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Ongoing Response to COVID-19

Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-05-04

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Monday May 4th 2020
A Weekday Emailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
The Silly Humor Edition (Laughter is a God-given gift. Share it.)
 
 What has four legs and goes OOM! OOM!
A cow walking backward!!! (Thank you Petersons!)
 
People keep asking, “Is COVID 19 really that serious?” Listen up. Casinos and churches are closed. When Heaven and Hell agree on the same thing, it’s pretty serious. (Thank you Waalers)
 
And Bill Ackermann offers several:

  1.      Apparently RSVP’ing to a wedding invitation “Maybe next time” isn’t the correct response. 
  2.      I’m on two diets. I wasn’t getting enough food on one. 
  3.      Do you ever get up in the morning, look in the mirror and think “That can’t be accurate.” 

And these bloopers are from actual church newsletters: 

  1.      Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands. 
  2.      Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.  
  3.      For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  4.      Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.  
  5.      Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.   

From Bill Marble: The man on the news said at the end of the day what’s going to keep you sane is common sense; some of y’all are in trouble! 
 
News:
 
CU-BetterTogether . . . Is a new community group (United Way, Community Foundation, YMCA, and local churches) coming together to fight hunger and give hope to area public school families in need. Laurie Jacob, Kena Jo Chapman, Rachel, and I helped yesterday and had a blast. Together we packed three pallets of food—possibly 1,500 grocery bags—for our public school children and their families. It was a WOW morning. Want to help? Are you between 18- and 60-years-old? You can, here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F044EAEA822ABFA7-cubetter
 
From Jane Tock: Dear Matt, Thank YOU and your team for continuing to keep “the FLOCK” together during this time of…alteration. (Although, we all know that LIFE has ALWAYS been one giant adjustment!)

It’s so comforting to hear the voice of Joe, the music of Richard, and the calm readings and prayers from Eric. I love seeing sweet Rachel by your side…she adds the touch of gentleness and care. And, she reminds us of family. Mindy is such a blessing. (I’m still getting used to the puppet, though. Ha! Always had an aversion to mimes, magicians and, especially, CLOWNS ?!  EEK!  Swore that I’d never marry one. Then, well…Steve.)

Please say thank you to all those who have shared their time and talents not only in joining you in providing with a weekly Sunday Morning Service but, in continuing to connect us and to serve us through ongoing committees. We are aware that our maintenance staff is keeping our building clean and safe and standing TALL.
And, the prayer team!!!  And, and, and…..♥?

Gratefully yours, 
The Tocks
…..Hug the boys. 
 
Good Word:
 
 Psalm 126
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we rejoiced.  
 
Let us pray:
 
O God, 
you are the well-spring of life. 
Pour into our hearts the living water of your grace, 
that we may be refreshed to live this day in joy, 
confident of your presence 
and empowered by your peace, 
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 
 
AMEN
  
Much love to you all. 
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church



First Pres Worship – 05/03/20 – 4th Sunday of Easter

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Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-05-01

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Friday 1 May 2020
 
Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
Miriam and Woody Chenault keep in close contact with J.A. Fukama-Kabika (our church member who is in Danville Correctional Center). Miriam sends this update:
 
They are all in lockdown [at the prison] and can go outside for only 30 minutes a day but can’t play basketball or soccer (which he loves to do). They can only walk or run around the yard. He is still taking his U of I classes, which will be finished Friday. 

Just to show you the kind of guy he is – his big concern is that Woody and I don’t get the coronavirus. He calls us mama Miriam and Papa Woody!  It is such a joy to think of him as our son.

When I think of his life right now during this pandemic, I cannot complain at all about any of this. I am so unbelievably blessed and lucky to have the freedom to go outside and enjoy God’s creation any time I want and to eat anything and anytime I want (food is definitely one of the joys in life right now!!). 

Fukama is such a special guy – please keep him in your prayers!
 
Consider writing Fukama. His address is in our website CCB; the church office can give his address to you, as well. Thank YOU.
 
* * *
 
Notice the only words e. e. cummings capitalizes in this lovely poem about spring. Cousin Tom submits it. (Don’t tell him that I plan on working on my next novel in the month of May.)
 
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings; and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any—lifted from the no of all nothing—human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
+ e e cummings
 
e e cummings was the son of a Harvard professor who left the academy to become the ordained minister of South Congregational Church in Boston.  In this poem, cumming’s own theology comes through – influenced by both traditional Christianity and the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson – in a playful, modernist take on an Elizabethan sonnet (fourteen lines, closing couplet, and a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG).
 
* * *
 
On Sunday, we celebrate communion, which is a kind of poetry in action, poetry of body and of soul, with all saints in all time and dimension. It is Holy Mystery and great joy. Bring bread and juice to celebrate. See you Sunday. Bless you all. 
 
* * *
 
Same time (9:00 a.m.). Same place. Turn on your “device” and find us at:   FirstPres.Live
 
Pay attention to God’s activity in the world around you.
               Be amazed.
                               Tell somebody.
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 
 
* * *
 
New fun photo challenge! Each Friday the Nurture Committee is challenging us to read an assigned scripture about Jesus and come up with a representation of the story using whatever you already have around the house and share it in photo form.
 
CHALLENGE #3
MINISTRY  Matthew 4:18-20
Jesus began to teach all the people
They’d come to hear him, on building or steeple
He’d talk in the mountains or down by the sea
And to those who would listen, He’d say, “Come, follow me”
 
If Jesus were here today, where do you think he would teach?
 
Take a photo of a place you think Jesus would like to teach today. If you can’t go there, make something out of Legos, blocks, toys or get a picture from a book or online and show it.
 
Post your photo to:
 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/firstpreschampaign/
 live@firstpres.church
 For Instagram @fpcchampaign
 
Example from Gary and Linda Peterson…
 
  
 
* * *
 
This is fun to hear AND to watch. Hallelujah*:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag6CYY0cbFc&feature=youtu.be 
 
* Hallelujah/Alleluia is a Hebrew word. What do you think it means? Multiple choice:
1—Deck the Halls.
2—God is Groovy.
3—Praise the Lord.
4—Dental flossing is vital for oral health.
 
* * *
 
This just in from Frontera de Cristo:
http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1103337725578&ca=a4b89791-0c69-4192-b29f-40dcc4cf13dd


Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-04-30

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Thursday April 30th 2020
A Weekday Emailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
Last night’s Zoom Dessert was fun!
 
My friend Kevin Murphy writes to the flock he pastors every day. He wrote this about dreams. Not the dreams we dream when we are asleep, but our “waking dreams.” Dig it:
 
Waking dreams are our imaginations taking flight. They are the ideas that move us ahead. They are the new understandings that undergird our best inventions and innovations. They may be seen as undoable or unattainable or just silly, but how would things like vaccines or immunizations ever have been invented if someone hadn’t dreamed of a world without infectious diseases? Who would ever think that open-heart surgery or an organ transplant could be an effective way of extending a life? Every innovation takes a dreamer who won’t give up. Every dreamer dreams of a better world and then works toward it.

As we slowly and carefully come out of our COVID-19 dens after this spring-long hibernation we are going to need lots of dreams and dreamers to envision what the next chapter of our lives will be. Will we learn new lessons from this experience that make our world safer? Will we continue to appreciate all those front-line workers who have keep our society moving and kept us safe? Will we figure out how to pay them better for the hard and necessary work they do? 
 
God-shaped dreams will be needed. God-shaped dreamers will be welcomed. Will we, as the dreamers in God’s loving and loved family, dream those God-shaped dreams? If we don’t, who will? We can dream God-shaped dreams and we can work for them to come to fruition because we know the love and grace and mercy of God is always with us, calling us to be the God-shaped dreamers this world needs.  
 
I say, AMEN.  
 
News:
 
Don’t forget the new fun photo challenge! Each Friday the Nurture Committee is challenging us to read an assigned scripture about Jesus and come up with a representation of the story using whatever you already have around the house and share it in photo form. Tomorrow I’ll share the NEW Challenge. Here’s the old one:
 
CHALLENGE #2
BAPTISM  3:13-17
As he grew, he gained respect from God and man
And his calling to save us, He began to understand
He declared He came to set the captives free
And baptized by John to begin that journey
John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River
 
Take a photo of your family doing something with water.
 
Take some time to discussed what happened when Jesus was baptized, how God spoke from heaven, and what John said about him.
 
Post your photo to:
 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/firstpreschampaign/
 live@firstpres.church
 For Instagram @fpcchampaign
 
* * *
 
CU-BetterTogether . . . Is a new community group (United Way, Community Foundation, YMCA, and local churches) coming together to fight hunger and give hope to area public school families in need. Laurie Jacob, Kena Jo Chapman, Rachel, and I helped yesterday and had a blast. Together we packed three pallets of food—possibly 1,500 grocery bags—for our public school children and their families. It was a WOW morning. Want to help? Are you between 18- and 60-years-old? You can, here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F044EAEA822ABFA7-cubetter
 
Humor: How did Noah see the animals in the Ark at night? With flood lighting!!!!! (Thank you Gary and Linda Peterson.) 
  
Good Word:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. Psalm 126:1-3  
 
Let us pray:
 
God of experts and amateurs, in a time of great uncertainty, we begin to realize how little we each know. Yet you have placed within our community those who speak from reason, who know the science, whose profession it is to protect. May we hear the voices of informed wisdom, and give thanks for what is already here: the knowledge that overcomes ignorance, the love that overcomes fear, the community that includes the grace we all need. 
Amen.                       (Alex Wimberly) 
 
Much love to you all.
 
 PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-04-29

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Wednesday April 29th 2020
A Weekday Emailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
Wednesday Dessert!  Join us for a Zoom gathering on Wednesday April 29th at 7:00 p.m. We’ll meet online to catch up, chat, visit, show off our flower gardens. Bring some dessert “to share.” We’ll practice having an online conversation with each other. Think of it as the Sunday morning coffee break after morning worship. Technology makes these gatherings over distance possible—but it might not be easy. We’ll have to figure out how to talk without talking over one another. We’ll get the hang of it. So, help us experiment. Nothing beats face to face gatherings, but in the absence of that we’re trying this. “See” you there. Email info@firstpres.church for the link.
 
A connection from our past: Bill Wimberly was our interim pastor here some years ago. I was in touch with his son Alex this week and he sends this email:
 
Thank you for reaching out. My parents have fond memories from their time at First Champaign. I hope you found yourself settled in before these unsettling times. 
 
I doubt anyone at the church would have a memory of me; I was only there a few times visiting my folks while finishing up at seminary . . .
 
I have been writing daily prayers as Leader of the Corrymeela Community. Corrymeela is an ecumenical Christian community, based in Northern Ireland, committed to the work of peace and reconciliation. We have a residential center on the north coast of Ireland that hosts about 8,000 people a year. As Leader, I am meant to hold the dispersed community of Corrymeela members together through prayer and to lead us in our mission of transforming division through human encounter. 
 
The pandemic has closed our center, but has kept me busy as we learn what it really means to be a ‘dispersed Christian community’ in these days. One thing we’ve done is to share ‘prayers for community in a time of pandemic.’ You can find those posted daily (with pretty pictures) on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Corrymeela; the whole collection is at our website: www.corrymeela.org
 
You are, of course, more than welcome to share them. 
 
Matt, I wish you every blessing in your ministry at First Champaign. We are all learning how to be the church again, and I pray that you and the congregation know of your brothers and sisters in Ireland stumbling forward in joy and faith with you. 
 
Grace and peace,
Alex
 
 
Mary Jane Kelley Shares this Springtime poem:
 
Spring/ BY Gerard Manley Hopkins
 
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –         
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;         
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush         
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring         
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush         
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush         
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.         
 
What is all this juice and all this joy?         
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,         
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,         
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,         
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.   
 
News:
 
Prayer Concerns: Barb Hoover is under hospice care. Join me in praying for her and husband Lon. This is hard.
 
Deaths: We rejoice that Don Dixon and Marian Babbs have entered the Church Triumphant, but we are sad we won’t see them again here. Let us pray for their families. 
 
Graveyard Walks: I’ve seen some of your family names on the silent stones of Mount Hope/Roselawn cemeteries. Thank you for the stories you are telling me and the tombstones you are introducing me to. 
 
Safe drinking water is not a privilege! Marion Medical Mission fights the water crisis in Africa by partnering with villages to build over 3,000 wells each year. In 2019, our American volunteers traveled through rural areas of Malawi, Zambia & Tanzania to provide safe water and build sustainable, protected wells for over 380,000 people in 12 weeks! These Christian volunteers dedicated every well to the Glory of God. Volunteers spent three weeks on their mission trip and and shared Christ’s love with the extreme poor over 60,000 square miles. This is amazing! Marion Medical Mission:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZqZ02BhFgk
  
Humor: Share your clean jokes with me. During this season especially we need to laugh. (What do you call a joke you make in the shower? A clean joke!) 
  
Good Word:
Psalm 13
Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies
To the leader. A Psalm of David.
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,
    and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
    my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me. 
 
Let us pray:
 
God of those in plenty, God of those in want: this disease separates us one from another. It also exposes an underlying division that has been there all along: the difference between the haves and the have–nots. May the chasm finally close between those who will wait this pandemic out with stockpiles of reserves and the luxury of rest, and those who have been waiting too long for a voice at the table, a seat at the banquet, a prayer not filled with pleas.
Amen.
 (Alex Wimberly) 
  
Much love to you all. 
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church