Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Week 3… and it seems forever since we last saw each other, worshiped together and enjoyed the fellowship of our faith community! I hope you are well, staying healthy, and feel the prayers of many holding you up. I pray you are remaining connected… reaching out to one another by phone, text, emails… and are especially reaching out to the seniors, folks with compromised health, parents with little ones, all who are struggling with this imposed isolation! Praise God, we are enjoying longer days and there has been Sonshine, crocuses bursting forth, birds chirping, and so many other signs of the Creator’s handiwork to remind us “We Are Not Alone” and there is Hope in the greening of the world around us!

Worship During Holy Week

As we look ahead to Holy Week, I have enclosed the bulletins and FULL worship services for Maundy Thursday (Kilbride was to host) and Good Friday (Carlisle was to host).

Easter’s worship (with communion) will be forwarded by Tuesday! I have sent them early, so you might call (if you are able) someone without internet access, offer to deliver a service to them… perhaps even supplying a juice box and crackers/bread for communion… to help them feel connected to the ones who are receiving updates, worship services, encouragement through many channels because they have the privilege of technology.

Again I am including the link to the current Edge map for online worship services and commend watching a different service from last week! With this time of pause before a new minister arrives, it is wonderful to try some new things in worship! Perhaps watching worship services from other community settings will spark some ideas that are worth exploring! Open yourselves to the Spirit’s leading… and awesome ideas WILL come forth! I’m certain of this!

On Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday, we will be celebrating communion, and I invite you to have some bread or crackers and a cup of juice or wine or grapes at your worship space. On Maundy Thursday there will also be a symbolic “handwashing” as part of the worship so you might consider bringing a bowl with water, and a towel too!

I’ve heard how some are already setting up Facetime with homebound relatives to share the worship experience and communion together, though apart. I know some of my colleagues feel having communion in isolation cheapens the sacrament, however, I feel it is an invitation into a deeper, spiritual connection with one another the grace that is offered by an All-Loving, All-Knowing, All-Life-Giving God whose presence transcends all time as we know it! Therefore, in whatever moment you commune, we WILL be connected by the power of the Spirit… one with the other… and God/Jesus!

As it appears we might all be in isolation and unable to gather face-to-face for quite some time still, be assured weekly services and worship opportunities will be provided, contact and connection will continue, if you have a pastoral care need it will be met (within the bounds of the law and maintaining safety for all), and prayers are being offered daily for your well-being, your loved ones, all the wonderful “essential service” providers who are working tirelessly, our church and government leaders, and people throughout the globe who are in this with us.

At this time I also invite you to consider setting up a dedicated worship space in your home to help you remain connected to your church family and people of faith throughout the world!

In closing, I wish to share a prayer that was offered to our national church from the National Indigenous Elders Council. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they share their wisdom and advise us to all to take care of each other, to heed medical advice, and to continue to engage in prayer and ceremony even as we are unable to come together to do so.

Creator, God,
We ask you to be with us.

We pray for those who are ill, and for those we cannot be with as closely as we wish.

When we are afraid, help us to remember and be grateful for:
Water, which gives life.
The land, which sustains us and restores us to health.
The wisdom of Elders, who guide us.
Our young people, who deserve a bright future.
Our strength and resilience, which will bring us to a new day.

Help our leaders respond appropriately to the specific needs of Indigenous communities.
Help us to walk compassionately with all who are ill or afraid.
Help us to understand that we are all relatives.

In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

National Indigenous Elders Council

Easter Blessings to you and yours as you lean into God, your faith, and the assurance of the empty tomb! Hallelujah!

Peace,
Sue

Sue Cowan
Supply Minister
Carlisle-Kilbride United Churches

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