Memorial United Methodist Church
Thursday, April 02, 2020
God's Love Grows Here!

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 W E L C O M E
  
God's Love Grows Here!
 
We invite you to Memorial United Methodist Church where God's love really does grow! We are a family that seeks to live God's Word and share the joy of Christ with all people.
Welcome Home!
April 1, 2020

                Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell…

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms,

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.               

                On Day 1 of the 30 Day Plan to Slow the Spread of COVID-19, we are leaning hard on the everlasting arms, aren’t we?  If you saw the President’s White House Briefing last night, that could certainly put fear in you!  The ominous uncertainty of the next two weeks and the possibility of 100,000-200,000 deaths in the USA is sobering.  Already the death toll has exceeded that of 9/11.  Our battle is with a silent, invisible enemy!  Dear Lord! 

                When Julie and I went to the Museum of the Bible last summer in Washington, D.C., I bought two little rubber bracelets.  One says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart:  Proverbs 3:5-6” and the other says, “Be strong and courageous:  Joshua 1:9.”  I’ve been grabbing both of these and wearing them daily when I dress in the morning.

                The terrors of this virus in our world remind us we should spend our days in the Lord’s arms.  He is our only place of safety, peace, and comfort.  We have always known that is true, but living through this pandemic surely reminds us we need to lean hard.

                He says, “Peace be with you.  Do not fear.  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 7:25:  “He [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”

                He is praying for you and me and our world today.   Isn’t that encouraging?  As we remember Him throughout the day, read our Bibles, continue to pray honestly about our concerns and fears as well as our loved ones and those around us, we will be comforted knowing that we are doing our part.  Let’s continue to follow the plan our government and health professionals have laid out for us.  Live one day at a time and enjoy one moment at a time.  John Wesley’s final words were:  “Best of all, God is with us.”

                “What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms.”

  Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell 

 

March 31, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell…

               Julie’s and my baby, Hannah, turns 35 years old today! She and her husband, Justin, live in Arlington, Virginia. She called her Mom the other day to check on plans of when she was to come home for her birthday with us. Julie told Hannah she didn’t think she should come now. COVID-19 is more widespread in Northern Virginia. Although Justin and Hannah have been working from home the past two weeks, who knows who is carrying what. We would not want to get infected ourselves and then we might infect someone else. So we respect “travel distancing.”

               It is not tragic that we can’t be together for Hannah’s birthday. Still, family celebrations are important for all of us. Wow! So many changes these days! I greeted a Church family from the front yard yesterday as they were walking down the street in front of the house. Their little five-year-old girl ran to me with arms extended ready for a big hug from her pastor and when I backed away and refused to hug or touch her, she began to cry. Her Mom and grandparents said, “We can’t get her to understand. She’ll be fine.”

               Weddings are being cancelled. Funerals are being downsized to no more than ten persons with only private services. Easter Egg hunts are cancelled. The Church cannot even gather together to celebrate Resurrection Sunday!   It’s remarkable that this is the first time in the history of our nation that churches have been closed for Easter. Downtown streets in New York City and Chicago and New Orleans look like the streets of Appomattox. 

               For some of us old-timers, we remember what we were doing the day President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas. Some of us can remember what the gas shortage lines were like back in the 70’s. We carry vivid memories of the morning of September 11, 2001. We are all certainly going to have “our stories” to tell as we make memories everyday from this coronavirus pandemic.

               An encouraging note from each of these difficult memories though is that all these events passed! And when lives were lost, the intensity of the sorrow though never forgotten, changed us, and we became able to handle it. We made it through. Life continued and so did we.

               This 2020 Pandemic will pass. Praise the Lord! Aren’t we looking forward to that!  I’m really looking forward to being with everybody with handshakes and hugs. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways [even pandemics] acknowledge Him [and His Presence], and He will direct your paths.”

               We can’t know why and what God is doing through all this. But we do know that God’s promises to us are true. Romans 8:28 promises “All things [even COVID-19] will work together for good to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Let’s dare to believe God is doing and will do great and miraculous things through the heartache and chaos of these times.                                                                   Praise the Lord!  

Pastor Russell

 
 
March 27, 2020 
 

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell….

               It is Day 12 of the Fifteen Day Plan to Slow the Spread of coronavirus in the United States.  Thank you for the sacrifices you are making to protect your life and the lives of your family and neighbors.  It seems our struggle is about balancing responsibility and control in order to prevent premature death.

               “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”       Psalm 23:1, 4

               Life is a gift.  We don’t want to give it up.  Still, heaven will be better!  And because of heaven’s promise, death is not the horrible enemy that it once was.  We deal with the reality of death everyday as Christians because our Savior Jesus came to die for the consequences of our sins.  Though the experience of dying may frighten us, the bottom line is that death can no longer hurt or destroy the child of God.

               In his book Facing Death, Billy Graham relates an experience of Donald Grey Barnhouse, one of America’s leading Bible teachers in the first half of the twentieth century.  Cancer took his first wife, leaving him with three children, all under twelve.  The day of the funeral, Barnhouse and his family were driving to the service when a large truck passed them, casting a noticeable shadow across their car.  Turning to his oldest daughter, who was staring sadly out the window, Barnhouse asked, “Tell me, sweetheart, would you rather be run over by that truck or it’s shadow?”  Looking curiously at her father, she replied, “By the shadow I guess.  It can’t hurt you.”  Speaking to all his children, he said, “Your mother has not been overridden by death, but by the shadow of death.  That is nothing to fear.”

               Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains…. Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot block a man’s pathway for even a moment.  The shadow of a dog can’t bite; the shadow of a sword can’t kill.”

               Because Jesus loves us, He took the full force of death’s destructive power by His death in payment for our sin and then rising to life again.  Our faith and trust in Jesus does not remove the shadow of death, but it certainly removes the power of death to destroy our life or our joy now.

                                                                                                                                                                     Praise the Lord!

                                                                                                                                                                     Pastor Russell

 
March 26, 2020

 

               Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell….

 

               Praise the Lord!  I was in Walmart last weekend and when I got to the check-out counter, I thanked the lady for working.  Her face lit up and she gave me a big smile and said, “You know there are so many blessings with this coronavirus!”  She said, “It’s like things the way they’re supposed to be!  People don’t have their noses in their phones.  Parents are home with their children.  It’s all right.”  She kept smiling and we finished our business.  It made me begin the think of how many things we need to thank God for in the midst of all that is happening and not happening.

               We are thankful God was not taken off guard by all this.  He is in control.  We certainly can see this in how our elected officials have acted so amazingly quickly in dealing with the containment of the virus.  How quickly and patiently our medical community has come to our aid.  Our spiritual leaders are turning us to prayer and offering comfort from the Lord.

               I was talking to a fellow yesterday who said that their little church had started a Revival last week – online’s Facebook for seven days!  They were having a different preacher each night.  He said, “We feel that what the people need is Revival!”  Amen to that!  (And we hope you will pull up Memorial on Facebook this Sunday, March 29, at 11:00 AM for Memorial’s first Facebook worship service.)

               I heard a teacher on the television this morning advising parents how they can still be educating their children at home.  With having extra time together at home, how can we help our children of all ages with their reading, writing, and arithmetic?  With reading she said children need to be read aloud to daily and also to have silent reading time everyday.  In writing, get your child a notebook and begin writing notes to each other throughout the day.  In arithmetic, there are tons of card games out there that help with counting and numbers.  What great ideas!

               I’m thankful for all the thoughtful phone calls I’ve received from friends and old friends (that I haven’t spoken with in so long) to check on me and my family.  I’m thankful for the work I can still do.  I’m thankful for a home to retreat in at this time.  And, I’ve never been so thankful for toilet paper, who’d have thought?

               What about you?  Have you been considering the blessings?  It helps to stop and be thankful especially in the midst of uncertainty.  This hardship will end soon.  Of course it’s bad, but we can try to make it less bad.  Everyone’s sacrificing is saving lives.  With God’s help we will defeat this virus.

               We remember the old song:  “God will take care of you, through everyday, o’er all the way; He will take care of you, God will take care of you.”

                                                                                                                                                      Praise the Lord!

                                                                                                                                                      Pastor Russell

 
 
March 25 2020 
 

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell….

               “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me:  your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

               Fear has always been right around the next corner for me.  I’m just walking down the street and all of a sudden there it is, gripping me.  Then the negativity blankets everything.  I get immobile like a deer in headlights.

               When you’ve given in to fear and co-existed with it much of your life, the feelings become like a familiar friend and you don’t want to quickly let loose.  My experience has been that it takes less effort to live in the dark.  It just seems normal.  But, it does take effort to turn from self to God and to battle these feelings directly by getting into God’s words in Scripture.

               Fear of the unknown, fear of uncertain times, fear of failure, they bring out our weaknesses.  Irrationally, we want to be in control.  But we are not in control!  God is in control.  However, we are in control of our reactions to our always changing circumstances.  We cannot fear and trust at the same time.  A preacher once said there are 365 times in the Bible that we are told not to fear.

               Billy Graham said, “Months after September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, psychiatrists reported that people who lived thousands of miles away from these tragic events were still coming to them, unable to sleep and paralyzed by fear.  What is the answer to stifling fear?  ‘After Jesus had been put to death, His disciples huddled in fear behind closed doors, filled with uncertainty and despair.  But suddenly they found themselves in the presence of their Living Lord, and at His first words their fear disappeared:  “Peace to you” (Luke 24:36).’  We worship a risen Christ, who has broken the power of sin and death and Hell and is alive forevermore. 

Why then should we fear?”

               Let’s let our fear prompt us to prayer.  Pray against our fearing.  Pray for that which we are fearing.  Is it death?  Jesus got that one for us.  Loss?   God is our provider.  Discomfort?  “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2).  Pain?  We accept hardships as THE pathway to peace (The Serenity Prayer).

               The COVID-19 outbreak will pass.  God is fighting this fight for us (Deuteronomy 3:22).  Coronavirus will be crushed and conquered in Jesus’ Name.

  Do not fear!

 Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell

 

March 24 2020

 Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

                “Happy Birthday to Me.  Happy Birthday to Me.

Happy Birthday, dear Russell, Happy Birthday to Me!

  Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to Me.

Happy Birthday, dear Russell, Happy Birthday to Me!

                Have you gotten tired of singing Happy Birthday to yourself as you time the washing of your hands for 20 seconds?  That is how I was told you’d know you had thoroughly washed your hands long enough to be sanitized:  sing Happy Birthday through twice.

                I’ll have to confess that this hand washing and hand sanitizing thing is new to me.  After I got ready in the morning, if my hands looked and felt clean enough during the day, that was always good enough for me.  So, paying attention to hand washing throughout the day after I have been in a store or wherever I’ve been is a new discipline.  So, I thank God for teaching me about better hygiene through this virus.  How about you?

                “Always be joyful.  Keep on praying.  No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  It’s a tall order but God would not ask us to do something that He will not empower us to do if we will ask for His help.

                Maybe we can substitute someone else’s name for the Happy Birthday song and let our singing be a prayer for that person?  Maybe we can sing and pray about another person in the second time around.  God bless you.

   Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell

 

 
March 23, 2020
Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist Church:

More Ramblings from Russell…

            It is the eighth day today in the President’s plan, The 15 Day Pause to Slow the Spread of COVID-19.  I listened to Vice-President Pence over the weekend as he explained the reasons for staying home and away from crowds and the importance of social distancing at this time.  We certainly don’t want to pick up the virus ourselves and infect our family or any others.  How can we ever contain the virus if we don’t do our part?

            Pence and his team prayed for the United States and God gave them this plan.  I was convicted.

            Normally on Monday mornings at 6:30am, I’m at the gym.  I decided over the weekend that I would stay home from the gym through this 15 Day Pause.  So, in my quest to continue with “normalcy” in the midst of the pandemic, I got up, shaved and showered, and put on my gym clothes and did a spirited walk to the gym but I didn’t go in.  I walked back home (it took about 30minutes) and I finished my push-ups and stretches.

            I really wanted to go in and exercise on the machines, but I also wanted to be obedient.  So I feel good.  I did MY part.  If we all do our part by faith, God will honor our faith and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14) and our world!

            Over the weekend Memorial’s Worship and Music Teams met in our separate homes for a meeting through ZOOM.  Our plan is THIS week to put together a worship service for Memorial United Methodist on Facebook (@

Memorial United Methodist Church or click on this link  https://www.facebook.com/mumcj316) at 11:00am Sunday morning, March 29th, so that we can worship together, pray together, and encourage one another as we work through this unprecedented time.  It will also be posted on our Website (http://memumc.org/).  Pray for us.

          Reach out and encourage someone with a call, a text, or in some other way.  You will be blessed and so will they.  Continue to pray.  Say a prayer right now!  Your prayers are making a difference.

Praise the Lord!

 

Pastor Russell

 

 

 
March 19, 2020
Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings with Russell…

Happy Spring!  Happy?! Yes, Happy!  Look at that!  We made it to another Spring!  It’s still chilly but it looks like a pretty spring day.  Praise the Lord!

                In Mark 4, Jesus and his disciples were in a boat out on the Sea of Galilee in a horrible storm.  “And Jesus was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a pillow, and they awoke Him, and said ‘Master, don’t you even care that we are going to perish?’  And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid?  Do you still not have faith in Me?’  And they were filled with awe and said to themselves, Who is this man, that even the wind and the waves obey Him?’ ”

                Jesus is on top of COVID-19.  We do not have to fear.  I used to be in a prayer group with a retired coach who used to praise the Lord and thank God for his routine every day.  That reminds me of “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) I say: “Let’s stay as normal as we can in the midst of this chaos because this, too, shall pass.  God is in control and He really loves the whole world” (John 3:16).

                Who can you be in touch with today to encourage them?  We can make a difference. 

                Happy Spring!    Praise the Lord,

                Pastor Russell 

March 17, 2020
 
Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:
 

                Has Church stopped?  You mean there is no more Church?  How in the world can we continue to be the Church during this Pandemic season when we can’t get together for meetings or worship on Sunday mornings?  Isn’t that a good question?  What do you think?

                For Julie’s and my Sunday morning devotions last Sunday, we watched Charles Stanley.  He gave this terrific sermon on “Seven Habits for Godly Living.”  Habits are actions constantly shown in our behavior that are so frequently practiced that they become our custom of who we are.  What habits will create faithful, godly living?

                First we are to pray and talk to God, which is having relationship with Him.  Then we are to trust that He hears and answers our prayers.  Third, we are to meditate on God, the Scriptures, His promises for us throughout the day.

                Fourth, we are to obey what He says to us through His word.  Someone said, “The Bible is not simply to increase our knowledge but to guide our conduct.”  Next, we are to yield to and ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Sixth we are to give to others and to God.  Finally, we are to forgive – walk in forgiveness with ourselves and all others.  Forgiveness is always an action whatever our feelings tell us.

                Thank you, Brother Stanley!  What great habits!  Forming them and following them will cause us to be the Church seven days a week.  No! Church is not over.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
 Praise the Lord!
 

Dear Members and Friends

of Memorial United Methodist Church,

I hope everyone received the church email yesterday from Bishop Lewis advising all local United Methodist Churches to cancel services in the VA conference for the next two Sundays, March 15 and March 22, due to the Coronavirus pandemic in our world.

I regret that we won't meet.  I admit my initial reaction to the request was to meet anyway.  Not have Church?!  But, with further consideration and understanding that Bishop Lewis is the Pastor for all of the Virginia Churches, I think it is best to abide by her wisdom and decision.  Hopefully, as our nation and churches work together, we can make a difference to contain and conquer this virus. 

Concerning individual small groups, committees, and studies scheduled throughout this time, each group leader should contact their own people and make a decision as to whether they feel they should meet or not. 

We will continue the "40 Days of Prayer" in the Sanctuary through lent from 5:00-7:00 pm.  I encourage you to come and spend time in prayer for the many needs close to your heart and for our world.  If ever we need to join in prayer, now is the time.

The office will be open 9:00-2:00 Monday through Friday.  If I can be of any help, please call on me.  We will resume worship on Sunday, March 29.  I look forward to worshipping with you then.

President Trump has designated this Sunday, March 15, as a National Day of Prayer.  Please spend time with your family in devotion and prayer this Sunday. 

God bless you, our nation, our world, and the United Methodist Church.

Praise the Lord,

Pastor Russell

 
 
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