Weekly Update 4.1.2020

WHAT IS GOING ON AT CHURCH –

Corona Sabbath Posts

Each Friday, the church will post a devotional with readings, video from Kim, and music from Hilton. You are invited to access these at the website and observe the sabbath according to your schedule over the weekend. There will be a new one posted each week. This week’s post will highlight Palm Sunday.

Please use the link below to view last week’s Corona Sabbath Post –

https://lakewooducc.org/2020/03/27/corona-sabbath-2/

In addition to the weekly Corona Sabbath devotions on the website every Friday, Hilton is also posting music, mainly hymns, on the website daily. These are also posted on the church’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. You may find links to all the music posts on the website at https://lakewooducc.org/category/posts/music/ — note the “Older Posts” button down the page.


Easter:  In Celebration of New Life and the Creative Spirit

The coronavirus situation has spawned an enormous outpouring of creativity that is taking many forms.  Biology and Marine Science Professor Athena Rycyk of New College reminds us, “Whenever you have limits, it also inspires creativity.”

We would like to celebrate that creativity within the LUCC church family by preparing a special post for Easter that features the ways that you have been creative during this time of safer-at-home shelter-in-place.  

Creativity takes many forms!   Pictures of nature you have taken.  Pictures of a drawing or a sculpture or a craft project you have created during this time.   A poem or short story or reflection you have written during this time.  A picture of something you have baked!  Explanation of a creative idea that has arisen for you.  Something you have planted or built in these corona days.  Hilton will create a composite post of all the submissions for Easter Sunday!

Some guidelines:  No video or sound because that complicates the posting side of things. Please send your submissions to the church office by Wednesday April 8.  lakewooducc@gmail.com


Daily Corona Prayer

https://lakewooducc.org/2020/03/20/lucc-corona-daily-prayer/


Labyrinth Walks are being held as scheduled on Wednesday mornings at 9:00 through Lent. The last date is April 8th. There will also be guided labyrinth walks on Good Friday at noon and Easter Sunday at 7:00 a.m. We feel given current information and restrictions that it is safe to hold this activity. It involves less than 10 people, it is outside, and the people can be at least 6 feet apart. Bring your own chair if you wish.


Adult Day Care

Plans for LUCC to host an adult day care program offered by Neighborly Services continue to develop. Neighborly Services is now storing furniture and supplies at the church. A lease is being negotiated. The COVID-19 situation will determine when the adult daycare can open.


EV Charging Station

A new electrical vehicle charging station has been installed on the north side of the church building. This project was done in partnership with Duke Energy. Several people from the congregation were directly involved in assisting with the installation. Many thanks to Claire Stiles, Earl Waters, Bert Lee, and Jeff Wells.


The Church Helping the Homeless

The church has received several requests for help from homeless neighbors. One used the hose to bathe. Another used the church computer to apply for unemployment since the library computers are no longer available. The corona virus restrictions are having a particularly negative impact on the underclass and homeless.


Financial Update from Bill Parsons

We are beginning a new month in new times, but we need to remember that we need to support each other, and we need to support Lakewood UCC and our mission. We hope that those who contribute monthly by check will remember to send in a check, even if you aren’t able to bring it to church. And if you are accustomed to bringing a weekly offering, perhaps now is a time to consider sending a monthly donation. And let’s not forget to include something for our special needs fund which is usually collected on the first Sunday of each month, or maybe you will want to consider a special Easter offering (in place of our normal offering for flowers). We would like our counters to continue their essential function in these troubled times.

If you have a bill-pay program through your bank or credit union that you use for paying other bills, this could be a good time to add the church to this system. It is convenient and there is no fee associated for you or the church. Another option is to pay online through PayPal. We realize that some may need to take care of other priorities first, but we hope that those who are able will remember the church at this difficult time.


Church Website

This would be a good time to subscribe to the church website. As a subscriber, everything that is posted on the website will be sent to your email.

There’s now a new way to subscribe to posts from the church website by email. On any page of the website, look down the page for “Follow Blog via Email.” If you subscribed before, you’ll need to subscribe again with this new button. Notice, it’s right above the Paypal “Donate” button! 

If you would like assistance with this, please contact the Church Office.


Reaching Out

While we are to maintain our physical distance, you are encouraged to reach out to someone from the church family at least once a week – a phone call, an email, a handwritten note – whatever works best for you. Please be in contact with one another.

In addition, please be in contact with people beyond the church family – friends, neighbors, public officials, health care workers – offering a word of gratitude or support or encouragement. These are hard times for many people. And many feel extremely isolated. So, reach out, but don’t touch!


A New Church Directory

To facilitate our efforts to be in contact, an updated church directory has been mailed to church members. If you would like a copy and do not receive one in the next week or so, please contact the Church Office.


Sundays. . .

On Sundays, Rev. Wells will be at church from 10:30-11:30. The peace candle will be lit and prayers will be offered. You are welcome to stop by to pray or meditate. The labyrinth is also available. This is a symbolic witness that the church is still here, is still serving, is still active, is still shining light – even in these drastically changed circumstances.


Help Offered

Several people from the congregation have offered to help others as needed. If you need something from the grocery store or help with an errand or some other kind of assistance, please contact the Church Office. There are those who are ready and willing.


New Cleaning Routines

The church custodian, Tony Rogers, is being sure to thoroughly sanitize the building including door handles, faucets, etc. We are grateful for this increased effort.


WHAT IS NOT GOING ON AT CHURCH

AA

Sunday Afternoon rental church

Regular Sunday Services

Choir Rehearsal

Church School


About Hilton’s music. . . If you would enjoy hearing Hilton play more Irish folk songs, you can listen for free at either https://hiltonjones.bandcamp.com/album/irish-tunes or https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/irish-tunes.


Operation Attack: Operation Attack is very much in need of clothes for men, boys, and girls as well as diapers and peanut butter and canned fruit. Donations may be placed in the shopping cart in the entryway to the sanctuary. Volunteer dates are April 13 and May 11. They also need people to help on the first three Tuesdays of the month from 9:30-noon.

Operation Attack is an ecumenical effort serving families with children located at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd. Ave. S., St. Petersburg. LUCC was a founding member of Operation Attack in the 1960’s!


April Birthdays: Zachery Blair-Andrews 4/16, Mary Beth Lewis 4/29, Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Olivia Gibson, William Owen, Wilbur Reid, Martha Lamar, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, and Ann Rogers.


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the Church Office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.



April 1st Census Day

Even when staying apart & practicing #socialdistance, we can still act together to build a better future. Make a difference TODAY by taking the #2020Census online at www.My2020Census.gov. Take 10 mins to shape the next 10 years of political representation & federal funds in #PinellasCounty. Learn more: www.pinellascensus.org.

#MakePinellasCount #CensusDay #PinellasStrong #AloneTogether.

Census Updates

The Census Bureau has changed its operational plans significantly – specifically, online self-response will now continue through August 14 and any ground operations will be suspended for several more weeks pending further risks posed by the spread of the virus. Details at this link.

The Census Response Rate map is up and running now. You can see current results at the Census Response Map. Pinellas currently has a 38% response rate, on par with many parts of the country and slightly higher than the state of Florida.

Corona Sabbath 2 Reflection 3.29.20

Scripture Lesson: John 11:1-45. The Raising of Lazarus

There’s another story in the New Testament involving Mary and Martha. In that story, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him. And Martha is busy with much serving – making dinner, setting the table. She wants help from Mary. But Jesus reprimands her and affirms Mary as the one who has chosen the better portion. All of you who know me know I tend to sympathize with Martha and I don’t think she deserves the put down attributed to Jesus. But in this story, Martha shines. When Mary encounters Jesus, she manages, ‘If you had been here, Lazarus never would have died.’ But when Martha gets to Jesus, after her brother has been in the grave four days, she tells him, ‘If you had been here, my brother would never have died! Yet even now, I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask.’ Martha goes above and beyond. She expects something more. Her faith, hope, and trust lead her to look past what would normally be expected. She sees a new reality.

This past week, the President has informed us that he wants the nation “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” He wants people back to work by then and the pews full on Easter Sunday. He wants things back to normal. That’s about two weeks from now. In that time, the President wants the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic to be over. He wants us all freed from life on lock down. Roll away the stone. Come out of the tomb and get back to business as usual.

Business as usual. That is not what Martha wants. She knows her brother is dead. But she knows that there is more. There is something more than normal. She puts her faith to work expecting a new reality. And she gets it.

What if what we want in the face of this pandemic is not to go back to ‘normal’ but to expect something more; to see this as an opportunity for creating a new reality beyond usual expectations and business as usual?

Yes, thousands have died in this pandemic so far and thousands more will die. They will not get their physical health back. Those loved ones will not return to their earthly life. But what if this pandemic means the death of limited access to healthcare in this country? What if this crisis means the death of misspent resources? What if it puts some greed and lust for gain in the grave? What if this pandemic awakens our concern for children, elders, and those who are vulnerable? What if it resurrects our commitment to the common good over selfish individualism? What if this coronavirus calls forth compassion for other people and other life forms? What if it brings out patience? What if COVID-19 calls to life solidarity in grief? What if it summons a reverence for nature? What if this pandemic wakes us up to the value of reflection, rest, relationships, the arts, and play? What if it renews our appreciation and respect for those who work in the healthcare sector?

What if we don’t go back to normal, but awaken to a new reality that is better than the one we knew?

Did you notice in the story of Lazarus that for the new reality to emerge Jesus practices social distancing! Think about it. The way the story is told, Jesus is informed that Lazarus is sick. Lazarus is Jesus’ dearly beloved friend. Surely Jesus’ first impulse is to go to his friend, to be with him, to heal him. That is what’s normal. But Jesus waits. Two whole days – which can seem like forever when someone is sick. By the time Jesus goes to Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. Imagine the self discipline and the restraint that Jesus employs. He doesn’t go to his friend, he holds off, for a greater good. As usual, Jesus is our example!

Maybe the President wants things back to normal in two weeks. But our faith invites us to expect something more than “normal” to emerge from this pandemic. And it may require much more of us in terms of sacrifice and self discipline and restraint.

May our faith, hope, and trust persist and grow exponentially so that we may all see the power of Divine Love creating a new reality before our very eyes!