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Vaccine, New Hampshire Reverend Al's Weekly Message – March 18, 2021

Your pastor, al hoyt today is thursday march 18th. Hope you all had a wonderful st patrick’s day yesterday, uh this sunday at 10 a.m. Is our virtual worship service look for the link in your email on sunday morning at 11 30? Is the virtual coffee hour? Look for that link also, i think we’ve ironed out the couple of bugs we had last week and then at 12 30 will be the board of christian education. If you’re, a member of the board of christian ed, be patient because sometimes the coffee hour goes over. A little bit and i can’t shut down one and open and open the other without cutting everybody out so um, but be patient and we’ll be on as soon as we can after coffee hour. Wednesday is the church council meeting at 7 30 in the evening. Those of you on the council look for the link on wednesday afternoon now the following sunday march 28th is palm sunday. We have found jesus, we have found the rocking horse, so we are good to go um but because it’s palm sunday we’re going to do it’s. The beginning of holy week, we’re going to be doing um, drive up to pick up your palms and also to pick up communion elements for monday, thursday and easter sunday. So make arrangements, give us call or give us an email and tell us tell us how many of each you would like we’ll make sure that you have enough communion elements and palms.

If you want instructions on how to fold that palm into a cross, we have those printed for you and we can put one in the bag with you, so that those palms and communion elements will be available, thursday and friday. A week from today and friday from 9 30 a.m until 2 p.m. Each day, if you can’t make one of those times get in touch with us and so we’ll see. If we can make arrangements i received in the mail recently something that i had been looking for for a while the fred rogers center, who continues the great work that fred rogers does has a a page called when someone, your child, loves, dies and it’s. Talking to your child about death, especially younger children, if you would be interested in having a copy of that, let me know either by email or by phone call, and i can email it to you or i can snail mail it to you. I can drop it in the mail for you it’s, an excellent little resource for parents who are trying to deal with the loss of a loved one with younger children. The rogers center has made it available to us for free of charge. If we want the actual printed pamphlet, we can get those as well and speaking of mail in this week’s weekly message from the new hampshire conference, our area minister, the reverend gordon rankin, sent out another update on the covet 19.

and i think it would be in Our best interest, if i read it to everybody, not all of it, just the stuff that applies to us so to the churches, clergy and friends, of the new hampshire conference of the united church of christ. I admit it. I am a holy week. Snob one of my liturgical pet peeves is jumping from the triumphant entry of palm sunday to the resurrection joy of easter. Without all that comes in between the stories of monday, thursday, good friday and holy saturday are what shape our understanding of the promise of the resurrection. Yet, even though i may be snobbish about it, i do recognize that there is a human impulse to want to get to easter hope as quickly as possible. There is good news: after a year of living under the weight of the covet 19 pandemic, we are seeing signs of hope. 10 of the population in new hampshire are now fully vaccinated and nearly 20 percent have received the first dose of the vaccine. Our positivity numbers have been decreasing, as have our new cases. Hope is on the horizon, but it is important for us to remember that we haven’t made it to that horizon. Yet statewide our positivity rate is at 3.7, and that is still above the 3 threshold that we are using for recommending individual church discernment regarding resuming modified indoor in person, worship, grafton, sullivan and cheshire counties are below the three percent threshold which, by the law of averages, Means that all other counties are still a good bit higher it made in many areas of the state.

There is still ways to go. Yesterday. The center for disease control released new guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated. It is important to highlight that their recommendations include the statement that, even when fully vaccinated, we are not yet ready to be gathering in medium or large size groups. This would be descriptive of most of our congregations, while vaccines may keep the individuals gathered safe. Such gatherings still risk increasing community spread for those committed to loving our neighbors. We don’t want to be risking health and welfare of our neighbors, even if it is safe for some of us to be together. Friends, hope is on the horizon, but we have a few more days to make our way through before we arrived there with these mixed trends in mind, the new hampshire conference is making the following recommendations. I would encourage the leadership of all our new hampshire conference churches to continue discontinuing in person, indoor public worship and all other indoor public gatherings through the end of april. As we weather as the weather warms, there may be opportunities for churches to discern safe ways to hold modified outdoor worship opportunities and, just as an aside, we have begun to discuss the possibility of outdoor worship. As early as memorial day. We are continuing to recommend that in person, religious education activities, particularly for children and youth, not be resumed at this time to continue to provide opportunities for pastoral and church staff respite the national setting of the ucc and the council of conference ministers will be working together To prepare a service for sunday sunday after easter april 11th, we anticipate being able to make this service available to our congregations.

On march 22., the conference continues to add resources to our staying safe in the midst of contagious disease website. These resources are available at the conference website conference. Our conference pandemic experience has changed us and our churches. The ways in which we do ministry are now different and perhaps not all of them will or should return to the way they were before the pandemic. I would encourage all of our congregations to engage in some intentional reflections on the following questions. What activities did you start during the pandemic, that you cannot wait to let go of what activities did you start that you definitely want to keep? What did you let go of during the pandemic that you cannot wait to get back to? What did you get let go of during the pandemic that you won’t pick up again, and i think those questions are great for all of us to consider the conference office. Will remain closed for all meetings, gatherings and visits indefinitely and our staff will not be making in person visits to the churches for the indefinite future. This came directly from our area, minister, and he offers his blessings. The reverend gordon rankin think about those questions. What have we started doing that we want to continue to do what have we started doing that we don’t want to do anymore. What have we not been doing that we really want to get back to doing. Please join me in the lord’s prayer, our father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass Against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever amen.

Well, it’s been an interesting time, i hope you’re all doing well and beginning to enjoy some of this warm weather. When we have it, i hope you’re getting out and enjoying it sorry. This message was so much longer than normal, but take some time to enjoy this weather. I heard the birds this morning at sunrise and they were that they were the same birds that we hear in the summertime for the most part – and it was a very joyful sound – take some time to listen.

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