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With God by Our Side
“even when I walk through the darkest valleys, I will fear no evil…” Psalm 23
The 23rd Psalm is the most well-known Psalm of the Hebraic Psalter. It brings solace in the times of “darkest valleys”. Our hope is that God’s living presence is with us through all we face as a community.
“The Lord is my Shepherd” is that affirmation that God “keeps us”, “looks after us” and “will protect us”. This past Sunday I asked our community to vote to suspend our meeting together as a church for at least 2-weeks. Prayerfully, I explained the dire emergency which would soon be upon us and we voted “unanimously” to support our community’s health. I want to thank everyone for what I know was a difficult vote.
“I shall not want” … at the same time, I asked everyone to be conscious of our church’s needs financially by helping with cash flow, if people were able to help. Our contributions this week were up substantially. I appreciate everyone’s thoughtfulness.
“He leads me beside still (quiet) waters”. This passage is recognition that “Sheep” are afraid of being carried away in swift waters (roaring rivers), so Good Shepherd seek to provide still or quiet waters. The Shepherd seeks out, then guides his sheep to these refreshing places. It is also a fact that, in the early morning, when conditions are right, dew forms on grass and sheep who eat that moisture-laden grass are hydrated for the entire day. I hope everyone is taking this time of quarantine as a “quiet time” for prayer, devotion, meditation. In our harried lives it is rare to have time set aside for refreshment.
“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” means that God will open up new ways for us to travel, leading us with ongoing presence. We will be opening a social platform (“ZOOM”), for people who would like to join remotely and safely (by computer). Later today, we hope to have a “trial run”, informing anyone interested in how to ‘connect’.
“Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (‘darkest valleys’), I fear no evil, for God is with me, God’s rod and staff comfort me”. This is recognition that God’s love is with us so there is nothing to fear. In fact, the entire 23rd Psalm is in the ‘present tense’ (with the exception of the line which is present-future tense). It says, the Living God is always present, always available as our circumstances change. Therefore, as I explained on Sunday, there is NO need to panic … No reason to hoard toilet paper! God’s presence (today in medical technology, first-responders, updated information, a political body working across the aisle (who would have thought!) is living and real. I have heard religious groups saying, “this is God’s punishment” (to my horror); I would say, “God’s got us all thinking of our communities, the most-vulnerable (the least of these), and our loved ones” as never before.
“You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies.” This week I witness the adaptability and commitment of our Church in action. Paul and Sylvia Weld implemented ‘sterile procedures’ to keep our Pantry open and our community fed. People were allowed to pull up in cars, have food stuffs available and each board and information chart signed and sterilized before being returned to the building. Another Pantry worker has provided food to people lost, living in their car, on Rte. 16. “Preparing the Table” is language Shepherds know well. The go in advance of their sheep, remove the thistles, plants, and scorpion nests that would threaten their flock, and then lead them to ‘greener pastures’.
“You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over” is a reference to this week’s lectionary in Samuel, when the prophet learns that David’s brothers, by outward appearance, were NOT the choice of God. God sees the “heart of the matter”. David realizes in this Psalm, ‘God’s ways are not our ways’. God blesses David, and will continue to bless him, in ways he cannot imagine or yet comprehend. We should not fear, for our God is at work in our lives in miraculous ways which will be evident in the future.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life, until I dwell in the House of the Lord, forever.” The word “shall follow” is actually more properly translated “pursued me”, as a detective pursues the truth. ‘Goodness and Mercy’ miraculously pursue us, even when we believe we are not worthy of it or cannot comprehend it. This is ultimate faith. We are not fearful of our world because our God will be there in the future to bless us.
Thank you all for your continued faith and commitment,
Rev. John Hughes <’}>< <’}}><< <’}}}><<<<
This month we are looking at ways that CVCC can help the Way Station. The Way Station is a Day Resource Center for Homeless & Housing-Insecure Residents of Mt Washington Valley. The Homeless and Housing Insecure in the valley are invisible but they are here: Teenagers couch-surfing with friends, families doubled up in apartments or living in hotels or cars, adults camping in the woods all winter and people living in rough shelters without water, heat or basics. Although they do not provide overnight shelter, they do offer access to basic services: laundry, showers, internet access, P.O. box address for identification, toiletries, small storage lockers, emotional support, and referrals to other services and resources.”
The Way Station is located at the Lutheran Church on Grove Street in North Conway. Rev. Nathan Hall and Rev. Gail Doktor are the contact people for the Way Station. Hours vary depending on the availability of volunteers. We will be looking for some items to help the Way Station in the coming months. If you have any questions, please ask one of the Outreach Committee Members.
It takes a village to make a difference in communities and we have one of the best villages in the area.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED: A lot of people in the valley have either had their hours drastically reduced or are out of work entirely due to the Covid-19 closures. The Food Pantry is experiencing a significant increase in clients. If you are in a position to be able to assist us we are in need of more of the items on the following list. Food can be dropped off during office hours. Thank you
Feed the hungry
On March 16th upon hearing that the Dinner Bell had to cancel, we watched a community come together to provide dinner for some folks that would have otherwise not had any. The local United Bikers of New Hampshire crew along with some friends including Jason S., Amy S., James C., Andy N., Elly G., Denise N. C., Celeste T., Corey L., Steven H., Paul Weld, and his wonderful wife Sylvia, and supportive appearances by Jennifer Lavigne, Chris L. and John H. came together throughout the day. You ran around and gave of your own time and resources and provided reassurance and support in order to help get some eats ready for Dinner Bell folks that likely did not receive the message that Dinner Bell would be closed. Many of you stood out in the cold with me as we provided love, light, and nourishment to the brothers and sisters God sent our way. I am humbled and honored to call you family. Thank you! Dan Lavigne.
The month of April has usually been our month of gifts and the gateway to Spring. We have anticipated the gift of melting snow and ice and warmer temperatures. The gift of April showers has always helped our landscape transform from browns and grays to a springtime of colorful flowers and greenery. We look forward to the gift of Spring sports, a chance for family outings and leaving our winter cabin fever behind. However, this year we are now challenged with facing a health hazard that keeps us in our homes, at a distance from others and isolated from family and friends.
As Easter falls on April 12th, we may not be able to share the usual traditions of coloring eggs and hunting for them, shopping for new outfits or preparing and enjoying that dinner that includes family and friends. We will, however, still receive the greatest gift of all that makes Easter so special—the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Through his sacrifice, we know we are forgiven for our sins and promised eternal life with him. WHAT A GIFT!
And so, what is the pathway we must take to be worthy of God’s gift? When Jesus’ disciples asked what they must do to do the works God requires, Jesus replied, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29) In receiving the gifts of love, grace, forgiveness for our sins and the promise of everlasting life this Easter, we must follow the path he has provided.
With all of our concerns today, this Easter Sunday, we pause to give thanks that we have Jesus Christ in our lives to give us strength—our faith in him will get us through any challenges we may face. Although we may be apart from each other, we must remember we are never alone. We have the comfort that God is always with us and we can share that message with others! Our work is to:
Have faith, trust in him and believe in his Word!
May the blessing of the Easter message give you comfort and hope for better days to come!
I can remember a time when I lived in New York and my father was away in the army. We had two massive snow storms about three days apart which closed down travel by car or bus and even train to most of everything in town. We had so much snow that the only way out of the house was to climb out an upper window. It took weeks to get the snow plowed on the streets so that people could drive to a store. We were fine because we always shopped for the month at the commissary at army posts. So, the fact that things were shut down for about two weeks didn’t impact us at all. School was closed down, but we didn’t have remote learning capabilities at that time. Computers at that time were the size of most ovens and phones had rotary dials on them. But even with things bottled up with snow, people still got out and shopped, even if they had to walk and drag a sled to the store. The only shortages in the grocery store would be for orange juice if cold weather hit Florida and caused damage to the orange crop.
Fast forward fifty years to today. A microscopic piece of a virus will have caused more damage and shut down more things than all our world wars put together. Sports did get shortened seasons because of the war, but for the most part they went on. I can never remember a time when church was cancelled and closed for weeks and quite possibly for a month or more especially during a time when getting close to God was a necessity. During these strange times, we must stand together and be ready to help those in need. The greatest fear to overcome is the fear of not knowing, for this causes irrational actions that are often impulsive and damaging. The best that we can do is be willing to sacrifice some of our liberties for the overall good of others. May God be near us and keep us from harm.
How our lives have changed this past month. In last month’s newsletter, we were adding information about upcoming events and services. Due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, the boards of the church felt it was necessary to close the church doors to all use, including services and events. Carl had a wonderful dinner planned for the St Patrick’s Day dinner, but it was cancelled. The newsletter will continue to be published. We will also update the church Facebook Page, Web Site and send out periodic email updates as needed. You can reach the church through email or phone calls. Melody is back in the office part time. If you need anything from the church, she or whoever is covering the office will pass along any messages to John Hughes or the appropriate committee.
The trustees sent out a letter to advise every one of these changes and to also explain the financial concerns that we have without a steady flow of funds coming in each Sunday. If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact a Carl or a Trustee.
The food pantry is still running every Tuesday, with the day shift only until the end of the month. A plan is in place to hand out and provide the food safely to the clients.
The Trustees received the full inspection report from Bergeron Technical Services and have planned the next Trustees meeting for March 31st. The meeting will include Shawn Bergeron, Josh McAllister from HEB and the Historical Society. Discussion of the parking plan and the inspection report are the primary focus. This meeting may have to be re-scheduled.
Hope you and your families are all healthy and safe!
SAVE THE DATE: The trustees plan to have a Special Meeting, Sunday, July 12th, potluck after church. The purpose of this meeting to bring all up to date on the status of the financials mid – year. The budget for 2021 will also be presented so that everyone will know and be able to plan well in advance for our annual Stewardship pledges.
We have added a page to our website Faith Seeds. This page currently contains a Daily Bible Verse, the UCC Daily Devotional and the UCC Weekly Seeds (Liturgy). We hope that you will find these resources beneficial particularly during this trying time while we are not able to gather regularly with our church family. We also hope you will continue to enjoy them after this storm has passed.
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When God closes a church door,
He opens a browser window.
Although we are not able to gather in person this month for worship services, we will indeed be able to meet at our usual time on Sunday mornings and worship via Zoom conferencing.
If you have access to an internet browser on a computer, tablet or phone, you will be able to participate with audio and visual. If you do not have access to a browser you can still join us with audio only, using any touch tone phone (cell or landline).
We hope to “see” you Sunday morning.
Please call or email the church to get the meeting ID and login information.