Trinity Church April newsletter
From the Pastor
Dear Faithful Friends,
What a time this is! There is nothing that could have prepared us for this corona virus time. Nothing except what we have, which is our relationships as a faithful loving congregation, grounded in the knowledge that all of life is grace, freely given and received with no guarantees about the details! That and the most wonderful thing of all, which is the knowledge that we are precious in God’s sight, even when we cannot so easily see each other!
As I write now late in March, I wonder what will be happening in April when you are receiving this letter? I feel quite a bit like the Apostle Paul and the other letter writers of his day who faithfully sent out letters of hope and encouragement to the new Christians, while not knowing, given the time it took to send and receive letters, what would be happening in those far flung communities.
What I do know is that we are still, even in our social distancing way, still walking in the season of Lent, where we are praying on what we can let go of and give to God and what we need to tenaciously hold on to. I am still reading my daily Lenten devotional and hope that you do too. It is reminding me, as this virus is reminding me, that we are part of a much bigger picture – a whole world, connected in our very being. Not just infected with a virus but infected with love for each other, for our planet and for all the suffering people. We are able to love because we are so loved. Lent, and very soon Easter, are testimony that these ties that bind us together are stronger than fear, or illness, and even death. Truly, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, is the perfect meditation for our times.
In response to the Governor’s request that most of us shelter in place in order to “flatten the curve” our church building is now closed for public gatherings. The building will be locked but our staff, including Brook and Greg, Bing and I will be working (using good care and social distancing recommendations.) The building will be getting a deep cleaning and Brook will be able to keep us all connected through the email, phone calls and helping me create a weekly online (YouTube) worship service. If you have not been able to access that service, please call Brook and he will help you connect. Also our Leadership team and other church members are using a phone tree to help keep in contact with all of you and I encourage you to reach out in any way with each other, your families and friends and neighbors.
Know that I love each and every one of you. I believe that we were made “for such a time as this” when anxiety and fear of the unknown and the known grip our world. We are called to live into the Good News of God in Christ, come to be with the whole world, and for all time. In all ways, let us preach and live into this Good News. When we are troubled, let us remember, that life is fragile and is best handled with prayer.
We will be together again in up close and personal worship and service. We don’t know when, but we trust that this will happen. Meanwhile, enjoy this spring, sing Easter songs to cheer yourselves along, and know that a caring community like ours, even when separated, makes a difference in the world.
Lenten and soon.
WHO WE ARE
Trinity Church is an ecumenical Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation. We are affiliated with the American Baptist Church, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.
Regular Sunday service hours: 8:30 a.m. (communion) and 10 a.m. (Nursery care available)
Office hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. 413-625-2341
Pastor - Rev. Marguerite Sheehan; Music Director - Cheryl Hanna; Church Secretary - Brook Batteau; Nursery Attendant - Lisa Porter; Sexton - Greg Sudak
Leadership Team chair - Virginia Ray
Sunday services can be viewed on Falls Cable channel 17 Tuesday at 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m.
Save the Date – Easter is April 12
Easter is coming soon and even a worldwide pandemic cannot stop it! In the next few weeks we will be sending you in the mail or in email, an Easter service. It will include prayers, alleluias, blessings and the Resurrection story. We will have a virtual service which can participate in on Facebook and our website. It will include some lovely suggestions for how to welcome the Resurrection at home, in your backyards, and in the streets. The first Resurrection was intimate – individual people meeting up with the risen Lord, some in locked rooms, and some in a garden. This year we have a wonderful opportunity to defy fear and rise up in joy, trusting that nothing can stop God from showing up. The Breath of God breathes on us, now and forever. Alleluia!
Palms to Go!
Weather permitting, we will have a table outside the church or on Severance Street with palms to go. Come by, pick up a few, take them home and remember who Jesus is for you and for the world.
We are blessed to be a church united with four denominations. During this time of suffering and uncertainty with the Corona Virus sweeping across the world, each of our denominations has been sending us advice, love, and prayer. Here, from the United Methodist Church:
Creator and Healing God, we cry out to you in our distress as we experience these days of uncertainty and fearfulness.
O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us, revive us now with life and power.
O Breath of Life, come, cleanse, renew us,
and fit us now to meet this hour.
O Breath of Life,
Where there is despair, let there be hope. Where there is sorrow, let there be solace. Where there is grief, let there be faith.
Where there is brokenness, let there be healing.
O Wind of God, come, bend us, break us, till humbly we confess our need. Then in your tenderness, remake us; revive, restore, for this we plead.
O Wind of God,
Where there is hardship, let there be comfort. Where there is blaming, let there be forgiveness. Where there is worry, let there be peace.
Where there is loneliness, let there be connection.
O Breath of Love, come breathe within us, renewing thought and will of heart. Come, love of Christ, afresh assure us, revive our faith in every part.
O Breath of Love,
Where there is panic, let there be calm.
Where there is leadership, let there be wisdom. Where there is healthcare, let there be fortitude. Where there is research, let there be breakthrough.
Holy Spirit, breathe into our trembling and troubled souls the assurance of your presence so we may remain a people of faith, hope and love. Amen.
GREAT STRIDES 2020
At the time of this writing, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation hopes that our walk, scheduled for May 17 at the Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School at 1 p.m., will still be happening. If we are back in the church building for worship on April 19, I will be doing coffee hour in memory of Audrey Clark and will have a donation basket. Checks can be made payable to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. You can make a donation in Audrey's memory any time and send your check to us care of the church at 17 Severance Street, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370. Money raised goes to pay for research and there are new drugs currently available that are helping certain people with CF to breathe much easier! All our efforts are paying off. Research will continue to look for ways to help all people with CF and someday to find a cure.
You can also make a donation online and/or join our team and earn prizes by fundraising yourself at
Find our website by going to http://fightcf.cff.org - clicking on Great Strides - looking for the Shelburne Falls site (zip 01370), and clicking on our team.
The efforts of staying six feet apart during the Coronavirus pandemic are what CFers go through all the time to try and stay healthy. Thank you all for being a part of our team effort.
A POEM FOR THIS TIME
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still, reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.) Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands. (Surely, that has come clear.) Do not reach out your hands. Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly, where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
— Lynn Ungar
FROM THE LEADERSHIP TEAM
Wow. Life has brought us an unparalleled Lenten season as we are being asked as individuals, a church family, community members, state denizens, national residents, and global village members to give up many things that generally weave into our daily routines — chief among them, interacting in person only by “social-distancing.” Giving up our freedom to come and go as we please is a big ask, but a worthy sacrifice if we can help save lives.
Interrupting our go-to socializing and worship together — in service and at coffee hour — may be anxiety-making and isolating, so we want you to know that we are here for you, Pastor Marguerite is here for you, and we care about you very much. We will once again worship together in person, without doubt!
For now, please find our Sunday worship service online at our Web site at trinityshelburnefalls.org; at our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/trinityshelburnefalls, or watch on Falls Cable Television channel 17 on Tuesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m. (not live). Thank you for your grace as we work out the kinks of making YouTube videos to share with you.
Please let us know if you need something by calling the office at 413-625-2341. We will direct you to the swiftest help. If you just want to talk, please leave that message and your call will be returned.
Your Leadership Team has met twice in March and will continue to do so every week as we monitor the COVID-19 situation in our state and community.
Someone in our congregation will call you for a wellness check this week and continue to do so if you wish that call. You are not alone! Currently, our member Marion Giffin is at Buckley Nursing Home and Carolyn Chilson is doing rehab at home. Perhaps you’d like to send cards to Marion in care of the facility at 95 Laurel Street, Greenfield, MA 01301 and to Lynn at her home.
Houses of worship are considered “essential” in every state’s stay home mandate. That doesn’t mean to hold worship services, but that key staff members can continue, for now, to be in the building, keeping appropriate distance and upholding regulations. To maintain a disinfected state, the Leadership Team has agreed to lock our sanctuary temporarily. We will revisit this each week as we gather via Zoom conference call. We are also paying our staff members for the foreseeable future.
Know we are thinking about you and praying for you, as we hope you will for us.
Peace be with you,
Ginny, Juanita, Beth, Eileen, Clare
Watch Sunday service online
Join us Sunday at 10 a.m. at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trinityshelburnefalls or on the Web at https://trinityshelburnefalls.org The service is pre-recorded so you can watch anytime after 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Prayer for anxiety in a Lent of coronavirus
by Maren Tirabassi
God, I coughed again —
it’s dry and I sneezed once yesterday, and I think my throat is sore,
but mostly I am worried
that I am going to give COVID19,
to somebody I love,
or someone I get too close to
when I am walking the dog.
Even more, I am worried about
what is happening inside my mind,
so, of course, I start reading all about Illness Anxiety Disorder, hypochondriasis —
but isn’t that bringing the focus on me, when I am not sick,
I am not completely alone,
and not close to losing my house?
So then I start to worry
about how self-absorbed I am and ... God, this was not the beginning
and it will not be the end
as the kaleidoscope pandemic
shifts its many broken pieces inside me and creates different patterns.
This, too, is your gift,
because now I understand
how everyone around me feels,
and feels differently every single day. We are broken and beautiful,
and our patterns will change.
What won’t change
is our care for one another,
or this small healing ritual —
of going to the pool of Siloam
that is my bathroom sink
and with a bar smelling of lavender loving my small hands
and the mind that moves them
and also wants
to be washed by gentleness.
PALM SUNDAY COMMUNION SERVICE GUIDE
On Sunday, April 5, Palm Sunday, we will share Holy Communion online on our church Facebook page and Web site. For those who do not have computer access to experience communion online, you are also welcome to follow the service printed below. Just as the first Christians worshipped in family groups and as single individuals, we will do the same. The invitation is to make a communion table where you can pray with us and meet Jesus in the breaking of the bread on Palm Sunday.
Before the time of the service at 10 a.m. on Sunday (or whenever you can tune in, if you are able to be with us online), you will want to prepare a slice or small loaf of any kind of bread. Let it be something you alone or you with others in your house can break and share. Prepare a cup or cups of juice, perhaps grape or cranberry, or wine, with or without alcohol.
Set these elements in the living room or kitchen where you experience worship electronically with our faith community or prayerfully bring us to mind when you follow the service at home without the computer. Perhaps you want to put them on a lovely cloth that reminds you of a special time or a person deeply connected with you in the communion of saints. Perhaps you will light a candle or place a flower or plant or the photograph of someone you wish to bring into the circle of faith beside the bread and the cup.
Thank you for your preparation.
Here is the communion service itself. Many thanks to Reverend Maren Tirabassi for giving us the gift of this lovely service.
Celebration of Holy Communion During Palm Sunday in Covid-19 Pandemic
For Holy Communion this morning, I invite you to lend Christ your table.
On the first day of Holy week, long ago, people throughout Judea arrived
at the dusty gates of Jerusalem,
primed with “Hosanna” in their hearts and Jesus asked to borrow a donkey.
On the Thursday that followed,
Jesus rented or was given
John Mark’s mother’s Upper Room
to celebrate the Passover with the disciples.
On the afternoon of the resurrection, Jesus was invited into a house in Emmaus and used the bread of that hospitality
to break and bless.
Lend Christ your table, your bread, your cup and your heart, for, as the disciples told the person who loaned the donkey, “The Lord has need of it.”
Prayer of Consecration
Leader: We are one bread, one body, one cup of blessing. Though we are many throughout the earth and this church community is scattered, we are one in Christ. In your many kitchens, and living rooms, rest your hands lightly upon these elements which we set aside today to be a sacrament. Let us ask God’s blessing upon them.
Unison: Gentle Redeemer, there is no lockdown on your blessing and no quarantine on grace. Send your Spirit of life and love, power and blessing upon every table where your child shelters in place, that this Bread may be broken and gathered in love and this Cup poured out to give hope to all. Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you. Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you.
Words of Remembering
Leader: We remember that Paul the apostle wrote letters to congregations throughout places we now call Greece, Turkey and Macedonia, and they were the first “remote” worship resources. Our online service has a long heritage. The Communion words sent to the church at Corinth were these:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Sharing of the Elements
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the cup we share.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader: Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace, rejoicing that, by the very method of our worship, we have embodied the truth that Christ’s love is not limited by buildings made with human hands, nor contained in human ceremonies, but blows as free as the Spirit in all places.
Spirit of Christ, you have blessed our tables and our lives. May the eating of this Bread give us courage to speak faith and act love, not only in church sanctuaries, but in your precious world, and may the drinking of this Cup renew our hope even in the midst of pandemic. Wrap your hopeful presence around all whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing, and let us become your compassion and safe refuge.
LECTIONARY FOR SUNDAYS IN APRIL
Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14- 27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54; Psalm 31:9-16
Acts 2:14a,22-32; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31; Psalm 16
Acts 2:14a,36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35; Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17