Sunday, April 5, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Hangouts by clicking this link (http://meet.google.com/ens-kcoq-bgg) or by calling 1-262-885-7027, the PIN is 172 874 072#.

All are welcome.

You can be view and download the bulletin for this service below. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

Devotional || Psalm 31:9-18

By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.

This Psalm of David (Psalm 31:9-18) was likely written during one of David’s escapes from Saul. Here he was, God’s chosen and anointed, running for his life. David was called to be the next king of Israel, yet he feared for his life as Saul tried to kill him. He was on the sidelines, rejected by everyone. People were afraid to associate with him because Saul might take his wrath out on them. He was depressed, sick and grieving.

Many of us are also feeling sidelined. We have been called to a type of work and now are sitting in isolation, afraid to be around others for fear that we will get sick or make someone else sick. Our jobs are gone. Volunteer opportunities are gone.

Isolation and loneliness cause depression. What do we do to keep busy when we can’t work? In my case, I am hearing calls for retired healthcare workers to come back to work to care for so many who are sick, yet my health prevents me from doing that. Others worked in restaurants and small businesses that are closed for the duration. Others are working in their homes without the camaraderie of the office. And yet we know that God is with us, bringing us comfort and hope that this will end soon, and we will be able to return to our in-person lives together.

The Psalm continues with David placing his hope in the Lord. Verse 14, But me, I trust you Lord. I affirm, you are my God. My future is in your hands. … Shine your face on your servant: save me by your faithful love! The next verses of the Psalm continue, Your overflowing goodness You have kept for those who live in awe of You, and You share your goodness with those who make You their sanctuary.

These times will end, we don’t know when, but God is with us, and will continue to be with us until we are back to our normal lives and beyond.


A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Megan Stowe, Central Massachusetts District Superintendent

Be gracious to me, O God, for I am in distress:
      Financial resources are depleting, and grocery shelves are bare.
      Some jobs are closing, while others are forced to work in unsafe environments exposed to the virus.
     Children are out of school.
     Loved ones are ill and I cannot visit them at the hospital.
     Loved ones have died and we cannot schedule the funerals.
Be gracious to me, O God, for I am in distress:

But I trust in you, O God;
     The sun will continue to rise and set.
      Helpers will care for the most vulnerable: the elderly, the immunocompromised, the homeless, the undocumented and recent immigrants.
      You call us each your beloved child.
I trust in you, O God.

I say, “You are my God.”
       Even when we cannot worship together in the sanctuary.
       Even when we are not allowed out of our residences.
       Even when the world seems to ignore you.
You are my God.

Save me in your steadfast love (hesed*).
      Forgive my rebellious nature, forgive my trespasses.
       You have been with me at my best and you are with me at my worst.
       You are the God who hears and responds with hesed.
       I place all my confidence in your steadfast love.
Save me in your steadfast love.

*hesed: (Hebrew) that can be translated as mercy, compassion, steadfast love, faithfulness or grace.

Thursday, April 2, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Hangouts by clicking this link (https://meet.google.com/txp-ndfa-ivu) or by calling 1-440-467-1448, the PIN is 220 679 745#.

All are welcome. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

You can view and download the bulletin below.

Tuesday, March 31 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Hangouts by clicking this link (https://meet.google.com/txp-ndfa-ivu) or by calling 1-440-467-1448, the PIN is 220 679 745#.

All are welcome. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

You can view and download the bulletin below.

Sunday, March 29, 2020 || Discussion Starter

Today’s Reading: Matthew 18:1-14 (CEB, NRSV, MSG, KJV, Compare)


In 1999, Kenny Rogers released the song, “I Am the Greatest.”  It is about a boy who believes himself to be the greatest baseball player ever.  He tells himself over and over that he is the greatest.  He picks the ball up and pitches to himself, expecting to hit the ball out of his imaginary field.  He ends up striking himself out.  The song ends with:

Now it’s suppertime and his momma calls,
Little boy starts home with his bat and ball.
Says, “I am the greatest, that is a fact,
But even I didn’t know I could pitch like that!”
Says, “I am the greatest, that is understood,
But even I didn’t know I could pitch that good!”

from “I Am the Greatest” by Kenny Rogers

The little boy wanted to be the greatest, but his definition of what it meant to be great had to change.

In today’s reading, Jesus does much the same: he redefines greatness for the disciples.

How do you define greatness?  How is greatness defined in the culture around you?

Greatness is often defined by wealth, power, money or access to other resources.  These things very often define what it means to be secure and successful and powerful.  Jesus challenges this idea of greatness by pointing to a child and saying, “those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (18:4).

What does it mean to be humble?

In 1733, John Wesley published a small book entitled A Collection of Forms of Prayer, For Every Day in the Week.  The book offered daily morning and evening prayers and reflection questions about one’s spiritual and relational health.  The morning questions were consistent throughout the week.  The evening questions changed daily.  The questions for Tuesday evening related to humility.  Here are a few questions, written by Wesley, for you to consider as you seek to be the greatest in God’s kingdom by being humble:

  • Have I labored to conform all my thoughts, words, and actions to these fundamental maxims: “I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing?”
  • Have I ascribed to myself any part of any good which God did by my hand?
  • Have I desired the praise of [others]?
  • Have I taken pleasure in it?
  • Have I despised any one’s advice?

Sunday, March 29, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Hangouts by clicking this link (http://meet.google.com/ens-kcoq-bgg) or by calling 1-262-885-7027, the PIN is 172 874 072#.

All are welcome.

The bulletin can be viewed and downloaded below. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

A Message From the Pastor

Dear members and friends of Franklin United Methodist Church,

The last couple of weeks have brought rapid change to the way in which we live our every day lives.  The spread of the coronavirus has changed the way we can responsibly interact with one another.  These changes even impact the way we interact and do ministry as the church.  This letter, which is admittedly long, is meant to let you know of the many ways we are trying to be socially connected as a community of faith during this pandemic.

CHURCH OFFICE/STAFF

Church staff will continue to work.  The church office will be open, though hours may vary, for communication purposes.  Custodial staff will continue to work diligently to sanitize and clean the building.  Currently, the main church phone number is forwarding to my cell phone after ringing at the church.  If the office is closed, you will be forwarded directly to me.  Feel free to leave a message and I will get back with you as quickly as possible.

SUNDAY (CORPORATE, IN-PERSON) WORSHIP & IN-PERSON MEETINGS

All in-person worship services are cancelled through Sunday, April 5, 2020.  There is a good chance that in-person worship will be canceled for longer.  If you have questions about the worship schedule call (508-528-1092) or email (office@franklinumc.org) the church office.  We have made the decision, at this point, not to try and stream any live worship services.

All in-person meetings have also been canceled until further notice.  Wednesday morning “Conversations of Faith,” Book Club, Lunch Bunch, singing hymns at the nursing home, choir, etc. will not meet in-person.  If you can find virtual ways to gather, that is perfect, but please do not choose to gather in-person for the time being.  The Resource Committee, Personnel Committee, and Church Council will continue to meet; however, these meetings will all happen virtually.

PRAISE & PRAYER SERVICES

Starting immediately, we will be offering three “Praise and Prayer” services each week: Sunday at 10 am, Tuesday at 7:30 pm, and Thursday at 7:30 pm.  These services are an opportunity for us to offer our thanks to God and lift our prayers together for our world, community and neighborhoods, friends and families, and ourselves.  These services will all happen electronically.  They are fairly short, running about 15-20 minutes.  There is a bulletin posted for this service.  Time allowing, after the services, we will have a few minutes to catch up with one another.

To join the Sunday Praise and Prayer Service, you can call in using a cellphone or landline.  Dial 1-262-885-7027, the PIN is 172 874 072#.  You can also use a computer or mobile device and go to http://meet.google.com/ens-kcoq-bgg.

To join the Tuesday/Thursday Praise and Prayer Service, you can call 1-440-467-1448, the PIN is 220 679 745#.  You can also use a computer or mobile device and go to http://meet.google.com/txp-ndfa-ivu.

If you have issues connecting to these virtual gatherings, please call or email me and we can figure it out together.

These Praise and Prayer Services are open to everyone; so, feel free to invite your friends and family to participate.

The Sunday Praise and Prayer Service will continue until the day when we are able to gather for in-person worship on Sunday morning.  The Tuesday/Thursday service may be something we continue indefinitely; we will just have to see how well it is received and utilized. Remember: all in-person worship services, groups, and meetings are canceled (at least) through Palm Sunday, April 5.

PASTORAL CARE

I will continue to make myself available to you and the community via phone, email, and video conferencing.  I will not be making in-person visits except in absolute emergency situations.  Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need to talk.  Feel free to use my cellphone number (860-861-3141), leave a message, and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.

EVERY MEMBER OUTREACH

In the coming few weeks, we will embark on an ambitious campaign to connect via phone or email with all 365 members of Franklin United Methodist Church every week we are not worshipping in person.  Please make sure that the church office has your most recent contact information, including phone and email addresses.  There will be more details on this program in a separate letter.

GIVING

While we are not meeting in-person, it is important to remember that the church is not closed.  The staff and I continue to work to serve you and the community.  Our facility, while essentially closed to the visitors, is still being maintained.  And, ministry is still happening, though in new ways.

These are tough times, I understand that, which is why I will not be making an “Easter Appeal” this year.  What I do ask is that you do your best to stay current on your pledges and giving to the church.  While giving a little extra is always appreciated, I know how hard it is for everyone at this time.

There are several different ways for you to give, even when we don’t meet in-person and “pass the plate.”  Contributions can be mailed to the church:

Franklin United Methodist Church

PO Box 313

82 W. Central St.

Franklin, MA 02038

You can have your bank or other financial institution send us a check on your behalf.  This is often setup through online banking.  And there is an online giving opportunity setup through our website.

FEEDING KIDS

We have partnered with the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School to provide food to students who would normally receive free/reduced lunches.  The Charter School is providing all of the breakfasts and lunches it would have otherwise given to these students at school to the families for use at home.  This distribution will happen once a week.  The food is sorted in the church and families are asked to stay in their cars to receive the food.  This “grab and go” distribution fills an important need in our community.  At this time, we do not need any volunteers for this program.

The Franklin Food Pantry continues to use our building through this time to store and pack backpacks for the backpack program at the Franklin Public Schools.  I have been in regular contact with Lynn Calling, Director of the Food Pantry, about that program and other ways we can support their work during this time.  As new opportunities develop, I will share them with you.

I know this is a lot of information to process.  Thank you for your patience and understanding as, for a little while we need to do things differently for the sake of the most vulnerable among us.  As I am sure you are getting tired of hearing, these are unprecedented times.  Do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions, or simply need someone to talk to.  I’m available and here for you all.

Peace,

Jacob

Easter Flowers

Signups for Easter Lilies ($17.50) and Tulips ($13) to help decorate the sanctuary will be available this Sunday going forward. Accepting cash or Checks made out to Dawn Harlow