June 4, 2020

4 Remember in prayer people who depend on seasonal employment for their livelihoods or who live with the uncertainty and anxiety of unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pray that the Spirit will make us creative and tireless in supporting and caring for others, especially our neighbors in greatest need ― locally and globally.

COVID-19 NEWS:

CONFIRMATION CAMP PARENTS MEETING, SENIOR FELLOWSHIP, THE MISSION TRIP MEETING, ASSISTED LIVING WORSHIP SERVICES,  HOLIDAY MEALS AND ALL OTHER GATHERINGS & COMMITTEE MEETINGS ARE EITHER POSTPONED OR WILL BE MEETING ONLINE OR OVER THE PHONE.

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ON-LINE SERVICES CONTINUE THROUGH  JUNE 14TH or until restrictions have been modified. We hope you are benefiting from our new on-line worship experience each Sunday morning.  Parson Jack, the cantors, worship leaders and Denise Whipp bring at least a little normalcy in these strange times.  Our on-line worship service will continue to be broadcasted on our Facebook page and then transferred to our website later that day.  Beginning on Pentecost Sunday, May 31st, our worship will begin on-line at 10:00 a.m.

THE WINE OF THE SPIRIT “No one puts new wine into old wineskins,” said Jesus (Luke 5:37). Drawing on this statement, a preacher in sixth-century Africa proclaimed in a Pentecost homily: “It was with good reason, then, that some people, when they heard the apostles speaking in every tongue, said, ‘They are filled with the new wine.’ For they had become fresh wineskins, they had been renewed by the grace of holiness, so that when they were filled with the new wine, that is, with the Holy Spirit, they spoke with fervor in every tongue. …”Celebrate, then, this day as members of the one body of Christ. Your celebration will not be in vain if you are what you celebrate, if you hold fast to the church which the Lord filled with his Holy Spirit.”  Fifteen centuries later, may that call still resonate with us. May we be so renewed by God’s grace as to be worthy vessels of the new wine of the Holy Spirit — and to share it with the world.

PENTECOST IS COMING on May 31st and even though we won’t be in the sanctuary, we still want to fill the sanctuary with red.  We will collect geraniums to be put into the sanctuary from Thursday, May 28th until noon on Saturday, May 30th.  You can bring your geranium(s) to the church and place them in Reier’s cart, which will be just inside the parking lot entrance.  After the Pentecost service, the geraniums will be planted in the gardens around the church.

MISSION TRIP 2020 We have about two dozen people planning on heading to Michigan this August to do some environmental work in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.  As of this writing, the mission trip is still on!  We’ve been meeting with and praying for each other and the work we will be doing and ask you to join us in this endeavor.  We look forward to serving God’s creation with our hands!

RUMMAGE SALE POSTPONED As we as a community begin to slowly and cautiously reopen, we will try to find a date for our annual rummage sale before our mission trip.  As of now, we are hoping to schedule it sometime in July.  We will get the word out when we will be able to collect items.

STEWARDSHIP – the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. Although we are still not able to meet publicly for worship, it is our hope and prayer that you are able to continue giving to the work of the church through your tithes and offerings.  Remember, the work of the church continues, because the building is not the church – we are!  WE are doing God’s work with our hands.  And being good stewards of what God has entrusted us with, we continue to support missions and ministries through our financial gifts as well as with our time and talents here in Warren and around the world through the ELCA.  Remember, you can volunteer with our food ministries (Produce Express, school lunches) and you can give through our website, the Give Plus app (for those who enjoy on-line banking) or you can continue to drop off/mail in your offering envelopes.  As always, thank you for your support of bringing God’s kingdom near!  We also recognize that some of us are experiencing financial hardship right now and if you are, please let your church know how we can help.    This is what family does.  We are all in this together!

FURNITURE NEEDS:  One of our ministry partners, Love INC (In the Name of Christ), works with churches and organizations to help provide the basic necessities and skills people need to assimilate back into to society or to break out of the cycle of poverty they find themselves in.  Their mission is simple (and challenging): “to mobilize local churches to transform lives and communities in the Name of Christ. Our focus is not only addressing our clients’ immediate needs but developing a long term relationship with them to help them discover their God given purpose in life and restore their relationship with Christ.”  Love INC’s number one request is for furniture, particularly beds.  They currently have at least 11 on a waiting list. They can & will take used mattresses & box springs as long as they are in good condition. They have also depleted the furniture they had available; loveseats, couches, dressers, end tables, stoves, everything.  Do you have any of these items you can donate to Love INC?  If so, please reach out & speak with Cindy Dziendziel, Director of Call Center & Training at 814-563-3394. 

HOSPICE YOGA has moved to the backyard of Hospice House (1 Main St.) on Wednesdays at 5PM. Call Jody @ Hospice House (723-2455) to register!

RECONCILING IN CHRIST TASKFORCE UPDATE: Thanks for your participation in our bible study in February- that seems so long ago now, doesn’t it?! We hope you found it helpful as we continue our journey in welcoming all people into our church family.  The next step the taskforce will be working on is a welcome statement – letting all people know that First Lutheran is a safe and accepting place to worship, share, and be cared for.  Once the taskforce crafts the statement, we will have a congregational meeting for its approval as well as the Reconciling in Christ congregational designation.  Thank you for your input into this important work!  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to touch base with a member of the taskforce: Ralph Farone, John Schwone, Kris Whitaker, Don Reed, Mary Worley, Sally Hawkinson, Sandy Wachter and Pastor Jeff. 

The 50-40-10 Initiative through the ELCA is a celebration of inclusion.  It was 50 years ago on November 22, 1970 that the first woman was ordained in a Lutheran Church in America.  40 years ago, Earlean Miller was the first woman of color to be ordained in a Lutheran church body in the United States.  And 10 years ago the ELCA’s decision to Remove the Barrier to Ordination for LGBTQU+ individuals was adopted.  We, as a church, have come a long way in opening the doors for people to live and serve fully in ways that God has called them.  May we continue to break down barriers that exclude people and build bridges to include everyone.    

We ask that you keep faithfully making your offering to the Lord. You are encouraged to consider what you would normally give each Sunday and make that same offering through the mail or through our website, www.flcwarren.com,  by clicking on the “Give” tab at the top of the page.  We would very much appreciate this, as we have had a very positive first two months of giving for January and February. Thank you in advance!

ALL THINGS IN COMMON: Uncle Marty says: Just as the bread is made out of many grains ground and mixed together, and out of the bodies of many grains there comes the body of one bread, in which each grain loses its form and body and takes upon itself the common body of the bread; and just as the drops of wine, in losing their own form, become the body of one common wine and drink — so it is and should be with us. …  Through the interchange of [Christ’s] blessings and our misfortunes, we become one loaf, one bread, one body, one drink, and have all things in common.  —Martin Luther, Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament

CHURCH COUNCIL:  Jeff Granger, Emily Hecei, Rose Mary Landon, Katie Bimber, Elaine Crandall, Ralph Farone, Bob Gregersen, Sally Hawkinson, Keith Hedges, Linda Ross, Sunny Thomas, and Randy Witmer comprise First Lutheran’s church council this year.  Please feel free to reach out to them with thoughts, questions, suggestions, insights, etc…  Through you, they have been called and elected to be servant leaders – to guide our church family where God is leading us.  We thank them for their service and their leadership!  And please keep them in your prayers as they continue to discern and navigate these unprecedented times!

HELPING OUR CHILDREN-EASTER EGG CHALLENGE Please help Social Ministry fill Easter eggs with coins during Lent to supply needy students at the Warren Area Elementary Center. Please continue to collect your change as able and remember to bring your egg(s) in once we again begin worshiping together. Thank you for being part of First Lutheran Church’s commitment to “Helping our Children.”

ALTAR FLOWERS FOR 2020! These are dates you can purchase flowers for this year:

              October 11 (2 vases)                     November 8, 22, 29          

Call Kris Whitaker (726-2843) or email whitakerc@verizon.net to place an order.

 

EVEN THOUGH SUNDAY’S COOL IS OVER we can still learn in the word together.  Pastor Jeff will be doing worship on the First Lutheran Church Facebook page as well as on our website www.flcwarren.com.    Let’s Celebrate together with Pastor Jeff by watching in our homes during the live streams.  Cheri will be having a Facebook Live stream message each Sunday at 9:30A.M.  Add her as a friend so you can be live with her.  During this time don’t forget to read your Bible or do some devotions and remember GOD IS GOOD!  Stay safe and see you soon!!

VBS IS STILL BEING PLANNED…As a Community VBS, we are thinking of the most important thing: SAFETY.  In July, we might be in the green phase but that doesn’t mean we will be able to go full speed.  We will still need to social distance ourselves and wear masks, as well as limit the amount of people in a gathering.  We will be having a zoom meeting on Thursday, May  21st with our community churches to discuss the possibilities of having it live on the Warren Community VBS Facebook page.  Stay tuned for more updates!

CORONAVIRUS AND KIDS

     Greetings adults! Just thought I’d share a few thoughts with you regarding how the world is handling this scare and how it may affect your kids in ways you don’t realize. I don’t mean that they miss school…or don’t miss school. I am not referring to trying to “keep them busy” or deal with child care if you have to go to work. I am also not referring to cancelled activities that have to be rescheduled or time that has to be filled. 

      I am talking about what kids are learning from adults and their reaction to this pandemic on a daily basis. In reality this is a perfect opportunity to model what faith can help us get through. Just like anything however, in mentoring youth, we have to intentionally make sure they understand our reactions, fears and frustrations. More importantly we need to make sure they know exactly how we deal with it.   

     We often underestimate the effect of traumatic experiences on children. We claim “they are resilient” and to some extent they are, but more importantly than on the outside being visibly resilient our kids are learning every day from the adults in their lives what appropriate responses to trauma are. This pandemic is trauma. We usually think of trauma as a death, a bad accident, a loss of some type but trauma is any event that creates anxiety. This “new normal” is traumatic to us all and not going to school anymore is a trauma. It is a negative unexpected event that will change their lives.  It’s not a snow day. It’s an unknown length of time in which they were suddenly torn from their social networks, their regular meals ( in many cases), their support network at school and formal learning. While on many levels the inconvenience is annoying and heartbreaking there are deep seeded implications for kids. 

     The hope of the church is that we will all realize that in times of trauma faith becomes so important. It should be important in times of celebration and appreciation as well but we really emotionally rely on faith more when the going gets tough.

     Pandemic sermons speak of worry being replaced by reliance on God’s involvement and support in our lives, serving others to help us realize our own ability to do God’s work, understanding that we are not alone even in the lowest of low times. As adults raised in faith, exposed to faith and reliant on faith we are constantly reassured. 

     The important thing now if you are a parent or a caregiver or an influence on youth in any way is to model a healthy approach and remind them that faith is what will get us through this time. Honestly ( no offense to Pastor Jeff) but they don’t get out of sermons what we do as adults. Instead they learn from us.. And maybe a simplified, to the point and honest sermon.  Our reactions to situations are studied by those youth and make an imprint so that when they face future trauma they will draw from your examples as they grew up. Take time to have conversations with your kids about this and encourage prayer and intentional support to others. Explain that going to church has built that faith that will help you get through this. Remind your kids that every day is a miracle from God and there are often imperfections in those miracles.

    When these times happen we depend on our belief that we are not alone even when we “social distance”. God is everywhere in everything. He presents himself in both problems and solutions to be a guiding force if we pray and reflect on doing things as he has intended for us as human beings. 

     So the real to the point message here is:​ Take a minute to connect God and his presence to this pandemic and the situations kids are experiencing.​ Remind them that God has created a huge great big world for us to soak up lots of experiences and his love is in all of them so now is a time we just need to be creative with our time by learning at home, playing unstructured games instead of organized sports and giving to others in any way we can, whether it’s sharing with your siblings, writing a note to a grandparent or just listening to each other. 

     I encourage you to get your kids to church. First Lutheran offers such a huge variety of youth activities … (including awesome children’s sermons that some very creative people give every Sunday ;-). I cling to the memories of my childhood church experiences.. The smells, the donuts, the Sunday school chaos. I claimed I didn’t like going but my parents were pretty adamant that it was the Sunday thing to do. I have changed denominations since then, tried different styles of worship since then and forced my own children to participate in church since then and I am SO GRATEFUL that Paul and Ruth made me go to church back in the 70’s. I worry about youth attendance… and know society pulls us so many different directions now. If you don’t bring your kids right now, start a once a month tradition at least and maybe that will grow as they start to have some positive experiences. And… it will be good for you to. Hang in there , stay virus free and depend on your faith. It’s free.

Lisa Royek