Message from the Pastor

Included this week is the monthly column from Bishop Devadhar.
 
April 1, 2022
Beloved in Christ:

Greetings in the precious and matchless name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

On April 10, we will be joining our fellow Christians throughout the world to celebrate the liturgy of the palms and the Passion. On this Sunday, we will not only wave our palms singing “Hosanna” to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; we will also meditate upon the Passion of Christ.

One of the scriptural passages we will be reading begins and ends the same way: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1, 29 NRSV).

We affirm our belief in and our adoration for our God whose love endures forever. Other Scriptural passages for our celebration and meditation for Palm/Passion Sunday include Luke 19:28-40 (for Liturgy of the Palms), Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23, 56; and Luke 23:1-49.

It is my earnest hope and prayer that we, as baptized Christians, will pause from our busy schedules to ponder the thoughts and reflections we glean from these powerful Scriptural passages. As we journey together with Christ, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and love of God during Palm/Passion Sunday and Holy Week, may we use these Scripture verses or our Revised Common Lectionary for Palm/Passion Sunday, to consider the following:
What does it mean to us to wave our palms and sing “Hosanna”? Is it a tradition or is it a sincere affirmation of the Lordship of Christ in our daily lives? If the answer is the latter, what are the concrete ways we wave our palms in our individual lives, homes, churches, communities, nation, and world? Might we be waving our palms when we teach our children and grandchildren about Jesus? Might we be waving our palms when we volunteer at church to help restock the food pantry? Might we be waving our palms when we engage in community conversations to improve the well-being of our neighbors, especially those who are marginalized by society? Might we be waving our palms when we work for peace in our nation and our world?
How can we demonstrate our discipleship for Christ as we observe and practice his passion in our daily lives? Is it ethical to compartmentalize our Christian lives from what is going on in the rest of the world? In that spirit, do we keep silent when innocent children and adults are killed in a meaningless war and the power of human greed destroys the fabric of humanity designed by our Creator God? Are we aware that our attempt to keep others happy or save certain friendships may further damage and promote all kinds of -isms and phobias that divide our world? Or is there another way—a way in which we may live out our discipleship by giving voice to the values that Jesus taught: becoming people who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, who are pure in heart, who are peacemakers?

As we walk with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, on Palm/Passion Sunday and beyond, may we spend time on our knees praying for God to intervene all around the world and to bless those who are working for justice and peace to end all kinds of isms, phobias, wars, especially in the Ukraine. 

May we pray and work tirelessly to be the kind of church (people of God) God wants us to be – a church which believes and acts like every person is created in the image of God!

May we pray for the establishment and extension of God’s Reign everywhere. 

May we pray for God to grant us the courage of Jesus, who questioned the authorities of the Jerusalem temple whose silence allowed traders and money changers to block the true worshipers from worshiping God. 

May we pray for the spirit of Christ who demonstrated His Holy anger against the unholy silence of the leaders and spoke the truth in love with His beloved disciples as he instituted the Holy Meal, the Lord’s Supper. 

May all our meals, meetings, and relationships become sacramental, so Christ may be found in our lives, homes, churches, and communities!

I wish you all a celebrative and reflective Palm/Passion Sunday, a prayerful Holy Week, Good Friday, and blessed Holy Easter!

In Christ’s love,
 
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar 
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March 31, 2022

To the faith-filled people of Enfield and beyond –

During these past two years, we worked hard as a community to rise to the challenges coming from the COVID-19 pandemic.  We followed Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Connecticut state guidelines.  We adopted new worship and gathering practices developed by the medical community and recommended by the New England Annual Conference.  In every way we knew, we strived to keep the body of Christ represented in the faith community of UMC Enfield healthy.  All of our sacrifices led to no known COVID cases transmitted through our faith community.  Hallelujah! 

Since the beginning of 2022, the number of COVID cases in Enfield and the surrounding communities has dropped significantly.  Hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID have also dropped across the state.  The CDC county risk assessment for Hartford County has been “green”, meaning “Low” for several weeks.  Enfield’s case rate per 100,000 people is “grey” or less than 5 cases per 100,000 people for three weeks. 

The Church Council recently revised the community-practice guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as we continue our commitment to care for each other during the ongoing challenge of the pandemic.  On the reverse is a chart that correlates key COVID spread numbers with worship practices at UMC Enfield.  As risks go up and down, the chart outlines the corresponding change in practices.  Any change in levels of response will be noted in the weekly newsletter Notes from the Bell Tower

If the downward trends in numbers continue this week, then our new COVID Mitigation Guidelines will be implemented as of Sunday, April 10 – Palm Sunday.  Masks and physical distancing will be optional for all activities in the church including worship, singing, small group meetings and events.  Whatever your choice may be, please be respectful of other people’s choices.  Continue to ask before sitting next to someone who is not of your household, as you cannot be aware of their health concerns. 

Please understand that if COVID statistics begin to rise again, we will change our practices.  The chart is a means to communicate these changes in advance.  Please contact me or any member of the Church Council – Tom Baziak, Steve Champagne, Lorraine Creedon, Stacey Doucette, Greg Hart, Bruce Martin, Wendy Morse or Linda Thorn with any questions.

As you look ahead to Holy Week, keep in mind that this will be the first Holy Week in three years that the sanctuary has been open for worship services.  I strongly encourage you, and quite frankly expect you, to make every effort to be present at as many services as you are able.  More information about Holy Week is elsewhere in this newsletter.  Let’s gather together to hear the amazing story of Christ’s passion for all people, and celebrate the joy of his resurrection.

Peace & grace,

Pastor Janet  

UMC-Enfield COVID-19 Mitigation Guidelines

(Revised 15 March 2022)

The Church Council revised the community-practice guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as we continue our commitment to care for each other during the ongoing challenge of the pandemic.  Below is a chart that correlates key COVID spread numbers (from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the State of Connecticut) with worship practices at UMC Enfield.  As risks go up and down, the chart outlines the corresponding change in practices.  Any change in levels of response will be noted in the weekly newsletter Notes from the Bell Tower

COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies
 Green – Level 1Orange – Level 2Red – Level 3
Risk Level of Hartford County (per CDC metrics[1])Low*MediumHigh
# of Cases / 100,000 in Enfield (per CT COVID-19 Data Tracker[2])<9*10-1415 or more
In-Person WorshipYesYesPossibly
Online WorshipYesYesYes
MasksOptionalYesYes
Social DistancingOptionalYesYes
CommunionPre-Packaged Individual (possibly intinction)Pre-packaged individualPre-packaged individual
SingingYes (masks optional)Yes (with masks)Possibly
In-Person GroupsYes (masks optional)Yes (with masks)No
RefreshmentsYes (masks optional)PossiblyNo

* The metrics need to be at this lowest level for four weeks before we adopt the COVID-19  mitigation strategies for Green – Level 1. 


[1]  CDC looks at the combination of three metrics: new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, to determine the COVID-19 community level. ( https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html )

[2] CT Town Case Rate Map shows “Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town” during previous two weeks. (https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Data-Tracker )

Peace & grace,

Pastor Janet