“Where does my help come from?” This is an age-old question perhaps first asked by the person who wrote Psalm 121 nearly 3,000 years ago.
Maybe you’re asking that question too during these unprecedented times with the rapidly growing threat of the Coronavirus pandemic. There are some good places to look for help in these days of challenge. I highly recommend that you research these organizations and their websites as they are equipped to offer information and help:
- Philomath City Website https://www.who.int/
- Benton County Health Department https://www.co.benton.or.us/coronavirus
- Oregon Health Authority https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/pages/index.aspx
- CDC https://cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nov/index.html
- World Health Organization https://www.who.int/
It is important that each of us remain open to the directions and recommendations of these agencies. Consider praying for those who work in these places as their job is to promote our best interests.
Yet, there are a couple more places we can turn for help. We can turn to God. In fact, the Psalmist who originally asked, “Where does my help come from?”, answered his own question clearly by stating, “My help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:1-2).” We need to place our full trust in God now perhaps more than ever.
A dear person to me recently shared a true story about Charles Blondin, a French acrobat who lived in the 19th century. In 1859 Blondin walked on a tightrope over a quarter of mile above Niagara Falls. Down below were the turbulent waters. Around him were ever changing and powerful winds. Blondin walked 160 feet above the falls successfully and did so several times, much to the amazement of the large crowds on both sides of the falls. Blondin did even more. He crossed Niagara Falls on a sack, once on stilts, another time on a bicycle and he once even carried a stove and cooked an omellette.
In the summer of 1859 Blondin walked backward on the tightrope to the Canadian side and then returned to the American side of the falls pushing a wheelbarrow.
The story is told that once Blondin reached the American side of the falls, he asked for audience participation. He asked the large crowd, “Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?” The crowd had just seen Blondin do this exact thing. Many in the crowd had probably also witnessed many of his other amazing feats. It is said that the crowd answered in unison, “Yes, we believe!”
Blondin then followed up his first question with another, “Who will get in the wheelbarrow while I cross again to the Canadian side of the falls?” The crowd suddenly grew pensive and silent. Nobody volunteered.
I believe we are finding ourselves in a Charles Blondin, wheelbarrow type moment. I don’t mean to minimize the troubles we are facing. We are facing a very serious global pandemic. The routines of life are drastically altered. We will likely face hardships financially. These are real and will be daunting for sure. But a critical question is this, “Will we get in the “wheelbarrow” and trust God to carry us through and over these troubled times?” God has a proven track record of success, in my belief. It is my belief that it was God who gave us life and our very being. It is my belief that it was God who has been our help in ages past. It is my belief that God has the ability and power to see us through all things—this is why He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on our behalf so that we could live and ultimately, liver forever by believing in Jesus.
When the Psalmist gave the answer, “My help comes from the Lord,” he was essentially saying, “Yes, Lord, I’ll get into your wheelbarrow and be carried by You through my troubles.”
There is also one other place to look for help. We can look to each other. If there is anything that the Coronavirus pandemic is teaching us it is how connected we are as human beings. What impacts one person, impacts all of us. The opposite is true as well. One act of kindness can also go viral and help many in the community. While honoring social distancing laws and recommendations, are there little things we can do for one another? A phone call of support? A note of encouragement dropped in the mail for another? Buying a gift card from a local business? Honoring social distancing by sacrificing routines so that the most at risk are kept safe? These all sound like small acts, but consider practicing them and making them go viral for positive impact.
Maya Angelou once said, “Every storm runs out of rain.” We will get through this challenge.
In place of watching the 24-hour news cycle, keeping up on the latest on social media and/or just simply wringing our hands with worry, we can ask ourselves the age-old question, “From where does my help come.”
In discovering the answer to this question, I believe we will all find stability in these unprecedented times
God be with us,
Thoughts from the Vicar
What is the Church? Be the Church!
We are living in perplexing times, and things look different. There’s hand sanitizer on every shelf, the toilet paper isles are empty, and church is on Facebook. Who could have guessed things would look like this even just a month or two ago, but this is the time and place God has put us. As things are changing quickly around us, it is good to know that the foundations are the same (even if they look a different from what we are used too).
Jesus tells us, “Wherever two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20). During this time when the church building is closed, it is a comfort to know that the Church is more than just building on Sunday morning. It is God with His people. It is God with you! It’s around 24/7, because God is around 20/7. You are the Church as you brush your teeth, sleep in bed, or even watch videos on Facebook! But just like online videos are little bit different than our normal Sunday Morning services, being the Church looks a bit different in an age of Social Distancing.
- Staying in God’s Word:
The Church spends time in God’s Word, and the Church of the 21st century has many new ways to do that, from audiobooks to smartphone apps. We here at Peace have been blessed in this regard in some very special ways. Every Sunday that the church building is closed, very talented members of our congregation work together to bring you a recorded service and bulletin on the Peace Lutheran Facebook page and the Church’s website (peaceinphilomath.com) This is a great way to hear this week’s Bible readings, beautiful music, and a great sermon. Peace is also in the midst of the Red-Letter Challenge – a 40 day devotional looking at the words of Jesus. As many of us are spending more time at home, this resource is a good way to spend some time daily in God’s Word. Now is a great time to catch up if you’ve fallen behind!
Anyone who has been to Peace on a Sunday morning knows that Peace is a friendly church that LOVES fellowship. Even though everyone is spending more time apart, there are still ways to spend time together as God’s people. Call, Email, or Text someone from Church. It’s a great way to touch base with someone and let them know you’re thinking of them, especially for our homebound members. Many of our homebound cannot receive visitors because of the risk of infection, and so are more isolate than ever. Take some time out of your day and call up someone, write an email, or find some other way to let each other know we are still part of the Peace Family together.
God’s people takes care of others, and what service looks like is different for everyone. Here at Peace our Trustee Dan Dusek is organizing volunteers who can pick up essentials for sick or vulnerable members. Consider reaching out to him (email@example.com) if you would like to help out or are in need. However, if you are part of a vulnerable population or have a pre-existing medical condition, your form of service might be simply staying healthy inside and helping keep the load of medical personnel and church volunteers manageable. If you are feeling under the weather, your service is most definitely staying home until you’re better, making sure any illness doesn’t get spread around.
These are strange times we are living in, but God is still with His people. God is still in control, and that never changes. I am looking forward to seeing Peace Lutheran Church back at 2540 Applegate St. on a Sunday soon!
Stay Healthy and God Bless,
Vicar Christian Dollar
Peace by the Number
*The online reach is good. There are many who have been sharing the message on their own newsfeeds as well as other churches sharing as they figure out how to do their own online message. The teamwork and acceptance has been amazing.
Cast all your anxieties on Him, For God cares for you.
I Peter 5:7
Dear Peace family,
The coronavirus pandemic has truly upset our way of life. It has also significantly changed the way we function as a church family. I wanted to share the latest announcements regarding Peace Lutheran Church and its operations.
- Peace is NOT offering regular worship, activities, gatherings for the time being and until further notice. As soon as we are able to meet face to face, we will. Worship is still happening, however. Join us for our online worship only opportunities. You can find these by going to our website at peaceinphilomath.com and selecting the link to the service. You can also find our services on Peace’s facebook page. Once on facebook, search “Peace Lutheran Church – Philomath” to find our latest posts. The services for each Sunday will be posted by 11 am.
- Are you in need? Peace has set up a way to help each other out. If you are an at risk person if you were to catch the coronavirus and you do not have someone available to pick up essential items (ie. Pharmaceutical items and food staples), we can connect you with someone that can pick these items up for you. The key in this ministry is that you connect with Dan Dusek. Dan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Some people have asked about contributions for church. Contributions and offerings can be sent to Peace in two ways. First, you can send checks directly to church by mail (we have a secure mailbox). Our address is 2540 Applegate Street, Philomath, OR 97370. Second, you can do bill pay having the check sent to the same address.
- If you are in need of pastoral assistance, I am available. You can contact me via email at email@example.com or by calling me at 541-609-8057. You can also connect with Vicar Dollar at firstname.lastname@example.org and Callie at email@example.com.
Yes, our way of life has changed. It will be important for us to remember that God’s way of being has not changed! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever,” as Hebrews 13:8 relates well. Because of His unchanging nature, let us begin each day by truly “casting all our anxieties on Him…”
Join me in prayer requesting God to calm, comfort and strengthen us:
“Almighty God, we know that Your thoughts are not our thoughts, and Your ways are not our ways. In these challenging times, keep us from despair and increase in us our faith in You. Direct all efforts to attend the sick and protect the helpless. Deliver any who are in danger and restore hope in us. We pray this through Jesus, Your Son, Amen.”
In His Hands,
Directly from Martin Luther
These words were shared with us in one of the weekly Pastor’s Notes as our whole world seemed to come to a screeching halt because of the Coronavirus. These words, written by Martin Luther, in response to what one should do as the Black Plague hit Europe.
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
(Luther’s Works Volume 43–the letter “Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague” written to Rev. Dr. John Hess)
Isn’t it strange that words written hundreds of years ago should be so relevant to today? Did you stay home and away from places your presence was not needed? Did you remain home to keep those around you from being exposed? While we have never experienced anything like this in our generation, it certainly isn’t the first time that folks have been told: “stay home if you are sick.”
I pray we all come out the other side of this distancing with a greater appreciation for the social opportunities we get. I am certainly missing Sunday mornings at church. Hope to see you all again soon!
As you know all of the usual Holy Week schedule is cancelled. We will continue to maintain a healthy distance to decrease the spread of this virus. There will be an online opportunity for Good Friday Service. Please tune in to worship together online…knowing that there are many who are staying connected in this way!
We find ourselves amid a new chapter in society with the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. So, what can we do? Some of the best things to do are to follow local, state, and federal guidance regarding COVID-19. Obviously wash your hands and practice social distancing. Stay at home as much as possible. Relax and find things to occupy yourselves at home – perhaps read a good book. And, most importantly, keep praying and reading the Bible and Red Letter Challenge.
The Incident Response Team is here to help during this time. If can’t or don’t feel comfortable venturing to the grocery store or pharmacy, we have a group of folks that can help you. Some people are already taking advantage of this service. Please e-mail ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and we will find out what you need and work to get it to you. If your needs go beyond groceries or medications, please contact us and we can try to help. We can also deliver the freezer meals that are being made at the church. Please don’t come to the church to pick them up – just send an e-mail and we will deliver.
Also, don’t believe everything you read or see on the internet. There is much information being put that is absolutely not true. Refer to the trusted sources of information such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website – https://www.cdc.gov/ or the Oregon Health Authority Website – https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/pages/index.aspx
Stay positive and together we will all get through this situation. Consider this excerpt from a post I saw on Facebook by one of our church members… <remember> “how privileged we are that during a global pandemic we can stay warm at home reading, working, still being educated, creating, with little worries and a refrigerator stocked with food. Remind yourself to be grateful today”.
How to differentiate between allergies and coronavirus
By Sindya Bhanoo
(Sindya Bhanoo is a health and science reporter living in Austin, Texas.)
March 10, 2020 at 12:36 p.m. PDT
This article was written specifically for seasonal allergy sufferers on the East Coast but I thought the bullet points would be interesting so that we can inform ourselves of symptoms we should be watching out for verses the ones we see each year during allergy season. As a person married to an allergy sufferer I definitely want folks to know we are being very careful with symptoms and do NOT want to be spreading viral spores! I encourage each of you to do your own research or to access the full article in the link above.
“Here are some suggestions from experts about how to handle this confluence of seasonal allergies, the common cold, influenza and the coronavirus.
- Experienced seasonal allergy sufferers should pay close attention to allergy symptoms they are familiar with and treat them as they normally would. That includes showering and washing your hair as soon as you get home to remove pollen and taking the antihistamine that works best for you. Some antihistamines, such as Benadryl, have sedative effects and work quickly but must be retaken every four to six hours. Others such as Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec are long-lasting and non-sedating but can require up to several hours to take effect. Antihistamines should provide some relief. If they do not, consult a primary care physician or an allergist.
- Anyone not feeling well should watch for a fever. Coronavirus can cause high fever, severe cough and shortness of breath. High fever usually means around 103 degrees, Goodman said, but anyone running a fever at all (above 100.4) who is also having difficulty breathing should seek medical help immediately, because that should not occur with simple allergies.
- While is important that healthcare professionals have the space and resources to help those who really need it, feel free to call your doctor’s office with concerns. A nurse can ask questions that will help determine whether you need to be examined immediately. “We don’t want to flood the system, especially the emergency rooms right now,” said Elizabeth Douglass, an infectious diseases specialist at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.
- Get a flu shot, if you have not. Flu activity in Maryland and Virginia has been decreasing for the third week in a row but it is still high. The CDC reports that this season’s flu vaccine decreases chances of catching the flu by 45 percent. People who have not gotten the flu vaccine still can and should.
- Find out whether you are a candidate for the pneumonia vaccine. Both the flu and coronavirus can result in pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. Adults over the age of 65 or others with certain chronic medical conditions may benefit from the vaccine, which provides protection from the most common pneumonia in adults.
- Wash your hands. This helps prevent the spread of all viral infections, including cold, influenza and the coronavirus. Use soap and warm water, and scrub well.
- Don’t panic. There is no need to purchase face masks or wear them unless you have a contagious viral infection or you are caring for someone who is.
…as we enter allergy season and exit cold and flu season, it is important that the public does not rush to the emergency room with seasonal allergies and minor illnesses, or purchase masks and hand sanitizer unnecessarily.
“Sometimes fear can be more dangerous than a virus,” Jesse L. Goodman, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University, said. “People may put themselves and other people in danger.”
Tables of Peace
Volunteer in Philomath
If anyone is interested in volunteering at Lupe’s Community Garden, part of Philomath Community Services (PCS), please contact Lindy Young at 541-929-5868 or email: Ylindy046@gmail.com. Volunteers can learn how to grow veggies and fruit and they may harvest any of the fruit and veggies growing there.
Please come in and donate in April. The need for donors is still at an all time high. NO HOMEMADE COOKIES THIS TIME. Red Cross will be providing extra volunteers. All Guidelines will be met for the current limits for COVID-19. If you would like more information please contact Ellen Holroyd at (541) 753-4021.
Child Evangelism Fellowship
With face-to-face contact with our kids at an all-time-low, I thought I’d make sure you know about some great resources that CEF has available to support you in your efforts to continually disciple and evangelize your ministry children.
First, we have the “Wonder Why” line of resources. It is based around a simple booklet called “Do You Wonder Why?” addressing the questions children may have when bad things happen. The booklet is easy for a parent to read with a child, or an older elementary student to read on their own. This is available digitally, as well as in print. The print version can be provided for a suggested donation to cover our cost: $0.30 each. We currently have 200 in stock in Corvallis, but can quickly get more as needed. There is also an 8-minute video for children to watch.
Speaking of videos, CEF has a Youtube channel, youtube.com/unitekids that includes:
- Do You Wonder Why videos
- Fun Music Videos featuring the teaching songs we use in Good News Club (with motions)
- Fun Memory Verse Song videos (with motions)
- Starting today, there will be a new 30-minute Good News Club every week. Because of the short notice, the first lesson will actually be the Bible Lesson demonstration originally meant for our teachers. After that, it will be entirely new video meant to be interactive with the children.
Finally, our Benton County volunteers are uniting to teach two Good News Clubs online, since we are unable to meet with our kids in person. These will ONLY be presented LIVE (no recordings). This will be an interactive time of continuing discipleship, and we’d love to have your ministry kids join us. If you would like to encourage the kids you know to be involved, please tell them we have online registration up on our website (cefbentoncounty.org), for clubs either Tuesday or Thursday afternoons. If they have any difficulties registering, they can contact our office for help. We plan to continue this until the first week of May, or until school starts up again – whichever one comes first!
As always, we have tracts, and 60-day Devotional Books available at the office (call ahead to arrange pick-up/delivery).
Blessings on you! Let me know if there’s anything we can do to support you as you reach the children!