From Pastor Rachel – March 18, 2020

Blest be the dear uniting love
That will not let us part:
Our bodies may far off remove
We still are one in heart.
Charles Wesley

If you are participating in the Lenten Study this year, you may have already noticed that the focus for this week is “Presence.” Included in the chapter are the words above from a Charles Wesley hymn that is in our hymnal, but in my experience we seldom sing. Today I’d like to sing it with gusto!

Our bodies, my friends, are apart, but through the uniting love of Christ we are still one! So we find new ways to be present with one another! Phone calls, email, Facebook, even that seemingly outdated media of a written letter or card, all are ways we can stay connected and I implore you to do so!

We have always been a church that moved out of the building and into the community serving as Christ’s hands and feet in so many ways. That call hasn’t changed. Even as we have been called to “social distancing”, let us remember the needs of those around us. Who needs a phone call? Who needs a grocery pick up? Who needs to be reminded that they are not alone, even as they are alone in their home because of their “high risk” status? Be who you have always been! Reach out in love. Be the hands and feet of Christ!

Now for some “business.”
Through the guidance of our Administrative Council and the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, we are officially closed through the end of the month. Both the Conference and our Ad Council will reassess at that time. Beckie, Marla and I may be in and out of the building before then, but not on a regular schedule as we usually are. If you need anything, call my cell rather than the church number. (217.710.2899) You can also text me, if that is easier. My email is probably the better option also, as the church email goes to Beckie, so will not get check every Tuesday and Thursday as usual. (pastorrachel@mediacombb.net)

The concert we had scheduled has been postponed to August 23. If you see any posters for the March 29 date, please take them down.

The church still has bills to pay, if you are able to keep up on your giving, send them to the church at PO Box 235 Loda, IL 60948 or directly to Mary Dickinson at PO Box 325.

IGA in Paxton is offering delivery to high risk customers and is looking for volunteers. The email I received says: “Capable volunteers would be responsible, able-bodied, and able to provide their own transportation. 18 years and over. Please have them contact Craig at IGA 217-379-3312 or igam@riecks.net”

I am also working on a call list for our congregation so we can keep in touch. Since we cannot be together, we need to at least be a friendly voice on the phone, especially to those who live alone. If you would like to be a part of this ministry, let me know!

And above all: pray! Pray for those who have the virus, for medical professionals and family members who care for the sick, for first responders who never know what situation they are entering, for grocery store workers, gas station attendants , delivery drivers and a host of other folks who cannot withdrawn from society because of the need for those services to keep us going. Let us surround them in prayer, asking for God’s protection. Let us pray, asking the Creator of the Universe, who is greater and more powerful than any virus, to protect and guide us during this time.

May we feel God’s presence. May we feel one another’s presence. May we remember that we are still “one in heart”!

Praying for you all, my friends!
Pastor Rachel

PS I have received word that Pastors are no longer allowed to make hospital calls. If anyone is hospitalized, I will need contact the chaplain’s office at the hospital to provide pastoral care. Please make sure I receive news of any hospitalizations, just know pastoral care will look different for a while.

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