Pastor’s Blog August 2020

Aug 3, 2020 by

Dear Benn’s Church Friends,

Well, between pandemics and hurricanes, we are needing to keep a constant look-out in the crow’s nest of the Good Ship Benn’s these days! Despite the virus, we have returned this month to a form of in-person worship, (Sundays at 10am in the FLC) and we have also experienced Hurricane Isaias. Teachers, students, and administrators are trying to decide whether and when to return to school, and many are struggling with the loss of jobs and income. I heard from a number of you that you lost power for several days and all that goes along with that – spoiled food, no AC, etc. Some of you are coping with health issues, and even the painful loss of loved ones. May God’s blessings be with each one of you! This week’s Gospel reading from the lectionary is Matthew 14:22-33, when Jesus walks on the water. There we read that the disciples’ boat, “battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.” When the disciples see Jesus walking across the water, taking him to be a ghost, they cry out in fear, but Jesus says to them, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter tries to walk out to Jesus on the water, but sinks. Immediately, says Matthew, Jesus “reached out his hand and caught him….” What a great comfort our faith gives us, through the Word and experience of God, during trying times. Sometimes we, too, are battered by the waves, with the wind against us. But that is when we can hear Christ’s encouraging voice to take heart and to not be afraid. And whenever we may be sinking, like Peter we can cry out, “Lord, save me!” knowing that Jesus’ hand holds ours. Jesus is present with us in the midst of trying times and can calm our inner storms, even as outer ones rage around us. I want to report that our first several in-person worship experiences went well, thanks to our Healthy Church Team. The HCT and I felt safe as we followed our procedures for wearing masks, keeping social distance, and partaking of communion using the pre-packaged individual kits. Please let us know your thoughts and experiences, as we strive to make our present worship as meaningful as possible. And by all means, keep vigilant in your virus prevention practices. I also want to remind you that the VA Conference has a particularly good plan for disaster response. Did you know that Benn’s has a disaster response coordinator (Pete Carlson) and plan? Our plan is that if, say, we have a hurricane and someone has some storm damage – a tree across the driveway or damage to your roof, etc. – then if possible, you would get in touch with your shepherd. Your shepherd would let Pete and/or me know that you have a hole in the roof. I would then contact the district and conference United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) teams. When possible, they would send in a trained team of United Methodist volunteers to help cover the roof with a tarp or use chain saws to clear your driveway, until more help comes. What’s more is, YOU could volunteer to be trained as an UMVIM team member, if you’d like. Even I got that training years ago – it was a one-day training — and I got to go with a mission team from my church to help in the recovery in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. The people were so grateful for our help that we weren’t sure who came away more blessed!

But just remember to let your shepherd know if you have damages during a storm, etc. And in the spirit of Jesus, who is with us in all life’s storms, United Methodists can come and assist you. Just one more of many blessings through our connectional system. Finally, stay tuned! We are hoping to add some more virtual opportunities for our youth and others soon. Meanwhile, sail on! And may you continue to know God’s loving presence, help, and guidance.

Yours in the Spirit,

Betsy Caudill

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