Welcome to our weekly news, events and Faith Formation update for March 25, 2020. Like our steeple is an outcropping of our landmark church building at the top of the Guilford Town Green, our Weekly Steeple acts as an online companion to our monthly printed Landmark Newsletter. We also feature a short reflection as a way to further develop our connection to each other and to God as First Church. 

 

Faith Formed in Worship

 

From our meetinghouse to your house: All are welcome at First Church! 

On Sunday, March 29th at 10:00 am the church bells will peal and an email will be sent out containing the worship service. First Church will be "gathered" for worship spread out across all our homes. 


Also on Sunday:
Bible Study: Gather in your living room with family or Skype Friends

Choir: Pick a favorite hymn to sing at home or on Skype with friends

Fellowship Coffee Hour: Give another congregation member a call after "worship" to check in

Last Sunday Recap:
Our entire worship service from last Sunday is always available online! The complete "worship by email" service from March 22nd is 
available by clicking here

Would you like to share the gift of community and hope with a friend? Send them this 
registration link for 10 am Worship and The Steeple emails. 

If you prefer to listen to our sermon and liturgy from last Sunday or any previous Sunday, those remain available here: 
Click here to listen to last week's sermon or sermons from previous Sundays at First Church! 

Faith Formed in Spiritual Practice Article 
by The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph 

 

Abundance of Caution 
 
“Out of an abundance of caution…”[1] How many of you have read this phrase around 100 times by now? I know I have in emails and posts from businesses, non-profits, ticket vendors, states, cities, churches, and nearly every form of institution and establishment. As a minister, I love seeing the term abundance out there. Most of us clergy types spend a lot of our careers trying to get communities of faith and the​​ world to think in terms of abundance rather than want or gaps, and now it has entered the common vernacular! The word abundance is everywhere…. It just is that the only sort of association with abundance right now is caution
 
This caution is with cause. These physical distancing measures, like the measures we have taken at First Church to go online for meetings, worship, and community needs are good are right. Connecticut is doing a lot of great work to encourage this best practice of epidemiological public health. This abundance of caution can save lives and keep our communities intact through what is a fraught and dangerous time. The abundance of caution is absolutely needed and crucial. 
 
As a language person serving an institution that practitioners of public health call a, “Social Determinant of Public Health (SDOH),”[2] it makes wonder if we also need to find other abundances in these times to come out of this episode spiritually well as well as physically healthy. 

At Emory, in addition to the Masters in Divinity through the Candler School of Theology, I received the Graduate Certificate in Human Rights[3] run by the school of public health. This concept of communities of faith as Social Determinants of Public Health is that we, a church in this crisis, need to be a beacon of healing for our community and wellness beyond the moment. How can we be a sign of abundance and wholeness in a time of caution? The fundamental question is this: What else is in abundance right now other than and in addition to caution? —Certainly not meat, hand sanitizer, and toilette paper! 
 
I would name that we are finding abundance in some of the following areas: 

  • Compassion and a sense of human interconnectedness and interdependent around the planet. We are one world after all. 

  • Patience by learning to stay home, to give our family members space, to forgive quickly living, schooling, working 24/7 in close quarters. 

  • Quiet as we learn new ways to center and find God through email and silence. 

  • Love of neighbors and how much some of us miss contact.

  • Recipes shared online by friends and tried at home. We have a new abundance of cooking and baking skills. 

  • Awareness for the work of those in the service industry and their importance to our lives and community connection. 

  • Appreciation for the little things: a springtime bird song or flower outside our windows. 

  • Netflix and Disney Plus! I have learned there are an abundance of new shows. 

  • What are your new abundances discovered in addition to caution? 

We are called out of an abundance of caution to practice physical distancing for the wellness and health of our communities. Likewise, we are called as a Social Determinant of Public Health (SDOH) to help name other emerging abundances that can help us health as individuals and a society from the isolation, loneliness, and new fears this time will leave in its wake. 
 

Yes, out of an abundance of caution concurrent with love, compassion, awareness, learning, and hope… we are writing to you today to let you know that we are in this together and so is God. As Christians, may our theological sense of abundance always start with hope.  

 
James 1:17 
“ Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Creator of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” 
 

[1] http://www.bifurcatedneedle.com/new-blog/2015/7/22/out-of-an-abundance-of-caution-an-overused-phrase

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/socialdeterminants/index.htm

[3] http://humanrights.emory.edu/sub-who.htm

 

 

The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph has been our Minister of Faith Formation since September 2019. Jake received his BA in French from Grinnell College in Iowa and his Masters of Divinity from Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He most recently served a congregation in Northern Colorado for five years as their associate minister where he chaired the housing authority Board of Commissioners, was on the board of Habitat for Humanity, and was a member of the Colorado Governor's Clergy Council. He and his scientist husband, Gerhard, live in Guilford, Connecticut.

 

Faith Formed by Connecting  

 

"We Log on at 10"
A poem by Julie Fitzpatrick

We log on at 10
Ready for church

Ready for the routine of our Sunday

And yet this one is unlike any other before

Grateful for your faces 
Ginger, Jake, Judi, Bill, 

Sandy, Mark and Penelope in the picture that floats by the screen

Rossetti is cited before the organ is played

Bill talks of balms and psalms

And Ginger says welcome

Welcome from your couch or kitchen table

Welcome from your garden

Welcome

Make room for the spirit in new and different ways she says and I nod yes that's happening I think I that's happening

With our walks our talks our games our restlessness our quiet

Then Bill and bells and be thou my vision

Then Judi and a brick 

The weight 

The wait

The burden the pulling down of her arm

Of our arms

What do we carry now

How can we carry each other now

From afar

 

Smile she says when you
see someone outside

Call out hello

Hello Hello

The brick lightens for a bit

Their brick

Your brick

The burden is less

We hear scripture from Jake

And a reflection from Ginger

A call to turn inward 

And heal

Alone

Together

A Piano sends us back out

*

We went to church

From the couch today

Amen

May we log on at 10

Next week and the next and the next

Until we again 

Enter the sanctuary

Clear

Clean

Passing the peace

Shaking hands

Hugging 

Carrying each other's bricks

And holding one another 

Hello

Hello

Hello

-Julie Fitzpatrick with love, thanks, and sleeplessness in my system on March 22, 2020

 

 

 

 

An alternate online source for daily Lenten Practice is to subscribe here to the UCC's Daily Devotionals from writers across different perspectives across our denominational tradition. 

 

 

The Wednesday Morning Meditation will not be meeting inside or outside through at least March 31st. You may want to read this narrative into your voice memo app on your phone and play it for yourself at the start of your meditation/prayer. It is adapted from meditation by Jack Kornfield, a Buddhist teacher, in “Meditation for Beginners”
Here is the script (click) 

 

 

Invest in Futures - OGHS March 28 and April 5 Through the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering, we are planting seeds of new life. Funds collected by OGHS at First Church go directly to the programs of UCC (checks should be made out to First Church and be notated with OGHS). You can mail in a check to First Congregational Church, 122 Broad St, Guilford, CT 06437, or drop OGHS envelopes at the church office mail-slot in the next 2 weeks. 

 

 

Faith Formed in Gratitude

 

 

A special thanks from all of us to church members Stephen Hegedus and Bill Bailey for their help with videography and sound editing that has helped us all stay connected in this time!