Wednesday, April 22

Attached please find a picture of Charlene B.’s mom, like so many others living comfortably in one of our area Nursing Homes, but currently under severe Social Distancing Restrictions and therefore separated from loved ones and family members. Charlene took this picture when she was allowed to see her mom through a protective window. It’s a very nice picture. Her mother is 97 years old and has a smile that will surely lead her to 100! With that, we think of all our homebound members and Nursing Home residents.  May they feel our love through windows, the mail, the telephone, Face-time (yes, some of them can do that…) or whatever works!    

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It was started on April 22, 1970, and is often described as the birth of the modern environmental movement.  It gave a voice to an emerging public consciousness about the state of our planet. Of course, words like ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ were not in the mix back then. But for decades leading up to that day, a growing concern over pollution was a trigger for this movement. Fifty years later I think it is fair to say that more people are at least aware of the environmental challenges we are facing. That has not always been the case in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. I remember coming to Pittsburgh in 1996 for my internship in an urban church and being absolutely floored by the amount of trash one parish could produce (carelessly) and the lack of awareness that this was a problem to begin with. “What is this European talking about???” I am glad that things have changed.  But of course, we have a long way to go. The leader of our new church Green Team (Charlene) mentioned recently that one of the silver linings of this COVID 19 crisis is the Sabbath (my word) that it creates for creation. Air quality in the megacities of the world has radically improved and now some countries who pledged to reduce their carbon emissions with little success and compromised efforts are actually reaching those goals. Of course, I am not enough of a dreamer to think that this will last. The pressures for revving up the economic engine are enormous and understandable. I certainly understand that. What I don’t understand: why can’t we have a major national and global effort to reduce emissions and boost other forms of energy in a big way? Certainly, we have the brainpower to do it, right? May God help us to do the right things! May God help us!

Out of respect for the pioneers of Earth Day and as per request from our church Green Team, creation will be a major theme during this coming Sunday’s worship, with music and readings that reflect on God’s creation. You will once again enjoy many different musical contributions from our talented congregation…

Some of you are probably wondering when we can be together at church again. How much longer, Lord?  Certainly, it won’t happen until the governor gradually opens the Commonwealth again, sometime after May 8. We are now trying to think through opening scenarios that respect everyone’s health. It is helpful in that regard to be in contact with other churches and faith leaders. I mean, we are all new to this. (It’s not what they taught us in seminary.) More about that soon. Stay tuned, please, and patient!         

I received a few responses to yesterday’s email. I think it touched and also disturbed a number of people. But it was important to show what our nurses and medical professionals are going through at this time. Again, we thank them and we pray for them!

Today, I am sharing the resource for tomorrow’s noon Bible Study. We will meet via Zoom and discuss Philippians 3 tomorrow at 12:00 noon. See attached. Here is the Zoom invitation. Of course, this is open to everyone. Contact the church for the link.

Let us pray today for our dear friend and staff member Kirsten, not because of an acute health crisis, mind you, but because she has been dealing with chronic health issues for decades now, still managing to work hard and looking at the positive side of things.  We have been trying to be more protective of her than she tends to be of herself during this Corona crisis…  And right now she and Roy (her husband, the wonderful tenor) are going through additional stresses. Last year they discovered unhealthy levels of mold in their old farmhouse. Upon further investigation, they learned that there was not much of a foundation to the old house, which was a barn originally. Mold can be a big contributor to chronic health issues and people’s reactions to mold vary greatly. Some are extremely sensitive and affected by it, while others hardly notice it. To make a long story short, for Kirsten’s health and to save the home, which has a beautiful (not affected) new addition built by Roy himself, they’re in the process of tearing down the old home and having it properly rebuilt. You can imagine that this affects a lot of things and creates extra stress. Kirsten is hanging in there, productive as ever, but please say a special prayer for Roy and Kirsten today. We are grateful for their voices, commitment, and leadership.          

Be safe and be well dear church!

Pastor Andreas Wagner