ARTICLES FROM THE APRIL 2020 MAPLE LEAF:

PASTOR’S NOTES

ADVICE FROM JUDE:   3. SERVE OTHERS.

The Book of Jude in the Bible is a short letter written to Christians.  In the 25 verses he offers three pieces of advice, the third I am writing about here.

Early in his letter, Jude jumps into the concern that has him writing in the first place:

“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny  Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”                                                     Jude 3-4

He goes on and on about these godless men, describing their evil in verses 8-16.  So you might ask, “Where is he going with this?  What is his point?”  Certainly he wants to elicit fear and cause us to be more alert.  This is          appropriate when there is a danger near that not everyone seems to notice.  But in the next verses, 17-19 he tells us first to remember that these things are nothing new, and we should not be shocked. Then in verses 20-21 he tells us to build up our own faith.  Ask yourself each day, what am I doing to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ?  Am I in worship and prayer, both privately and with others?  Am I involved in some kind of service to others?  Am I learning about the Bible and faith from someone else? Am I teaching what I have learned about faith to someone else? 

After telling us to build up our own faith, he says:

“Be merciful to those who doubt;others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”             Jude 22-23

I believe this is ultimately where Jude has wanted to take us all along, but most people get stuck in the beginning of his letter, and stop at verse 16, the complaints.  We are good at complaining, the world is truly messed up.  We have to decide to move past the complaints.  Jude suggests two steps: 1- don’t be shocked, and 2- keep yourself in the faith.  Only then we can take the third step that makes us useful to our Lord in His work: serving others.

Did you notice that?  We have been blessed by God, but until we take this third step we are of no help to God.

Jude lays out three kinds of actions towards our brothers and sisters at risk:

Show mercy to the doubters. Almost all of us have had to work through doubt on the way to faith.  We need to let people figure out their own answers to faith questions.  This doesn’t mean leaving them alone to figure it out, but sharing our own doubts and our journey to faith.  Literally millions of people have left the faith over the years because in their church experience they did not feel allowed to question or doubt.

Snatch others from the fire.  There are times when we may have to use force to pull someone from danger: protecting our children, the person attempting suicide, the addict overdosing, a person threatening others.  These are usually extreme situations (unless you are in an emergency profession), and this “snatching” is a temporary fix.  Continuing to try to impose our will on someone will lead to resentment and make them less motivated to see things our way.  So we need to go to the third way.

To others show mercy, mixed with fear.  This is a combination of the first two, and for most of us, these “others” are the largest group with which we have contact.  Many people we know, including family and friends, are in real danger- both in this life and the next.  But we can’t just snatch them to safety.  2 Timothy 2:24-26 says the Lord’s servant uses kindness and gentleness in persuading people, and reminds us that it is the devil who has taken them captive.  The devil is the real evil.  Now “kind, gentle,” “tenderhearted, forgiving” (Ephesians 4:32), “patient, generous, faithful, self-controlled” (Galatians 5:22-23) may seem like weak responses for some of the  people we know.  And yet, that’s where we start.  If any of us were off of the faith at some time, or in danger, I would bet that those words probably describe the people who had the most positive impact on our lives.

 Jesus had the ability to look past the sin in people’s lives to the person He loves.  He lives the example he tells of the prodigal son’s father who embraces his son when he returns (Luke 15:20-24).  This does not mean that the    father approved of what his son had done, or that there would be no need for further discussion.  But first he     communicates his love; and not “I love you, but…”  The time for addressing the other issues comes later.  If it sounds to you like we are resigning ourselves to their life continuing as it is, perhaps to a degree we are.

 There is the possibility that those we love the most will still be lost, by their own choice.  And for everyone you might think is a lost cause, there is a mother, father, sister or brother who is still praying for them, and a Savior who paid His life to save theirs. We cannot fix anyone.  The Holy Spirit can fix anyone, but even God does not force the fix.  God has to watch His children stumble and fall.  And because He feels our pain, He suffers through it.  So how can we expect it to be any different for us?  The more we become like Christ (which is my goal and prayer for all of us), the more we will hurt for others.  So be it.

 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Ephesians 4:32 and Galatians 5:22-23 tell of the attitude we need.  With that in mind, sharing the doubts, fears, and joys of our own faith journey is our best tool in serving others. This is what He has given us; this is what best brings people to choose Christ for themselves.  And if you doubt that, you might have to go back to Jude 17-21 and cover those steps again.

 In Christ,

Kevin

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Community Kitchen - During a time of challenges and opportunities, the Community Kitchen continues to serve hungry people on Wednesday and Friday with modifications and prayer.  Some of our regular staff are on leave to protect their health.  We practice regular deep cleaning and     sanitizing of our facility.

 Guests stop at our sanitizing station for disinfecting wipes as they enter the Fellowship Hall.  Our staff dispense food and drinks on and in disposable products.  We plan to serve a hot meal at tables as long as possible with physical distancing.  At some point, we may need to serve hot and cold takeout.  As of this writing, we are averaging 20 guests per lunch. 

 If you have an questions, please contact Marion Sherwood or David Donald.  Best wishes for all and prayers for strength, health, and calm in this trying time!

   Marion Sherwood

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Missions

 Following is the result of the first food and household products collection for “Out of Darkness”.

 The first collection was in February.  It was well received by members of the Laity Ring and church members with several boxes being donated.  Donations can be made on the third Sunday of each month.  While    services are suspended, you may deliver items to the home of Joyce Melick and leave at her door.  Please call and let her know that you have left items.

The Mission’s Team will be providing "Mission Moments" on Special Sundays throughout the year.

Kaye Russo

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Free Store

 The Free Store is currently closed and not accepting donations at this time due to the coronavirus pandemic.  If there is an     emergent need, please contact the church office.

 We are currently planning to reopen April 21 but of course that is subject to change. 

David Fairchild, Dennice Mattlin

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Organ Repair Fundraiser 

The organ repair project   continues to move forward  Coin banks were to be turned in at the Easter Service.  You are  encouraged to continue   saving your coins.  The coin banks will be collected when church services are resumed.  

Rick Combs

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CANCELLED

The Maundy Thursday Messianic Passover Seder scheduled for April 9th has been cancelled due to the coronavirus emergency.

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Save-the-Date

Pet Blessing

Our pets do so much for us.  Let’s show them how much we appreciate them.  Come join us for a special pet    blessing on Saturday, May 2nd, from  2—3 pm on the front steps of Maple Street UMC.  For the safety of all, pets must be on a leash or in a protective container at all times. We can’t wait to see you there!

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Memories of Marjorie Allen and Maple Street

We both loved and respected Marjorie very much.  Marjorie and I shared many wonderful times together.  We sat next to each other during choir practice and in the choir, in the Esther Circle and many other activities of the church.

Even though we had moved to New Albany, we kept in touch with Marjorie.  She was an avid book reader.  We enjoyed sharing our books with her.  Enjoyed visiting with her at Reflections plus staying in contact via the phone.

Marjorie had a deep Faith.  We plus many others thought of her as a beautiful elegant lady.  We will miss her very much!

 Sincerely,   

Ed & Estella Robbins

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Community

Meetings and Events

  • Wed., April 8 - 1:30 - 3 pm - Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group @ Southeastern Ohio Center for Independent Living (SOCIL), 418 S. Broad Street, Lancaster.
  • Wed., April 15 - 1 pm - Parkinson’s  Foundation Support Group @ Southeastern Ohio Center for Independent Living (SOCIL), 418 S. Broad Street, Lancaster
  • Mon., April 27 - 6 - 7 pm - Diabetes Support Group @ Fairfield Medical Center Assembly Rooms - “Nutrition BINGO” - No charge to attend.

Information is subject to change. 


SUMMARY OF ARTICLES AND ACTIONS TAKEN IN THE LIGHT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

These reports have been updated and revised.

1. SERVICES AND MEETINGS. 
The Conference has recommended cancelling services through Easter Sunday, April 12.  This recommendation comes after close consultation with health officials and the Governor's office, so our Council has decided we would accept Conference recommendations unless we had good reason to do otherwise.

So we are looking at no in-house services March 15, 22, 29, and April 5, 12. 

  • Previously scheduled church meetings in March are cancelled.
  • All groups meeting at the church: Scouts, NA, Refuge have cancelled their meetings.
  • For the moment, meetings in the first part of April will be on, but of the call-in variety. 
  •  We may yet be able to put something together online for Palm Sunday or Easter, we will keep you posted.
  • The Community Kitchen is continuing to work with 2-1-1 and with First United Methodist Church to follow the safest procedures possible and still meet the needs of the homeless and others in need of food.


2. FINANCIAL CONCERNS.
As you may know, the expenses of the church such as utilities and staff continue even as the church building is not open.  We would like you to consider these options for supporting the church:

--a. ONLINE BILL PAYMENT.
This is by far the best way to contribute to the church if it is available for you.  Many banks offer this as a free service (mine does not).  You can schedule payments to be made through your bank's website, and they can either work directly with the payee, or they will mail it to the church FOR YOU.  For some people, even if it does cost, it might be less expensive than the cost of postage.  You can find out about this if you bank online at your bank's website.

--b. MAILING IN YOUR CONTRIBUTION.
This is always an option, if you are concerned about online security or if your bank's online option is too expensive.  It does require stamps and travels to a mailbox, but if we get it, we will deposit it.

--c. PAYING ONLINE.

On the church webpage, http://www.maplestchurch.com, there are DONATE buttons you can click that will allow you to contribute by debit, credit card, or PayPal account.  You can also donate through PayPal by going to http://www.paypal.me/maplestchurch.


--d. OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS.
As you may have heard, we are not accepting Free Store donations at this time.  However, some other donations of items are accepted.  If you are donating for OUT OF DARKNESS, call or text Joyce Melick and you can drop it off at her door.

3. PRAYER CIRCUITS.

I, Kevin, will hold several prayer meetings by phone.  For each prayer meeting the maximum will be 8 people.  When you see the format below, you'll see why it can't be larger than that.

Because in Christ's economy any growth plan depends on
--Prayer,
--Scripture,
--Connecting (personal sharing with one another)

And I am convinced that I am called to pray and care for each of you individually as much as I possibly can.  These days we are limited in face-to-face chances, and not all of us have computer access...

But almost all of us have phones. So here is the number:
At the designated time, CALL  224-501-3412
When it asks for an access code: press 983 206 765


And then you will be connected to a small group for a 30-minute prayer meeting.  Seriously, I can't do longer, there are too many people to reach, and I'll have to prepare for the next meeting in the circuit.

Format of the prayer meetings:
1.  Personal sharing.   I will ask everyone a brief "how are you doing, what are doing to handle the time, and how do you feel about it."  This is why the group has to be small.  I might yet find that 8 people is too many.  This section cannot last more than 10 minutes.
2. Scripture and reflection.  Every 3 days or so, I will pick a new scripture.  I will read a portion and talk about how it affects me personally.
3. Personal charge.  I will update everyone on the latest church news, and remind them to schedule another prayer meeting time for a few days from now and get at least one other person to schedule as well.
4. Prayer time.  We will share prayer requests.  Then we will have a group prayer: one volunteer will start, and then alphabetically the others will either pass, or add their prayer, and then I will add my prayer and we will do the Lord's Prayer.

I know that there is a part of this that might seem rote or assembly-line.  I know that some need to talk longer and to have someone listen.  I will need to count on you, the people of God, to continue the conversations that need it.  Nothing I am doing prevents any of you from calling on each other, and if anyone wants to run their own conference call or videoconference, we can help you do that. 

Here are the times I have set aside for the next few days:
Fri, March 20:   4:30, 5:30, 7:30, and 8:30.
Sat, March 21:  11:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30.
Sun, March 22:   8:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30.
Tues, March 24: 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30.
Wed, March 25:   7:30, 8:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30.
Thurs, March 26:   11:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30.
Fri, March 27:   7:30, 8:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30.
Sat, March 28:   11:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30.
Sun, March 29:   8:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30.

So you can see, this plan is my #1 for the next week and beyond.  I don't know how much of this I am physically capable of doing; that remains to be seen.  But at this time there is nothing I would rather be doing.  Strangely, this opens some other doors: our members who live far away can be a part, as well as many who were already shut-in or in the hospital.  And then there are also those who are not active in a church who could spare 30 minutes...

WHAT I NEED FROM YOU.
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I am depending heavily on YOU to do the following three things:

1. Look at the available times above.  Call the church number 740-687-6384 or email to
office@maplestchurch.com and tell your first (and maybe second or third) choice for the time you will be in the prayer meeting.  If you have to leave a message or send an email, we will only respond if you don't get your first choice.  That way Sandy does not have to reply to everyone.

2. Call at least one other person to get them to schedule a meeting time.  You can call anyone you would like; by tomorrow we will send out a list of persons that do not get email and most need to be contacted and encouraged.

3. When your meeting time comes, call 224-501-3412 and enter access code 983-206-765.  (You can use your computer and go to
www.gotomeet.me/maplestreet1, but there will be no video - so do this only if you prefer the computer microphone and speaker)

I am not overstating this to say that I need you for this to work.  But I want you to know how I long to be able to offer you quality time, surrounded in Christ's love.  This way is far from perfect, but it is a way I can offer right now.

Yours in Christ,
Kevin

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