Dear Wesley Ohana Sisters and Brothers:
We are sisters and brothers in community. We come together for worship and connect with one another as family. These are unfamiliar, unusual and unprecedented times for us — to refrain from being with one another for the sake of our, and the community’s, safety and well-being. How strange is that? We were created for community, for human contact, for expressions of deep love and affection for one another. So in an effort to create “community” in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, we turn to technology to keep “in touch”. I invite us to connect with one another, your families, friends and loved ones by cell phone, text and email to help overcome the loneliness and isolation. I am working to present an online worship service opportunity for this Sunday, and upcoming Sundays as the pandemic continues.
I invite you to please join me and my family online this coming Sunday morning and share in worship together. Attached please find a copy (pdf) of the “online service bulletin” to help you share in the “service”. Join us, and invite your family and friends to “join in” as well, by linking to our website: wesleyumchawaii.org and click on the YouTube link. The bulletin includes the prayers and words to songs/hymns that I will accompany with my guitar and ukulele. Let us experience the miracle of worship in the fullness of God’s Spirit and grace, the light of Jesus Christ that shines brightly with hope in the darkness of “confinement” and “seclusion” from one another.
For those who do not have cell phones, email and online accessibility, I’m mailing to each one a copy of the online service bulletin and Sunday’s sermon reflection for their Sunday meditation and reflection. If you, or know of anyone who, wish to be mailed copies of the bulletin and the sermon prior to Sunday morning, please text or call Vanessa Stephens (808) 737-3444.
Let us embrace during these times the living hope of two women from history who’ve been “confined” and “closed in to small spaces.”
Anne Frank, in hiding during the Holocaust, wrote: “…I don’t think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains. This is where Mother and I differ greatly. Her advice in the face of melancholy is: ‘Think about all the suffering in the world and be thankful you’re not part of it.’… I don’t think Mother’s advice can be right, because what are you supposed to do if you become part of the suffering? You’d be completely lost. On the contrary, beauty remains, even in misfortune. If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance. A person who’s happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery!” (Diary of a Young Girl, Tuesday, March 7, 1944).
Julian of Norwich was in a small cell during the plague that decimated Europe. Outside her walls, half the population of Norwich died, and the plagues continued for years. She had, in 1373, astonishing visions of Jesus, his suffering, his compassion, his mercy and love. And people who don’t recall anything else about her know that her mantra was, “All will be well. All manner of things shall be well.”
This hope that “All will be well” does not presume that all will be rosy or quick.
The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans (chapter 5) gives witness to his hopeful wonder: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And, therefore, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” “While we were weak, Christ died for us.” Paul was on fire the day he paced the room and dictated those words to a secretary whose hand must have trembled in awe as he jotted it all down.
Sunday is coming. The days through this coronavirus pandemic will continue. So much faith, hope and love will be required . . . of us.
God’s blessings and presence with us always, Pastor Piula
Sunday’s sermon will be mailed out tomorrow, Friday. In case it doesn’t arrive in time for Sunday, please reflect on the 23rd Psalm (printed in the bulletin) and the words of Anne Frank, Julian of Norwich, and the apostle Paul, included above.