Blessings to Members and Friends

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Friday 20 March 2020
Members and Friends of
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
Dear Friends, 
1—First things first: In the midst of a pandemic this week, we had a birth! Louis Lemuel Kabangu Masengu is the son of Silvie and Charles Masengu and brother of Rehoboth and Monique. Welcome Louis! Send a card to: 1600 W Bradley Ave Apt. S 342, Champaign, IL 61821
2—Second should come a poem. But I’m saving J. Barrie Shepherd’s poem for last.
3—Here’s an update from your Session, which met last night via a “Zoom” meeting. (Zoom doesn’t mean fast.) Peter Yau, our Session-appointed Corona point person, gave us an update on the Coronavirus, which, he said, is “full of tricks” and quite dangerous. He’s been advising our operations on campus.
We approved several motions:

  1. First Presbyterian Church will refrain from face-to-face worship on our campus until further notice.
  2. We will refrain from church-sponsored face-to-face meetings, both on and off-campus, until further notice.
  3. Our grounds staff will continue work under regular scheduled hours.
  4. While the office is closed, someone will answer the phone during business hours, either remotely or from the office, but no face-to-face services are offered through the office until further notice.
  5. Our communion schedule will not be interrupted. As the body of Christ, we will celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion via livestream during the constraints posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

4—Worship is essential for any congregation. While we can’t physically gather, we can “be together” in a Spirit-filled, powerful, and authentic way. From the comfort of your home, please join us on-line for livestreamed worship at 9:00 on Sunday morning. Come in your pajamas. Join us on our Facebook page or You can even phone in for worship. Call 312-626-6799; when prompted for a Meeting ID, enter 367 004 801, followed by the # key.  If prompted for a Participant ID, simply press the # key. 
5—Prayers requested from our neighbors at CU at Home: (a) one of our friends on the street who are extremely vulnerable during this time of COVID-19? Pray for God’s hand of protection around each of our friends without an address and our staff! (b) Please pray for a friend whose mental health struggles leave him combative and argumentative at times and a total gentlemen other times. We pray for peace for his soul and that he would follow doctor recommendations on his medication. (c) Would you also pray that we would all remember that we serve a MIGHTY God who has not given us the spirit of fear and will help us overcome all that has been thrown at us over the past few weeks?
 6—A poem to savor: “Breaking News” by J. Barrie Shepherd:
The word is that springtime arrives late this week,
yet here on the Maine coast we have little to show for it.
There are, here and there, green shoots thrusting through
the rock hard crust of four months of deep frost,
buds are forming out there at the long naked tips
of dark branches. But the awakening tingle is absent.
That familiar ray of hope and bright anticipation
that has touched over eighty such promising seasons
has been shadowed, eclipsed in this leap of a year
by a portent, a grim tocsin that resounds in the ear
like the clattering rattle, clanging bell of a leper,
the rumbling wheels of a laden plague cart–
“Bring out your dead!”

Corona, the word echoes and re-echoes
through these days. Corona, ancient Latin for a crown–
and “uneasy lies the head…” all heads that wear it.
Recalls us, if we hearken, to another jagged headpiece
pressed brutal down across the broken brow of one
who mended lepers, bore away the festerings
and plagues that cursed our mortal race and–
in this very season–wrought a healing and a cure
that may yet bring final close to every isolation,
tear down the narrow walls of quarantine,
and seat us, newly welcomed, round
a common table where fresh bread is broken,
rich new wine is generously poured.
* * *
During this surreal season of Coronavirus, focus on things besides television news.
               Pay attention to God’s activity in the world around you.
                              Be amazed.
                                              Tell somebody.
I can’t wait to worship with you again via our live-stream on Sunday.
Matt Matthews
Another message from your church:
If you communicate with someone who is not able to stream the service live, but would like to worship with us a bit later, the link to the most recent worship service is always
The Last Supper has been the subject of many visual artists. Check this out:
Do you want to take a free, Ivy-League, on-line course? Art, existentialism, engineering…
I’ve got two movie ideas for you. Both are comedies. The first is not for kids; the second is rated PG and could work with a younger audience my boys when they were little loved it;
Friday night at the movies:
Ebert’s take on the movie “Death At A Funeral”
And . . . Ebert’s take on “Osmosis Jones.” I have two words: Chris Rock.

“Osmosis Jones” is like the dark side of those animated educational films depicting the goings-on in the bowels. It takes us inside the human body for a tour of such uncharted neighborhoods as the Lower East Backside, and such useful organs as the Puke Button. These sights are depicted in colorful, gloppy, drippy animation, and then we switch to live action for the outside of the body in question, which belongs to a man named Frank (Bill Murray).
Frank follows the Ten-Second Rule, which teaches us that if food is dropped and stays on the ground less than 10 seconds, it’s still safe to eat. In the case of the hard-boiled egg in question, he might also have reflected that before the egg dropped, he had to pry it from the mouth of a monkey. The egg is crawling with germs, sending the inside of his body into emergency mode.
At the cellular level, we meet Osmosis Jones (voice by Chris Rock), a maverick cop, always being called into the chief’s office for a lecture. In the first animated microbiological version of a buddy movie, he teams up with Drix (David Hyde Pierce), a timed-release cold capsule, to fight the viral invasion, which threatens to kill Frank after Thrax (Laurence Fishburne) introduces a new and deadly infection.
The live action scenes, directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly (“There’s Something About Mary“), use Bill Murray’s seedy insouciance as a horrible object lesson in what can happen to you if you don’t think all the time about germs. His second, potentially lethal, infection comes as he visits a science fair where his daughter Shane (Elena Franklin) has an entry. Chatting with another entrant, he learns that the lad’s experiment involves the cleansing of polluted oysters; assured that the oysters are cleansed, he eats one.
The inner, animated sequences, which occupy about two-thirds of the movie, were directed by Piet Kroon and Tom Sito. Imagine the journey through the human body undertaken by Dennis Quaid in “Innerspace” (1987), as if it were drawn by Matt Groening (“Life in Hell”) on acid, and you will have an approximation. I especially liked the way various parts of the body represented neighborhoods in the City of Frank (the stomach is the airport, with regular departures to the colon; the Mafia hangs out in the armpit; lawyers can be found in a hemorrhoid).
Inside Frank City, the Mayor (William Shatner) tries to maintain the status quo in the face of campaigning by his opponent, Tom Colonic (Ron Howard), a “regular guy.” Outside, the unshaven Frank embarrasses his spic-and-span daughter with his uncouth behavior, and mortally offends the science teacher (Molly Shannon) by throwing up on her after eating the wrong oyster. (I am reminded of Dr. Johnson observing to Mr. Boswell: “Sir, he was a brave man who ate the first oyster.”) Back inside Frank, Osmosis Jones frets that he acted too quickly in pushing the Puke Button.
Who is the movie for? Despite my descriptions, it is nowhere near as gross as the usual the effort, and steers clear of adventures in the genital areas. It was originally classified PG-13, but was upgraded to PG after some trims, and is likely to entertain kids, who seem to like jokes about anatomical plumbing. For adults, there is the exuberance of the animation and the energy of the whole movie, which is just plain clever.