Whew! This week has flown by in the seeming blink of an eye. September is my favorite month because, for me, it represents an excitement about new beginnings–the incoming fall/holiday season, a new school year (for most of my life). It’s always been a time of busy-ness, too, and that feeling has somehow carried over even in the ‘Rona era. So today, let’s just spend a few minutes catching up.
From about May to now, my church has met outdoors for worship–social distancing and wearing masks, too. Not gonna lie, there have been a few times where I wanted to shower right after the service; the NC humidity is no joke. But overall, it’s gone really well. Back in the normal times, I taught the adult Sunday School class. We had such enriching conversations where we dug deep, challenging ourselves and growing closer to God in the process. Because of the circumstances, we hadn’t held SS in months, and I was really missing it. As it turns out, others shared my feelings.
We decided about a month ago to start having SS after the normal service. I’ve been leading the class, and since my pastor preaches from the lectionary, I choose a gospel parable or story that aligns with the sermon passage each week. In SS, we read, analyze, break down, and discuss the parable or story while also connecting it to the sermon passage. Many of my normal SS attendees are participating along with others who weren’t staying for SS or had been in a different class beforehand. Last week, my mom counted 17 people who stayed. Praise God for the little things! I think this new venture, which is shaping up like a Bible study course, will turn out to be a huge blessing for all of us! Meanwhile…
I’ve been praying hard for a lot of things. Continuing the thoughts above, I’ve asked God to draw our members near to Him and help us love Him and our neighbor. We are starting a new mission group called NOW (Nurture, Outreach, Witness) to figure out how to minister to both our members and our community under the current limitations. I’ve been asking God to give us His direction and all the tools we’ll need–creativity/visions, wisdom/insight, unity, compassion, zeal, boldness, faith, etc.
Generally, I’ve been continuing my prayer and devotional life in a similar fashion to what I described in this post. Lately, I spend 30-45 minutes in prayer and 30-45 minutes reading scripture (note: I’m not perfect, so I don’t do this every single day–just more often than not). I’ve said it 100 times before and will keep reiterating it: the Psalms have taught me how to pray from the depths of my spirit. As far as scripture reading goes, I’ve been spending most of my OT time with the major prophets–Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. The dark tone of the books seems fitting during a pandemic, and the emphases on justice and helping the needy have correlated well with national conversations around inequity. This was not at all planned (I was just continuing through the OT in chronological order), testifying to the fact that God works in mysterious ways. I’m all over the place with my NT reading; thanks to its brevity, I’ve read it all multiple times.
For those who don’t know, I’m a contributing writer for a local newspaper. I haven’t done much during COVID-19 aside from my usual installments–the Crime Report and the Calendar Events. There haven’t been too many of the latter lately, but the former is entertaining as ever. We switched to a biweekly publishing schedule because advertising has decreased, but we are still doing comparatively well under the circumstances, considering that some small businesses have suffered much worse.
United Methodist Women
United Methodist Women is a women’s mission organization in the UMC. We usually have a few annual events in our district and conference, but they’ve all been cancelled. Our biggest event of the year, in which we celebrate the previous year’s accomplishments and decide the next year’s budget, officers, etc, got moved to a Zoom Webinar. Since I serve as “communications coordinator” for our district, I worked my butt off spreading the word–front page article of our 3rd quarter newsletter, a postcard, a mass email. Other ladies on our team also did their best to plan a great event and ensure it went smoothly on the technological side. By the time the day rolled around, I was ready for the event to be behind us! All went well, and we had the highest attendance of all six districts in our conference. Also, our “hands-on mission project” was to collect soap, toilet paper, and dish detergent for local food pantries or community charities. Several units participated, so it’s awesome that we made a small impact on our neighbors’ needs.
Now, it’s time to lay out the 4th quarter newsletter and plan how to market a social action workshop on the school-to-prison pipeline via Zoom. On to the next one, as they say. 😉
I don’t have much to report but did want to say that the wedding plans are on indefinite hiatus. Ah, well. I want to host the wedding in my church, so at least we don’t have to deal with booking or unbooking a venue.
Thanks for reading! Is anything new with you? Let me know in the comments.