April 23, 2020
Let’s start with the important things. Drink another glass of water, wash your hands and reflect on some awesome person, place or experience from you past! (Really, I read an article yesterday that had the research to back up the thesis that says in times of stress and challenge we physiologically and psychologically require moments of beauty and feelings of awe – even if they come from our memories). Below you will see some of my favorites from recent days.
Anna Fox is back in Sarasota Memorial Hospital dehydrated, weak in need of rebalancing her system’s capacity for food and water. Max Lewis is also in Sarasota Memorial awaiting and MRI and relying on his wife Norma’s phone calls for encouragement. Charlene Orletski, June Wright and Chickie Johnson are on our hearts as they continue to grieve the loss of loved ones. The rest of us are either doing pretty well or choosing anonymity. We pray for one another, our President, Congress, all who labor in manufacturing, transportation and sales of essential goods and food, medical staffs around the world and lab technicians who will hold the keys to the world’s prognosis. There is talk of gathering for worship in some places and there is always hope that the balance can be struck between the health and economic well being of us all.
Do you remember the opening verses of chapter 5 of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome? “We boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:2b-5)
Today, I came to the church and found five envelopes in the mailbox to go with the five from the day before so the church’s financial condition is being sustained by your generosity and faithfulness, day by day. There is the evidence of a great deal of character and hope within this congregation that is evident in the hope we share. Thank you.
In these strange days with little discernable difference between one day and the next some of us are seeing physicians for chemotherapy, follow up visits, even trips to the Emergency Room. While we eat, drink, read and watch a few of us struggle to eat. My point? If we pause for a few moments, we realize that especially when our former routines have been interrupted we remember that we are connected to so many beyond our homes, televisions, telephones and computers. Theologically we confess that we are one in Christ but it isn't always simple to practice our unity of spirit. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all." (see Ephesians 4).
The apostle Paul goes so far as to state that God has had our spiritual identity and that of the church at heart before the creation of the cosmos. While we are busy saying: "We've never seen anything like this..." we are reminded to stay in touch with all those around us, who are thinking the same thing. We are in this together. One of my cousins sent a message the other day informing me that she and her husband mowed the lawn this week for the first time in their 33 years of marriage! (It seems that in CA, lawn maintenance is not an essential service, so if they wanted the lawn mowed, they had to do it themselves).
While we pray for Doctors, Nurses, paramedics, those who deliver food and work at grocery stores and manufacture respirators, and PPE. Let us also pray for the health and well being of those at Covenant, Anna Fox, Alice Sherwin, John and Charlene Orletski, Max and Norma Lewis, we also remember each and everyone else that we know and love because we are in this peculiar time, with unusual days, nights, hopes and fears because in Christ we are serving one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God... Please remember Chickie Johnson who recently lost her very dear friend Lee to death and Susan Brown whose husband Jim joined us this winter for several Sundays before his death this week.
If you have never noticed the buds on an iris plant in the morning, check out these three pictures showing buds, a little color and then the beautiful iris - all in a matter of hours...what a difference a little sunshine makes in the world! Jesus said: "I am the Light of the world"; THANKS BE TO GOD!
With you in His Service,
Devotional April 3, 2020
I did something this morning I've wanted to do for more than ten years! Yes, that's right, over a decade I've wanted to walk/jog the beautiful Stoney Brook Golf Course. Couldn't do that before because of the little black signs that clearly state: "GOLF COURSE FOR GOLFERS ONLY", until this morning! No golf allowed, only bicycles on the cart paths and walkers on the fairways. With the sun rising and the beautiful colors emerging on the horizon, I could only celebrate my good fortune to have the golf course to myself for a few minutes (actually it took me quite awhile to get around 16 holes on foot). I even brought home one almost new bright yellow Bridgestone golf ball from the edge of the pond at 16th tee!
n the midst of boredom, cabin fever, orders to stay home (exercise and religious service - that's what this e mail is- are exceptions) I took the opportunity to fulfill a wish. I'm not suggesting that we should all go for a walk, or that we should all read a book, or that we should explore applying to the Small Business Administration for a loan on behalf of the church, or that we should all spend an hour each day praying and reading our bibles. I am saying explicitly, that for the next few hours, days, weeks we are all going to have opportunities to think, say, write, mail messages to our own souls, family, friends, neighbors, politicians that we will never have again! This period of reflection provides us a unique set of choices to explore our faith, the very fabric of our lives and celebrate relationships with Christ, church, family and others, but the initiative may lie within you. Seek first God's kingdom and see how the Spirit guides your life in these days.
The apostle Paul had these words for the believers in the region of Galatia: "For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:13-14)
Please remember Max and Norma Lewis, Anna Fox, Donna Adams, Doug and Muriel Maxwell and John and Charlene Orletski in prayer.
THANK YOU to each of you who have been mailing your financial stewardship gifts to the church these days! Thanks be to God for each of you who have been thinking of the need to keep staff, buildings and grounds available for that glorious day when we are able to gather for worship again. It is deeply appreciated!
With you in His service,
Devotional - Wednesday, April 1, 2020
The world has changed! They closed the golf course this morning, we are largely self quarantined, the news has a few bright spots about corporations and individuals making masks, respirators, gowns and more, but mostly the news is unpleasant. The military ships are located where they can do the most good. The National Guard are out in force. The President and the White House Corona Task Force have told us to expect to hear of thousands of deaths in the coming weeks. The economy and the stock market are absorbing the worldwide challenges!
Still, there is news to share. Abbott Laboratory has shipped thousands of machines that can test for the virus in 5-15 minutes - "while you wait". People around the world are making masks that actually may help and not take medical quality materials away from those who need them most. Machines are 'sanitizing' masks recently used, so they can be safely used again. We see bits of light that indicate God's creative imagination is guiding us to new ways of thinking, exploring, accepting challenge, seeking insight and perhaps asking for wisdom.
The church has known forever that God created the world for light, life, good, beauty, community, love and anything that keeps us from that goal will have to make way for the will of the LORD.
I was recently asked by one of you: "What good will come out of this?" Seek ye first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:33,34
Let's not get ahead of ourselves by being anxious about "tomorrow". We will do our best to be faithful and fruitful today and pray for those creative, faithful people who find the means to bloom where they are planted.
With you in His service, Mike Mansperger
Please call if you have a need: 445-5508 at home or 356-0660 and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.