From the Pastor's Desk
Prepare for worship by setting up a worship center with a bible, candle if you have one, possibly flowers.
Be prayerful and creative. Listen to a hymn while waiting for worship to begin at 10am.
If you have trouble hearing turn on closed captions.
Guidelines for entering our building
Although we do not have a date set for “opening” the church yet, leaders of our church have met to work on some initial guidelines for church use as we prepare to open in phases. Currently, only the pastor, office volunteers, and those helping with the virtual service video have been in the building. All have practiced social distance and have used masks, with the exception of those who remove them to record their parts for the worship service [No more than four have been in the sanctuary when that happens].
How we proceed with these phases depends on all of us. It is important that we adhere to these guidelines to make sure we and others are safe.
The guidelines for anyone entering our building are as follows:
Wear a face covering [e.g. mask, scarf, bandanna]
When entering, sign log with name, date, and contact information-a clipboard with log is located at the back entrance to the first floor near the office, the door near freezer alley, March Hall and Thrift store.
Clean/disinfect any touched surfaces prior to exiting the church-door handles, desks, light switches, copier, microphones, computer, phone, hymnal, tables, keyboards, water fountain, etc. Cleaning supplies will be available in the Narthex, wipes at each door and bathroom.
If you use the restroom please clean/disinfect toilet seat, faucet, and sink.
Carry out any trash that you have-leave no trace behind!
Education wing and the downstairs will be closed off until further notice--the door to the freezers will remain usable.
If someone who has been in the building tests positive for COVID-19 the church building will be closed for a minimum of seven days.Note: According to the CDC, if a building has been close for 7 days only routing cleaning in needed.
The church will be cleaned on MONDAYS.PLEASE respect this time and do not enter while cleaning is being done.
If you have entered the church and learned you’ve been exposed or tested positive for COVID-19, please contact Rev. Wanda Santos-Perez at the following number of email.Also, please do not re-enter the church until you are certain you have no trace of COVID-19 and followed up with Rev. Santos-Perez.
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin[c]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
John 20:19-29 NRSV
This Scripture is the selected gospel reading for the second Sunday of Easter for this year. It is the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples the evening of his resurrection, after he had appeared to Mary in the garden. Thomas was not present when Jesus appeared to the others. When he heard about Jesus’ appearance, he stated that unless he saw the marks of the nails in Jesus hands, or put his finger in the mark of the nails and his hand on Jesus’ side he would not believe. This selection of scripture is usually recalled as the one where Thomas doubted. I always felt bad for Thomas. Yes, he is the one that was quoted as saying what he said after he heard Jesus had stopped by but was, he truly the only one who doubted? After all we also read in Scripture that of the twelve, only John was present at the death of Jesus. The others had fled.
Thomas wanted to have the same experience of the resurrected Christ that the others had. Can we blame him? I would have wanted to see Jesus for myself also. I think it is great that others saw him and that everything Jesus said would happen did, but why did Thomas have to miss out on that? And where was Thomas? John doesn’t tell us of his whereabouts. All we know is that the Disciples had isolated themselves and Thomas wasn’t with them.
Sure, most of us know the ending. If we were there at the time or if it was happening today, would we be like Thomas or would we believe the witness of others? After all, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we declare Jesus Christ is Lord [1Cor. 12:13]. In other words, we believe, not on our own efforts but because of the Holy Spirit in us.
I love that Jesus comes back [one week later] and gives Thomas exactly what Thomas needed. To see and know for himself that everything Jesus had said while he had been with them was true. Jesus showed one, he shared three years of his life with, that he cared enough to give him what he needed in order to believe.
Jesus still meets people where they are. With all our faith and our doubts, Jesus draws near ready to meet and give us what we need to experience his presence with us. He doesn’t shame us or ignore us. Jesus bids us to come, touch and see he is Who he says he is and bids us peace.
In this time of self and mandated quarantine I can’t help to think about how this part of the passage stands out today. How does this passage speak today to us as we are isolated from others, family, friends and strangers? How has God entered our spaces? Have we experience Christ in our isolation? Can we see and know Jesus is very much with us, biding us not to be afraid, not to doubt but to have peace.
Loving God, thank you that through your Word and the work of your Holy Spirit you continue to be with us today. Thank you for meeting us where we are, strong in our faith or filled with doubt. Your peace sustains us during this time. Quiet our hearts, may we hear your words of assurance in times like these and always. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
John Wesley an eighteenth-century theologian, evangelist and Anglican preacher who led a revival movement known today as Methodism, was known to begin small group by asking participants, “How is it with your soul?”. It invited both accountability and self-reflection. I have asked this question many times, when on visits and at meetings. I have used it to begin a sermon and have also used it as a greeting. On more than one occasion I have reflected on this question to assess how I am feeling at a particular moment. These moments have been marked by instances of celebration and joy but also anxiety and uncertainty. Attempting to answer this question in light of experiences lived is always challenging. In the end, the practice has helped to remind me of the genuineness of faith. Not that I, by the grace of God, have it but that faith, or trust in God has always proven to be trustworthy.
Recently, as COVID-19 a highly contagious disease began to wreak havoc in our country, my heart grew heavy when I heard about the number of persons that began to die from it. The most vulnerable were senior citizens. Then to make matters worse, we learn that one did not have to present any symptoms to be a carrier of this virus. An individual could infect others even when they were not themselves sick with it. I was overwhelmed by that fact to the point that as time passed, I began to make myself sick from it. Physically sick. I felt blindsided by the fact that this pandemic had temporarily robbed me of my inner peace. I reminded myself that I was doing everything in my power to stay well and keep others safe. I practiced social distance, diligently washed my hands in order to minimized contagion to myself and others and began to minimize leaving the home for non-essentials in order to flatten the curve of the spread. I started ticking off all the things I, a control freak, was doing and then it hit me. Somewhere along the way this pandemic became everything I saw and thought about. Even in my sleep. I remembered John Wesley’s question and was sad and even a little embarrassed to admit that no, it was not well with my soul. One thing was to be overwhelmed by factors or circumstances outside of my control. But my current state of mind and health was my own doing.
I resolved then to recall Words from Scripture that have given me life over the years.
Isaiah 26:3 “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—in peace because they trust in you.”
Lamentations 3:23-24 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
And finally, the encouragement of 1 Peter 1:3-9 that reminded believers who were suffering because of their decision to choose Christ of the mercy and the salvation/victory over sin and death they had attained through Jesus Christ. A hope, an inheritance that no power could destroy or tarnish. It was a hope for the future that came with an assurance for the present experienced in newness of life. The writer of 1 Peter wanted to assure believers that they could trust God for their future because of what God had accomplished in Jesus Christ in the past. That is our hope for today too.
“Gracious God, I praise You for you are trustworthy. In Your Son Jesus Christ, you have given us newness of life and a living hope that is incorruptible and unfading. God, you have always kept Your promises. Forgive us when we allow the circumstances in our lives rob us of the peace we have in Jesus, the assurance that You are always with us. In Jesus name.”
Rev. Wanda Santos-Perez
Charlton City United Methodist Church
I knew then I needed to pull myself together. I had to think about what I was listening to and thinking about. I had to name all these feelings I was experiencing and remind myself that I was a child of hope. As a Christian my identity is in Christ and what that means to me is that I profess a God who became incarnate in his Son Jesus, lived and died to bring me freedom, forgiveness, salvation, and newness of life.
I asked this question recently to a group of people on Zoom and received some blank stares before the first volunteer found the courage to admit she was having trouble keeping the faith during this pandemic. She said it was becoming hard to see God in the midst of all the death around us. She was frustrated because she felt that many lives could have been saved if countries and governments acted sooner. I asked a follow up question, what does God have to do with that?
Beloved Charlton City United Methodist Church
I pray this email/notice finds you well. We have had a very unprecedented Lent Season this year. As we enter Holy Week and are still not able to gather in person, I have created a few opportunities for us to “check in” this week. Know that I am praying for every family on our church directory. You are missed and thought of, right now.
I have scheduled a Maundy Thursday service with a Love Feast via Zoom for Thursday, April 9th at 7:00pm. You will be able to join us by phone or video. To prevent our worship from “Zoombombing” by trolls the link has a password and a waiting room has been set so that I may admit persons to our service. The password was emailed to you on Monday morning the 6th. If you haven't received it email the office and we will get it to you.
As everyone will be a participant in this service please have ready, a candle with matches or a small lamp, a Bible, bread and water to share with your family as we break bread together through Zoom.
For those of you who are new to Zoom [I have graduated from participant to host and am still learning how to navigate this app]. I have scheduled two different opportunities for you to check in and give the link and your device a “test run.” I will be on Zoom on Tuesday, April 7th at 2:00pm-3:00pm and back at 7:00pm-8:00pm. See invite links below. Note the Meeting ID and Password. I hope one of these is convenient for you.
I am inviting you to remember your faith during these difficult times we are living through. This week I am starting
a 7- day Bible reading plan on the Bible App titled, The Story of Easter. Will you join me? Let us be of one mind this week as we remember God’s amazing love and gift to us in his Son Jesus. I am including the readings here for those who do not have the app but wish to join us in practice and in spirit:
Monday, April 6th- John 13 & 14
Tuesday, April 7th- John 15 & 16
Wednesday, April 8th- John 17 & 18
Thursday, April 9th- John 19 & 20
Friday, April 10th- Luke 22 & 23
Saturday, April 11th- Mark 14 & 15
Sunday, April 12th- 26 & 27
Keep checking our Website for video links to our cyber services. Make sure to post your prayer on our Prayer Wall. Stay safe. God bless and protect you.
Prepare for worship by setting up a worship center with a bible, candle if you have one, possibly flowers.
Be prayerful and creative. Listen to a hymn while waiting (scroll down).
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Hello CCUMC Family-
I pray this email finds you well. I hold each of you receiving this mailing in my thoughts and prayers. We are on our ninth day since our president called the nation to avoid large gatherings and communal spaces for fifteen days. The number of gatherings allowed was no more than ten persons. As numbers of persons testing positive for the virus continue to rise, states and cities affected have had to implement yet stricter guidelines. Today, at noon Governor Baker’s directive for Massachusetts residents to “stay home” begins. Please pray with me that many more folks listen to, and put into practice these guidelines in order to stave off the rapid spread of this disease.
Here are a few updates:
First, I wish to thank all the people who continue to be in touch with our members during this time.Thank you to Jim Black our finance committee chair for getting the church a pay pal account, so that we may continue to receive donations, offerings and pledges during this time apart. See our website www.charltoncityumc.org/giving
A big thank you to Hannah Darling, for managing the volume of emails and videos, and setting up other links to our Website and Facebook in a timely manner. We now have a Prayer Wall up and look forward to receiving your prayer requests right on our website. If for some reason, you are unable to write your prayer on our wall send it as an email with the subject “Prayer Request,” so that we may find it on our church email.
Thank you to all who helped [Jean Anderson, Gary & Renelle Picard, Kayla Perez-Kilmonis, Hannah and I], get the worship service for Sunday, March 22, recorded and uploaded to our different sites. We kept those present during the recording to five persons and practiced social distance.
As a church we will continue to follow the directive by the federal, state and local government during this outbreak. For the moment, we will not have events or worship service at the church until after April 7. Please check our website regularly for updates.
After speaking with Rev. Jim Chase, the Cross Walk and the Easter Sunrise service are cancelled for this year. We will be making a decision next week about CCUMC’s Holy Week Services.
I have also started a Youtube channel and will be posting our services and a weekly meditation on it. You can find it by going to Youtube (www.youtube.com) and searching for "Wanda Santos-Perez" I used my name for the channel.
“I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I have hope; my soul waits for the Lord more that those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning…For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.”
Psalm 130: 5-6, 7b.
The Psalm writer shares his eager expectation and assurance of God’s love and forgiveness. Using the example of a watchman who waits all night long for the morning, the psalmist alludes to God’s help arriving with the sun after a night of praying and waiting.
Today, we too pray and wait every day for news of this pandemic and its casualties. Our lives have been completely altered by this outbreak. Some feel helpless and overwhelmed. We wonder what comes next. We listen to the news of the rising number of positive cases and are relieved to know that although a cure has not been procured as of yet, those in the medical field have figured out how to treat this disease so that the loss of life is not as large as it could have been. The nation has been called to avoid social gatherings in order to slow down the spread so that hospitals are not overwhelmed as they prepare to care for the sick. Like many other churches, we too are doing our part in helping to keep this spread at bay. As we wait for the day we can worship together again, let us pray, as often as we can to the One who can and will deliver us.
Pray for our scientists to find a cure, pray for those in the medical field who are making incredible sacrifices to staff hospitals, pray for those who have contracted this virus and are fighting for their lives. There is so much to pray for. Pray, ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we should and need to be praying for. As for me, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I hope.”
Stay safe and remember to practice social distance.
Grace & Peace,
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
Beloved Family of CCUMC- I greet you in the peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Presently, our country is in the midst of a pandemic that is putting many people’s lives at risk. We have been mandated by several government agencies, ranging from federal, state and local to put social distance in place in an attempt to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens.
Originally, when this virus began to spread, the news on it at times has been inconsistent. I remember channel surfing news outlets, checking any updates from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, in order to get a better sense of the magnitude of this outbreak. Soon calls for an unprecedented kind of social distance began to sound out. Reaction to this news has ranged from incredulous, cynical, apprehension, fear and accusations of overreacting and underreacting.
Well, here we are. “Here” means, different things to different people. Some have lost their lives from contracting this virus, while many others are sick and unable to get tested, others have had to be quarantined or have self-quarantined to help slow down the spread of this virus. Those who have not contracted the virus now have the burden of wondering whether or not they are carriers, regardless of whether they are presenting any symptoms. The health and financial repercussions of this pandemic are becoming more apparent with every passing day and are daunting at best.
I can feel my blood pressure creep up a bit as I ticked off a few of the consequences of this pandemic thus far. I need to take a deep breath here and exhale. Please feel free to join me.
In times when I feel unsettled, I recall that in Jesus Christ we have a direct and unhindered access to a peace like no other. It is a peace beyond ALL understanding. In the Bible, peace has many attributes. In 1 Timothy 2:2, it speaks to a personal state of being. In Acts 10:36 and Romans 5:1 for example, it speaks to a relationship with God. Philippians 4:7 [please read vv.4-7], quoted above, speaks of a joy that curtails from trusting, grateful prayer and a mind set on the virtues of Christ. Remain in Christ. Stay connected to your church by checking our website and Facebook regularly. Let us continue to pray for one another. You are not alone.
Know that we are currently working on ways we can connect either by phone or virtually with our members during this time. Stay tuned and stay safe.
Loving God, in overwhelming times, we run to you. Only you can give us peace when the ground beneath us seems to shift without a warning. Only you can quiet the storm within us. Today we remind ourselves and each other that YOU ARE our peace. Amen.