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Ongoing Response to COVID-19

Weekday Email to Members and Friends — 2020-04-01

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Wednesday April 1st 2020

A Weekday Emailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois 

Dear Friends,
 
The Coronavirus has shaken up our lives. How are you “embracing the shake”? This is from June Cullum:
 
I have found a positive thing to do that I would like to share with you.  Every morning at 11, I, my daughter, my granddaughter and 2 great grand kids meet at Hessel Park and walk around the park 2 or 3 times. It is a great way for us to see each other, 6 feet apart, and in the fresh air, and to keep connected when we are not getting together otherwise. There are a lot of people and dogs out there doing the same thing!  The sun has not been out yet but when it does come out it will be amazing!!
 
And we’ve gotten word from our mission co-workers in Indonesia. 
 
Bernie Adeney-Risakott writes that he and Farsijana are sheltering in place in Indonesia. Because travel isn’t safe and because they did not want to leave their mission field, they are there. Farsijana writes this:
 
 “As a deadly virus sweeps around the world, we are reminded of how much all communities in the world are connected. During this time of Lent, we are waiting for Christ’s resurrection. As a sign of this hope, I am fasting every Wednesday until Easter.  Then on April 23rd, I will join in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers to practice dawn to dark fasting during the month of Ramadan. We all share in the suffering of the world.  Christ reminds us that our response need not be fear, but rather to give all of our time, energy and resources in love for God and our neighbors. Bernie and I thank you for your prayers, love and support.  We need you.  We also pray for you, that in the mystery of God’s sovereignty, out of death will come life.  Out of a pandemic our communities in the USA and in Indonesia, as well as our suffering ecosystems, will experience the marvelous grace of God.”  
 
Let’s pray for them. Let’s write them via email in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
 
Bernie Adeney-Risakotta, baryogya@gmail.com
Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta, pondokjatirasa@yahoo.com
 
Much love to you all.
 
News:
 
Palm Branches: If any of you wish to drive through the alley between our Sanctuary and Education buildings on Thursday afternoon between 1:00 and 2:00, you will be met by a gloved volunteer(s) who will hand you through your open car window a palm branch for every member of your family. The palms have been boxed for over a week, so they carry no infection, advises Peter Yau. We will make no flesh-to-flesh contact in the exchange. 
 
Email us a picture: We’d like to share a picture of you with palm branches, picture of you with your cat, picture of you in your worship space, picture of you…where ever. We’re attempting to stay connected during this season of physical-distancing. Send a picture to live@firstpres.church.
 
Prayer Service on Thursday night:At 7:00 on this Thursday night, we will have a service of prayer live on Zoom. Bring your prayer concerns.  
Instructions will be provided soon.
 
A Video Message from Matt: Matt gets a facial? Try this:
https://youtu.be/4qe_bNQnRR4
 
 
The Good Word:  
 
James 1:22-25                                      
 22 Obey God’s message! Don’t fool yourselves by just listening to it. 23 If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror 24 and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. 25 But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don’t just hear and forget.
 
22 Seulement, ne vous contentez pas de l’écouter, traduisez-la en actes, sans quoi vous vous tromperiez vous-mêmes. 23 En effet, si quelqu’un se contente d’écouter la Parole sans y conformer ses actes, il ressemble à un homme qui, en s’observant dans un miroir, découvre son vrai visage?: 24 après s’être ainsi observé, il s’en va et oublie ce qu’il est. 25 Voici, au contraire, un homme qui scrute la loi parfaite qui donne la liberté?: il lui demeure fidèlement attaché et, au lieu de l’oublier après l’avoir entendue, il y conforme ses actes?; cet homme sera heureux dans tout ce qu’il fait
 
Prayer:
 
May the strength of God pilot us.
May the power of God preserve us.
May the wisdom of God instruct us.
May the hand of God protect us.
May the way of God direct us.
May the shield of God defend us.
May the host of God guard us
                       against the snares of evil
                       and the temptation of the world.
May Christ be with us,
Christ before us,
Christ in us, 
Christ over us.
May your salvation, O Lord,
be always ours this day
and forevermore. AMEN
                                      (Patrick of Ireland, c. 389-461).
 
PEACE, 
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-03-31

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Tuesday 31 March 2020
A Weekday Emailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois

Dear Friends,
 
Joe Park is CEO of Horizons, a church stewardship consulting firm. (No, I’m not asking for money!). He wrote this:
 
I recently watched the TED Talk, Embrace the Shake, that really inspired me. The speaker was an artist who developed a tremor that kept him from expressing his creative urges the way he had been previously. For a period of time, he left art behind completely and was devastated.
 
A doctor encouraged him to embrace the shake and learn to make art in fresh ways. That’s exactly what he did. Today, Phil Hansen is creating art in places and spaces that is inspiring artists and non-artists alike.

 
The Coronavirus has shaken up our lives. Our routines have been turned upside down. Our sanity has, maybe, quivered. How are you “embracing the shake”? 
 
Stay cool. Laugh. Call somebody on the phone to chat. Look out your window. Turn off the news for a few hours (or days). Pray. Crack open that dusty Bible. Strike up an email conversation. Send a piece of snail mail (!). 
 
Embrace the shake.
 
Much love to you all.
 
News:
 
The Heart of Mission: See this update from our Mission Partners:
 https://www.firstpres.church/HoM20200327
 
Tax Returns: What are you doing with your tax return? A generous family has given their tax refund to our church in the form of grocery gift cards. If you don’t need it, share it. 
 
Palm Branches: If any of you wish to drive through the alley between our Sanctuary and Education buildings on Thursday afternoon between 1:00 and 2:00, you will be met by a gloved volunteer(s) who will hand you through your open car window a palm branch for every member of your family. The palms have been boxed for over a week, so they carry no infection, advises Peter Yau. We will make no flesh-to-flesh contact in the exchange. 
 
Email us a picture: We’d like to share a picture of you with palm branches, picture of you with your cat, picture of you in your worship space, picture of you…where ever. We’re attempting to stay connected during this season of physical-distancing. Email a picture to live@firstpres.church.
 
Prayer Service on Thursday night: At 7:00 on this Thursday night, we will have a service of prayer live on Zoom.  Bring your prayer concerns.  Instructions will be provided soon.
 
A Video Message from Matt: https://youtu.be/5YF7syP7iso
 
The Good Word:  
 
Jacques 5:13-16 La Bible du Semeur (BDS)                    
13 L’un de vous passe-t-il par la souffrance?? Qu’il prie. Un autre est-il dans la joie?? Qu’il chante des cantiques. 14 L’un de vous est-il malade?? Qu’il appelle les responsables de l’Eglise, qui prieront pour lui, après lui avoir fait une onction d’huile au nom du Seigneur. 15 La prière faite avec foi obtiendra la guérison du malade[a] et le Seigneur le relèvera. S’il a commis quelque péché, il lui sera pardonné. 16 Confessez vos péchés les uns aux autres et priez les uns pour les autres, afin que vous soyez guéris. Quand un juste prie, sa prière a une grande efficacité.
 
James 5:13-16        
13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 
 
 
Prayer:
 
God,
good beyond all that is good, 
fair beyond all that is fair,
in you is calmness, 
               peace, 
               and concord.
Heal the dissensions that 
divide us from one another
and bring us back to a unity of love
bearing some likeness to your divine nature.
Through the embrace of love
and the bonds of godly affection,
make us one in the Spirit
by your peace which 
               makes all things peaceful.
We ask this through the grace,
                mercy, 
                               and tenderness
of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
 
(—Dionysius of Alexandria, d. 264 CE)
 
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-03-30

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Monday 30 March 2020
A Weekday Emailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
Jeff Kellam was to be our Theologian-in-Residence during the Roger Ebert Film Festival in April. The Coronavirus had other plans. Jeff and his wife, Joan, are old friends of me and Rachel. Jeff contributes these words:
 
“I’ve always disliked the term “shut-in.” I preferred the warmer term “at-home friends.” Now, here we are, all “at home” and frankly feeling “shut-in.” But churches are learning to stream worship services and resources to us so we continue to feel part of the community of faith. Last Sunday, I joined three very different Presbyterian worship services on my computer and found value in all three.
 
“The simplest offering came from a rural pastor who set up a YouTube channel, and recorded some church news and pastoral concerns, along with the four Lectionary readings and her brief meditation, using just her cell phone camera. Her setting was her home, and her approach was warm and personal.
 
“The most sophisticated of the three came from a large suburban church with obvious technical resources on hand. Streamed “live,” the multiple cameras captured an hour-long service from the sanctuary, with leadership from what I took to be the whole church staff and several musicians. The service followed the same format as a typical Sunday. But except for that leadership, the large sanctuary was empty. 
 
“The third service came from a 150-member church, again with no one but church staff involved in leading the at-home congregation in simple liturgy, music, proclamation of the Word, and prayers. The setting was the sanctuary but empty pews were never shown. The service was clearly designed to communicate more intimately with the viewers, knowing that those who joined the live stream were watching alone or with just a family member or two. The pastor’s message was warmly conversational.
 
“When it comes to our learning new ways to reach out, it is clear again that one approach won’t fit every church, but that we strive for faithful creativity and integrity is of upmost importance.”
 
 
News:
 
Good news: a family have given their tax refund to our church in the form of grocery gift cards. How cool is that?! This grace is a surprise—and it’s amazing.
 
Prayer Service on Thursday night: At 7:00 on this Thursday night you will all get an invitation for a Zoom service of prayer. Bring your prayer concerns. We’ll be streaming live.
 
 
The Good Word:  
 
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (CEB)                               
There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.  A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.
 
 
Prayer:
 
We are your people, Lord, by your grace. 
You dare to make us Christ to our neighbors 
of every nation and race.
Glad of tradition, help us to see in all life’s changing
where you are leading,
where our best efforts should be.
                                                     (Brian Wren, from Faith Looking Forward)
 
PEACE, 
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church