March 22, 2020

Occidental Community Church family,
Today is Sunday, March 22, the Lord's Day.  But across our land, even around the world, Christians will not be gathering together for worship and fellowship as on other Sundays.  We will be staying away from the crowds, avoiding fellowship with others, and doing our part to stop this insidious coronavirus from spreading.  As your pastor I will miss very much meeting with my church family.  I have often said, and it is true, that on Sunday mornings at church I receive from others in the way of edification and encouragement always more than I give out.  

On the 30 minute drive home from church each Sunday, Sue and I talk about all the good things God is doing in our lives, much of it through the fellowship of our church family.  So, on this Lord's Day morning I wish to thank every one of you who make up our fellowship for enriching our lives immeasurably.  An example of this is in today's message that I am sending out.  One of you sent to me an email recently that was inspiring.  I won't give a name, but she is a woman who has found the comfort of Christ's love in her life through some very difficult times.  She included in her email a poem by an Irish Catholic priest, Richard Hendrick, entitled Lockdown.  It speaks to the situation we all currently find ourselves in, battling this virus.  These words were written to inspire hope for us as we wait patiently for all this to come to an end.

Lockdown by Brother Richard:
Yes, there is fear.
Yes, there is isolation.
Yes, there is panic buying.
Yes, there is sickness.
Yes, there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
you can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
the sky is no longer thick with fumes
but blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
people are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number 
through the neighborhood
so that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.
All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way.
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
to how big we really are
to how little control we really have
to what really matters.
To Love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes, there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.

Yes, there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes, there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes, there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul.
Yes, there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
the birds are singing again.
The sky is clearing.
Spring is coming.
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul.
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Rick

Stay in touch with your church family!

Even if we are not fellowshipping together please keep in virtual touch!


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