“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
One of our members that I have seen the most since the coronavirus quarantine is Ernie Allen, pictured above. I took this picture of Ernie and his buddy, with their new “Ernie’s Army” shirts last week. For 20 years, Ernie and his army have been doing volunteer labor in the yards of their Spanish Cove neighbors. Since my gym has been closed during the quarantine, I’ve been forced back out on the streets for my exercise, and pretty much every day I’ve seen Ernie and his “army” out working somewhere. Now I know you are probably concerned that Ernie and his friend are close to one another. This gentleman and others are part of what I call, Ernie’s “quarantine family” – the close circle of folks that many of us share (for me it is the worship team and my immediate family) that we do see even as we shelter in place beyond that small group. These are the folks that work alongside us and continue to make life manageable during this time.
Seeing Ernie with his “army” shirt last week caused me to reflect on and give thanks for all of the ordinary folks in our church and community that continue to find ways to love and serve their neighbors during this crisis. I’ve talked to several folks who are still faithfully delivering meals on wheels to seniors who depend on this service for their daily hot nutrition. I know many of our folks have been busy making masks to share with individuals and organizations in need during this time. Many of you are checking on your neighbors or fellow church members and bringing them their groceries and other necessities during this time. Others are simply calling, texting, emailing, zooming to check in on one another to help alleviate the loneliness.
You will see information below that describes how those of us who are not in the high-risk category for the virus can help to meet the growing food insufficiency needs in our community due to unemployment. I hope if you feel able, you will consider signing up to serve at either Daily Bread or the Evans Center in Palm Bay. Both organizations use safe social distancing practices while still seeking to meet the needs of hungry folks right here in Melbourne.
My point in sharing all this is to say that these are just a few of the ways that we can continue to love and serve our neighbors and they are also the kinds of things that Paul in Philippians invites us to focus our thoughts and attention on. Things that are just, true, commendable, and worthy of praise. It the midst of so much fear and uncertainty, it is good to take Paul’s advice and look for the goodness, or as Allee mentioned in her E-Letter last week, quoting Mr. Rogers, “look for the helpers.” Today, I invite you to spend some time in prayer, giving thanks to God for the ordinary goodness of ordinary people all around us. And give thanks for the ways that God has been present and at work in you to help you stay focused on what God is doing in the world. If we stop and look, there is always something for which to give thanks!
This Sunday in worship we will continue to think about what it means to “Be the Church” by exploring Acts 10 and thinking about the ways that the Holy Spirit works in us to empower us to change course, think in new ways, and continue to welcome new people into the family of God. One of the characteristics of the early church was its ability to be flexible and constantly adapt, grow, and change in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, there is a word here for us in these challenging days about how we must continue to change and adapt and grow in the ways we share in ministry. So, I encourage you to read all of Acts 10 in preparation for worship.
In the meantime, be safe, wash your hands, and know you are missed and loved!
Grace and Peace,