By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: Exodus 3:1-12
A few years back Indiana’s annual conference was held at Ball State and one afternoon the conference delegates went out into the city of Muncie to engage in local mission work. Since some of us would be out walking on or near busy roadways, the Conference designed T-shirts in neon orange for visibility and safety. The event was organized by Rev. Dale Mendenhall, who told us that he had been stopped that morning by a Muncie police officer who wanted to know what was going on with all the people he saw walking around in orange shirts. Rev. Mendenhall explained to the officer who we were and what we would be doing. The police officer paused a moment before responding, “You do know that when we have prisoners do roadside clean-up we put them in orange shirts, don’t you?”
By Associate Pastor, Suzanne Clemenz
Scripture: Isaiah 51: 1-6 and Matthew 16: 13-20
Some of you are aware that I’ve been in the middle of a notable life transition recently. My husband Brent and I helped our oldest son move into college last weekend. So it’s really his big life transition, but of course it feels like a big new step for us as parents, too. I must say that the enormousness of it is mitigated some by the fast that he’s attending Purdue, which is literally only about four miles or so from our house. So it’s not like he’s moved far away. But he’s aware, and we are aware, that this is a new chapter in his life. He’s largely on his own, with his own schedule to maintain, with time to pass in the way that he chooses. The rhythm of his life is going to be different. He’s going to lay his head down in a different place, make a whole new circle of friends, and spent a lot more time studying than he’s ever had to do in his life. (I’ve warned him!)
Moving away from home is a huge step. I know many of you remember this from experiences earlier in your life.
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: Philippians 4:4-7
Many of you are aware that I had an eye infection about a week and a half ago. It’s not a serious thing. But the antibiotic ointment used to treat the infection was thick and gooey and made it difficult to see. So, I found myself back in the same predicament I was in following my surgery. When I have difficulty seeing, it can send me into a downward spiral. Because it is hard to read emails and texts and other communications, I read less. Then, I begin to miss important information and miss meetings and other opportunities to connect with people. Then, I begin to feel isolated and lonely. It’s amazing that a little eye infection and some ointment can have such a broad ripple effect.
But I think my experience of disconnection leading to isolation and loneliness is a pretty common one for a lot of us right now as we navigate this pandemic. Even for those of us who are continuing to leave our homes and interact with people every day, it is not the same. The majority of communication is nonverbal and it’s estimated that 55% of is related to gestures, posture and facial expression. Masks, as medically necessary as they now are, dramatically limit our ability to communicate and connect with one another. An interesting story… Reagan Jewell was born a couple months premature during this pandemic. Not long after she was released from the hospital, Savannah took her in for her check-up. The pediatrician remarked that, although she was still small, she was – for the most part – hitting all the mile markers for a two month old with one notable exception: she wasn’t smiling or recognizing smiles. Fortunately, Savannah is smart and didn’t panic but realized that infants learn based on what they see and, for two months, everyone Reagan saw was wearing a mask. So, even under the best of circumstances, COVID is for us – socially – a bit like that gooey eye ointment. It makes it hard to really see and read people which can cause us to become discouraged and actually begin to spiral and disconnect from one another even more… And that’s not good.
It’s not good for us spiritually. It’s not good for us mentally. It’s not even good for us physically.
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