Saturday, March 28

Good morning church!

I truly hope you had a chance to enjoy the nice weather yesterday. That’s one of the things that I have paid more attention to: the weather. When it’s raining I get more work done, (looks like this will be a long workday!) but I like to fit in time for walks and gardening when it’s nice outside. Biking has become my substitute for the gym routines that are part of my week during “ordinary times.” I so appreciate the bike lanes that were added onto the still relatively new 202 bypass. I bike up to Doylestown and back on nice days to stay in shape. In “ordinary times” the bike path is used, but not all that much. Now you see bikers, walkers, parents with strollers and the lanes are being used much more (still not crowded though. I recommend it.) I have also been gardening ever since we moved to Lower Gwynedd. I quickly discovered that the soil in these parts of the commonwealth is not stellar. So, over the years I have replaced lots of clumps of clay dirt with organic leaf and gardening compost, mushroom soil and the coffee waste from home and from Starbucks. I have literally fenced myself against the deer. In the winter I start vegetables and flowers from seed in the basement under a growing light. Spring is the busy time and I was lucky this year to get a delivery of mulch and soil just before my supplier closed doors. And I even had a helper this year who had no excuses whatsoever because of homework and other important assignments, such as computer games. Thank you, Peter! I write this, hoping that all of you find your little niches of normalcy, of things you enjoy and things you have always done during these not so ordinary times. I find that it helps doing that in dealing with the whole situation!

And what a situation it is! You know that you live in extra-ordinary times when the newspapers use big and bold headlines every single day. Many people have drawn comparisons to wartime, which is true in some ways. Certainly, the sense of urgency and alarm conveyed in those newspaper headlines is similar to the old newspapers that told people of developments in the war in Europe, Korea or Vietnam.  I realize that some of our younger people may not know what I am talking about, not only because those times are distant history for them but also because they are not used to picking up a newspaper in the driveway and actually have a printed copy in front of them. I would like to suggest that, if you are able, use this as an opportunity for inter-generational talk about those kinds of times. I bet you all have folks in your family who could tell a story or two that relates to difficult times such as these. I know we do…  Last night, I received an email from Tricia R., one of our young parents.  She mentioned exactly that kind of intergenerational storytelling and described it in wonderful ways. Here is what she wrote:            

“I truly believe I am who I am because of the influence of my maternal grandparents who survived WWII in Europe. And I say survived because so many family members did not. My grandfather, who was a pilot for the Polish Air Force and then the Royal Air Force, lost one brother in air combat, another brother in the Katyn Forest Massacre and his mother died in a concentration camp because of his sister’s involvement in the resistance. In this time of isolation and quarantine, I find myself more connected to them, telling stories about them, telling stories they told me, etc. We come from a long line of fighters who persevered in faith.  So now I join with them as we stay home to protect the most vulnerable and our healthcare system. My grandparents taught me that their faith is what got them through the war and now I have a glimpse at understanding what that meant for them.  I hope that I can model this well for my own children as we navigate this challenging time. 

I am truly grateful for all the voices challenging our word to rethink our priorities, profits, and values.  It is certainly much needed and I pray this opportunity for change will not be missed. I also am experiencing this on a personal level. I am grateful for your words each day and especially today as they echo those of Pope Francis. I feel an invitation to a deeper relationship with God through this experience.  Many thanks for your willingness to step up to the challenges of the times and continue to lead in new ways.  It is a gift that is much appreciated. “

Needless to say, while I know Tricia and her family, I had no idea about her Polish ancestors and what they went through during the Great War. We all have stories that are more than words and more than mere facts or memories. Some stories have the power to sustain us during difficult times, and they need to be told from time to time. Sometimes kids even crave for that. It gives them a stronger sense of identity. Last year when my father was visiting, Peter kept asking for more stories of the “old times”. Like so many elderly people, my dad is a specialist in telling stories of the old times. He doesn’t remember much from yesterday, but seventy years ago, that’s a different story, vivid in his mind… I encourage you during these times to remember and tell those stories. You may be surprised how helpful that can be!   

For today I would like you to pray for all those whose wedding and funeral plans have been upended during this imposed quarantine. We haven’t had too much of that happening in our parish and I hope we won’t. But you all may know people who have gone through this. Mourning and grieving during this time has become even more difficult than it is anyway. The other day I read a few of the obituaries in the paper and almost all of them mentioned that services have been postponed and will be held at a later time. Today I saw only two obituary notes in the paper, which is highly unusual and doesn’t mean less people died but that people don’t even bother putting it in the paper for now. I mentioned my sister-in-law in Germany who lost her father just when Corona restrictions were put in place all across Germany. They were still able to have a small and dignified ceremony, but for most people now, funerals are very under-stated and sad affairs. So much of what these ceremonies are about has to do with the comfort of human touch, hugs, presence, togetherness, closeness, food, and all of that is really not possible right now but for the nuclear family unit.  My niece Nina was planning her wedding for May and she is now looking at alternative options. I am sure there have been hundreds and hundreds of people in our area who have been scrambling to cancel and postpone wedding events and everything that goes into the planning for that special day. Can you imagine? By the way, coming back to our own parish, we will have a service for Charles Neiderhiser who died a few weeks ago at the age of  94, we just don’t know when yet, but it will happen. Please do pray for folks who have lost a loved one during the Corona quarantine. It’s got to be tough on them!   

Finally, I have to pay you a huge compliment, people of St. Peter’s! Despite everything that’s going on, we achieved our goal for food donations to Manna on Main Street. Our goal this year was 2020 items and we collected 2099. The biggest donation week was this week. Thank you so much!  We may decide to continue the drive because of the current obvious needs and shortages in our local food banks. I haven’t talked to our Social Ministry Team yet. We’ll keep you posted. Many thanks for your generosity!

Tomorrow, as we approach the Fifth Sunday of Lent, you will once again receive worship resources with readings and prayers at 8:30 a.m., the time of our early service, and we will offer a Facebook Live streamed service at 10:00 a.m. Please join us! I get the feeling that this mode of operation of how we do church will continue through April, but I will give you more solid information on that by next week.

Stay safe and reach back to me. I enjoy reading all of your responses and comments.

Have a blessed day! Pastor Andreas Wagner