From The Pastor:
Pastor Michaele Wood
W R I T T E N B Y M I C H A E L E W O O D
Dearest Beloved of God,
We have been “quarantining” alone or in small family units since March because of the COVID-19 virus.
From the first we have tried to send the message, “Don't panic.” I know that is not an easy thing to do
especially with constant news reports and pictures of people in hazard suits on every news source we
have at our disposal. And for those of you with any medical background its even harder. “Don't panic.” It reminds me of telling someone not to look down while they are walking along the edge of a cliff. The first thing they will do is look down. Its human nature. I understand if you have had a panic moment or moments in these last weeks. God understands we are still human. But its time to move forward.
Be sensible, yes. Take precautions, yes. (Wash your hands, well and often, wear a mask, social distance).
But don’t panic. Get the facts, ignore the rest. If you are sick, stay home. If you have other health problems or are older and worried about going out, stay home for now. We are working to safely return to on site worship services but we are going to do it in stages. We want to work within health and safety guidelines, paying particular attention to the needs of individuals within our congregation.
Session has been diligent meeting almost every other week to discuss when and how to return to worship. We have reviewed the changing recommendations from the county, the presbytery, the General Assembly, and the insurance companies to reduce risk to our people and the church as a whole.
For now, we will continue with worship as we have been until June 14, 2020. Session will continue to make decisions and plan how to proceed beyond that time. Even after we open the church we will continue to post our services to YouTube for those who aren't comfortable coming in person for whatever reason.
I have been putting information in the bulletin these past few weeks but I want to make it more personal. I also know that you may have questions so please let me know what they are by phone, or email. I'm open to do “porch visits” if that would help. Of course, if you need something please let me know and I will see how to help. And yes, I absolutely miss being with you all. I would also like to take a moment to thank all of those folks who continue to work to keep the church alive and well.
I would like to thank you all by name but I would not want to miss anyone. There are the volunteers making phone calls to check on folks, there are the people who are taking care of the grounds and cemetery upkeep, there are the folks still working with missions and planning. There are folks working with finances and administration, and folks planning education opportunities for our children. I am very thankful for those who continue to pray and those who continue to give of their tithe and offerings. Its all important to the cause of Christ and the health of our people. You are doing it all well.
What can you do at this time if you are staying home?
1. Remember how fragile life is and what a gift from God it is. Things can change quickly in this world and life. But as Christians we also know that our life is safe and secure in Christ. Whatever happens here and now - from germs, disease, accidents, terrorism, or natural disasters - we can trust and rely on our Lord through it all. He is greater than it all.
2. Pray. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for those who are worried for the peace of Christ. Pray for our leaders, that they will make good and wise decisions. Pray for the those who are working to find a vaccine. Pray for the Lord to work good in the midst of this, that His Word and promises will comfort people and bring them to faith.
3. Reach out to each other. Make sure folks are okay and if they need anything. Reassure them.
4. Don’t panic. Rejoice in being a child of God. God loves you so much more than you could ever know or imagine. For those of you who wonder what I have been doing for these last weeks.
a. Praying. Writing. Praying some more. Answering emails and phone calls.
b. Zoom meetings with session, and two committees of presbytery. Zoom has also been part of weekly pastoral check-ins with presbytery support staff, as well as health & wellness checks for congregational care and the “Comfort my People” mental health ministry.
c. I am continuing my educational classes on Hebrew Culture and History through The Israel Bible Center online. You may have noticed a Hebrew flavor to some of our worship.
d. I am working on google classroom to develop our own Confirmation curriculum and Bible preparation classes. I have also begun building a “Moodle” site for a virtual classroom which I hope to have ready by the early fall season.
e. I am keeping up with Tuesday Bible study through online sources and email to the congregation. Questions welcome.
f. Prayerfully, developing weekly worship presentations through YouTube sources pertaining to the liturgical calendar celebrations but also to the concerns we have and the times in which we find ourselves.
g. Like most of you my house is probably the cleanest it has ever been. I have the most often-bathed animals in the county. Meals are home cooked without shortcuts (My son is not complaining about that).
h. In my off-time, I have tried new exercises and some old Karate stretches. I have binge watched the shows I have missed this season, and practiced social distancing at 60 mph on the back roads of Florida whenever I needed to clear my head. I've made a couple runs to the beach with my sons and have found alligators along roadways that have encouraged me to keep moving.
So people loved by God, redeemed by the blood of His Son, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, don’t panic. Be sensible. Take precautions. Get the facts. And trust your Father in heaven. Nothing can separate you from His love. Nothing!
To all friends and members of Kanapaha,
I'm sorry to say that even in this challenging time scammers are working. It has come to my attention that someone has set up an email similar to my email address and is asking for you to purchase EBay gift cards.
PLEASE KNOW THAT THIS IS A SCAM. It is not from me and for no reason would I ask anyone to purchase gift cards or send finances to anyone. Please delete such emails and be aware that these scams are going to increase in times when people are most vulnerable.
On Ash Wednesday we receive ashes on our forehead to remind us of our mortality. We remember that we are created from the dust of the earth and that one day we will return to dust. And so, we begin the time we have come to call Lent.
Lent is a season of preparation and repentance beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter Sunday. During Lent, the paraments in the church are changed to purple. The color purple is significant for two reasons in particular. First, it indicates a period of preparation, which is why we use it for both Lent, preceding Easter and Advent, and preceding Christmas.Secondly, purple is often related to persons of royal descent and, specifically, the welcoming of a King. For us that would be the two welcomes of Christ, our King: One to celebrate the birth, and the other to celebrate the gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.
The early church felt that the celebration of Easter was of such importance that a time of special preparation was needed. In the early centuries, the season before Easter was also the usual period of intense training for new Christians. During this period, the catechumens (those preparing for baptism and learning what it meant to be Christians) went through the final stages of preparation for baptism, which usually occurred at dawn on Easter Sunday.
From the beginnings of Christianity, many Christians observed several days of fasting as part of that preparation. Early Christians considered it inappropriate to fast on the day of the resurrection [Easter], so Sundays were not counted in the 40 days. Thus, the Wednesday 46 days before Easter came to be regarded as the beginning of Lent.
Over the next few centuries, perhaps in remembrance of Jesus’ fasting for 40 days in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1–2), 40 days became the accepted length of the Lenten season. As the practice of infant baptism increased, the emphasis on Lent as a training period decreased. We, as a reformed church, do not adhere to a season of Lent as strictly as some others. We observe the Lenten time, but we do not specifically devote it to churchwide, mandated fasting or dedicated educational goals. Instead, most commonly, people focus on giving up some other vice or habit that might be detrimental to one’s health and well-being. Others of us may look to performing a good work or committing to a positive practice during this time. For us, Lent is a time to reflect on our own lives, or own habits and practices that weigh us down and prevent us from being the people God desires we be.
Lent is a time to reflect and see what we can change about our lives for the better. It can be used as a time to understand our own weaknesses and shortcomings, as painful as that can be. It is a time when we recall that we are mortal, we may be insignificant in the eyes of the world, but we are significant to God who cares about us and loves us unconditionally.
And what does God require of us? “He has told you, O Mortal, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? [Micah 6:8]
Pastor Michaele Wood