March 25, 2020 Good morning! It’s cold and wet out – a good day to stay inside! In all seriousness, I strongly encourage you to stay at home as much as possible right now. I am telling everyone that if a meeting or gathering (even small gathering) does not need to happen right now, then it does not need to happen now. There are many things that even though they may be important, can wait. This may be a good time to develop better sabbath discipline. Even though there are always things to be done, rest (and in this case, time for distancing) is important too. On that note, there are cancellations that we regret to have to make. My preference has been to make these cancellations conservatively, but still no further out than necessary, in hope for healing to come quickly and for the virus to pass soon. However, this week, the governor’s office issued a declaration banning all gatherings of more than ten people until April 23. This ban explicitly includes worship services, even funerals. Yesterday, our Board Chair emailed the Church Board with the following: 1) Worship and church gatherings are canceled through at least April 23rd based on the governor’s declaration [on Monday]-  In addition to not worshiping together at church, we will not be having our board meeting that was scheduled for April 19th.  I will set our next meeting date once we see how conditions transpire in April.  In the meantime, continue to stay in contact with your focus teams and with planning for our three main church goals.  You may need to talk on the phone or converse via email with team members. 2) We will continue with online worship services each Sunday as long as need be.  If you have suggestions or contributions to offer for these services, please let Pastor Daniel know, and he will incorporate them as they fit into worship themes.  Also, let him know if you are willing to do any recordings at home or to set up a time to do so at church; some suggested ideas are scripture readings, reflections. poems, etc. 3) We are trying to develop opportunities in addition to online worship for Holy Week. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Stay tuned for more info to come! 4) Please use our online worship services as an opportunity to share our church with others.  Those who may feel reluctant to come to a building may be willing to be introduced to us online. Please share in whatever way possible, and please take the time to watch them and share any suggestions with Pastor Daniel or me. 5) Pastor Daniel will be emailing the congregation with updates each week to try and help everyone feel connected. It is going to be a while before we are able to resume life as normal. But I would urge you to not approach this with fear. In fact, lets not approach this looking for the return of normal either! Let’s be looking for what God wants us to do with this moment. This is a time for the church to step up and live its witness in its community. There will be increasing needs around us. The example of the church in Acts is becoming ever more important. When there were people in need, the church made certain they were cared for. When there were people hungry, the church made certain they were fed. This is a time in which we need to be paying more attention to our neighbors, even from a distance, and making certain that they know they are loved in ways that are backed by more than words. In that spirit, this week the Board received news that Valley Mission has seen their income drop drastically. They depend on their thrift shop for half of their operating funds. That income is not present now. The Church Board has responded by allocating a gift of $1,000 to Valley Mission for immediate needs. Please look for the needs around you, and share about those needs so we can respond together. We are in this together. But not just with each other. We are together in Jesus Christ, who promised us the Holy Spirit to be our Counselor and Comforter. Be in prayer constantly. Set aside times for prayer for healing of the sick, for care for our neighbors, and for good wisdom and discernment among our leaders. Be in prayer to receive the leading and inspiration of God’s Spirit, that especially in these troubled times, we may be able to share the witness of God’s love. “All things came into being through [the Word], and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:3-5 NRSV) In Christ, Pastor Daniel