Weekly Words of Wisdom 6-3-20

We are in a time of turmoil and it’s sending some of us to our knees ( at least those of us who can get up again):  the death toll now over 100,000 , unemployment reaching staggering numbers, a death resulting from police brutality and protests in our streets. 

What to pray? How to pray?  Where is God in all this? 

 During Lent we focused on God’s promise in Jeremiah: …”when you call upon me and come and pray to me I will hear you.” And now we’ve arrived at Pentecost, unable to gather together in our sanctuary and pray together.  Assembled in our sanctuary we prayed first the Prayer of Connection, a prayer to open our worship experience praising God. Then a Prayer Seeking God’s Grace, admitting to God whatever it is that separates us from God.  The Prayer for Illumination helped to focus our listening as scripture is read and explained.  Then we prayed together our Lord’s Prayer following the Prayers of Thanksgiving, Intercession and Petition.

Oh but there’s more prayer in our service, right?  Yes, much more.  These are just the ones we pray in unison, together in one voice.  And that’s what we’re missing.  Praying together is sharing our common experience, our common longing and desires, expressing our relationship with one another and with God.  That’s what it means to be a praying community of faith.  

So, now we’re on our own and need to turn to scripture and the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in the way of prayer, perhaps following the advice of Paul to the Thessalonians:  “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances (I Thess.5:16-18). While we are away from one another, “If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.  God’s Spirit does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” (Romans 8:26 , The Message)

While we are separated from one another, how do we experience God?  How do we allow ourselves to be led into the loving, healing presence of God?  I am finding, in this time of crisis, that an old familiar prayer keeps me grounded.  Known as the Serenity prayer it is attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr during another time of American exigency, the Great Depression and World War II:

         God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

         The courage to change the things I can;

         And the wisdom to know the difference. Amen

Rev. Lorrie Skinner

Holmes Public Library Update

On behalf of the Boonton Holmes Library family, I hope this email finds everyone well and safe.

At the library, we are brainstorming daily and thinking of new ways to support and assist the Boonton community during these quarantine times. We have several online services, monthly programs, and activities scheduled for residents to join and to participate in every day.

I am reaching out to you to explore any ideas or suggestions the members of your organization may have how the Boonton Holmes Library can assist, support or entertain you better. We would love to hear from you!

Following is a list of services, programs and activities we are currently providing during quarantine:

Chat Room – Monday-Friday 10-2

Pre-made craft kits for all ages

Online library card registration

HOOPLA – online borrowing eBooks, audio books, comics, movies, music & more

CLOUD Library – online borrowing books

RB Digital – online borrowing magazines and comic books

Boonton Tales: We would love to hear your story!

Yoga, Fiber Arts Club, Book Club, Story Time, Movie Nights, Happy Hour

Online lessons for ZOOM, WEBEX, FACEBOOK LIVE and more!

Volunteer opportunities

Boonton History

Boonton Times – accepting donations for digitalizing copies of the BT

Please refer to our website Boontonholmeslibrary.org for more detailed information regarding the above services, programs and activities, just Reply to this email or join the Chat Room. Once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we look forward to resuming full services in a manner that is safe for our community and staff alike.

Watching for the dawn

I was hoping that the June 1st updates from our Governor might shed some more light on the possibility of worshipping together sooner than later. As of today, indoor gatherings of up to 10 are now sanctioned as well as outdoor gatherings of up to 25. Both the session and the Covid task force, who have both “Zoomed” last 2-3 weeks, have been brainstorming what might be possible for future gathering/worship.

Concurrently, we have been trying to offer the most hopeful, life-giving and increasingly diverse worship experiences with great reliance on technology and skilled Media folks and a small group of people who you entrust to offer meaningful worship.

As of this evening, the state’s next level of opening, what I’m calling “Phase 2, sub-set a”, does not give churches permission to worship fully, either indoors or out. That is part of “Phase 3”.  Even if we attempted to organize in-person worship, indoors or out, both options would bring a different set of challenges and do not accomplish safe worship for ALL, (even without hand-shakes, hugs, passing of the peace and the hearing and singing of hymns.

In addition, when Phase 3 is exacted, there are still many logistics to sort out, including that every church within Newton Presbytery will need to submit and receive approval of their ‘re-entry plan’ before worship can commence. I think this is very prudent and wise.

So, we are in an interim time.

The Deacons met this evening via Zoom and I shared some excerpts from John O’Donohue’s book The Space Between Us as our closing prayer : “…you are in this time of interim, where everything seems withheld, The way forward is still concealed from you…The more  faithfully you can endure here, the more refined your heart will become, for your arrival in the new dawn.”

I don’t know how long we’ll need to gather, worship, teach and share fellowship apart, but I know THIS community of faith can sustain that as long as we need to, to keep everyone connected and everyone safe. Here’s why. When I was meeting with the PNC (Pastoral Nominating Committee) 14 years ago I asked about their sense of ministry, mission and their future. The youngest member, (who is now over 40 said), “if we couldn’t worship in this space for any reason, we’d find another place; the building doesn’t matter, the mission and ministry does. Nothing can stop us.”

We’re not stopping. We’re just missioning and ministering in smaller spaces until God brings us the new dawn.

Watching for the dawn with you,