The United Methodist Church of Enfield
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.

 

A Prayer for Our Nation

 

God of all the ages,
in your sight nations rise and fall, and pass through times of peril.
Now when our land is troubled, be near to judge and save.
May leaders be led by your wisdom;
may they search your will and see it clearly.
If we have turned from you way,
reverse our ways and help us to repent.
Give us your light and your truth, let them guide us;
through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.

 

(Source: The United Methodist Book of Worship

 


January 7, 2021

To the faith-filled sisters and brothers of The United Methodist Church of Enfield –
 
We are in shock.  We are in grief.  We are in a place of crying out to God in lament – yet again – for God’s presence to be made more fully known in the world.   The violent events in Washington, D.C. yesterday [Wednesday], both destructive actions and inflammatory words, have left us reeling after a year that has already demanded much of our lives.  Free speech in our country does not equal cheap speech.  The words we use have a cost to them, be they words used in a personal exchange or a public forum.
 
How can we not consider the value of the words we use, when we in the church have chosen to follow God’s word made flesh – Jesus the Christ.  This Word, above all other words, paid a terrible cost to be heard for all time.  If we are at all to cherish this Word, given freely but not cheaply, then we are also called to cherish the words we choose to use. 
 
I encourage you to be present in worship on Sunday.  We will hear God’s Word in prayer, in proclamation and in life.  This Sunday is the day in the life of the church when we celebrate the baptism of Jesus, and when we will have the opportunity to reaffirm our own baptism into the body of Christ.  We will have the opportunity to use our words to reconnect to the original source of grace, love and mercy in the world.  It will be a service of scripture and song, reflection and prayer, based in part on the prayer vigil held by the New England Annual Conference last night.  If you would like to watch a recording of the prayer vigil, please go to this page on the Conference website
HERE , where you will find a link to the video.
 
Above is a prayer we will use in the service.  I encourage you to offer this prayer in the coming days and weeks ahead. 
 
May God’s peace and grace be with you,
Pastor Janet

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
December 31, 2020
 
To the faith-filled sisters and brothers of The United Methodist Church of Enfield –
 
December 31 is an odd day in our calendar year. It belongs neither to the old year that is about to pass
into history, nor does it belong to the new year which has not arrived. It is the last day of the year. The
day when we look back at the last twelve months, summarizing and coming to terms with all that
happened – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. The day we look ahead at the year to come, at
ourselves, our loved ones, our towns, our workplaces, our faith communities and wonder – What’s next?
 
We can take stock, we can wonder, we can pray. I invite you to come to a Watch Night Service on
Thursday evening, December 31 at 7pm. It will be held on the Zoom platform (see the link in the
announcements). John Wesley believed that Christians should reaffirm their covenant with God
annually, so he created a service in which an individual renews their covenant with God. This will be a
short service lasting 30-45 minutes focused on scripture, quiet reflection and prayer. It will provide us
with an opportunity to place ourselves, our hopes, and yes, our fears, before God – where they belong.
The service will be a resting place as we end the year 2020, and begin the year of 2021.
 
I would also like to share with you a reflection on the end of a year, written by Dr. Howard Thurman.
Dr. Thurman was a theologian and preacher, who at one time was the dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston
University, and later the dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University. The reflection is an excerpt from
“This Is a New Year” originally published in Meditations of the Heart (1953).
 
“But, for many, this will be a New Year. It may mark the end of relationships of many years’
accumulation. It may mean the first encounter with stark tragedy or radical illness or the first
quaffing of the cup of bitterness. It may mean the great discovery of the riches of another human
heart and the revelation of the secret beauty of one’s own. It may mean the beginning of a new
kind of living because of marriage, of graduation, of one’s first job. It may mean an encounter
with God on the lonely road or the hearing of one’s name called by Him, high above the noise
and din of the surrounding traffic. And when the call is answered, the life becomes invaded by
smiling energies never before released, felt, or experienced. In whatever sense this year is a New
Year for you, may the moment find you eager and unafraid, ready to take it by the hand with joy
and with gratitude.”
 
My prayer in 2021 for all of you is to hear the call of God to a life of grace, love and mercy above all the
noises of the world.
 
Peace & grace,
 
Pastor Janet
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

December 23, 2020

To the faith-filled sisters and brothers of The United Methodist Church of Enfield –
 
As you read this, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is just a day or two away. This year especially we crave the hope, the love, the joy and above all the peace that Jesus brought to the world.  Not as a passing emotional frame of mind, but the truest experience of these things that comes from being in the presence of God.  This year, perhaps more than most, the scene at the manger holds a powerful appeal.   
 
When Christ was born, he was known to most people as Jesus, son of Mary and Joseph of Nazareth.  To a few – the shepherds, the wise men, to Simeon and Anna in the temple – he was known as the Messiah, the Christ, the one whom God had sent to redeem God’s people.
 
The birth of Christ challenges us to stop, look around and consider who we are before God.  We are reminded of the greatest gift the world has ever received – that of God’s son, born of a young woman named Mary in the city of Bethlehem so long ago.  Jesus Christ continues to give life to everyone who turns to him. 
 
If you have not read the story of Jesus’ birth in a while, slow down long enough (just 5-10 minutes) to read the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke. The beginning of the chapter is below. Imagine yourself as one of the people who came to the manger to gaze upon the baby who would one day be known as the Messiah.  How might you find a moment of rest, a moment of joy, a moment of hope at the manger scene?
 
Christmas blessings to you all! 
 
Peace & grace,
Pastor Janet
 
 
Luke 2
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn…(to be continued)


 




 
 
 

 

This recent column from the United Methodist Foundation of New England came into my email box last week. I found the reflection on Advent from a prisoner named Phil thought provoking. I wanted to share it with all of you.

 

Peace and grace, 

Pastor Janet

 

The introduction was written by Gary Melville, Director of Development for United Methodist Foundation of New England…

 

As I have stated in the past I am involved in prison ministry. This year has been particularly hard on the men behind the walls as all volunteers have been banned since February, and much of that time was without family visits as well. Bethany House Ministries is one of the not-for-profits that supports the men when they are released. This year, as part of their annual appeal, they shared a reflection written by one of the men I know well. I share it now because it is too moving not to.

 

An Advent – Christmas Reflection from Behind the Walls 2020

 

Let’s face it, these are tumultuous times for all of us. Time in which I find myself often gazing from my cell window and wondering, what it might be that you yourself are seeing from your window? For me, I see a co-mingling of sorrow and joy. The leaves are changing and so are we. Colder weather is moving in, and the ways in which we now interact with one another are dramatically altered. So much suffering abounds, often it is difficult to know how best to help. Many have become cynical, fearful, disillusioned, and the stress and anxiety and frustration can get overwhelming. I get it, I have my moments too. However, the longer I gaze out my window, the more deeply I feel drawn to go deeper within myself.

 

From this vantage point, the window of my heart, my Advent journey is beginning. I can see that many of us have grown older, more infirm, are struggling to make ends meet, and are wrestling with the innumerable uncertainties life now challenges us with. Many more of us are also grieving the losses of both loved ones and the way life used to be. In the windows of my own nostalgic moments, I fondly recall your face and the many memories we shared from our vibrant communal Bethanian days. It is the memory of your face, like a shining star to me, that brings me both solace and hope. Comfort knowing that we may [be] separated, but we are far from being apart.

 

For a few moments I wished I could turn back the hands of time. Then a realization struck me. Advent calls us forward, not backwards. We have grown since last we met, and each of us is on a journey now to transcend who we are at this moment. Like the Wise folk of old who took a risk, took off their mask, and dared to follow that bright shining star into an uncertain future, so too are we called to do the same, to step out in faith. Advent journeys are about learning to trust, and about learning to see through the darkness and into the light. Often one baby step at a time. Advent feeds us the nutrients we most need to birth new life in us. Christmas dispels the dark, transcends the fear, in the humble gathering where we meet once again at the manger of Christ and together are fed. May we be stars for others along the way to the celebration. See you at the manger of Love!    Phil






 
 
 
 
November 25, 2020
 
To the people of God in Enfield and beyond –
 
Three months ago, when we re-opened the sanctuary for worship, we knew that we might need to take a step back one day if the COVID-19 cases rose significantly in our area.  That day has arrived.  Effective immediately, we will not be offering public worship in our sanctuary.  I came to that decision yesterday, after consulting with information on the State of Connecticut website, guidance from our bishop, and prayer.  The Church Council affirmed my decision. 
 
Enfield and surrounding towns are currently classified as “red” communities because of rapidly increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.  From November 15-22, the number of cases in Enfield increased by over 100, the largest number in one week since the pandemic began.  A “red” level means that the number of cases are equivalent to a rate of over 15 cases per 100,000 people.  Enfield has a level of 23.8 cases/100,000 people up from 10.9 cases for the previous two-week period. Per state guidance, when a community ‘turns red’, organizations are to postpone all indoor activities and outdoor activities (where mask wearing or social distancing cannot be maintained).  This is a stricter requirement than the Phase 2.1 requirements of the state. 
 
Bishop Devadhar, of the New England Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, has asked us to go further than the requirements of the state.  In a letter dated October 29, he urged us to be more vigilant than ever, even as we long to return to normalcy.  He wrote “If you live in an area with a high infection rate or a known outbreak, I implore you to refrain from any in-person activity until the risk of infection has dropped significantly.” 
 
We are followers of Christ. Finding new ways to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is part of our calling, part of our mission.   The absence of public worship in our sanctuary does not equal an absence of Christ in our lives or in the world.  It means we are continuing to learn about the incredible and various ways the Holy Spirit can work in and through this world.  And through every one of us.  We will continue with online worship, currently live on Sunday mornings on Facebook (if you are on Facebook) and later posted to Facebook for anyone to watch (even if you are not on Facebook). As I announced last week, Christmas Eve Service will be pre-recorded and available in a number of formats which we will let you know about in the weeks to come.   I will continue to explore new ways to bring God’s word into your homes and into your hearts. 
 
And let’s see the hope, the love, the joy, the peace – the presence of Christ – in this Advent season.  That will come through no matter how we worship. 
 
Thanks be to God!
 
Peace & grace,
Pastor Janet
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 November 19, 2020

 

To the people of God in Enfield and beyond –

 

On November 29, we begin a new year on the church’s calendar that always begins with Advent.  During this special season, we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ even as we anticipate in trust the day that he will come again.  It’s been a different year, it’s going to be a different Advent.  Yet rather than see the differences as loss, we can see the differences giving us deeper insight into the meaning of the birth of Jesus for our lives and the life of the world.

 

Jesus was born into a world filled with chaos.  The Roman army occupied the land of Israel.  The Israelites filled with despair about the land God had promised to them, did not look to the future with hope.  Nothing at the time of Jesus’ birth would lead one to think that the world suddenly became filled with peace and love and hope and joy.  This is the world into which Jesus was born, and through which his teachings would challenge people, and call for transformation. The words of an unknown Jewish poet, “I believe in the sun, even when the sun is not shining,” were scrawled on a wall during the Holocaust. Our Advent theme song, based on these words, calls us to a different response to the world through the power of narrative and music.  A response that can include transformation and reconciliation through hope, love, joy, and peace. This Advent and Christmas, let us fill the night with music and light, proclaiming the reasons why we can still “believe, even when…” we are discouraged.

 

Our Christmas Eve service will be shared in a unique way.  Given current restrictions on gathering, distancing, and other measures to keep the body of Christ safe during the pandemic, our sanctuary cannot accommodate even half of the number of people who worship on Christmas Eve. Instead, staff and volunteers will be working throughout December to put together a meaningful pre-recorded service. Lynne Tracy-Thim, the choir and soloists are practicing music, Pastor Janet will be preparing her sermon, and we need you to participate.

 

One of the most cherished moments in a Christmas Eve service is at the end, when we share the light of Christ through the lighting of candles, while we sing “Silent Night.”  Since we can’t pass the light of Christ in person, we will be sharing the light of Christ through the magic of technology.  Christmas Eve candles will be given out on November 21 at the Cider & Pie Social, after worship on November 22 and November 29, and in some cases through the mail.  People can film themselves lighting the candle from left to right, then the videos will be knit together so it will look like the light is passing from one person to another.  Details on how to do this are included in “Notes from the Bell Tower.”   More information on how to watch this very special Christmas Eve service will be available at a later date.

 

Remember – through it all, is Christ, everyday in every place.  Thanks be to God. 

 

Peace & grace,

Pastor Janet