Dear Messiah family,
On this 4th of July weekend, it would be well for us to ponder how united these United States really are. How united are we as a people in seeking what the Preamble to the United States Constitution calls “a more perfect union?” I was taught that this nation was founded on freedom for all. Later, I learned “all” did not include all – but it is still an ideal that I hope we will pursue. We are currently facing challenges from within our nation that test what it means to be UNITED. On Sunday, we will turn to the teaching of the apostle Paul who describes what it takes for true freedom. I’ve titled the message YOUnited which is a clue to help us understand what we find in scripture. And I will have a history quiz for the whole the family that I hope you enjoy.
It is also a Communion Sunday. You can prepare with your own beverage and bread. We recommend lighting a candle as worship begins to help create a sense of sanctuary wherever you gather.
During July, we are receiving a Second Mile offering to support Imara International. We are a founding partner in this ministry, having commissioned Carol Erickson in 2012 as our missionary to establish this ministry in Kenya to support teenage girls and their children. Our plan this year was to include Imara in our Easter offering but then the pandemic reached us with an immediate need to provide food assistance in this community. Though Kenya has not seen as many cases of COVID-19 as this country has, the Kenyan efforts to address the virus have had a significant impact on Imara, requiring some girls to return to their homes. Imara continues to provide support to those who returned home and to those who remain at Imara. Recently another baby was welcomed into the Imara House family. Please keep Carol (who chose to remain in Kenya even as flights out of the country were suspended) and this ministry in your prayers. You can make a gift to Imara online:
A Way to Serve Without Leaving your Home
During June, you were generous in the financial and food assistance you provided Iglesia Piedra Viva. We have received several notes of gratitude for your gifts and service. IPV has now turned to us for tutors who would assist 15 children in math and reading for the next 6-8 weeks. The tutoring will be done virtually and once a week for 60 minutes or less. Guidance will be provided from a teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools. If you have interest in this service opportunity, please complete the tutor application, or contact David Moore at Messiah for more information.
Notes of Encouragement
A few years ago, we invited the Plymouth Police Chief to join us for worship. It was at a time when police across the nation were being criticized. You wrote notes of encouragement allowing every person in the department to receive at least one personal note of encouragement. As we were walking in the march for racial justice in Plymouth a few weeks ago, I felt an inner nudge to send a note of encouragement once again. Tami and I sent such a letter. Here’s part of the response that we received from Michael Goldstein:
“On behalf of the City of Plymouth and the Plymouth Police Department, I want to offer my most sincere thanks for the truly wonderful letter that you sent to my attention. Please know how grateful I am for your ongoing support, thoughtful insights and most importantly, your prayers!”
I want to invite you to send your own card of encouragement to the police department in your community. We are better people for receiving words of encouragement. The persons I know who are police officers are compassionate servants who want to do right for our communities. We all have work to do to overcome the inherent and explicit biases and racism that continue to hurt our brothers and sisters of color. At the same time, it is important to encourage those who serve as the first responders in our communities. I am grateful for their service.
One of the saddest things for me during this pandemic is the physical distancing required even at the end of life. This week, we lost one of our oldest and longest members, Bette Skreen. She and her husband, Alden, became members in 1954 when the church was meeting at Parker’s Lake. Alden died in 2009. Bette would have turned 99 later this month. In her final years, she faced multiple health challenges, but for as long as she was able she would be seated in the fourth row at the 8:45 service, always arriving at least 15 minutes before the service began. Even when her hearing and eye sight became compromised, she told me she wanted some way to serve. So, we invited her to serve communion, and I regularly sent her requests for prayer. Every Sunday, she would remind me that she prayed for me and Messiah Church every morning. Messiah Church exists in part due to persons like Bette. I’m not yet sure how and whether we will be able to gather to celebrate her life. So, I wanted you to know that I am giving thanks for a legacy of faithful service now left for us by Bette Skreen.
Enjoy your weekend. Be safe. Be kind. And please wear a mask. I hope you will be able to worship with us.
In Christ’s love,
Please Pray with Me
Gracious God, we pray for the Holy Spirit to break through and renew Messiah United Methodist Church, unleashing a fearless, Spirit-led congregation! Empower our pastors, leaders, and everyone who walks through our doors with the contagious, miraculous, saving message of Jesus. Boldly use each of us, without limits, to reach new people and heal a broken world. Create in us a joyful heart for all that You are doing in and through us to change lives and transform the world. We pray in the precious and powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
Join Us on Sunday Online
Live stream of our Traditions service at 8:45 am and Journey contemporary worship service at 10:30 am CDT every Sunday morning. Prior Sunday broadcasts are available on demand all week at your convenience.