is to open yourself to the living God.  Trust that the Holy One is attending to you.  Read a verse or a sentence at a time and pause to let it sink in.  No need to hurry.

Let me know how this goes for you or if you have questions.  And give it some time.  Next week, I will focus on a second spiritual discipline, prayer.

Bloody Feet – Remembering Women’s Long Road to the Vote

This week, August 26, marks the 100th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote.  It’s hard to imagine now, but the vote did not come easily but only after years of struggle.  The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, the first women’s rights convention in the United States, kicked off the movement to which many women dedicated their lives – Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Victoria Woodhull, to name just a few.  But many others were arrested merely for picketing, or attacked while marching peacefully down Pennsylvania Avenue.  They were sent to a brutal workhouse in Virginia or jailed in D.C. where they were given inedible food, deprived of toilet paper and soap, and interrogated by psychiatrists – because any woman agitating to vote must be insane, right?  Men were afraid women might vote against child labor or for pacifism, or vote to close down the saloons.  Besides, many thought, women were inferior, not mentally fit to vote, not as smart as men – or even that they would turn into men – a mishmash of misogyny and political fear!  I have never forgotten the rallying cry, Bloody feet, sisters, have worn smooth the path by which you have come up hither! which I discovered upon visiting the Women’s Rights National Historical Park some years ago.

So, my sisters, as we approach the elections, remember that your foremothers suffered and died for you to exercise this right of citizenship.  If you need a ride to the polls, call someone.  If you are afraid to be in public because of the coronavirus, request a mail ballot.  You have until Tuesday, October 13, at 4:00 p.m. to deliver a mail ballot to your local board of canvassers.  Remember.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:1-8) and his urging to be a “living sacrifice.”  Her reflection will be “Transformed.”  Join us and see what this is all about!  The Zoom link and the Order of Worship will be sent on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

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

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Mario Mattiace whose family lost two members last weekend.  Please remember the families of Frank Villella and Rob Lorenco.

Ø  For Robin Petrarca’s brother-in-law, Cory Lane, in his valiant fight with cancer and her son, Scott, and family as they had to put down their 16-year-old dog, Bud.

Ø  For Martha’s niece, Rev. Mindy, who is still struggling with health issues.

Ø  For Jim Tynan, Tina Lavallee’s good friend, who was hospitalized for a dangerously racing heart rate and is now home and doing better with medication.  And for Tina’s sister and brother-in-law who are having a hard time following their mother’s death.

Ø  For Rev. Barbara DaCosta whose beloved dog, Sunrise, died last week.

Ø  For Laurie Murphy’s cousin, Wendy, whose husband was killed in a fall.

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

Ø  For Claire’s son, Andrew, and his family in Georgia, all of whom have COVID-19.  Her daughter-in-law, Shirley, is having a hard time breathing with her COPD.  Also for her nephew, Dean, and all his co-workers in LA where their hospital is full again.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s friends, Martha and Fifo, who are recovering from COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic, and now she also needs prayers for her cousin, Judy Dales, who is struggling to find the right chemotherapy to control her cancer.

Ø  For Richard Lucky who is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Strengthen the Church Offering

Mossup Valley Church has been an annual supporter of the UCC’s Special Offering, Strengthen the Church, to support the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC local congregations. Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.  As God calls our congregations to be the church in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults.  If you would like to contribute, please send a check to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825) marked “Strengthen the Church.”  Together, we grow stronger!

Foster Department of Human Services

Backpacks:  Carol Mauro is now all set with back-to-school items.  Thank you for helping to fill them!

Food Panty:   Items needed are canned corn, soup, dry pasta, mac ‘n cheese, tuna and canned meats, prepared rice/pasta packages, and canned tomatoes.

Socks for Students:  DHS is collecting socks in September for ages 5-18, both boys and girls.

Flu Shot Clinic:  Flu shots will be available on Thursday, October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, at Hemlock Village Community Room. They request a minimum of 30 residents for their clinics.  This is especially important this year, as our health care system is already stressed by COVID-19, and we can’t have a lot of people getting the flu!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought:  What Matters

By Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Look at your life in the same way you’d look through an attic, deciding what you’re going to keep, what you’re going to throw out. You’re moving from a house with a large attic but you’ve got only a small trailer to make the move. Some things have got to get thrown out so that you have space in the trailer for the things that really mean a lot to you. In other words, there are things you’ve got to give up in order to have the time for the things that really make a difference, that really do give substantial results.

Offerings may be mailed for:

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

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

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #30

August 14, 2020

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

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

Soul Feast:  Rev. Betsy Plans Series on Spirituality

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;

My flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

-Psalm 63:1

With this issue and for the next several weeks, I plan to spend time reflecting on the Christian spiritual life.  Sorting books at the parsonage, I uncovered “Soul Feast: The Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life,” by Presbyterian minister, Marjorie J. Thompson, Director of Pathways Center for Christian Spirituality at the The Upper Room.  Writing 25 years ago, Rev. Thompson describes a “hunger abroad” in that time, “haunting lives and hearts,” and I think that is still true today – perhaps even more so in this time of pandemic.  While church attendance in denominations like ours is dropping, there is an impulse toward “wholeness,” if the number of books on spirituality in our bookstores is any indication.

Rev. Thompson identifies four cultural factors for this:  the focus on rational thought, the rate of change over the past century (consider everything from the automobile to the computer) leading to enormous social dislocation and stress, a culture that values material things over “values of enduring substance,” and the paralyzing fear of violent crime, drugs, and guns, not to mention fear of losing jobs and health insurance as well as nuclear disaster.  These fears contribute to both a pervasive anxiety and a spiritual yearning.  At the same time, we experience what humans have always experienced – suffering and tragedy – but now our community is more scattered and comfort is harder to come by, along with a framework of meaning and purpose.

She argues that human beings are innately religious, that we are made for a relationship with God – whether we understand God as “up there,” “out there,” or within us.  As St. Augustine confessed centuries ago, “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”   She tells the story of a colleague, a woman of deep prayer, who puts the question before Jesus every morning, “What do you want me to tell the people?”  For many years, the response she received was, Tell the people that I love them.  Then one day the reply came, Tell the people that I miss them.

To the reader, she asks, “Is our God a lover blinded by grief, calling out through the ache of our hunger—calling us to come home and be nourished with real life again?”  And if so, how do we do that?  Over the next several weeks, I will remind us of those traditional “disciplines” that have helped generations before us to open themselves to the divine – such disciples as spiritual reading, approaches to prayer, common worship, fasting, self-examination and confession, spiritual direction, hospitality, and developing a rule of life.  These are “tools” that we can use in our search for a relationship with God, however we understand God to be.  I find theologian Matthew Fox’s metaphor for God as “the ocean that we, the fish, are swimming in” helpful to me.  Quaker pastor Richard Foster cautions us that “By themselves, the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done… [They are] the means by which we place ourselves where [God] can bless us.”

So, I begin with next week’s “Gather ‘Round” to explore spiritual reading, generally with scripture but also with other writings.  In the UCC, after all, we say, “God is still speaking!” so contemporary works of fiction and poetry also are worthy materials to read to grow closer to the Something that calls to us.

How Are Our Children? 

I asked Rose for an update on E.A.C.H.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continuous support.

Just a quick update on the children in Haiti. I know you care about them just as much as I do.  I spoke to the superintendent in Haiti and they are getting ready to start the new year. As you know, they were out of school since the end of March due to the COVID-19. I cannot say they had distant learning because the families are unable to purchase chrome books and unable to afford internet. Even electricity is difficult to get. This year has been tough, and that’s why I did not send a renewal letter out to the sponsors. I have faith and I know God will provide. I have received a couple of renewals, thank you.  We are praying for an end to this virus so we can try and have a fundraiser to help with the schools.  Thank you, Rev. Betsy for the opportunity to write this note.

Blessings and God bless,

Rose Desilus, President of E.A.C.H.

(A note from Betsy:  If you would like to sponsor a child, or renew your current sponsorship, please mail your donation to Rose Desilus, E.A.C.H., at 1429 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827. A sponsorship is just $175.00, but you could fund a partial scholarship.)

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Jesus’ healing the daughter of a Canaanite woman, whom he has just called a “dog,” in her sermon on “Boundaries” (Matthew 15:10-28).  Join us and see what this is all about!  The Zoom link and the Order of Worship will be sent on Saturday.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

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

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Jim Tynan, Tina Lavallee’s good friend, who has been hospitalized for a dangerously racing heart rate and is being prepared for a cardio conversion today.  Please pray for a successful day for him (and his wife, Kim, who is having a difficult time, since she can’t be with him due to COVID).

Ø  Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  She is back home now from Elmhurst Rehabilitation, where they were trying to adjust her medication.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  For Claire’s son, Andrew, and his family in Georgia, all of whom have COVID-19.  Her daughter-in-law, Shirley, is having a hard time breathing with her COPD.  Also for her nephew, Dean, and all his co-workers in LA where their hospital is full again.

Ø  For Judy (Engilis) Dexter on Moosup Valley Road who is in Miriam Hospital where she has had a pacemaker inserted.  She is tired but hopeful that she will be discharged soon.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s friends, Martha and Fifo, struggling with COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic.

Ø  Richard Lucky is hoping that a doctor in Boston can help him with swallowing.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study will be reading Colossians 4 on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

In Response to the Pandemic, Mass Poetry Offers

“The Hard Work of Hope”

As the transmission rate creeps upward and conversations about education reckon with sharply rising case numbers in children, we offer poems to ground you in the hard work of hope. We recognize that in times of high anxiety and crisis the demand for poetry increases. Many people reach for poems when nothing else seems to make sense.  “The Hard Work of Hope” features poems from our community that respond to these difficult times. This week’s poems acknowledge lived costs and grief, rooting hope in the prayers or meditations that can focus it where it is needed most.  To see more poems, go to www.MassPoetry.org.  “Let Grief Come” was written by Rev. Betsy’s partner, Kim.

Let Grief Come
Kim Baker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously anthologized in LOON MAGIC and Other Night Sounds (Outrider Press, Inc., October 2019).
Bats — Friend or Foe?

Contributed by Sonja Murray

Although I know many people have firm beliefs about bats, I’d like to present both well-known and little-known facts about them, so your opinion is well-founded.

* Bats are the only flying mammal.  Mammals are warm-blooded animals with hair and mammary glands and include dogs, cows, elephants, whales and humans.

* There are over 1,300 known species of bats on earth (over 1/7th of the total mammal population) but none in the Arctic or Antarctica (too cold).  Most live in the tropics.

* Most bats are insect-eaters, including our local ones, though various species around the world have wide-ranging diets from fruits to blood (yes, some suck blood from larger mammals).  There are even fish and small-animal eaters.

* Often bats live in colonies.  You probably know that they inhabit caves but their habitats also include under cliffs, bridges, eves, roofs and trees.  The largest known colony of bats is in Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio, Texas, with over 15 million residents.

* Anatomically, a bat’s wings are the equivalent of our arms with the finger bones greatly elongated to support the double membrane of skin which allows it to fly.  The thumb is short with a claw used for climbing or walking.

* Bats come in all shapes and sizes from tiny (weigh 1/8 ounce/wing span 6 inches) to large (weight 2 pounds/wing span over 5 feet).

* Bats are nocturnal (active at night).  They move about by navigating with both eyesight and echolocation.  They emit a constant stream of sounds of varying frequencies which bounce back to their ears so they can locate both solid obstacles and their prey.

* Bats, like humans, give birth to well-developed young, usually singly but twins occur commonly in some species.  Babies, called pups, are raised by their mother with no involvement of the father.  When tiny, the baby will ride with mom as she hunts, but they are left in the roost as they grow too heavy to be carried.

* Like other mammals, bats can transmit diseases such as rabies.  Wild mammals should be treated with caution to avoid bites and potential infection.

* Bats frequently live in colonies.  In temperate regions, thousands will hibernate in caves where the temperature does not drop below freezing.

* A single brown bat (a local species) can eat more that 1,000 insects in a single night.  A favorite is mosquitoes!  In RI there are two species of bats:  big brown bats and little brown bats.

* Many types of bats living in the United States are now being decimated by a deadly illness known as “White-nose Syndrome” which is caused by a fungus.

* There are all-female nursing colonies (maternity roosts) where the young are raised.  One such colony is located in an old barn on Johnson Road.  The state is monitoring that colony by counting the number of bats that fly out at dusk on an evening in May or early June (adult females) and the number that fly out in late summer (adults and pups) to determine if  White-nose Syndrome is taking a toll.

Far more than these few facts are known about bats, though there is much to be learned.  In that bats LOVE to eat mosquitoes, and mosquitoes love to bite me, I am thrilled that we have bats in our midst dining on our prolific mosquito population!

Sources:

·       Encyclopedia of the Animal World, Elsevier International Project Ltd., London, 1972

·       The Bat Book by Conrad Storad, 2015.

Betsy’s note:  For my 80th birthday, I asked my son for a bat box, now installed on a southwest-facing tree at the parsonage.  I’m hoping for bats to eat the mosquitos, so I can sit on the porch in peace!   If you’d like to meet with me, let me know so we can make arrangements for a visit on the porch – masks on and socially-distanced – when I am in Foster.
Strengthen the Church Offering

Moosup Valley Church has been an annual supporter of the UCC’s Special Offering, Strengthen the Church, to support the expansion of ministry and growth of UCC local congregations. Your support of this offering will help the UCC fulfill its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries and practices that meet the emerging needs of local communities.  As God calls our congregations to be the church in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults.  If you would like to contribute, please send a check to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825) marked “Strengthen the Church.”  Together, we grow stronger!

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  canned vegetables, especially corn, and soups!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Closing Thought

The temptation is always to reduce life to size.  A bowl of cherries.  A rat race.  Amino acids.  Even to call it a mystery smacks of reductionism.  It is the mystery.  As far as anybody seems to know, the vast majority of things in the universe do not have whatever life is.  Sticks, stones, starts, space—they simply are.  A few things are and are somehow aware of it.  They have broken through into Something, or Something has broken through into them.  Even a jelly fish, a butternut squash.  They’re in it with us.  We’re all in it together, or it in us.  Life is it.  Life is with.  -Frederick Buechner

Offerings may be mailed for:

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

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

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #29

August 7, 2020

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

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

Rev. Betsy Reflects:  The Things That Make For Peace

As [Jesus] came near and saw [Jerusalem], he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  (Luke 19:41-42)

The things that make for peace!  Jesus’ words keep coming to me this August, as I reflect on the anniversary of the United States’ nuclear attack on Japan.

Seventy-five years ago, on August 6, at 8:15 a.m., the crew of the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the first wartime atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.  Three days later, on August 9, the United States dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki.  Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, more eventually from the radiation.  Some of you who are older than I probably remember it; I was only six.

President Truman thought that bombing the city would motivate Japan to surrender – and thereby saving American lives that might surely have been lost if the war had continued – but it was not until we dropped a second bomb, this time on Nagasaki three days later, that the emperor did so.  Some historians also thought that Truman was sending a message to Russia.  What is certain is that he had kicked off the Cold War, and children like me went to school with a dog tag on a black ribbon around our necks in case we needed to be identified, and we practiced “duck and cover” drills in schools.

After observing the test of the first atom bomb, and considering the enormous potential for devastation, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called “father” of the atom bomb, in tears, quotes the Hindu scripture, Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”  Years later, thinking in theological language, he writes, “The physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge that they cannot lose.”

As he rides into Jerusalem, on what we now call Palm Sunday, Jesus weeps, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!”  To whom is Jesus speaking?  The text says that Pharisees were in the crowd, so he is addressing those with some authority and connections.

And what are those “things” that make peace possible?  I’ve heard it said that every war is a failure of negotiation.  Surely that was the case with Japan.  The U.S. had been negotiating with Japan for ten years before they bombed our military installation in Pearl Harbor in 1941.

But what, for Jesus, are some of those “things”?  He was aware of how his people suffered under the Roman occupation, how they were often cheated by the tax collectors – as well as the temple authorities who robbed them blind with the cost of a dove or a lamb for sacrifice.  He saw how the Romans had their collective knee on the people’s necks, and their hands in the people’s pockets, to pay for their villas on the Mediterranean coast.  He experienced how callous the Romans were about human life in the beheading of his cousin, John, just to save Herod’s ego.  Surely, for Jesus, one of “the things that makes for peace” is justice.

I remember Moosup Valley member Bob Salisbury who greeted everyone with “Shalom” after church.  And whenever I asked him what he’d like to pray for, his answer always was “peace.”  But Shalom means more than the absence of conflict.  Shalom means that everyone has what they need, that everyone can “sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one will make them afraid,” to quote the prophet Micah.  Shalom requires wellbeing, not just calm.

I imagine, if we were to ask Jesus about the “things that make for peace,” that understanding would be at the top of his list.  And compassion.  And humility.  And kindness.  And respect.  Because that’s the way he lived and loved.  This was the Way of Jesus.  This is what he expected of his disciples when he asked them to follow him.

We live in a world that is too often greedy, violent, and selfish, a world where money buys what it wants, a world where people prize independence over the common good.  A sign on the corner near where Kim and I live on the Cape, reads, “Tyranny is not a cure for COVID,” echoing “Don’t tread on me!” from another age – as positive cases begin to climb again on the Cape.

It’s one thing to read Jesus’ words, “the things that make for peace” on a personal level, but how do we translate those “things” in the international arena?   The United States is not the only nation with nuclear weapons now; we’re one of eight:  U.S., China, North Korea, France, Israel, India, United Kingdom, and Russia.  Soon, we hear, Iran, also could have the nuclear capacity, and Saudi Arabia is not far behind.

How do wars start?  An assassination, an invasion, uncompromising differences, a surge of nationalism, a leader’s ego.   As go the leaders, so go the nations.

In Hiroshima, there is a Peace Memorial Park and Museum, now a symbol of peace.  Artifacts and belongings of victims showcase the sorrow and agony of war:  the burned tricycle of a three-year-old, the charred lunch box of a thirteen-year-old.  One comes away thinking we must avoid war at all costs.

Writer, pastor, and theologian, Frederick Buechner, writes this about peace:

“Peace has come to mean the time when there aren’t any wars or even when there aren’t any major wars.  Beggars can’t be choosers; we’d most of us settle for that.  But in Hebrew, peace, shalom, means fullness, means having everything you need to be wholly and happily yourself.

“One of the titles by which Jesus is known is Prince of Peace, and he used the word himself in what seem at first glance to be two radically contradictory utterances. On one occasion he said to the disciples, ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’ (Matthew 10:34). And later on, the last time they ate together, he said to them, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you’ (John 14:27).

“The contradiction is resolved when you realize that, for Jesus, peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle, but the presence of love.”

Global Warming Threatens

While I was “wasting time” in New Hampshire in July, I picked up Bill McKibben’s book, Falter:  Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  I will share more in another issue of this newsletter, but for now, let me just ask you to reflect on how you have observed the climate changing in your lifetime.  For me, I used to have a sense of what each month would be like, weather wise.  No more!  And I saw the water level rising in East Greenwich Bay when Kim and I lived in Oakland Beach:  Seaweed in the driveway at a moon high tide. My cousin in Vermont sees changes in his maple trees as the winters become warmer, and it is affecting his syrup production.  What have you observed?  Please send me your thoughts for the newsletter.

Two weeks ago, I asked about your observations about global warming.  Does anyone have anything to share?  In the meantime, we could pay attention to these observations published in the New York Times this morning:

“In the past 60 years, every decade has been hotter than the last, and 2020 is on track to be among the hottest years yet. But the burden of extreme heat is not shared equally — it’s significantly worse for people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

“Extreme heat can exacerbate poor health, ravage crops and make it dangerous to work outside. And in many parts of the world, simple ways to alleviate those effects — like water, or electricity for fans and air-conditioners — are a luxury.

“Somini Sengupta, The Times’s international climate reporter, and a team of photographers have a new story that documents how rising temperatures are affecting people across multiple continents:

“In Athens, heat waves have increased fivefold over the last century. Diminished rains and longer dry seasons are destroying Guatemala’s farmlands, where Indigenous farmers could see crop yields fall sharply. In Nigeria, hotter nights make it easier for mosquitoes to breed, increasing the risk of mosquito-borne diseases. And in the United States, heat kills older people more than any other extreme weather event, including hurricanes.”

“We spoke with Somini about what she described as ‘one of the most profound inequities of the modern age.’

“’I have seen over the last couple of years the impact of what is truly a global problem,’ she said. ‘We know that high heat and humidity is a dangerous combination for health, agriculture and economies of whole regions — nearly everywhere around the world, heat waves are more frequent and longer lasting than they were 70 years ago.’

“What do experts recommend to combat rising temperatures?

“’Draw down the combustion of fossil fuels,’ Somini said. ‘The world is capable of getting off coal in many instances, capable of vastly reducing the burning of oil and gas.’

“’But the world also has to adjust to the extreme heat we’re seeing already,’ she said. ‘That includes making water, air-conditioners and fans more accessible, and planting trees to bring down temperatures in cities.’

“’It could also mean adjusting things you might not immediately think of, like labor laws so people don’t have to work for hours under the blistering sun, agricultural changes in farming methods or what is grown in what place to adapt to higher temperatures,’ she said.

“’In short, it requires doing everything pretty differently.’”

How Are Our Children?

I asked Rose for an update on E.A.C.H.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continuous support.

Just a quick update on the children in Haiti. I know you care about them just as much as I do.  I spoke to the superintendent in Haiti and they are getting ready to start the new year. As you know, they were out of school since the end of March due to the COVID-19. I cannot say they had distant learning because the families are unable to purchase chrome books and unable to afford internet. Even electricity is difficult to get. This year has been tough, and that’s why I did not send a renewal letter out to the sponsors. I have faith and I know God will provide. I have received a couple of renewals, thank you.  We are praying for an end to this virus so we can try and have a fundraiser to help with the schools.  Thank you, Rev. Betsy for the opportunity to write this note.

Blessings and God bless,

Rose Desilus, President of E.A.C.H.

(A note from Betsy:  If you would like to sponsor a child, or renew your current sponsorship, please mail your donation to Rose Desilus, E.A.C.H., at 1429 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827. A sponsorship is just $175.00, but you could fund a partial scholarship.)

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on Jesus’ walking on the water and inviting Peter to “come,” in Matthew 14:22-33, “Stepping Out in Faith.”  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

Betsy Garland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Moosup Valley Service

Time: Jul 26, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85660298732?pwd=Qm5xTWcvUkpOU3REVEEvSndWdHlMZz09

Meeting ID: 856 6029 8732

Passcode: 152545

Telephone (if you need it):  1-929-205-6099

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

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

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Joanne Newton for continued healing and recovery from brain surgery.  She is back home now from Elmhurst Rehabilitation, where they were trying to adjust her medication.  David says that both of them are thrilled by your cards!  (Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827)

Ø  The people of Beirut, Lebanon, following the massive explosiona at their port this week, and the resulting deaths and injuries.

Ø  For those affected by Hurricane Isaias up and down the East Coast, including many of us in Foster and Greene.

Ø  For Barbara Cederfield’s friends, Martha and Fifo, struggling with COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic.

Ø  Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø  Phyllis Dexter does not need surgery and is praying for strength and recovery.

Ø  Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, has been eating a little more and is gaining strength.  However, she is also feeling the effects of isolation because of COVID-19.

Ø  Rice City friends Jack in Maine and Lucky in Warwick who are healing and awaiting baptism.

Ø  Elsie Penta and her family who are looking forward to being able to visit at Genesis.

Ø  Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.

Ø  Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, who is resettling in Rhode Island (from Arizona) and praying to be restored to health and stability.

Ø  For Gertrude, for continued protection.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.  (Note:  Friday Bible Studies have been suspended since we are able to get out a little more now.)

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

The “Seven Social Sins”

Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948

Knowledge without character.

Science without humanity.

Wealth without work.

Commerce without morality.

Politics without principles.

Pleasure without conscience.

Worship without self-sacrifice.

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  canned vegetables, especially corn, and soups!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

From Carol:  I believe the schools have until August 16 to decide how they are going to reopen.  I am just going about business as usual since regardless of where the children will be learning, they will still need the supplies to support their learning.  I heard one commentary that if they do distance learning again, they may actually need more supplies.  I know that teachers often buy supplies out their own pockets during the school year.

The Foster Department of Human Services has been collecting supplies for more than 40 children’s backpacks for school this year – and some of you have been helping.  She still needs many of these items:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored), colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject spiral notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if it has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Closing Thought

By Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Offerings may be mailed for:

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.
Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #28

July 31, 2020

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

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

A Word from the Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the UCC

Given that the lessons this July in the Gospel of Matthew feature three stories about fields and crops, sowing and reaping, I wanted to share with you the following letter:

And some seed fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. –Matthew 13:8

Roots are going to shoot into whatever ground they land upon.  But not all soil is the same and not all ground will produce good grain.

A healthy root does many things: provides a firm foundation to secure the plant against threats like wind and erosion; binds the soil together so that the plant can stand tall; opens up its boundaries so that the water and nutrients from the soil can feed and sustain the plant.

A good harvest depends on a good root; and a good root depends on good soil.

Imagine if you will that you have some agency in where your roots grow.  Imagine if you will that every day you face that choice, that what you do today will either cultivate in the world and in your life a soil that sustains or a soil that erodes.

As you build your year, ask yourself; where is love?  Is the work that I am doing building love into the soil of my grounding?  Are the action I commit to expanding the fields and enriching the flowing of love in my world?

Each and every day your actions commit you to the construction of a life as you plant roots that take hold over time.  I am mindful of the opening lines of the beloved Hymn,

We would be building temples still undone, o’er crumbling walls their crosses scarcely lift, waiting till love can raise the broken stone and hearts creative bridge the human rift.

With a calendar [or a journal], record the actions of, and your commitment to, a life rooted in love – the good soil.

Take note of what you say yes to and what you say no to.  Each action will build upon the root either a life fed by love or something other than that.

What can the world become if each of us uses our time here, rooted in love, to raise the broken stone and bridge the human rift?

Let this year mark again the life that you commit to; and may that life be both rooted in love and therefore yield thirty and a hundredfold all that God can make possible with your toil of love.

Global Warming Threatens

While I was “wasting time” in New Hampshire, I picked up Bill McKibben’s book, Falter:  Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  I will share more in another issue of this newsletter, but for now, let me just ask you to reflect on how you have observed the climate changing in your lifetime.  For me, I used to have a sense of what each month would be like, weather wise.  No more!  And I saw the water level rising in East Greenwich Bay when Kim and I lived in Oakland Beach:  Seaweed in the driveway at a moon high tide. My cousin in Vermont sees changes in his maple trees as the winters become warmer, and it is affecting his syrup production.  What have you observed?  Please send me your thoughts for the newsletter.

How Are Our Children?

I asked Rose for an update on E.A.C.H.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continuous support. Just a quick update on the children in Haiti. I know you care about them just as much as I do.  I spoke to the superintendent in Haiti and they are getting ready to start the new year. As you know, they were out of school since the end of March due to the COVID-19. I cannot say they had distant learning because the families are unable to purchase chrome books and unable to afford internet. Even electricity is difficult to get. This year has been tough, and that’s why I did not send a renewal letter out to the sponsors. I have faith and I know God will provide. I have received a couple of renewals, thank you.  We are praying for an end to this virus so we can try and have a fundraiser to help with the schools.  Thank you, Rev. Betsy for the opportunity to write this note.

Blessings and God bless,

Rose Desilus, President of E.A.C.H.

(A note from Betsy:  If you would like to sponsor a child, or renew your current sponsorship, please mail your donation to Rose Desilus, E.A.C.H., at 1429 Victory Highway, Greene, RI  02827. A sponsorship is just $175.00, but you could fund a partial scholarship.)

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning, and it will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  This Sunday, Betsy is preaching on the feeding of the multitude in Matthew 14:13-21, “Until All Are Filled.”  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

Betsy Garland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Moosup Valley Service

Time: Jul 26, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85660298732?pwd=Qm5xTWcvUkpOU3REVEEvSndWdHlMZz09

Meeting ID: 856 6029 8732

Passcode: 152545

Telephone (if you need it):  1-929-205-6099

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises.  The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded with Betsy’s on Saturday.

Evening Prayer

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

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Tina Lavallee’s mother, Judi, died on Tuesday.  Please remember her family, and also hold Tina in prayer as she continues to recover from her hand surgery.

Ø Joanne for continued healing and recovery from surgery.

Ø Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø Phyllis Dexter does not need surgery and is praying for strength and recovery.

Ø Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, who is failing, not only from normal aging but also isolation because of COVID-19.

Ø Rice City friends Jack in Maine and Lucky in Warwick who are healing and awaiting baptism.

Ø Elsie Penta and her family who are looking forward to being able to visit at Genesis.

Ø Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.

Ø Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, who is resettling in Rhode Island (from Arizona) and praying to be restored to health and stability.

Ø For Gertrude, for continued protection.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)  Note: No Bible Study on Tuesday, August 4th.

A Happy Home Recipe

Author Unknown

Submitted by Janice (Griffiths) Reynolds

4 cups of Love

2 cups of Loyalty

3 cups of Kindness

1 cup of Friendship

5 spoons of Hope

2 spoons of Tenderness

4 quarts of Faith

1 barrel of Laughter

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  canned vegetables, especially corn, and soups!

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services has been collecting supplies for more than 40 children’s backpacks for school this year – and some of you have been helping.  She still needs many of these items:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored), colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject spiral notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if it has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Closing Thought

Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.  -Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1821–1881

Offerings may be mailed for:

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825), or for your convenience a donate tab has been placed on our website through PayPal.

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

Pastor Bob can be reached at revbobh@gmail.com or 401-440-7831.
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #27

July 10, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed;   The Church Is Open!
Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom.

Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

Wasting Time at the Lake:  Reverend Betsy Reflects

I am awake by 5:00 a.m.  Sunrise is still a few minutes away, but the breeze has come up and is blowing the mist across the surface of the lake.  I imagine I am one of the ancients who observed this phenomenon when they wrote, “God moved across the face of the waters,” at the dawn of creation.  And so creation continues, always renewing itself.  This morning, at dawn, I feel myself part of that creation. The loon knows it, too; I hear his yodel as he flies low over the lake, claiming his breeding territory.

I realize this whenever I am at the lake, my lake where I have been coming all my life.  (I realize it, too, at Beaver Tail, another favorite spot, closer to Foster.)  For me, this is a  good reminder that we exist in the natural world, that we are a part of the natural world, of all that is.  We modern folks spend too much time indoors, on our gadgets, out-of-touch with nature.  And we think we are separate from nature, not part of it; but we are  awash in it.  The psalmist writes, “When I look at the stars and the moon, and the work of your fingers….” not realizing that we are fashioned, also, by God’s fingers.  In fact, we are all made up of atoms, we are all part of the physical universe, we are all one.  I resonate with theologian Matthew Fox’s assertion that God is the ocean and we are the fish that are swimming in that ocean.

I am more likely to have a mystical experience here at my lake than anywhere else.  When I was in divinity school, I read William James’, “Varieties of Religious Experience,” in which he writes:

I remember the night, and almost the very spot on the hilltop, where my soul opened out, as it were, into the Infinite, and there was a rushing together of two worlds, the inner and the outer. It was deep calling unto deep—the deep that my own struggle had opened up within being answered by the unfathomable deep without, reaching beyond the stars. I stood alone with Him who had made me, and all the beauty of the world, and love, and sorrow, and even temptation. I did not seek Him, but felt the perfect union of my spirit with His . . ..  Since that time no discussion that I have heard or the [lack of] proofs of God’s existence has been able to shake my faith.  Having once felt the presence of God’s spirit. I have never lost it again for long. My most assuring evidence of his existence is deeply rooted in that hour of vision in the memory of that experience.

Physicist Alan Lightman goes to his island off the coast of Maine to waste time.  He writes, “I have come to believe that it’s good to waste time. In fact, it’s probably essential to waste time. That’s when the mind has a chance to think about what it wants to think about, without being cudgeled and shoved by the external world.”   And so I am here at my lake to waste time (as well as visit with my family).  I hope you are wasting time, too, this summer — and not filling it with too much busyness.

Global Warming Threatens

While I was “wasting time” in New Hampshire, I picked up Bill McKibben’s book, Falter:  Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  I will share more in another issue of this newsletter, but for now, let me just ask you to reflect on how you have observed the climate changing in your lifetime.  For me, I used to have a sense of what each month would be like, weather wise.  No more!  And I saw the water level rising in East Greenwich Bay when Kim and I lived in Oakland Beach: seaweed in the driveway at a moon high tide. My cousin in Vermont sees changes in his maple trees as the winters become warmer, and it is affecting his syrup production.  What have you observed?  Please send me your thoughts for the newsletter.

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City worships outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoys hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises. This Sunday, Pastor Bob’s theme is “If … Because … God is.” The Order of Worship Bulletin will be forwarded tomorrow.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed on Saturday morning (along with Pastor Bob’s bulletin for Rice City), and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  Betsy is preaching on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans (chapter 8: 26-39), “If God Is For Us.”  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

Betsy Garland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Moosup Valley Service

Time: Jul 26, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85660298732?pwd=Qm5xTWcvUkpOU3REVEEvSndWdHlMZz09

Meeting ID: 856 6029 8732

Passcode: 152545

Telephone (if you need it):  1-929-205-6099

Evening Prayer

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

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Joanne for continued healing and recovery from surgery.

Ø Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø Tina Lavallee’s mother, Judi, who is dying.  Please remember her family, and also hold Tina in prayer as she continues to recover from hand surgery.

Ø Phyllis Dexter does not need surgery and is praying for strength and recovery.

Ø Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, who is failing, not only from normal aging but also isolation because of COVID-19.

Ø Rice City friends Jack in Maine and Lucky in Warwick who are healing and awaiting baptism.

Ø Elsie Penta and her family who are looking forward to being able to visit at Genesis.

Ø Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.

Ø Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, who is resettling in Rhode Island (from Arizona) and praying to be restored to health and stability.

Ø For Gertrude, for continued protection.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

My Recipe for a “Christian Garden”

Submitted by Janice (Griffiths) Reynolds

First, plant four rows of Peas:

Presence

Preparedness

Perseverance

Promptness

Next, plant two rows of Squash:

Squash gossip

Squash criticism

Now, put in three rows of Lettuce:

Let us be faithful

Let us obey rules and regulations

Let us love one another

No garden is complete without Turnips:

Turn up for meetings

Turn up with new ideas

Turn up on time

Turn up with determination to make everything count for something good and worthwhile

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  baked beans, pork & beans, box mac’n cheese, mayo, instant potatoes, gravy, canned fruit, cookies/desserts, and cooking oil.

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services will be helping over 40 children fill their backpacks for school this year.  The following school supplies are needed to complete these backpacks:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored),colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Closing

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Only a life lived for others is worth living.  -Albert Einstein

Offerings may be mailed for:

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

ReplyForward

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #26

July 10, 2020

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

 The Buildings Are Closed;    The Church Is Open!

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

 A Call for Commitment

How Christianity got derailed, and the religion of Jesus became a religion about Jesus

 Rev. Betsy Reflects on Tom Hall’s paper

 Two weeks ago in “Gather ‘Round,” (Issue #24), I asked the question, “In What Do You Have Faith?”  Foster resident and Biblical scholar Tom Hall sent me a copy of a paper he delivered recently to colleagues, A Call for Commitment, in which he argued,

To be part of a sustainable future, Christianity must change from a religion of belief to one of commitment, one that enlarges our vision of reality and thus possesses survival value.  We have too long treated religions as belief systems, and Jesus’ message has been trivialized by Paul and Luther, who championed salvation by faith alone – a notion alien to the prophet they claimed to represent.  The Greek pistis/pisteuo (belief, faith, believe) is better rendered “trust” or “faithfulness;” but even these terms name states of mind rather than ethical response, and today we live in a time when not only our religious traditions but [also] our very survival face grave challenges.  Any realistic hope for a sustainable religious or ecological future demands an active commitment to tikkum olam – repairing the world.

Tom begins by reminding us of some of our gospel stories which nudge us toward our Christian tradition’s imperative to care for each other and the world.  Please take the time to look up and study these examples and the messages therein, for example:

Mark 12:17, Emperor and God:  Spend your money and your life wisely;

Luke 16:1-8a, Forgive:  For you have long swindled your tenants;

Luke 15:11-32, Prodigal Son:  God’s kingdom goes by mothers’ rules, not fathers’;

Luke 10:30-35, The Samaritan:  Despise and hate foreigners at your mortal peril;

Matthew 13:33 & Luke 13:20-21:  The Leaven: The idea of God “leavening” the world;

Matthew 22:34-40 & Mark 12:31:  Love of Neighbor: sharing of one’s own bounty.

For a sermon once, I wondered aloud about the number of Christians in the world (we are almost of a third of the Earth’s 7.3 billion people) and why we – who profess to follow Jesus of Nazareth – still have poverty and war and refugee camps, and why we allow children to go to bed hungry at night.  We’ve had 2,000 years since Jesus walked in our midst and taught us how life should be lived and cared for.  What is taking us so long? 

Well, it’s not just about our response.  We are not alone.  Tom presents a global view of religion – “not only for the practical necessity of getting along in a shrinking world on an endangered planet, but to recognize some of our own flaws,” with these thumb-nail sketches which should ring true to Christians.  For example Judaism preaches ethical monotheism, denies anthropomorphism, and looks for corporate salvation; Islam, meaning “submission,” refuses to deify its founding prophet, offers pardon for charity and compassion; Hinduism (“Altman is Brahman”) reveres honesty, respect and compassion; Buddhism (“Namaste”), universal spiritual kinship, search for reality; Zoroastrianism values good thoughts, good words, good actions, responsibility, single reality;  and Sikhism values selfless service, justice and prosperity for all, no monopoly on truth; Taoism stands on the spiritual ground of reality, that the deity is a process, not a being; the Didache, similar to the Gospel of Matthew and the first example of Church Orders, reveals that it is “deeds,” not “creeds,” that matter, and the Eucharist (communion) means “thanksgiving;” the Quakers practice open creed, anti-war, community democracy, potluck replaces communion; and the Mormans value family and community and unselfish dedication to faith.  Tom suggests we would do well to “join the progressive thinkers in many faiths who are ready to recognize the symbolic or metaphoric truth of others’ doctrines and sacred stories,” and he sees this as necessary to achieve a just, peaceful, and sustainable world.

Why is it taking us so long to achieve the world we all say we want?  Tom suggests that it is because “religions are addicted to supernaturalism and to defining themselves by beliefs, which are cultural products of slowly evolving worldviews. Think of Paul assuring the Corinthians that any gospel other than the one revealed to him is false.  (Some Moosup Valley Bible Study members see Paul as arrogant!)  Think of the Israelites’ belief that the one supreme God had made them his chosen people and had ordered Joshua’s genocide.  I think of John 3:15, “For God so loved the world….” not just Christians, not just you and me.  And he cites another reason: Christianity’s promise of eternal life is more attractive than Judaism’s combination of demanding ethics and corporate salvation.”

Quoting a colleague, he writes, “Yet, religious doctrines and practices must not imprison us, but set us free.”  At the same time, I also believe that one’s faith informs one’s politics.  For example, if we really believe that God cares for everyone, even to counting the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7), then why don’t we provide health care for everyone?  If we really believe that Jesus sets us an example in the feeding of the multitude in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, and Luke 9:10), then why are so many people food-insecure in the richest country in the world?  If we really believe the creation story that God has granted humans dominion over everything that God has made, then why don’t we take better care of the Earth?

But Tom’s major concern in his paper is not our religious problem but the looming global ecological crisis, and for this he issues his call for commitment.  He writes, “[The global crisis] threatens the very survival of millions now alive and the additional two billion predicted by 2050.”  Examples of the urgency of the pending catastrophe include but are not limited to, the collapse of the CO2 balance of the Amazon rain forest, rising sea levels, population expansion endangering wetlands, loss of habitat, climate change, growing scarcity of farmland, migration, and other crises.

For there to be hope, he continues, there must be commitment on the religious front “to give an ancient tradition new life so that it may flourish in the 21st century. Doctrine and practice will have to have to change as never before; but above all we must answer the call to commitment and resolve to dedicate ourselves to the future of [human]kind and our only home.  To me, this means that a Sunday school education at age 7 is not sufficient for an adult faith at age 77, particularly in our highly sophisticated world.  We need new language and understandings to ground us in our faith.

Tom argues, further, Christians would do well to look at the narrative and practice of the Lord’s Supper and such new concerns as the environment and solar energy.  And we might do well to rethink our traditional understanding of “God,” and the role of religion to keep “God” under the institution’s “thumb,” a position that lets us “off the hook” for taking responsibility.  What must remain, Tom asks?  “The radical demands of love (universal justice, economic equity, forgiveness, compassion) and the authentic kingdom sayings and parables of Jesus.”  Because, as he points out, “While the problems confronting the first-century Galilean peasantry were very different from the existential threats we face today, Jesus’ core teachings remain as valid as ever.”

He argues, “For most that this will mean a new concept of religious observances centered on protecting natural resources by minimizing waste,” and “sermons on the sinfulness of consumerism,” as well as downsizing, heating less, and insulating more, changing from fossil fuels to renewable energy, turning off lights (especially public floodlighting), eating less meat, and refusing single-use plastics.  Like Thoreau, practice “Simplicity, simplicity!”  But everyone needs to be more responsible, not just Christians.  What Christians need to do, in particular, is to understand how “…the “dualistic and supernatural elements of classical Christianity that drove many away [and] reject them or take them metaphorically,” and [adopt] a more “critical reading of scripture” so as to bring more people “…to the lesson imparted by the parable of the Leaven and Zoroastrian and Sikh doctrines:  that our spiritual and secular lives constitute a single reality.  At that point we may begin to think and act our way into the perilous ties ahead.”

After reading Tom’s paper, I pulled three books off my shelves:  Episcopal Bishop Spong’s Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile, historian Robert Wuthnow’s Christianity in the 21st Century:  Reflections on the Challenges Ahead, and Chinese theologian, C.S. Song, of the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission, whose book, The Compassionate God, looks at Christianity from a non-European point of view.  Also, I committed myself to finish a book by Bill Mc Kibben that Ann Grenier loaned me a year ago:  Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? 

What is clear to me is that we are running out of time to address the kinds of problems that Tom has raised in his paper and that McKibben tracks.  We will soon be – if we are not already – at the point of no return.  It also is clear to me that Christianity has a vital role to play in helping us develop the religious language not only to motivate our members to wake up to the present reality of our planet but also to wake up to the damage caused by a faith that puts our personal salvation front and center instead of the Way of Jesus, which is other-centered, justice-centered, and love-centered.

Tom concludes with Catholic theologian and cultural historian Thomas Berry’s understanding that true religion is “…to live together graciously on this beautiful blue planet…and to pass it on to our children with the understanding that the great community of life can nourish, guide, and heal them as it has us.”

Thank you, Tom!

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

 Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin is attached here (and will be emailed again on Saturday along with Pastor Bob’s bulletin), and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  The gospel lesson this week is the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23), and Rev. Betsy’s reflection is “Sowing the Seeds of Abundance.”  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

 Join Sunday Morning Worship

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Phone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

 Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City has begun worshipping outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – and enjoy hearing the choir of birds who sing God’s praises and are thankful for good weather four weeks in a row!  This Sunday, Pastor Bob will be looking at Romans 3-6 and talking about “We Can’t, God Can, God Did, We Can Too!”  The Order of Worship Bulletin is attached.

Hymn Sing

The July 12th Hymn Sing will be held outside on the lawn at Moosup Valley Church at 3:00 p.m.  Rev. Doug Tourgee will be on the stage playing favorite hymns, and everyone will need to be extra socially distanced in order to sing safely.  (Please bring your own chair and a mask, and park one car-width away from each other.)  They will also be on Facebook for those who would like to sing along at home!

Evening Prayer

 Moosup Valley has begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (new time) by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. The Order of Prayer bulletin will be emailed before the service.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  (Betsy will be on the porch in New Hampshire – with real loons calling across the lake.)  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

NEW!  Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship bulletin will be emailed before the service.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Cheryl’s Aunt Lyn is doing well after having had a pacemaker put in.

Ø  Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, is struggling with cancer.

Ø  Claire’s son, Jim, is now in a group home and doing well while waiting for permission to get his own apartment.

Ø  Joanne who has been able to attend the last two Rice City outdoor services.

Ø  Tina Lavallee has had surgery twice in the past two weeks, and she is doing well.  She goes back later this month to have the sutures and pins removed from her thumb and will then be in a cast for six weeks. Please keep her in prayer as she is experiencing some pain.

Ø  Phyllis Dexter is waiting for answers and strength.

Ø  Barbara Cederfield is home following knee replacement surgery and is recovering nicely, though in pain when she “does too much.”  Her husband David has an appointment with the Spine Center to see why he is falling.

Ø  Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, is failing and hoping to be signed on to Hospice soon.

Ø  Frances Shippee went for her six-month checkup and is cancer free – five years!  Prayers of thanksgiving are in order!

Ø  Rice City friends Jack in Maine and Lucky in Warwick are healing and awaiting baptism.

Ø  Elsie Penta and her family are looking forward to being able to visit at Genesis.

Ø  Jean Salemi is awaiting back surgery.

Ø  Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, is in Arizona and praying to be restored to health and stability.

Ø  Carol and Neil Swanson’s friend Gertrude lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Florida, but they are concerned because the son-in-law has tested positive for COVID-19.  They also are concerned for their son-in-law, Trinidad, who is in a difficult working environment in California.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  baked beans, pork & beans, box mac’n cheese, mayo, instant potatoes, gravy, canned fruit, cookies/desserts, and cooking oil.

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services will be helping over 40 children fill their backpacks for school this year.  The following school supplies are needed to complete these backpacks:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored),colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Behind the Scenes

 Mt. Vernon live stream worship has been blessed by being able to use Steve Carter’s Professional Equipment.  But he will be called into work more and more, Pastor Bob writes.  To make the ministry ideal, we are in need of a camera and a computer.  If you have upgraded (or now use your phone or tablet for a camera) and have one to spare we could use a donation (or a discounted rate) on items with these specifications:

PROSUMER CAMERA – HD in the 16×9 ratio, 720 minimum resolution (1080 preferable) – 4k is great, SDI or HDMI video output connection (composite is not acceptable), audio inputs (XLR preferable)  an SD card for video would be ideal.

COMPUTER – either a macOS high sierra or windows 10, processor: i7 quadcore 2.8GHz,Memory:  4-16 GB RAM, Hard Drive: 500GB solid state OS drive, graffix card: intel HD, Directx 11, NvidiaGef orce or AMD Radeon, 16GB video memory.  If you have one or know someone who might, please contact Pastor Bob.

 A Timely Story (Sent to me by a friend who also remembers the “good old days”!)

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green bag’ thing back in my earlier days.” The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.  Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

The older lady said that she was right, our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. The older lady went on to explain: Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.  But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.  But, too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts.  Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.

We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of tuning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the “green thing.”

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad, the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

2020-07-12 Moosup Valley – Pentecost 6             Issue 26 – SUNDAY Worship for Rice City (2)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #25

July 3, 2020

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

 The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. 

Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 

Rev. Betsy’s Thoughts on the Fourth of July

Our Pilgrim ancestors of the Congregational faith came to this land to seek a new life, to find freedom to worship at they choose, to pursue the Biblical vision of a City Set on a Hill.  They brought with them values from Europe and cultivated them here.

But in many ways, the model that the Puritans brought with them to the Massachusetts Bay colony was as oppressive as the one they were escaping.  Roger Williams’ thinking was revolutionary and caused him to be driven out of the commonwealth in the dead of winter, in the middle of the night, in a snowstorm.  He founded Providence “to hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained with full liberty in religious concernments.”

These emerging values shaped the emerging nation and formed the basis of the Declaration of Independence that was signed almost 250 years ago.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness has come true for those of us who have a job and sufficient income for a decent place to live, a health care plan when a family member is sick, a quality education and citizenship in the best country in the world.

But life in America is not perfect for everyone – we have unfinished business.  It helps to remember, when they adopted the Declaration, that they had unfinished business in 1776, too:  Women were not equal, slaves were not free, happiness was realized by relatively few.

Well, we’ve made progress, of course.  We have a middle class that, by and large, in the last 50 years, has found life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for those of us who are white – although gains made in the 20th century are slipping in the 21st century with our new global economy, computerization of almost every aspect of American life, and legislation that makes it easier for corporations to move jobs overseas – yes, still.

But we have not made gains everywhere:  Racism, homophobia, and poverty still dog us as a country, especially with each new wave of immigration.  We’re not the land of the free for everyone….

Perhaps the founders knew that their words did not describe the current reality – but that the Declaration described the end result to be pursued, the beginning of the work to create the “City Set on a Hill.”

Frederick Douglas wrote, “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”  And William Faulkner reminds us, “We must be free not because we claim freedom but because we practice it.”

Yes, we have challenges, and today’s issues are more complex: than ever.  How shall we deal with immigration, violence, racism, pandemics, tax reform, drug overdoses?  Yes, we have misdeeds – too many decision-makers act in self-interest, not the public interest.  Congress is split along party lines, held hostage by lobbyists.  Rhode Island’s General Assembly is notorious for making decisions in the middle of the night and adjourning with legislation still on their desks at the personal whim of the Speaker and his political cronies.  Yes, we have hate speech in campaigns, on the internet, in print and in the broadcast media which stifles dialogue and polarizes people.

I’m still chuckling over Rabbi Leslie Gutterman’s guest editorial in The Providence Journal a few years ago in which he told this story:

“A man was walking along the beach and bound a bottle. A genie appeared.  The        genie said, ‘I am so grateful to get out of that bottle, I’ll grant you one wish.’  ‘I

have always wanted to go to Hawaii,’ the man replied. ‘I’ve never been able to go

because I am scared of flying and become claustrophobic on a boat.  My wish is

for a road to be built from here to Hawaii.’

“The genie replied, ‘No, I can’t do that. Just imagine all the pilings and concrete

involved.’ The man then told the genie, ‘Okay. There is another possibility. I want

to know why this current election cycle is so mean-spirited.’ The genie considered

and then said, ‘So do you want two lanes or four?’

Yes, although we have unfinished business – and we know we have work to do – we’re still a country to be proud of:   The way citizens like us form nonprofit organizations when we see a need to better people’s lives and rise up with contributions of time and money to help in a disaster.  The way we abide by the law, most of the time, and can trust our public officials, most of the time.  The way we can hold vigils and rallies, and say what we need to say, without fearing repercussions.  The way we can count on a full night’s sleep without being dragged out of bed and arrested for some vague crime – at least most of us most of the time.  The way we celebrate the values of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness – even when we don’t always practice them.

Yes, God has blessed America!  And we’re blessed to live here and to raise our children and grandchildren here.  But scripture reminds us:  the greater the blessings, the greater the responsibility. God’s blessings are meant to be shared.  We have work to do.

Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder reminds us of this truth when we become nostalgic about our country’s history:

“The work of God is the calling of a people, whether in the Old Covenant or the

New.  The church is then not simply the bearer of the message of reconciliation, in

the way a newspaper or a telephone company can bear any message with which it

is entrusted.  Nor is the church simply the result of a message, as an alumni

association is the product of a school or the crowds in a theater are the product of

the reputation of the film.  That men and women are called together to a new

social wholeness is itself the work of God, which gives meaning to history.”

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – for all – that’s the business we’re in.  Today, we remember when it all started, and so join me in saying,

“Happy birthday, America!

Pastor Bob’s Remembering and Re-Living the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We hold it to be self-evident … A Continental Congress that argued about everything, did not see a debate about this.  It was evident!

That all men are created equal … Those men who wrote that were not all able to see the irony in those words.  Some of them considered only land owning men as equal.  Few of them considered women as equal.  Most of them considered the natives of this land as less than human – savages.  Some of them actually owned other human beings and saw them as property.  They were not open to non-Christian believers and, as a society, were not yet aware of sexual preference and gender identity as needing inclusion.   Let us now say and mean All People Are Created Equal – keeping in mind the other Creatures of this world that are not people but are also deserving of acknowledgement, care, and protection.

They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  ...  We have been given Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness by God, and those gifts cannot be transferred or taken away – they are unalienable!  Again, the writers of these words did not see the irony that they had taken or refused these rights to so many.  We must say these words.  We must mean these words for all people.  We must live these words.  We must make these words a real and living part of our government and society for all people, because .

Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.  

There is no debate … These rights must be insured by our government and in our society for all people!  Let us be about the work of our Creator and obtain these rights for ourselves and insure these rights for all!

E Pluribus Unum … Out of Many, One!

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  This Sunday, July 5, is a Communion Sunday, so please bring a piece of bread or cracker or the rest of your breakfast and a glass of juice or wine or a cup of tea or coffee – the Passover meal story upon which we base our communion service was essentially a congregational supper – to the computer with you.  The Order of Worship bulletin is attached here (and will be emailed again on Saturday along with Pastor Bob’s bulletins), and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

 Topic: Moosup Valley Sunday Morning Worship

Time: July 5, 2020 10:30 AM (Eastern time)

 Join Sunday Morning Worship

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Phone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

 

Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City has begun worshipping outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked.  Order of Worship Bulletin is attached.

Evening Prayer

 Moosup Valley has begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (new time) by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you wish, please bring a candle to light.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn. The Order of Prayer bulletin is attached, below, so you can see what the service is like.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

NEW!  Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship will be emailed on Saturday.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø  Joanne and David Newton were at Rice City’s service on Sunday, and everyone was so excited to see them!

Ø  Tina Lavallee had surgery on Monday and is doing well, but please keep her in prayer as she goes back for surgery on her thumb on Monday.

Ø  Phyllis Dexter has been able to see her heart doctor, and they will be doing some tests.

Ø  Barbara Cederfield is home following knee replacement surgery, but her son Jeff was hospitalized in Hartford with an infection, now home on antibiotics and fever is down.

Ø  Bev’s Aunt Helen, 94, has fallen again – but no broken bones — in Assisted Living.

Ø  Ann Grenier who is fighting an infection caused by a tick bite.

Ø  Rice City friend Jack Greenleaf is receiving cardiac rehab at home.

Ø  Wayne Carlow is being treated for a health issue at home (non-COVID).

Ø  Richard Lucky is getting new treatment at the VA to help with swallowing.

Ø  Elsie Penta continues to be well at Genesis, and the family looks forward to a visit.

Ø  Please continue your prayers for Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.

Ø  Frances Shippee as she goes for her six-month cancer checkup on Monday.

Ø  Linda Andrew’s son, Peter, in Arizona and in need of prayers.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  baked beans, pork & beans, box mac’n cheese, mayo, instant potatoes, gravy, canned fruit, cookies/desserts, and cooking oil.

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services will be helping over 40 children fill their backpacks for school this year.  The following school supplies are needed to complete these backpacks:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored),colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Priscilla and Bob Rotondo

 The garden this year is very green, large and so far, it looks pretty darn good. We are experimenting with using clover as green mulch so we don’t have to weed so much. We planted the whole garden with clover in the spring and then later planted the vegetables in the clover. We will see if the yields are still good, but we really like it. No weeding!  We have planted 20 tomato plants, 12 pepper plants and lots of green beans, zucchini, lettuce, squash and basil. We are watering from the pond so that helps, too. The next challenge will be keeping the bugs away. Always something when you have a garden!

Behind the Scenes

 Mt. Vernon live stream worship has been blessed by being able to use Steve Carter’s Professional Equipment.  But he will called in to work more and more, like he was last week, Pastor Bob writes.  To make the ministry ideal, we are in need of a camera and a computer.  If you have upgraded (or now use your phone or tablet for a camera) and have one to spare we could use a donation (or a discounted rate) on items with these specifications:

PROSUMER CAMERA – HD in the 16×9 ratio, 720 minimum resolution (1080 preferable) – 4k is great, SDI or HDMI video output connection (composite is not acceptable), audio inputs (XLR preferable)  an SD card for video would be ideal.

COMPUTER – either a macOS high sierra or windows 10, processor: i7 quadcore 2.8GHz,Memory:  4-16 GB RAM, Hard Drive: 500GB solid state OS drive, graffix card: intel HD, Directx 11, NvidiaGef orce or AMD Radeon, 16GB video memory.  If you have one or know someone who might, please contact Pastor Bob.

 Closing Meditation

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Canadian Prose-Poet

 This is the reality we live: aspiring to be at our best, longing for and sometimes finding meaning and connection within ourselves and with that which is larger than ourselves, we are undone by messy bathrooms, traffic jams, and burnt toast.  I am not interested in spirituality that cannot encompass my humanness.  Because beneath the small daily trials are harder paradoxes, things the mind cannot reconcile but the heart must hold if we are to live fully: profound tiredness and radical hope; shattered beliefs and relentless faith; the seemingly contradictory longings for personal freedom and a deep commitment to others, for solitude and intimacy, for the ability to simply be with the world and the need to change what we know is not right about how we are living.

 Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

2020-07-05 Moosup Valley Service – Independence Day

2020-00-00 Evening Prayer TEMPLATE Rev

Issue 25 – SUNDAY Worship for Rice City (1)

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #24

June 26, 2020

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

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

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

 In What Do You Have Faith?

When I was a child I thought of faith as synonymous with a religion or even a set of beliefs, like a creed or doctrine that I was supposed to accept.  But now I think of faith as that which I love, what my heart leans into, what tugs at me.  One of my professors in divinity school was James Luther Adams who taught me about the early church and seeded in me the ideas that eventually became my “Gifts Discovery Course” that I led for the Women’s Retreat last year.  Dr. Adams wrote:

“The question concerning faith is not, Shall I be a person of faith? The proper question is, rather, Which faith is mine? Or better, Which faith should be mine? For, whether a person craves prestige, wealth, security, or amusement, whether a person lives for country, for science, for God, or for plunder, that person is demonstrating a faith, is showing that he or she puts confidence in something.”

 So, as an adult, I have changed my mind about faith.  In what do I have faith?  Surely in the Way of Jesus who taught us how life is to be lived and cared for, especially his commandments (drawn from the Hebrew Bible) to love God (Deut. 6:5) and our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:18) – for me, these commandments, together, are the heart of the gospel, and in these I put my faith.

And I have faith in science which teaches me about the natural world in which we live, and how to be a responsible caretaker for the environment; and I trust in the science that is trying to keep all of us safe during the pandemic.

I trust in people, too, most of them, most of the time – even the police whose job it is to keep our communities safe (recognizing some racist “bad apples,” of course).  But that’s my white privilege talking.  The last time I was stopped for speeding, I was told to get there safely and waived on my way without even a ticket. If I were a person of color, I would more likely have been ticketed or handcuffed and arrested – or worse.  (My colleagues-of-color are often stopped without apparent reason and ticketed.)

And I have faith in myself, in my resourcefulness and spiritual centeredness.  And I have faith in you, my family and friends.  So now, I ask you, in what do you have faith?  (Tell me and I’ll print your statement in an issue of “Gather ‘Round.”)

In the June 3rd issue of Christian Century magazine, Annie Dillard was asked to contribute an article to their new “How My Mind Has Changed” series – which I am inserting here as the next article.

Holding On To Holiness

By Annie Dillardauthor of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Holy the Firm, and For the Time Being

 How has my mind changed over many years?  I identify as a Christian.  Many Christians would disagree that I can use the term honestly.

I can’t and don’t give intellectual assent to many very established and agreed-upon Christian dogmas, if not most of them, if not all of them.

That Jesus of Nazareth is “the only begotten son of God, begotten not made, God of God, light of light, true God of true God” is something I always enjoy saying.  But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.  I wouldn’t render it to Caesar.  These are spiritual matters.  Their language merely resembles ours.  They need not make sense in worldly terms.

Did God create people?  Sure, if that’s how you like it.  We didn’t create ourselves.  We evolved, just us all other living beings evolved.  Every creature alive today is a pinnacle of creation.  So is every extinct creature.

Did a personal God – an unmoved mover – set creation in motion?  I doubt it.  (But I do like the term Deus absconditus for its vivid portrayal of God as a fox who absconds with the henhouse.

Fortunately, in life no one ever calls upon us to give –or to withhold – intellectual assent to anything.  No one cares about our intellectual assent.

I know only one thing for certain:  there is holiness.  Standing there, a person can sing myriad songs.

Maybe there is a divide between people who honor holiness – who bow down before it, who pray on their knees – and people who don’t.  The opposite of holiness is selfishness, egotism, pride.

I live comfortably with paradox, that something can be both true and untrue.  That annoys the daylights out of people if you proclaim it, but not if you don’t.  People who are 75 years old don’t take to proclaiming.  (We bore from within.)

As a serious Christian – humor me – I’m at home with Orthodox Jewish dogma, Hasidic dogma, Islamic dogma, godless Buddhist wisdom, and probably many other views.  Christianity is huge.  I’ve studied it for many years.  I see no reason to leave the religion of my birth, the religion I know best.

If when I die, Jesus says “I know you not,” he’ll be right, and I’ll eat my hat.

Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church is now holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m., from the church.  Members of the congregation take part in readings and prayers, and Martha plays the hymns from home – to which we sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin is attached, here (and will be emailed again on Saturday along with Pastor Bob’s bulletins), and will include the words to the hymns, scripture, and prayers, everything all in one PDF document.  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

 Topic: Moosup Valley Sunday Morning Worship

Time: Jun 28, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

 Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Phone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

 Rice City Outdoor Worship

Rice City has begun worshipping outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked.  About their first outdoor service, Pastor Bob writes:

“During our Outdoor Worship, and other conversations this week, we talked about what we have experienced during the last three months.  A lot of people mentioned their interest in feeding and watching the birds. The conversation turned to the “new” birds that people had seen or been aware of.  Seeing a Baltimore Oriole or a Blue Bird or a Pileated Woodpecker have been some of the thrills.  It was a wonderfully celebrative discussion, especially in light of the divisions that the racial issues have divided our society.  Too often when we encounter people who look or think differently than we do, we get upset or scared or on guard.  As we were talking, I thought how excited we get when we are bird watching and we see something new!  We are invigorated by seeing something different!  Maybe we could adopt that attitude when we “watch” our neighbors.  Imagine how uplifting it would be if we were excited about people who were different and “new” to us.  Instead of being apprehensive, how would our life change if we wanted a closer look, wanted to know more about, and tried to figure out how to attract other people who were different than us?  I would like to live in that world!”

Evening Prayer

We have begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (new time) by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Let Rev. Betsy know if you would like to sing an evening hymn before we join in ancient beloved prayers.  The Order of Prayer bulletin is attached, below, so you can see what the service is like.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

NEW!  Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has begun live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m. The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  The Order of Worship will be emailed on Saturday.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø Joanne Newton, at home and improving daily.  She hopes to be able to attend “drive in” worship soon. The family asks us not to call because they are afraid she will stumble, running for the phone.  Cards are welcome, however.  Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI 02827.

Ø Phyllis Dexter is glad that her doctor is back to the office and is hopeful that he can help her out.

Ø Barbara Cederfield is home from Woodpecker Hill where she had been for rehab  following her knee replacement.  She is very happy to be home!

Ø Beverly’s Aunt Helen, 94, who has fallen again.  She is in Assisted Living.

Ø Ann Grenier who is fighting an infection caused by a tick bite.

Ø Mary Joseph as she prepares to celebrate her 90th birthday on June 28.  Cards may be mailed to 201 Plainfield Pike, Foster, RI 02825

Ø Jack Greenleaf is hospitalized in Portland, Maine, for vascular problems.

Ø Richard Lucky is getting new treatment at the VA to help with swallowing.

Ø Elsie Penta is still staying safe and healthy at Genesis in Coventry.

Ø Please continue your prayers for Jean Salemi who is awaiting back surgery.
Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, discussing the lectionary texts on Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com for the link.

 Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will add you to the call list.)

Foster Food Pantry Wish List

Carol Mauro writes, the Food Pantry at Foster DHS could use the following items this month:  baked beans, pork & beans, box mac’n cheese, mayo, instant potatoes, gravy, canned fruit, cookies/desserts, and cooking oil.

Donation bins are located at Tyler and Foster Public Libraries (outside), the Post Office, Town Hall lobby and DHS office.  DHS also accepts grocery store gift cards, checks and cash donations.  Checks can be made payable to DHS – Town of Foster, and mailed to 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI  02825. Thank you for you continued support!

Back to School Supplies Needed

Also, the Foster Department of Human Services will be helping over 40 children fill their backpacks for school this year.  The following school supplies are needed to complete these backpacks:  colored pencils, dry erase markers (black and colored),colored markers (chubby and slim), 1” and 2” 3-ring binders, filler paper, small packs of tissues, small bottles of hand sanitizer and wipes, index cards – small and large, highlighters, pencil boxes/bags, construction paper, drawing pads, hand held pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, erasers, one subject notebooks, pens, crayons, 6 tab dividers for 3-ring binders, scissors, Elmer’s glue, pocket folders (okay if has fasteners), composition notebooks, pencils, juice boxes, individually wrapped snacks, ziplock snack and sandwich bags, scotch tape, book covers and post-it notes. (New backpacks are donated by the Salvation Army.)

Donations can be dropped off in the food bins at the Foster libraries, post office and town hall.   Don’t worry if you don’t have time to shop or want to avoid the stores.  DHS will be happy to accept monetary donations to support this cause.  Just mail your donation to Town of Foster, Dept. of Human Services, 181 Howard Hill Rd.  Foster, RI 02825 and write ‘school supplies’ on the memo line.

Please drop off donations by August 12th so families will have time to pick them up and get anything extra they need before the start of school.  Thank you for sharing your bargains and easing the expense of back to school shopping!

Kitty Looking for a Good Home

The Rev. Dr. Donnie Anderson retired from the Rhode Island State Council of Churches and moved to Provincetown to serve as minister of the United Methodist Church there.  Because his landlord will not allow pets, Donnie is looking for a home for his lovely kitty, “Honey,” an orange tabby who will be 6 in August.  She is a happy house cat, and a lot of company.  Please call Rev. Betsy if you know of someone who might be interested.

Behind the Scenes

Mt. Vernon live stream worship has been blessed by being able to use Steve Carter’s Professional Equipment.  But he will called in to work more and more, like he was last week, Pastor Bob writes.  To make the ministry ideal, we are in need of a camera and a computer.  If you have upgraded (or now use your phone or tablet for a camera) and have one to spare we could use a donation (or a discounted rate) on items with these specifications:

PROSUMER CAMERA – HD in the 16×9 ratio, 720 minimum resolution (1080 preferable) – 4k is great, SDI or HDMI video output connection (composite is not acceptable), audio inputs (XLR preferable)  an SD card for video would be ideal.

COMPUTER – either a macOS high sierra or windows 10, processor: i7 quadcore 2.8GHz,Memory:  4-16 GB RAM, Hard Drive: 500GB solid state OS drive, graffix card: intel HD, Directx 11, NvidiaGef orce or AMD Radeon, 16GB video memory.  If you have one or know someone who might, please contact Pastor Bob.

 Closing Meditation

And while we are thinking about “faith,” here’s a poem by one of my favorite poets who finds the Holy One through the natural world and all its creatures:

 Mysteries, Yes
By Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

 Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

2020-06-28 Pentecost – 4

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #23

June 19, 2020

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

 The Buildings Are Closed;         The Church Is Open!

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

 NEW!  Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church will begin holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, beginning this Sunday, June 21, Fathers’ Day, at our regular time, 10:30 a.m.  Members of the congregation will take part in readings and prayers, and Martha will play the hymns from home – to which we will sing along (while muted).  The Order of Worship bulletin is attached which includes the words to the hymns and prayers for Father’s Day, everything all in one PDF document.  Click on the Zoom link to join the service, highlighted below:

 Join Zoom Service:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

 NEW!  Rice City Outdoor Worship

Now that we are in Reopening Phase 2, Rice City will begin worshipping outside at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday Mornings – socially distanced and masked – beginning June 21.  The theme will be Father’s Day.

A Few Stories of Our Fathers….

My step-father used to take us skiing, and he would get lost on the way, and Ma wanted him to stop at the nearest gas station, but he would keep going and going telling her he knew where he was!  He did not know!  When we would meet people, he would say, “Hi, Mac.”  Ma would ask him who it was, and he would say he didn’t know, but the guy looked familiar.  He pronounced Colorado “Codorado,” and she could not seem to correct him.  I guess it was a spelling problem.  He would be in the living room reading the paper, and I would be in the kitchen with Ma, and he would always tell her he was going to read the death notices to her.  She would look at me cross-eyed! He was a great guy.  I miss them both.  –Anonymous

 My dad took a lot of pride in the homestead.  He raised cows, pigs, and turkeys.  He had a garden to beat the band.  He would offer vegetables to friends and family, “just bring your own bag.”  Weekends were working in the wood lot on Plainwoods Road for a warm winter.  –Susan

 My father had a nickname for everyone he liked, such as Mert and Gert, Boomer, Bubba, Guin-A-Babe, Puddles, Gabby, Mad-e-line, the General, Lish the Dish, and Patrick.  [You know who you are.]  My great grandma was Eva Paine and Dad called her Little Eva – I swear, she was about 4 feet tall – she always wore a full apron and when he walked into our grandma’s house he would holler “Hello, Little Eva” and then proceed to untie her apron.  She always pretended to be angry with him, but again, if he didn’t do the two things simultaneously, she would think something was wrong.  Do I know where all these nicknames originated?  No…. but I know anyone Dad had a nickname for looked forward to him bellowing out their nicknames whenever he was with them.  He loved to tease, but these were affectionate terms for all of us.  I would give anything to hear Dad call me by my nickname again.  -Cheryl Annabanana

My father was a Vermonter who came down to Rhode Island to study engineering at Brown where he met my mother.  He was thoughtful about people and their behavior, and he talked to me a lot when I was a teenager.  He would ask, “Why do you think your Aunt was so angry?”  Or, “Why do you think so-and-so did this or that?”  And he loved animals.  I have a memory of his walking through the house with our cat, Mittens, in a football carry on his hip, and he said once, “When you think about how much love an animal needs, think about how much more love a person needs.”  -Rev. Betsy

The Sun Changes His Mind:  A Pondering

And the sun stands still, skidding in place like a bowling ball at the end of the alley, after its six-month climb towards the light, and then, it is as if the Sun changes his mind about continuing northward, and he stands still.  It’s the Summer Solstice, and, actually, we’re the ones who stand still, not the sun – the Earth stands still.  Twice a year we make the long journey from darkness to light and then back again.  Ancient peoples would have been afraid of being abandoned by the Sun as they watched the days growing shorter and then joyful as the sun climbed back into the sky.  Their crops, their lives depended on the sun.  They would have made sacrifices – perhaps their first-born son – to appease the Sun God.  They would have promised anything to get him to change his mind.

In the same way, our scriptures are filled with “meaning stories” of how God changed God’s mind.  We humans make meaning through stories, and our Biblical stories express something, teach something, explain something.  They aren’t based on science; they are stories about faith.  They are true about human life, even if they aren’t factual.

In the Hebrew Bible, we have the familiar story of Jonah who had been commissioned by God to cry out against the City of Nineveh, which God plans to wipe out.  But Jonah takes the first boat in the other direction, and God caused a great storm to rise up against the ship.  The crew blames Jonah and throws him overboard, where he’s swallowed by a big fish, giving him three days to think it over.  And God thinks it over, too, and in response to Jonah’s prayers, changes his mind and causes the big fish to throw Jonah up onto dry land.  And again God charges Jonah to go to Nineveh, and this time he does.  And the king of Nineveh and his nobles repent and turn from their evil ways.  And, as the story goes, “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:10) 

 Even Jesus changes his mind in a New Testament story.  In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 15: 21-28, a Canaanite woman comes to him asking him to heal her daughter, but Jesus declines because she is not a Jew, responding, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” … and “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  But the woman will not be put off and responds, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  And Jesus changes his mind.  These stories mean something, often many things – not only that Jesus has his blind spots, but also that the Gospel of God’s love is for everyone, not just the “in group.”

Over the years, as science has opened up the mysteries of the universe, we have had to change our minds.  We accept that the Earth was not made in seven days, and that the Creation story is poetry and not science.  We accept the science that the Earth is not the center of the universe – and not flat.  Humankind tries to understand, and we create stories to “explain” the way things are, and we create doctrines to give us license to take what we want for our selfish purposes.[1]  And not just physical stories, but also social ones.

Hundreds of years ago, we created the story of Whiteness to give us an excuse for slavery and the relocation of Native Americans.   We created the myth of inferiority – that persons of color are less than human – to justify racism.  Whenever we label some of the people as “other” – different – a different color, a different gender, a different sexuality, a different nationality, a different religion – we create the conditions to marginalize them and to justify our own behavior.  This is what Hitler did to the Jews in Germany.

In the United States, we built our economy on slavery, not just in the South but also in the North, even in Rhode Island.  And now the country is changing its mind about racism, seeing it widely for the first time, perhaps:  The damage racism has done not only to our communities of color, but also how it has warped our “white” minds and allowed the oppression our black sisters and brothers have experienced for 400 years.  Let us pray that, in the words of another ancient anthropomorphic story in Revelations, a complex book filled with plagues, warfare and bloodshed, in an end-times battle between Good and Evil, God says, “Behold I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5).

The sun will have climbed to the highest point in the sky this Saturday afternoon at 5:43, a long journey begun on the winter solstice in December.  Our Biblical storytellers would understand it as a long journey into the light, before the sun turns again to descend into the darkness.  Let us pray that our nation will use this metaphorical opportunity to change our minds about some things, to be enlightened, to break the yoke of racism and to live into the love and justice of our sacred texts.  May it be so!  Amen.

 Outdoor Services

The Mt. Vernon Larger Parish met on Monday evening and agreed that, to minimize the risk and to not have to turn anyone away because of the limited number of chairs that could be set up, each church would hold their own service when they thought it safe to do so.   However, the churches are considering the feasibility of holding an outdoor Hymn Sing together on July 12th and August 9th, at Moosup Valley because of the large lawn, stage with an electrical outlet for a keyboard, and available parking.  We will keep an eye on COVID-19….   Pastor Bob hopes to live stream the Hymn Sing.

 Evening Prayer

We have begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Please let Rev. Betsy know if you are willing to read or sing.  We will join in ancient beloved prayers.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.

NEW!  Mount Vernon Live Streaming Wednesday Evenings

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church will begin live streaming a Wednesday evening service at 7:00 p.m., beginning Wednesday, June 24th.  The Order of Worship will center on Isaiah 43 – A Child of God – and is attached.  (This was last week’s service which was not able to be streamed.) The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.

Ø  Joanne Newton, now recuperating at home.  The family asks us not to call because they are afraid she will stumble, running for the phone.  Cards are welcome, however.  Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI 02827.

Ø  Barbara Cederfield is at Woodpecker Hill for rehabilitation, following her knee replacement.  Pray for a quick recovery and healing; O.T. and P.T. are working her hard!

Ø  Beverly’s Aunt Helen, 94, who has fallen in Assisted Living and may have a broken hip.

Ø  Richard Lucky has received good news in hopes of healing for this throat.

Ø  Mary Joseph as she prepares to celebrate her 90th birthday on June 26.  Cards may be mailed to 201 Plainfield Pike, Foster, RI 02825

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Mornings:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing the lectionary texts and selected psalms on Zoom.  Contact her for the link at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Evening:  The Rice City Bible Study is finishing up Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Tuesdays (new day) at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

Puddle Cake

Laila reminded us at Bible Study of the most delicious chocolate cake ever that has no eggs or dairy, is easy to make right in the pan – but you can double it for a birthday cake or make it as cupcakes, just adjust the baking time.  She grew up calling it “Puddle Cake,” and some of us knew it as “Crazy Cake.”  It’s a King Arthur Flour recipe.  A good cake for Father’s Day!  Here is the recipe:

 Sift these dry ingredients directly into an ungreased 8-inch cake pan:

1 ½ cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of baking cocoa

1 teaspoon of soda, ½ teaspoon of salt

Dig three holes in the dry mixture and put these wet ingredients in the holes:

6 tablespoons of salad oil, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Pour one cup (8 ounces) of cold water over everything and stir with a fork.

Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven and invert to cool.  Remove from pan or  right from  the pan.

 Behind the Scenes

Mt. Vernon live stream worship has been blessed by being able to use Steve Carter’s Professional Equipment.  But he is called into work more and more, like he was last week, Pastor Bob writes.  To make the ministry ideal, we are in need of a camera and a computer.  If you have upgraded (or now use your phone or tablet for a camera) and have one to spare we could use a donation (or a discounted rate) on items with these specifications:

PROSUMER CAMERA – HD in the 16×9 ratio, 720 minimum resolution (1080 preferable) – 4k is great, SDI or HDMI video output connection (composite is not acceptable), audio inputs (XLR preferable)  an SD card for video would be ideal.

COMPUTER – either a macOS high sierra or windows 10, processor: i7 quadcore 2.8GHz,Memory:  4-16 GB RAM, Hard Drive: 500GB solid state OS drive, graffix card: intel HD, Directx 11, NvidiaGef orce or AMD Radeon, 16GB video memory.  If you have one or know someone who might, please contact Pastor Bob.

 Closing Meditation

One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.  –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

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

[1] The Doctrine of Discovery established a spiritual, political, and legal justification for colonization and seizure of land not inhabited by Christians. It has been invoked since Pope Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” in 1493.

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)  Moosup Valley Church Worship-Issue 23 – Bulletin – 2020-06-21 – Father’s Day

Mt. Vernon Streams- Issue 22 – Order of Worship for June 24 – Hollis 

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #22

June 12, 2020

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

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

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

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, June 14, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 9:00 a.m.  The theme is “I Am a Child of God.”  The Order of Worship is attached.  The link: https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

Mt. Vernon Hymn Sing

Sunday, June 14 at 3:00 pm.  We are not ready to get together yet, but Doug Tourgee is going to play some of our favorites so that we can sing along at home.  You can join us on the Mount Vernon Larger Parish Page.  Pastor Bob and Doug will go live on facebook live at 3:00 pm.   These are some of the songs we will sing:  “In The Garden,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “To God Be The Glory,” “Blessed Assurance,” “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” “It is Well With My Soul,” “God Bless America,” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

Evening Prayer

We have begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Please let Rev. Betsy know if you are willing to read or sing.  We will join in ancient beloved prayers.  It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Also, if you would like to hear the Evening Prayer service, we could include you by telephone, even if you do not have a computer.  In addition to Pastor Bob’s Sunday bulletin, I am attaching the Evening Prayer Order of Service so you can follow along.

 NEW!  Moosup Valley Sunday Services

Moosup Valley Church will begin holding Sunday Worship by Zoom, beginning on Sunday, June 21, Fathers’ Day, at 10:30 a.m.  Congregational participation will be sought for readings, scriptures, and responses.  Martha Safstrom will play from home, and words to the hymns will be shared so participants can sing along (while muted).  The Zoom link will be inserted in the newsletter next week.

 Moosup Valley Congregational Christian Church, UCC

Stand outside our small white church on Moosup Valley Road on Sunday mornings and hear some of the same hymns played when the church was new, 152 years ago – although now interspersed with newer hymns and melodies for the twenty-first century.

Step up on the hand-hewn granite steps which were dragged up Moosup Valley Road by oxen over two days and walk through one of its two original front doors.  See the sun shine through the simple glass windows.  Sit on one of the wooden benches, plain and sturdy, and notice the well-used Bible.  Look up at the stern face of our first pastor, Elder George W. Kennedy, who performed 164 weddings and served his small rural parish for 30 years.  Notice the wooden collection box made by Bradford Battey, the hymn board made by Skip Pendegraph, and the child-sized table and red chairs which many Foster residents sat in as children.

The church was built as a meeting house for community lectures and religious services.  Until that time, Moosup Valley families traveled to Rice City, Foster Center, or the old Dorrance School on Kennedy Road for worship.  Others attended services and Sunday School in the Moosup Valley School, called the Vestry School, now moved across the road and part of the library.

But Ira Brown changed that when he leased a plot of land to the Moosup Valley Association of Foster for 99 years.  Sixty-five people pledged their money, materials and labor.  A Mrs. Brayton of Moosup Valley wrote in a letter on August 25, 1864, “The Meeting House is to be put up this afternoon.”  It was finished in 1865.

In one of its first actions, the Moosup Valley Association set up a schedule that allowed the Christian denomination to use the meeting house two Sundays a month.  The Association left the two remaining Sundays open for lectures or worship by other denominations.  The Christians probably got the extra attention because Rice City, just south of Moosup Valley, was the center of a strong local Christian Church movement.  At one point the Rice City Church listed 450 members.

For the Christians, Christ was the only head of the church, and the Bible was a sufficient rule for faith and practice.  Each person had the right of private judgment and liberty of conscience, and character was the only requirement for church membership.  The Christian movement was appealing and Moosup Valley grew, and on March 19, 1868, just three years after the meeting house was built, families formed the Moosup Valley Christian Church and unanimously chose George Kennedy, who had been traveling to Rice City to preach, as its first pastor.  A year later, the church register listed 50 members and reached a high of nearly 100 by 1879.

These were busy times.  Sterry Foster, who lived on Potter Road, was Sunday School superintendent.  Classes in the Vestry School were filled not only with children but also adults.  Old journals record the names of each pupil.  There were Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor meetings in the 1890s, other youth groups, picnics and croquet games, prayer meetings and church suppers.  Box Socials and apron-necktie suppers brought young people together.

Even so, Moosup Valley couldn’t maintain a large, strong congregation and so shared its minister with other congregations.  In 1890, there were “union” services with the Line, which meant that two churches shared a pastor or they held joint services.  In 1928, a similar arrangement was made with Rice City and Clayville.  These and other informal unions eventually led to the formation of the Mt. Vernon Larger Parish, an organization of small Baptist and Congregational churches in the area, which provided a partial salary for the pastor while allowing the church to be autonomous.

There were denominational changes in 1931 when the Christian Church merged with the Congregational Church and again in 1961, when Moosup Valley voted unanimously to join the United Church of Christ with its roots in the Christian, Congregational, Evangelical and Reform movements.  Since then, church membership has waxed and waned as children have grown up and moved away and generations have passed on and new people have moved in, seeking a church community.

The Living Crèche pageant, started by the Rev. Joy Utter 30 years ago, continues to be an annual highlight.  The Christmas Tree Lighting and the Concert in the Valley have been expanded to monthly live music events under the leadership of Laurie Murphy.  When it’s too cold to be outside, the meeting house is turned into a warm and cozy coffee house with punch and cookies, and the pulpit is moved to make room for area musicians.  In warm weather, neighbors visit with each other around the campfire built by Jake McCormick.

Many of the families listed in the old records have descendants who are active members today, and new people continue to come, some because of the timely website maintained by Pat Safstrom, some drawn by the restored garden along the stone wall and the plantings, paving stones, and window box under the front window.  Under the leadership of Moderator Carl Safstrom, a permanent stage is being built on the lawn and plans have been designed for an addition to accommodate a new furnace and meeting and storage space.

Small churches are important in the country.  They bring neighbors together around shared values, create networks of people who care for one another, and witness to the birthing and passing of generations.  They also welcome new people into a community and offer friendship and hospitality and support – “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey.”

Moosup Valley Church, 152 years old this year, stands as a beacon on a well-traveled country road and invites those who are intrigued by its history, yet looking for a vibrant faith suitable for this new age, to step across its threshold.

Note:  This history is based on research by Margery I. Matthews, a member of Moosup Valley Church, together with Virginia I. Benson and Arthur E. Wilson, found in Churches of Foster: A History of Religious Life in Rural Rhode Island, published in 1978.

 Thanks for the Memories

 From Laila:  In the Valley, as we Valley girls called it, there was a group of us that hung out together. This included me, Susan, Eileen Luther Butler, her sisters and the Hawes girls, also my sister.  Sometimes we let the boys tag along — Steven Norden and Fred Salisbury.  We used to meet at the Norden’s house and play baseball in their field. If we got tired of that, we would go over to the grange supper shed and play 1, 2, 3 Red Light.

The summers where the best times. We all got together almost daily, and our parents didn’t worry about us because we were always together.

From Susan:  When I was a little girl, in the summer I would sit on the stone wall at our house and listen to Grandma Kennedy playing the organ and singing at church.  I would also watch Aunt Vivian walk down the road when it was communion with the silver holder with glasses filled with grape juice.  I couldn’t wait to see Grandma come out the door, and I would run to meet her.  I loved her so very much.  My mom, Priscilla Norden, started playing organ at the church at age six.

From Sonja:  My mother, Sylvia Bassett, was very active at Moosup Valley.  She went to church regularly and was very involved in the Women’s Fellowship, the philanthropic arm of the church.  The group met at different members’ homes, and they would often meet at our house.  Mrs. Byron O. Waterman was President, and I can still remember some of the women who were members:  Bertha Bennis, Grace Dunbar, Christine Saltinstall, Elsie Kivisto, Ruth Salisbury, and there were others, I am sure.  Pat Safstrom joined the group, but that was after I had gone to college.  I remember that one of their fundraisers was a bake sale held on Labor Day when the grange had their clam bake.  My mother always made a number of loaves of “pulla,” Finnish coffee cake, which sold fast.

The fact that the library (which is now attached to what was Moosup Valley School) stood beside the church is well known.  I attended only first grade in that school, and there were two of us.  When Laila Renvall (the other first grader) moved to Finland, and I was destined to be the lone second grader, my parents tuitioned me to the newly built Western Coventry Elementary School.  Moosup Valley School closed when Captain Isaac Paine School opened.

From Cheryl:  The one thing I remember most about going to Sunday School and Church is that often Mrs. Harrington would bring in a load of violets and give each child a violet upon leaving…I remember her being busy about the church – organizing and making sure everything was in its proper place.  It is funny that I cannot remember her speaking to us much except when it was about plants – usually violets.

And how can we talk about the church without talking about the Valley?

From Cheryl:  My sister, Brenda, and I would often go for horseback rides early in the day and get home before dark with our dog, Friskie, tagging along with us wherever we went.  We rode all the dirt roads around Moosup Valley.  One of our favorite places to ride was Johnson Road before it was tarred.  Once it became tarred, they left a strip unpaved in front of Alton Bassett’s place (across from where Sonja lives now – the house she grew up in) – it was the best place because it was a nice stretch, and we could race each other there, and we loved to do that until they paved that area too.  Brenda and I used to go to the Ginny B Campground on Saturday nights because they had a live band playing there and it was usually guys from Ponagansett that had formed a band.  Alton invited the kids in Moosup Valley to attend because, quite frankly, there was nothing else to do.  So many a Saturday night you could find a few of us at the Ginny B listening to older classmates playing the latest songs with the kids from the campground.

The grange used to hold square dances on Saturday nights that I went to with some of my older Moosup Valley friends.  I would play lookout for a couple of my older girlfriends because their fathers did not like the boys that they were seeing, so I became the official lookout.  There were two other events that the grange put on and I loved them both:  Every year the grange put on a minstrel, and when I was old enough I got to be in it the chorus and sang the old standby songs that my parents sang all the time when we were riding in the car, such as “Bicycle Built for Two” and “Sweet Rosie O’Grady.”

The other event, when I got old enough, was to work the annual Labor Day Clam Bake.  It seemed everyone turned out to help get the bake going, and then mostly the girls would wait on the tables:  it was a hot, long, gruesome day, but oh so much fun!

Also the grange use to put on a fair that my family loved to go to; we would see all our friends there – they had the old time things – such as catching the greased pig, that was something to watch.  I remember if you had to use the bathroom, then you had to use the old outhouse in back of the grange, and whenever you used it, someone always seemed to scare you by banging on the walls of the outhouse whenever we would go in.

One of my most favorite things to do was to walk to the Tyler Free Library (which was next to the church then) and get new books for the next two weeks….I read a lot of the books they had.  Our neighbor was Jessie Bennis, the librarian, and as much as she liked me, she used to get mad at me every other Saturday for taking out too many books…I can hear her to this day saying, “Cheryl Hawes, why do you take so many books, you will never read them all before they are due back,” and I used to say to her, “Yes, I will Mrs. Bennis, honest I will,” and I did.

My father used to get fireworks almost every 4th of July and our neighbors and dear friends, the Luthers, who lived two houses away but on a little hill, used to sit on their roof and watch the fireworks from their house, and we could hear them cheer…why they didn’t come to the house to watch, I don’t remember.  Growing up in the Valley was a wonderful way to grow up.  We had two farms up the road from us, both of which were Dexter’s:  We were really friendly with Hebert Dexter and his family, the one closest to us, and we were in and out of their house and barn whenever we felt like it, like they were family to us.

There used to be baseball games at Moosup Valley Ball Field.  I don’t remember the names of the teams, but our Dad played and Mr. Luther (Ed) played as well.  So all of us kids would be there playing in the field beside the ball field – sometimes watching the games, but not so much.  Dad and Ed were both hotheads from time to time.  I remember one time my father looking up at Ed – he was pretty tall – and Ed looking down at my Dad.  It was almost like they were nose to nose arguing about some call, and all of us kids thinking they were going to get into a fist fight, but nothing ever came of it except a lot of yelling.  After the game, it was all back to being friends again.

Obviously, as I sit here thinking, I could go on and on and on.  I know that the Nordens, Luthers, Luthers (two sets of Luthers), and Salisburys were at most of these events together.  We were like a little community within a community if you know what I mean.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Michelle DiBiasio’s brother-in-law, Rick, who is struggling with cancer.  Her daughter, Ayla, is recovering from surgery and doing well.

Ø Joanne Newton, now recuperating at home.  The family asks us not to call because they are afraid she will stumble, running for the phone.  Cards are welcome, however.  Send to 51 Victory Highway, Greene, RI 02827.

Ø Barbara Cederfield had knee replacement surgery on Wednesday, which went really well.  She is going to Woodpecker Hill for rehabilitation.  Pray for a quick recovery and healing.  She has been enjoying her mini-vacation!

Ø Pastor Doug Tourgee’s sister and brother-in-law are both now at home and doing well.

Ø Our nation following the tragic death of George Floyd and so many other people of color, and that God may teach us how best to be agents of compassion, strength, witness, and justice.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing the lectionary texts and selected psalms on Zoom.  Contact her for the link at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Philippians:  The Rice City Bible Study is focusing on Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

Enrich your Spiritual Life with a Mystic

Michele DiBiasio has an extra copy of “Julian of Norwich, Selections from Revelations of Divine Love – Annotated and Explained” that she would be happy to give to anyone interested.  She writes, “I am really enjoying this book and learning a lot. I was hoping someone was interested, and I could send or drop off my extra copy. New, hardcover. Great read!

Prayer for Peace

Dermot Donnelly in “How to Survive the Rest of Your Life: A Practical Users’ Guide”

Submitted by Michelle DiBiasio

Lord,

You are the God of all peace.

I present to you

all places of conflict

in our world.

As there is no ideology,

political thought,

culture or particular

way of life greater than

the life of the humblest person.

I pray for peace.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen

Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Issue 22 – Order of Worship for June 14                2020-06-17 Evening Prayer FINAL

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MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #21

June 5, 2020

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

The Buildings Are Closed;

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

Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, June 7, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 9:00 a.m.  In the midst of all the struggles, Pastor Bob has decided to use the summer on virtual worship to look at and celebrate our favorite scriptures. This week, he will look at the 23rd psalm!  Join us in celebration of “The Lord Being our Shepherd.” The Order of Worship is attached, and here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

Mt. Vernon Hymn Sing

Next Sunday, June 14, we will continue Mount Vernon Streams at 9:00 a.m., but we will also have a virtual hymn sing.  Pastor Bob will film Pastor Doug Tourgee who will play your favorite hymns in his Tennessee Mountain Gospel Style.  You can sing along at home!  Send Pastor Bob the names of the hymns you would like to hear!  The time will be announced Sunday.

Mt. Vernon Church over the Years

Celebrating its 225th birthday in 2020, the building that currently houses the Mount Vernon Baptist Church has had a long and varied life.  Originally built in 1795 as a Quaker Meetinghouse, the 20′ by 30′ building had a fireplace at either end and a partition in the middle separating the men’s and women’s sides.  When membership shrank, the Quakers were disbanded in 1846 and the property was sold.

Changing owners over the next 50 years, the building served various uses including hay storage and dance hall.  In the late 1880s an offshoot of the very strong Rice City Christian denomination was established and the property was donated to the group.  Dedicated workers solicited money and devoted time, energy, and love to rebuild the structure and furnish it with seating and an organ.  A Sabbath school was established and a preacher engaged three Sundays per month.  However, the “Christian” association was short-lived for the practical local farmers discovered the monies available under the Richard Waterman Trust which specified:  “the interest of which is to be paid annually to a Calvinistic Baptist minister who shall preach within two miles of my dwelling house.”  A meeting was held in 1894 of four members of different churches, and it was agreed to form a Baptist church.  The ceremony was held the same year, and officially the name was changed from the Mount Vernon Christian Society to the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in 1895.  By 1905 the Waterman Trust Fund provided enough assistance that services could be held weekly.  In the ensuing years the church built horse sheds on the east side of the lot, held harvest suppers and entertainments.  Groups were formed and the pace was steady as was typical for country churches.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s small rural churches were having a difficult time.  Richard Waterman’s generosity led to the establishment of the Mount Vernon Larger Parish, an association of small churches whose existence was threatened by their inability to support a minister.  An agreement was worked out whereby the member churches shared a pastor who was paid by the Waterman Trust Fund.  Member churches in the Larger Parish have varied over the years, but the lynch pin is Mount Vernon, the only BAPTIST church that is currently a member.

Over the years, membership and services have withered at Mount Vernon, though it has been able to maintain hymn sings.  On October 31, 2014, the church was knocked off its foundation and feared lost.  However, the congregation voted to restore the building to its original design as a Quaker Meetinghouse and, between generous donations and insurance, it was reopened in July 2017.  Recently attempts have been made to garner a following by offering “Open Mic” and Quaker services.  Currently, in the midst of the pandemic, Rev. Robert Hollis is offering a service on-line by video streaming which will, hopefully, transition to a weekly worshiping congregation in the fall.

My Childhood Memories of Mt. Vernon Church

By Janice Reynolds

It’s my belief that my brother and I started going to Mt. Vernon about the early 1950s.  We lived on Waterman Hill Farm.  We used to walk to church, weather permitting, about one-half a mile.  We did look forward to church on Sunday.

Per Mrs. Elsie Paine, the door would always be unlocked early each Sunday.  My brother and I would be the first over there; we’d go inside and the fun would begin.  Michael would pretend to be the preacher.  He’d go up and read from the big Bible.  In between, I tried to play the piano.  It was so crazy because I didn’t know how to play it.  All was make-believe.  I tried to play some favorite hymns, and we’d sing at the top of our lungs.  And, yes, once in awhile we’d get caught.  But believe me, no one scolded us.  Church and school was a special “out” for me.  Looked forward to both.

Back to the farm and home, we had a pet dog, “Peggy.”  My Dad always said she was my dog.  He got her when I was very young.  She also would attend church with us.  One Sunday she went inside and settled down under a back pew.  No one said anything until Rev. Waterman started his sermon and some of the youngsters started to laugh.  You can guess what happened next.  Why are you laughing?  Because there is a dog in here.  Rev. Waterman had the dog taken out.  But she did stay in the hallway until we came out to go home.

Peggy was a smart dog.  Our Dad would tell her to go get the “girls” for milking time.  She always knew what he wanted.  We had, on and off, cats and dogs, pet ducks, a pet rooster, “Oscar,” who liked to play basketball with us kids. Also, during cold weather, he slept in the dog house where the dog also helped keep him warm.

For now, the final pet story is we had a pet crow, “Jimmy.”  Actually our Dad was his favorite.  He’d sit on Dad’s shoulder while he was working in the garden.  Also Jimmy would often fly up to my second floor bedroom window.  I’d give him bright colored marbles and colored ribbons.  One day Dad was coming home from the barn, and walking in the field between the barn and our house, he came across the nest with the colored items Jimmy had gotten from me.  He would also for some Sundays fly ahead of us going to church.  And he really would wait for us to come out of church.  Everyone at this time was so amazed.

My finale to this story is, I’m proud to say, Rev. Waterman had married my husband and me on November 19, 1960, here in Mt. Vernon Church.  A quote from Mr. Waterman:  “Just remember, Janice, once a Baptist, always a Baptist.”

Early on a Sunday Morning

By Tracey Griffing

Sunday May 31, 2020

As usual, I’m up early in the morning. I’m a daily coffee-drinking news-watcher. Not just today, but all this week, the commentaries and the footage of the inexcusable killing of another black life, footage repeated again and again. The killing at the hand of a white man, an officer sworn to keep the peace, while other officers stood, watched, and did nothing.

The destruction of property, cars, buildings and churches ensued.  Violence brought about by violence.  This has been a terrible week for humankind, again. Anotherneedless and senseless killing in this country because of ignorance and intolerance.  This is only one of many instances reported this year alone.  How is it that, in 2020, some still find this an acceptable way to treat another human being?  The complete lack of listening and hearing of one another that is still happening in this country is disheartening. We can successfully work together to send people into space for exploration of another world, but  we can’t meet each other half-way for humanity in this world.

I was emailing with a friend early this Sunday morning.  He sent a song and a note about the need for more love. The song was “More Love” by Mark Miller. He talked about Agape love, the highest love, love that extends past all human understanding and emotion.  It’s the love that defines God’s immeasurable love for us.  A more parental, mature, sacrificial kind of love.  A love that Jesus was willing to die for.

My friend is right, it is about the love. A few years ago my nephew was getting married.  My brother’s son.  When Jim called me to tell me of the upcoming wedding, I don’t know why, but right away I said to him, I would love to play my guitar and sing a song for Travis and Jill.  He said, really?  It’s completely unlike me to offer something like that without even thinking about it.  The Spirit was working. The song I played was “Love Can Build a Bridge” by the Judds.

It just so happens it was the same day as the Royal Wedding. The minister for the bride’s family had preached that morning at the Royal wedding. All he kept saying was, It’s about the Love.  He was right.  When I was in the hotel practicing that morning I knew it was all about the love.  Of course the love between the couple getting married but also the Agape love is what I felt from him, because of the turmoil over the economic differences that surrounded the Royal wedding.  More of that love needs to be spread across our nation.

Emotions that are running high in this country, on both sides of the aisle. Why have the lines between right and wrong become so blurred?

Creator,

We pray Your love comes in abundance

Abundance that only You can provide

Abundance given to us freely for the asking.

For the people of this country to start to listen, to start to hear one another,

To focus on Your love in our hearts, Agape love.

Love not focused on our physical differences but on our common welfare.

Leaving indifference and the fuel of hate behind, to come to a place of mutual respect.

To begin to heal our Land.

Amen.

New!  Evening Prayer

We have begun holding Evening Prayer, Vespers, on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer, a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  Please let Rev. Betsy know if you are willing to read or sing.  We will join in the ancient beloved prayer, “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.  Tend the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.” It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the Zoom link:

Join Evening Prayer Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  1-929-205-6099

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø  For Michelle DiBiasio’s daughter, Ayla, who is dealing with post-op complications.

Ø  Joanne continues her slow but steady progress in healing from brain surgery with the help of doctors, therapists, loving family and prayers!

Ø  Prayers of thanksgiving for a successful cardiac ablation for Carl’s cousin, The Rev. Mindy Reed, and prayers for successful surgery for her partner, Ancilma Peters, who is going in for cataract surgery and possible corneal transplant.

Ø  Phyllis Dexter was not able to have the cardiac stent inserted this week, and she is very disappointed.  However, she hopes a new medication will help, and she thanks everyone for their cards and concern.

Ø  Janice Reynolds is in need of healing and strength in her legs.

Ø  Barbara Cederfield will have knee replacement surgery on Wednesday, and also asks for prayers for her brother Rev. Bob, a retired Episcopal priest, who fell and has bleeding in his brain.

Ø  Pastor Doug Tourgee’s sister and brother-in-law are both in the hospital in need of prayer.

Ø  Pray for our nation following the tragic death of George Floyd, and that God may teach us how best to be agents of compassion, strength, witness, and justice.

Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

Psalms:  Tuesday & Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. with Betsy, reading and discussing the lectionary texts and selected psalms by Zoom.  Contact her at BetsyAldrichGarland@gmail.com.

Philippians:  The Rice City Bible Study is focusing on Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

A Personal Note from Pastor Bob

This has been such a tough week for so many people.  I want to respond but I am afraid to say or do the wrong thing!  And so I pray.

I pray for the family of George Floyd.  I pray for the officers and their families who seem to be complicit in his death.

I pray for the family of St. Louis City’s Captain David Dorn, killed in the riot there.

I pray for small businesses who were rebounding from the virus only to be ransacked.

I pray for the peaceful demonstrators who want justice, not more violence.

I pray for black and brown people who have been put down for generations and who feel rage and use rage to bring things to the forefront.

I pray for people who take advantage of strife and chaos for their own gain.

I pray for our first responders, police, National Guard, and military who try to serve and protect in strained and confusing times.

I pray for our leaders who try to make decisions for protection, justice, safety, and order.

I pray for people who feel passionately and respond, and for folks who feel deeply but don’t know how to respond.

I pray for our churches to say we are here to listen and learn, we are here to stand for justice, we are here to offer hands of compassion, we are here to try to figure out what we could be here to do!

I pray for myself and will gladly pray for all of you who want to be representatives of Jesus’ call to love our neighbors!

Closing Reflection

Those of us who live in places like Foster and Greene think that life is peaceful everywhere, that justice prevails everywhere, that our country offers opportunity to everyone who is willing to work hard.  But that is not the experience of many.  For your reflection, I offer this poem by novelist, social activist, and playwright Langston Hughes:

Let America Be America Again
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Offerings may be mailed for:

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

————

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
210 Plainfield Pike
Foster, Rhode Island 02825
(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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

MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #20

May 30, 2020

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

 The Buildings Are Closed;  The Church Is Open!

 Back issues of “Gather ‘Round” E-news are available on the Moosup Valley Church website, thanks to our webmaster, Pat Safstrom. 

Go to moosupvalley.church and click on the tab at the top of the page.

 Call for Stories about Mt. Vernon

We have enjoyed learning about the Rice City Christian Church.  Now, let’s share some about Mt. Vernon Baptist.  Sonja is summarizing the history, and Janice Reynolds has sent me a wonderful piece about her childhood memories of Mt. Vernon.  There also was a Mt. Vernon village, I believe, with a tavern.  Does anyone have a story about that?

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 31, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 12:30 p.m.  The service will be about Pentecost:  “If God Is with Us.”  The Order of Worship is attached.  To log in, go to:  https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).

About Pentecost, Pastor Bob writes, “Pentecost is the Jewish Celebration of Shavuot, the blessings of the Wheat Harvest and the Commemoration of the day God gave the Torah through Moses to the Israelites.  It is the Christian Celebration of the day that God shared God’s Holy Spirit with all who would believe!  Our Live Stream Worship will celebrate the sharing of the Holy Spirit and what a difference it makes in our lives.  Many churches wear red on Pentecost to symbolize the tongues of fire that rested on all the believers.  If you are joining us for worship, it would be good for you to meditate beforehand on Romans 8:26-39, and then please read on through verse 39 and the well-known passages, 31b “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And vs. 38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 New!  Evening Prayer

Beginning the first Wednesday in June (THIS Wednesday), Rev. Betsy will begin offering Evening Prayer, Vespers, by Zoom, a brief (20 minute) time of scripture, song, meditation and prayer at 7:00 p.m., a time to give thanks for the day just past and praise to God.  If you would like to participate by reading or singing, please let me know, and I will send you the materials.  In any event, everyone is welcome to come and listen.  Please bring a candle.  We will join in the beloved ancient prayer, “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.  Tend the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.” It will be acceptable to come in your PJs!  Here is the link:

Betsy Garland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Evening Prayer

Time: This is a recurring meeting:  Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4971608531?pwd=cVJlUmw1QndYcmtiakhDVjVmWDA2UT09

Meeting ID: 497 160 8531

Password: 038040

Telephone if you need it:  +19292056099

 Special Online Hymn Sing   

Pastor Bob writes, “June 14 is our normal Hymn Sing Day at Mount Vernon.  We cannot, as of yet, gather safely together, but we will have Hymn Sing nonetheless.  Please send Pastor Bob (RevBobH@gmail.com) one of your favorite hymns (and a story of why it is your favorite if you would like), and I will give it to Doug.  Doug will play for us, and at home we can all sing to our heart’s content.  By then, the Governor will allow gatherings of 15 or less, so if you have 15 people that you are safe with, join together and have a Hymn Sing in your back yard as Doug plays for us all!  Or from the solace of your living room, or the sanctuary of your Nursing Home Room, or the Refuge of your Quarantine Space, sing out as loud as you want! It will do all our hearts good to sing (virtually) together!”

Rev. Betsy Reflects on Pentecost:  When Did the Holy Spirit Come? 

Read Acts 2:1-21

 Growing up in Sunday School, we learned that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and all those gathered in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost.  Remember the violent wind and the tongues of fire?  But was that the way it really was?  Was Pentecost a real, historical event or simply a beloved story – one of many – marking the birthday of the church?  Recent scholars tell us that Luke, who not only wrote his gospel story about the life of Jesus, but also wrote Acts early in the second century, the story of what happened to Jesus’ followers after the resurrection.  It was Luke who created this wind and fire not-very-historical story to prove that the rapid expansion of the Jesus Movement across the known world was God’s doing.  And we know it as “Pentecost,” because Luke stages it in Jerusalem when Jews from all over the world were there, hence the profusion of languages, for the Jewish agricultural festival of Pentecost, and he gives his story credibility by building on the ancient prophecy of the prophet Joel.

And where had the Spirit been before then?  In our morning Bible Study sessions, we have been reading all the Pentecost scriptures and recognizing that the Holy Spirit has been here all along.  The complex Hebrew noun ruah can be translated as “wind,” “breath,” or Spirit,” and our differing biblical translations have chosen one of these three possible option as most appropriate for each context.  So in Genesis 1:2, what is it that comes from God to sweep over the waters?  In Genesis 2:7, what does God give to the creature of the dust that it may become a human?  In Psalm 104, we have understood the Spirit of God granting life to the whole creation.  Thus, on Pentecost Sunday, we might think of God’s power resting not only on us as individuals and on our churches but also throughout the cosmos, burning with divine mystery and calling us to witness to God’s ruah, in our midst and breaking down artificial barriers of speech, class, and nation that separate us from each other and God’s blessings for all of creation.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Carl’s cousin, the Rev. Mindy Reed, had her surgery for Atrial fibrillation, and it went very well, and her partner, Ann Cilma, who is going in for cataract surgery and possible corneal transplant in June.

Ø Joan Lacerda on the death of her mother this week, of whom Joan says, “She was a very independent woman with a wonderful sense of humor, a friendly smile, and literally would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it.  She surely will be missed.” Prayer also for Pat Safstrom for whom Joan’s mother was like a second mother to her when they were growing up.

Ø Joanne is home and continues her slow but steady progress in healing from brain surgery.  She sounds like herself on the phone and still has her sense of humor!

Ø Phyllis Dexter is planning to have a stent put in on Wednesday and hopes to have more strength and energy after that procedure.

Ø Janice Reynolds is in need of healing and strength in her legs.

Ø Everyone in the Sroka family has been retested for COVID-19 following their recovery.  Jane has tested negative twice, but Ronnie and Randy are still testing positive – which the doctor thinks is because they are shedding old cells slowly.

Ø For Beverly’s Aunt Helen who has fallen and broken a leg in her assisted living facility.

 An Unlikely Pentecost Story

 I ran across this story recently about a relationship between the Irish in the Potato Famine, which raged from 1845 to 1849, exacerbated by English agricultural policies, and Native Americans, whose lands were stolen and who knew what it was like to be stripped of their farms and fishing grounds and livestock and forced-marched to strange lands not fit for farming or fishing.  A story about then and now.  And it seems to me an unlikely Pentecost story because of unspoken understanding.

It begins in Ireland with the generations-old conflict between the British Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic to the south.  There had been hopeless blood-letting for decades, but it erupted into war on so-called Bloody Sunday in 1969, but most historians recognized that the roots of the conflict, much more than a war between Protestants and Catholics, were economic and cultural.  And about the same time as the Potato Famine in Ireland, in which it is estimated more than a million men, women and children starved to death, people of color and Native Americans in the United States knew what it was like to be ruled under the thumb of others, and they took pity on the Irish.

In 1847, the Choctaw Indians had suffered as much as any.  Then, practically penniless themselves, they scraped together $170 and sent it to Ireland.  The Irish remembered, and today, as the Navajo Nation (including some Choctaw) die from coronavirus infection on their reservation, at one of the highest rates in the country, an Irish charity has raised $3 million for the 3,500 American Indian families there, with $100 packages of supplies arriving every day.  One hundred seventy-three years later.  Understanding born of suffering and oppression.  The power of God’s Spirit reaching across oceans and cultures and centuries, a modern-day Pentecost.  –Based on a story in the Cape Cod Times, “If you give, just wait.  It comes back,” written by Dan McCullugh, a former Rhode Islander.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

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

 Philippians:  The Rice City Bible Study has finished the Gospel of John and decided to focus on Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob by telephone.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

Window on Wildlife

 As I am sure you have noticed, there is a great deal of activity among the birds now.  As trees leaf out, many are now building nests which will be camouflaged from predators.  Bushes and shrubs are favorite nesting sites, as well.  Depending upon your patience (some would say boredom) you can locate nests by paying attention to the “bird traffic” around your house.  Sitting quietly where you can survey the surrounding trees and bushes, pay attention to vegetation that seems to have a particular species of bird entering and exiting regularly.  Right now there is nest-building and egg-laying happening.  Then it will be quiet for a bit while the eggs are incubated and then both parents will be busy feeding hungry mouths.

An interesting activity is putting out nesting materials.  If you have yarn, hair, thread, twine, etc., cut it into lengths from an inch or 2 to 6-8 inches, unravel the strands and offer it to the birds.  I use jute, soak it so it unravels somewhat and then I separate the fibers, draping it on the yew in front of my window.  The orioles are very busy right now gathering the strands.  Other birds like soft fibers and cotton-like material.

Unobtrusively, you can locate nests by checking the bush or tree with the traffic.  However, do not become a pest, for the birds may abandon the location.  Just the ordinary use of our yard discouraged the bluebirds who started to build a nest near our house. After the babies hatch, you can keep track of growth but be careful not to approach when they are close to fledging (leaving the nest) for they may panic, try to fly away unsuccessfully and be on the ground.  Then they are totally vulnerable and will probably perish.

Although we are all eager to get back to some form of “normalcy,” we are blessed in Foster to be able to stop and watch God’s creations right in our own yards.  Look closely at the tree as it goes from buds to flowers to leaves.  Watch the growth of plants you set out, paying attention to the details of its development.  Observe animal activity and rituals.  Instead of allowing yourself to become frustrated and depressed, embrace this slow-down as a time to bask in the luxuriousness of our beautiful environment and its creatures.  As you observe closely over the next weeks and months, paying attention to the small details, your experiences will be the equivalent of a course in environmental studies and it will be free!

Closing Reflection

The first Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) took place on May 30, 1868, more than 150 years ago today, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.  One of my professors, Father Henri J. M. Nouwen, known by contemporaries as “the spiritual writer who most influenced our generation,” wrote this prayer for Memorial Day, and it rings true today, in the suffering we see around us due to COVID-19, environmental devastation, violence and poverty.

Dear God,

with you everything is possible.

Let the cup of war,

killing and destruction,

the cup of bloodshed,

human anguish and desolation,

the cup of torture,

breakage in human relationships and abandonment…

Dear God,

Let this cup pass us by.

We are afraid.

We are trembling in the depths of our being.

We feel the sweat and tears

of thousands of people all over the world,

people who are afraid—

afraid to fight,

afraid to kill,

afraid of being killed,

afraid of an uncertain future.

Amen.  –Henri J.M. Nouwen

Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

————

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

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

MVLP Gather ‘Round E-News – Issue #19

May 21, 2020

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

 The Buildings Are Closed; The Church Is Open!

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

 Mt. Vernon Streams Sunday Service

Worship Sunday, May 24, will be on the MVLP Facebook Live page, streaming from the Moosup Valley Church at 12:30 p.m.  The theme is, “God Is God, and I Am Not.” https://www.facebook.com/MVLPspirit/?ref=bookmrks).  Order of Worship is attached.

First Christian Church of Coventry (the Rice City Church)

Thanks to Sonja for this history from “The Churches of Foster: A History of Religious Life in Rural Rhode Island,” by Margery Matthews, Virginia Benson and Arthur Wilson.

 The prominence and influence of the Rice City Church on the spread of the Christian denomination in western Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut can hardly be over-stated.  Elder Douglass Farnum, a revival leader who had received a great deal of publicity, was invited to preach in Rice City in 1812.  People from near and far came to Rice City for salvation.  Kneeling they repeated the 26th verse of Acts II:  “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).  This was the beginning of the Christian Church in Coventry, and Farnum returned to Rice City many times.  At the time of the revival the Christian Church was only an embryo and would not become recognized as a national body until 1820.

While the foundation for the Christian Church in western RI was led by the charismatic Elder Douglass Farnum, an enduring structure was built by James Burlingame.  Baptized by Elder Farnum in 1812, he soon began preaching and was ordained in 1821.  In 1824 he was called to reorganize and restore the Christian Church of Coventry.  Having found his calling, Elder Burlingame devoted his life to conducting an itinerant ministry in Coventry, Scituate, Foster Center and Connecticut, frequently traveling over 40 miles a day, preaching in three different places.  In those days pastors were rarely paid salaries so, to support his large family, he depended on donations, his farm and teaching school.

The golden age of the church called Christian was from 1810-1840.  During that century there were churches or fellowships at Rice City, Foster Center, Moosup Valley, Mount Vernon, Clayville and Rockland in Scituate.  Rice City, with 450 members, had the largest membership ever registered by any church in the area.

 The Christians

They were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26)

Of all the United Church of Christ traditions, the Christian Churches were most uniquely American in origin and character. In Virginia, Vermont, and Kentucky, the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s stirred the hearts of quite disparate leaders and their followers with the impulse to return to the simplicity of early Christianity. The first group was gathered in 1794 in Virginia by a Revolutionary soldier, James O’Kelley. He, with many other Methodists, left the church over their objection to bishops. Methodism, they felt, was too autocratical. They wanted the frontier churches to be freed to deal with the needs and concerns that were different from those of the more established churches. They declared that the Bible was their only guide and adopted as their new name, the Christian Church.

A few years later, at Lyndon, Vermont, Abner Jones and his followers objected to Calvinist Baptist views. In 1801, they organized the First Free Christian Church, in which Christian character would be the only requirement for membership, and in which all who could do so in faith, were welcome to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Christ was seen to be more generous than to withhold Communion from all but those who had been baptized by immersion. Jones was later joined by Baptist Elias Smith, who helped to organize a Christian church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and began publishing, in 1808, the Herald of Gospel Liberty. Smith’s paper became a means of drawing the separate Christian movements together.

With a minimum of organization, other churches of like mind were established and the movement became known as the “Christian Connection.” The “Connection” had been organized in 1820 at the first United General Conference of Christians, during which six principles were unanimously affirmed:

  • Christ, the only head of the Church.
  • The Bible, sufficient rule of faith and practice.
  • Christian character, the only measurement for membership.
  • The right of private judgment, interpretation of scripture, and liberty of conscience.
  • The name “Christian,” worthy for Christ’s followers.
  • Unity of all Christ’s followers in behalf of the world.

Farmer Richard Waterman was concerned that this new denomination was moving into western Rhode Island, along with Free Will Baptists, and were preaching that all were “saved.”  He thought there should be a little more “fire and brimstone” and left $500 in bank stocks to pay for “Calvinistic Baptist preaching” within two miles of his homestead.  It is through the interest from that initial investment – the Waterman Trust – that Pastor Bob and I are compensated.

The Christians Led the Way: First to Ordain a Woman!

By Rev. Richard H. Taylor, Historian

By looking at one of her photographs you might perceive Ellen G. Gustin as a serious prim and proper Victorian woman. She was. But she was much more as well. She was a revival preacher. A series of meetings she held in 1877 at the Christian Church in Westerly, Rhode Island, caused such a commotion in town that it got national attention in an article in the Herald of Gospel Liberty. The local Church responded by calling her as their pastor.

But she was also the inspiration for the first known case of a denominational religious body changing its language to be gender inclusive. Ellen Gustin was the third woman to receive full ordination in the Christian denomination.  (Her actual ordination service was at the church to which she was called in West Mansfield, MA.)  While some women had been ordained earlier, those were often by ex parte councils that did not grant full standing in a denomination.

At the request of a local church, the September 1869 meeting of the Rhode Island and Massachusetts Christian Conference agreed to her ordination; the vote was taken at the Broad Street Christian Church in Providence, just up the street from Beneficent. What is even more astonishing is that the very next item in the Conference’s minutes votes “to alter the constitution so that the feminine gender be coupled with masculine wherever it occurs.”

Ellen Gustin served over twenty-three years as a pastor to three different churches. For many years she was the only ordained woman in New England.  But a great passion of hers was Foreign Missions. The American Christian Convention began its first foreign work in Japan in 1887. Within a year a Women’s Board for Foreign Missions was formed, with Gustin as the first Corresponding Secretary. Later she gave long service as the President of the Board.

Writing her annual report for the 1902 national Convention, she coupled her evangelical Christianity with a passion for women’s rights. She says there can be “no more encouraging sign of greatness of a people, community, state, or nation socially or politically, than the elevation of its women.” Writing nearly two decades before women had the right to vote, she uses her report to honor women scientists, authors and those in “halls of legislation, the professions of law, medicine, and theology [where women] have had their honored representatives.”

A Bit of the Past (Provided by Jeanne Lavoie)

From “Pleasant Places in Rhode Island”

Published about 1890

 “Rice City, wee hamlet as it is, makes a pretty picture as we come upon it over the rising road, the hard level turnpike running through it.  Two huge elms towering over the whole place before the big square.  Southward facing, house known as the Hutchinson Place [originally the Rice Tavern], birthplace of Judge Matteson.  The little white church here was known for years as the Christian Church, and their own Elder Burlingame, the first licensed state temperance lecturer, preached for 65 years.  It was this church that the old slave attended who is remembered still in the walled field known as the “Jack lot.”

“Jack was a slave kidnapped in the old fashioned when the slave trade most flourished, brought direct to Warren from the Guinea Coast with a young girl companion.  He was brought to Foster, where he proved a faithful and willing servant, though he never spoke but two words of the English language, which were, singularly enough, the two ones for a foreigner’s tongue, was January and February.  Jack had a deeply religious nature, and managed to convey the ideal of his wish to join the church, for he was an adept in his invented sign language.  Being examined by the church worthies, he gave them to understand that his religious beliefs were similar to Richard Waterman, a leading citizen.  This was satisfactory, and the old slave was admitted, and thereafter took part in the Conference meetings with great enjoyment, rising and repeating “January,” and “February,” numberless times with much solemnity and satisfaction.

“Jack worked hard, saved his money, bought himself and his kidnap companion, married her and ended his days in a bit of a home in the old Jack lot.”

 What Rice City Church Means To Me

By Michelle DiBiasio

 In the span of 24 months I lost both my mother and my father. A few weeks later my beloved dog died.  I lost my village.  I was lost.

I remembered years ago worshiping at Rice City Church with Mary Knowlton, who invited me to join her. I remembered how small and intimate the service was and how welcomed I felt. God works in mysterious ways, and I was led back to Rice City Church.

This church has become my family. Pastor Bob has been amazing. He has changed my life. Everyone there genuinely cares for each other and looks out for each other.

I am so grateful to Pastor Bob and my church family. I feel saved.

Special Prayers:  Please hold in your heart and prayers…

Ø Carl’s cousin, The Rev. Mindy Reed, who is being scheduled for ablation for her atrial fibrillation, and her partner is going in for cataract surgery and possible corneal transplant.

Ø Joanne is home and continues her slow but steady progress in healing from brain surgery.

Ø Phyllis Dexter is hoping to have a stint put in soon.

Ø Janice Reynolds is in need of healing and strength in her legs.

Ø Everyone in the Sroka family has been retested for COVID-19, and they are awaiting results.  All are feeling much better.

 Gather ‘Round for Bible Study

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

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

 Philippians:  The Rice City Bible Study has finished the Gospel of John and decided to focus on Paul’s letter to the Philippians when they met on Wednesday.  They have discovered that an old fashioned teleconference works just as well for them.  Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. with Bob by telephone.  (Send Bob your phone number, and he will call you.)

The Day Will Surely Come…

In anticipating our being able to return to our churches (with fewer than 20 people and modifications), hopefully soon, we will need gloves, masks, sanitizer, and wipes.  Pastor Bob has bought masks to supplement the ones you have made.  If you have leads on other supplies, please let me or Pastor Bob know.  We may never be back to “normal,” but the day will surely come when we will be back in our pews.

Closing Reflection

We often make our faith too complicated.  The Christians attempted to make it less so.  I love this poem by Mary Oliver, which says it all:    

 Mysteries, Yes
By Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

 Offerings may be mailed for: 

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

Moosup Valley to Pat Safstrom (76 Moosup Valley Road, Foster, RI 02825),

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

Mt. Vernon Larger Parish to Scott Knox (150 Foster Ctr. Rd., Foster, RI 02825)

————

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

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

Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland

210 Plainfield Pike

Foster, Rhode Island 02825

(401) 463-8697 (cell)

Issue 19 – Order of Worship for May 24

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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

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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)

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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)

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

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)

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

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)

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

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

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

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)

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

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)

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

2 Responses to Gather ‘Round E-Newsletter

  1. linda morton says:

    WONDERFUL SERMONS AS ALWAYS, BETSY. LINDA MORTON

  2. linda morton says:

    REV. BETSY IS THE BEST! linda morton

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