Corona Sabbath 10 (Memorial Day Weekend)

CS10These weeks when we cannot gather in person for Sunday worship, Lakewood United Church of Christ is providing brief weekly sabbath programs for you to listen to on your own or with those you live with. They will be posted on Friday so that you can schedule your sabbath time to suit your schedule and your spiritual inclinations. We hope these programs are of spiritual support to you in these difficult times.

There is a scripture reading and a brief meditation by Pastor Kim Wells followed by music offered by Music Director Hilton Kean Jones. We appreciate your suggestions and feedback.

Find a quiet place, inside or outside. Light a candle. Take a look around you. If you are inside, pay attention to the room you are in. Breathe. Be present.

You may begin by offering this reading:

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.

–Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

When you are ready, start the video below.


(For written text of the above video click HERE.)

As you listen to the music from Hilton which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings and that arise for you.

After listening to the music, you are invited to offer the following closing –

He needs you
That’s all there is to it
Without you he’s left hanging
Goes up in dachau’s smoke
Is sugar and spice in the baker’s hands
gets revalued in the next stock market crash
he’s consumed and blown away
used up
without you
Help him
that’s what faith is
he can’t bring it about
his kingdom
couldn’t then couldn’t later can’t now
not at any rate without you
and that is his irresistible appeal

-Dorothee Soelle 1929-2003

Breathe. Extinguish your candle and engage whatever may come with a sense of peace and a desire to serve.

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal, is to:

  • Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives and in our world;
  • Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people;
  • Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.

QUICK LINKS TO OUR RECENT POSTS DURING THE CORONA CRISIS:
Sermon videos: https://lakewooducc.org/category/online-devotional/
Sermon texts: https://lakewooducc.org/category/posts/sermon-texts/
Posts containing music: https://lakewooducc.org/category/posts/music/
For all links, please note “Older Posts” button near bottom of page.

Corona Sabbath 10 Reflection text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We plan to continue to post these weekly until we are able to meet again in person for worship. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

[pause]

We start by listening to a scripture lesson from the book of Acts17:22-30.

Then Paul stood up before the council of the Areopagus and delivered this address: “Citizens of Athens, I note that in every respect you are scrupulously religious. As I walked about looking at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ Now, what you are worshiping in ignorance I intend to make known to you.
“For the God who made the world and all that is in it, the Sovereign of heaven and earth, doesn’t live in sanctuaries made by human hands, and isn’t served by humans, as if in need of anything. No! God is the One who gives everyone life, breath – everything. From one person God created all of humankind to inhabit the entire earth, and set the time for each nation to exist and the exact place where each nation should dwell. God did this so that human beings would seek, reach out for, and perhaps find the One who is not really far from any of us – the One in whom we live and move and have our being. As one of your poets has put it, ‘We too are God’s children.’

If we are in fact children of God, then it’s inexcusable to think that the Divine Nature is like an image of gold, silver or stone – an image formed by the art and thought of mortals. God, who overlooked such ignorance in the past, now commands all people everywhere to reform their lives.

[pause]

To an unknown God. As we are told in this story, people have a natural pull toward the holy, the transcendent, to a reality beyond yet within ourselves, and some call this God. In our tradition, this God is not unknown. Yes, this God is characterized by mystery, but this God is not unknown to us.

In the Christian tradition, we believe that we come to know something of this greater reality through Jesus. A reality of love, acceptance, forgiveness, awe, wonder, and mystery. In story after story, Jesus demonstrates what life is like when you revere the holiness in each and every person. In all of life. Jesus specializes in showing us a God that is concerned about all people, especially those made poor, those who are sick, those who are abused, and those who are ignored. In Jesus we see not just “do no harm” but do the good. Make the effort, take the initiative. To help. To love. To care. With words, with deeds, and with prayers. So that our joy and the joy of the world may be complete.

In a social Zoom gathering that I was part of a couple of weeks ago, we were commenting about this corona time. Yes, time. It’s gotten out of kilter, have you noticed? What day of the week is it? Is your sleep disrupted? What time of day is it? Do you want to go back to bed at 11:00 am not pm? And do you get up to finish a project at 3 am? Yup. Time is askew these days. Thankfully my week is anchored by the labyrinth walk on Wednesdays and being at church on Sunday mornings. If I didn’t have that, I know I would be even more disoriented as far as time is concerned.

One of my friends on the Zoom call commented that it feels like Groundhog Day. That’s the 1993 movie with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The main character is a cynical weather reporter who is covering Ground Hog Day, in Punxsutawney, PA. He gets stuck in a time warp. The same day repeats and repeats and repeats until he gets it right.

The term ‘Groundhog Day’ has come to be part of common conversation. We know what we are saying when we say Groundhog Day. The same thing – over and over, and over. Wikipedia describes the Groundhog Day concept as a “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.” Let me say that again. A “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day_(film)]

Time issues aside, this Corona pandemic is actually exactly like Groundhog Day. A ‘monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.’ The death rate is greater among people of color. Exactly. Just like it has been. Largely due to economic and health care issues. Which are the consequences of racism. People of Asian ethnicity in this country are afraid not only of the virus but of being targeted by violence during this pandemic. Racism. Racism. Racism. We are seeing the ugly, ‘monotonous, unpleasant, repetitive situation’ of racism play out over and over and over again.

The Corona situation has led to increasingly inhumane treatment of immigrants and those
seeking refuge in this country. Yes, this ties into racism. But we in the US like to think of ourselves as a welcoming country, a melting pot, since most people of the dominant group are descendants of immigrants. But this country also has a history of treating immigrants, outsiders, people who come from other places, as ‘less than.’ Immigrants have been tolerated when labor is needed. And taken advantage of. And treated in an inhumane manner. I know this from my own family. My mother’s parents came as immigrants from Germany, the evil empire of much of the 20th century. And my father’s parents came from the lazy, crime ridden reaches of Italy. In fact, my Italian grandfather, ran a mission in New York City helping immigrants from all countries as they faced abuse and discrimination. So today we see the anti immigrant bigotry of the past repeating again. The same “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation” is playing out again during these corona days.

And, we see what we have seen before, the inadequacy of the health care system in this country. People with low incomes get less healthcare or no healthcare. Period. It might be somewhat better than it has been but the same syndrome is playing itself out again. As one cartoon portrayed it, You want to get tested for COVID-19? Spit in the face of a rich person. With healthcare tied to employment and unemployment reaching record highs, how are people supposed to access healthcare? Instead of trying to buy votes by providing people with a check for $1200, I would have preferred that the government give every person in this country universal access to world class healthcare. Period. No exceptions. Instead, we see the same “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation” playing out, yet again around healthcare.

And then, who is at risk in this crisis? The essential workers. Yes, the low paid clerks and care takers who are necessary for the functioning of society. Miners who are crammed together and cannot maintain social distancing. Healthcare workers. People in food production. And transportation. Workers who are largely unseen and ignored and undervalued. Forced to work by financial necessity and societal need. Put at risk. Putting others at risk. The expendables. Dying. Again. “The same monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also revealed to us the realities of global climate change and the effect of human activity on the planet. We see the clear skies and the sparkling water in this pandemic and are confronted with the truth that we already knew. Scientists have been talking about this at least since Alexander Von Humboldt in the early 19th century. Other scientists in the 1950’s sounded the alarm. Scientists for petroleum companies knew what was coming decades ago. We have been in the same loop, continuing to ignore or minimize the destructive environmental impact of human activity. Even during this pandemic, the government has been easing environmental restrictions and protections. We continue to abuse Mother Earth. The same “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.”

So, to me, we do seem to be caught in a Groundhog Day loop – replaying the same situations again and again and again – not because we have no events to punctuate our calendars but because we are continuing the harmful patterns of injustice and abuse that have marked and marred our nation’s history.

In the movie, “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray lives the same day over and over and over until he gets is ‘right.’ And gets the girl. It is Hollywood, after all. In this pandemic, we are playing the same situation over, and we knew it was coming, and it came. Now, what are we going to do to get it right?

In the sermon we heard from Acts, Paul tells the people, “While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, nowGod commands all people everywhere to repent.” [Acts 17:30] The word repent means ‘turn around.’ So, what we may not have known in the past, what we may have overlooked, what we may have been blind to, what was too ugly to see, or what could be kept on the down low before social media, is now exposed. We cannot claim ignorance. That we did not know. But we can repent. We can change direction. We can turn around. We can choose to create a different future, one that does not repeat the “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive” situations that we have seen over and over and over again. We can get out of that loop. We can change those dynamics.

That’s what our faith is all about. Transformation. Change. Hope. New beginnings. Creating a new future. The commonwealth of God. Paul tells us we are God’s offspring. Capable. Of so much more. It will take time to end the pandemic. To come out of this. And it will take time, energy, creativity, and grace to get out of this bad loop, this time warp, where we see the same injustices play out over and over and over. We need to develop new strategies and methods to produce social change.

Wherever we are, whoever we are, whatever our circumstances, we are having an impact on the present and the future. We can choose to perpetuate the status quo. We can be part of repeating the Groundhog Day scenario. Or we can be part of getting out of the loop. Creating a different future.

Look at how fast we have adapted to the new conditions created by this virus. Everything changed. Virtually over night. This shows us that we are capable of making drastic social changes in a hurry. From the perspective of the Gospel, there can be no going back. We cannot claim ignorance.

I don’t know about you, but I am longing to see restaurants, movies, parks, concerts, museums, airlines, non profits, businesses, government, healthcare, and, of course, faith communities re-open safely.

But I want to see racism, bigotry, healthcare inequity, income inequality, and global warming shut down. For good. Amen.

[pause]

As you listen to the music from Hilton which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings and that arise for you.

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Weekly Update 5/20

WHAT IS GOING ON AT CHURCH –

This Sunday: The church will be open from 10:30 to 11:30.  The peace candle will be lit.  It will be a time of prayer and reflection as a witness that the church is still open and ministry continues even though we are not able to gather in person for worship.  

Look for a Corona Sabbath post on Friday.  Check for it at the website – lakewooducc.org
Also, please subscribe to the website so that you receive regular updates about church life.


Advisors Held MeetingThe church advisors met last week sitting outside in the shade near the Memorial Garden and the labyrinth.  It was good to feel the spiritual support in that sacred location!
The advisors will be contacting the congregation for input about extending the ministry of the church in new ways in light of the restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  
The advisors are considering ways of managing building usage for small groups and renters.  They are also considering when and how church activities, especially Sunday morning worship, may resume.  It may not be safe for quite some time.  You will be hearing more in the days to come.  The church is anticipating an expansion of ministry opportunities for connection and community needed to provide spiritual support.


Mobile Care TeamLast Sunday, the Care Team took to the road.  The group, all in individual cars, went to Westminster Suncoast and parked outside and gathered, 6 feet apart with masks, near the old entrance.  Folks from the church that live in the Suncoast community gathered on the other side of the fence.  It was a shady spot.
Warm greetings were shared from the two sides of the fence.  The Care Team had signs and cheers to offer.  After catching up with everyone and glorying in being able to actually see one another, the gathering ended in prayer.  
The Care Team had a wonderful time and was so happy to see the faces of some of our beloved community!
https://lakewooducc.org/2020/05/20/care-team-makes-a-visit/


Money Matters  Many thanks to those who have given their stimulus checks to the church.  This is a blessed offering!
A donate button on Facebook is in the works.  
The ministry of the church is needed now more than ever!  Your continued support makes that ministry possible.  
One last note:  Deposits at church are being made once or twice a month, not weekly, so there may be a delay in the depositing of checks.  This is to reduce risk for those who are involved in doing the banking.


LUCC’s Jim Andrews Featured in Article about Area Chaplains
Jim Andrews, director of Spiritual Care for Suncoast Hospice, was quoted in an article about the challenges facing chaplains as they seek to provide spiritual support in the context of COVID-19.  Here’s the link to the article:  
https://www.tampabay.com/news/community-news/2020/04/27/always-on-the-front-lines-tampa-bay-chaplains-find-new-ways-to-connect/


PINELLAS COALITION FOR IMMIGRATION JUSTICE/Immokalee Workers

Even while sheltering at home, we are still part of a larger Beloved Community that needs our help and support.  Please join your Lakewood family in contacting Gov. Ron DeSantis by phone (850-488-7146) or email (GovernorRon.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com) on behalf of the Immokalee farmworkers, who are putting their lives on the line for us. Ask for (1) a temporary field hospital to isolate/treat workers positive for COVID-19 & live in crowded conditions (2) masks/PPE/sanitizers for workers and (3) free COVID testing for workers.  The Coalition is tallying our impact so please let Sue Sherwood (sherwood.susan@gmail.com) know if you called or emailed the Governor. Thanks to Patti Cooksey and Sally Purvis for helping to launch this campaign!

Want to learn more about life and legislation for those held at the border or in ICE detention facilities?  “Friend” and follow the Coalition for Immigration Justice on Facebook. 

To see the status of legislation to ensure that asylum seekers, refugees, detainees, and children receive just and humane treatment, check out the Action Lanes at the Coalition’s website: bit.ly/PinellasIJ


QUICK LINKS TO OUR RECENT POSTS DURING THE CORONA CRISIS:Sermon videos: https://lakewooducc.org/category/online-devotional/Sermon texts: https://lakewooducc.org/category/posts/sermon-texts/Posts containing music: https://lakewooducc.org/category/posts/music/For all those links, please note the “Older Posts” button near bottom of page.

FOR JUST THE MUSIC: https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/music-at-lakewood 


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. 

Please use the link below to view last week’s Corona Sabbath Post –
https://lakewooducc.org/2020/05/15/corona-sabbath-9/   

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.


Daily Corona Prayer

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


 Labyrinth Walks

Labyrinth Walks are being held as scheduled on Wednesday mornings at 9:00.  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 and wear a mask if you wish.


Assistance AvailableIf you need help of any kind – something from the store, someone to talk with, support managing during shelter-in-place, parenting concerns – please know that the church is ready and willing to help in any way needed.  This situation is trying for everyone.  You are not alone.  We’ll make it through together.  Please contact the church office (lakewooducc@gmail.com or 867-7961 or Rev. Kim Wells at wells.kim.p@gmail.com).  

Miss someone from church?  Give them a call or send a note.  Personal contact is so important when physical contact is limited.  


Music Ministry

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 .


May Birthdays: Mark Gibson 5/2, Angela Wells-Bean 5/7, Emily Gibson 5/8, Julian Micheal Ricciardi 5/9, Colleen Coughenour 5/11, Jen DeGroot 5/12, Christy Martin 5/15, Bill Parsons 5/16, Danielle Hintz 5/25, Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: JoAnn Reid, William Owen, Wilbur Reid, Martha Lamar, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, and Ann Rogers. All healthcare workers and essential workers. All those suffering from COVID-19.

Please keep LUCC member, Olivia Gibson, in your prayers. She is a nurse on a COVID-19 unit in a local hospital. We are grateful for her ministry!


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.

Encouraging Youth: Video from LUCC’s Danielle Hintz of JWB

As part of our Early Readers Future Leaders Pinellas Grade Level Reading Campaign, we have worked with Tampa Bay Rap Artist Corey Thornton to create a song/video, Finish Strong.  The song is designed to motivate Pinellas County students to finish the school year strong, and to carry their digital learning into summer for those attending Summer Bridge. CLICK HERE to view the video on JWB’s YouTube channel.  JWB is promoting this far and wide, and we ask that you please help us get this out to parents, students, and the wider community ASAP, as we are in the last two weeks of the school year! 

As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic caused all Pinellas County public schools to move to distance learning, creating new challenges for student attendance and achievement. The song’s positive attendance message urges students to “log-in, sign-in, and be present” to make the most of their online learning experience, and the music video brings the song to life. The project is a collaboration between Pinellas County Schools, JWB, and Tampa Bay Rap Artist Corey Thornton, who uses catchy beats and memorable lyrics to inspire, motivate, and educate our next generation through music. Promoting positive school attendance is one approach under the Early Readers, Future Leaders: Pinellas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, led by JWB and supported by dozens of Pinellas County partners.

Danielle Hintz | Community Projects Manager
Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County

Care Team Makes a Visit

Last Sunday, the Care Team took to the road.  The group, all in individual cars, went to Westminster Suncoast and parked outside and gathered, 6 feet apart with masks, near the old entrance.  Folks from the church that live in the Suncoast community gathered on the other side of the fence.  It was a shady spot.

Warm greetings were shared from the two sides of the fence.  The Care Team had signs and cheers to offer.  After catching up with everyone and glorying in being able to actually see one another, the gathering ended in prayer.

 The Care Team had a wonderful time and was so happy to see the faces of some of our beloved community!