Thursday, April 30

Dear church,

Here she is, another one of our nonagenarians – Florence U., who has been living in the vicinity of the church (on 5th Street) for more than half a century. Until about four or five years ago you would find Florence in church every Sunday. She is now in her mid-nineties and going… because the longevity genes run strong in her family. Her mother died at the age of 103, and Florence hasn’t had many health issues to deal with over the years. What a blessing that is!  She has other blessings that she never fails to acknowledge. One of them is her daughter Susan who lives nearby and checks on her mother every single day, as well as a son in the Lancaster area and grandchildren. Then there is the blessing of a sound mind and the ability to remember and have conversations with people. Florence is perfectly lucid; she sometimes forgets things of course, but that ought to be forgiven a person who sees her own century mark on the horizon. These days, Florence has a visitation deacon from our church, Cindy Hoagey, who was able to get me this picture via Florence’s daughter. Visitation is a ministry we enjoy and take seriously. Over the years I have visited her many times and I have to tell you, it’s one of the perks of being a pastor. I get to hear stories from our elderly members! Florence’s memories go all the way back to Philadelphia where she grew up in a neighborhood that I would later become acquainted with as a pastor (many decades later), Olney. She remembers meeting her husband at one of those dances that were popular in the wake of WW II as “boys” were shipped overseas, and she was one of the “girls” exchanging letters with her love overseas. When they settled in the area, her husband was a school teacher with focus on physical education, but he had to teach pretty much every subject in the days before the schools became hyper-professionalized. It was a busy but not a hectic lifestyle is what I have gleaned from her descriptions. She has definitely been blessed in so many ways, and she knows it. I would like to take this opportunity during these long quarantine weeks to introduce you to some of our elderly and homebound members, many of whom had quite interesting lives. I imagine many of you only see a name on a Sunday program under the rubric “homebound members,” but no idea who that person is.  So here you go…  This is Florence. We send her our greetings today!

A church is always a mixed community of friends, of people you may recognize and of people you don’t know at all. At St. Peter’s we have established a culture where people feel comfortable, accepted, and part of a greater whole. You don’t have to be friends with everybody. But you also don’t need to hold back in your involvement if you are new to the community. Your opinion and your gifts are just as much appreciated as the ones from people who have been part of the church for many years. In fact, since you are new and look at things with fresh eyes, in some cases your take on things may be especially important… At least, that’s how I look at it, that’s what I teach and encourage, and I think you can feel that in our gatherings. We are a church of sinners and saints (Luther’s expression) and the demarcation line between sinner and saint runs through every single soul in our church. People may think the pastor is more of a saint, but my family knows better and most of you do as well. People may be tempted to look at people as they struggle with problems, but God encourages us to see their potential. We are a wonderfully imperfect church and the Holy Spirit is at work among us with the ability to bring us together in spirit even in times like these.  We will get through this!  And we will have a virtual new member orientation on Saturday, May 9 from 1-3 p.m. If you are interested in participating, please let me know.     

Here is a reminder for our weekly Bible study, today at noon. The material is attached again. We will study the final chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians and will decide which book we want to tackle next.  Join the Zoom Bible study via the following link:

For this coming Sunday, we are busy recording lots of great music again, this time with the Flanagan trio (Gretchen, Megan, and Cassidy), a Jazz ensemble, and Karin C. on the Bell Tree.  I think our Director of Bell Music (Liz Allen) must be frustrated because how do you socially distance with a group of bell players??? They rely on listening to one another as they play, gathered around a table… The bell tree is one of the few things we can safely do at the moment in terms of bell music. So, enjoy!  We are also, as I mentioned yesterday, planning to have another drive-through event on Mother’s Day (May 10). Please send us photos and pictures of your mothers. The pictures don’t have to be recent either. They could be from various stages of life. We will accumulate the pictures, morph them into a Mother’s Day picture show, and display them in the background for the recording of the May 10 service. Let the pictures come…

Today is the Baptism Day of Malcolm T. (2017).  Happy Baptism Day, Malcolm. Please remind your parents to light your Baptism candle today!

Please pray with me for our dear friend and church member Helen N. In the midst of this time she was diagnosed (again) with cancer. She doesn’t have all the results yet and the doctors believe it’s not a recurrence of cancer she had seven years ago. But you know, it stinks!  As she and Erik (her husband and personal medical assistant!) go through this new round of tests and chemo-therapy, please pray for them and pray especially for Helen, for her health and for faith and hope in the midst of adversity! 

My nephew Lukas by the way wrote me back yesterday and wants to thank you for your prayers. I will give you an update about little Charlotte in a few weeks when they know more. You prayers are very much appreciated!

And don’t forget: tomorrow between 11:00a.m. and 1:00 p.m. is our weekly food drive for Manna!

Be safe and be blessed!

Pastor Andreas Wagner