Friday, March 13, 2020
In the past 24 hours, PA Governor. Tom Wolf has placed restrictions on many types of gathering places in our state. Nursing homes are restricting visitors, schools are closing, adult day care facilities will be closed and religious leaders are being urged to "exercise discretion" in scheduling services. (The Governor's full statement can be found here.)
We acknowledge that we are a people of faith - not of fear - so we must not panic. But we also believe that being safe is one of our priorities as a church family.
With that goal in mind, we just this morning cancelled the remainder of our ECUC Wednesday Night Lenten Services. Here at St. Vincent, the Evangelism and Fellowship Committee has cancelled the Easter Egg Hunt scheduled for April 4th. And now, in response to many inquiries from our members, and in discussion with the Consistory, we have decided to cancel Sunday worship services here at St. Vincent Church for the remainder of March.
We do so with a heavy heart - for we love to gather together to worship and praise God. but, we also love our church family and wish to keep one another safe from exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
So, we encourage you to consider this an opportunity to do something different on these Sunday mornings. Read Scripture and reflect on it alone or with someone else in your household. Take time to pray, meditate, be still and know God. Spend some quality time with your family at home; on the phone with family far away; with friends on social media - say the things to them you don't have time to do most of the time. Spiritual Hugs can be just as meaningful as physical ones as a temporary measure. Try it! And since this is the season of Lent - a time of self examination and cleansing of the past - use this time at home to cleanse your self and your house of stuff that you don't need anymore. Take advantage of this time to do a real spring cleaning!
And, although I'll also be restricting pastoral visitations, I am always available to "visit" with you by phone, email, or text - so, please don't hesitate to contact me during this time. And if you find yourself in need of some assistance and are not able to get out of the house, we can make arrangements to get you the help you need. We have volunteers that are available to cook and deliver a meal or two, bring you supplies, groceries, pick up your prescriptions for you. Please contact the pastor at 610-393-6971 or consistory president, Chris Buck at 610-761-9727to get that help.
Let us, then, continue this journey through Lent at a distance from one another, but let us remain "one" in heart and mind. I promise to keep in touch with inspiring thoughts to consider along the way.
Take care of yourselves and one another and keep us all in thoughtful prayer. And never forget that God is with us in the midst of all things.
Peace and Blessings,
It's Lent – so let there be love everywhere - all around us. We need it! I know that, traditionally, Lent is a time of shadows, a time of inner reflection and redemption, a time for prayer, of quiet, of being more mindful of who we are and who we want to become for God.
And it is also a time for Love to abound! Now is the time to realize we made some mistakes, we may have hurt someone's feelings, we may have been wrong, we were unkind, we acted unlovable. Time for us to “own” it – all those things that make us frail and fragile and fake. Time for us to focus on God and his vision for our lives and how God sees us and who we are becoming - and let him help us get there.
It's time – forty days worth of it - time for hope, time for joy, time for grace, time for love. We may wonder, “what's any of that got to do with Lent?” And I say to you – EVERYTHING! The Lenten disciplines we practice for the forty days of Lent give us the opportunity to begin with ourselves. To really look at ourselves and where we have been, what we have done, whom we have known – and re-discover what we have to offer.
What gifts has God placed in you and in the midst of your life? What blessings have entered into your life and ought to be shared with those around you? What is God calling you to do, to say, to share, to promote – in your family, at your workplace, where you volunteer - for your own sake and for others? And then, love those things about you the same way God does.
So, Lent is all about Love – especially about remembering that first you must love yourself before you can give any real love to anyone else. I invite you to take advantage of this season of Lent to take a closer look at who you are and love that person more fully and more completely. Let's go forth and make this season of Lent all about Love!
Love, Pastor Susan
Reverend Susan Hanson has been serving churches since December 19, 1993, when she delivered her first sermon to her first congregation. Since then, Pastor Susan has served in 12 different settings of churches as an interim pastor and to nursing homes as a chaplain, primarily helping to heal hurting congregations and institutions so they could recover and start anew. Reverend Hanson came to St. Vincent UCC in 2013 - her lucky number 13, as she says - and has been with us ever since. How lucky we are because on Sunday, April 8, 2018, Pastor Susan was officially installed by the PA Southeast Conference of the UCC as St. Vincent UCC’s permanent pastor!
Susan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development from Florida State University; a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary; and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling from Moravian Theological Seminary. She was ordained in her home church, St. John’s UCC in Lansdale, PA, on January 9, 1994.
Susan and her husband, the Reverend Doug Hanson, pastor of St. Peter’s Pikeland UCC, live in Chester Springs. They have a daughter and son-in-law who live in Alabama with Pastor Susan’s two grandchildren, a daughter and a son who live locally, and a Golden Doodle. In addition to meeting new people, Pastor Susan enjoys reading a good book, taking walks in nature, and visiting with family and friends.
In her Statement on Ministry, Reverend Hanson says that “a pastor assists the congregation in living out our call to be the heart and hands and voice of God here on earth in our own particular time and place. We can be assured that all of God’s hopes and dreams for us will be realized when we allow God’s Spirit to work within our own lives, and through us, to help others as we seek to do God’s will in the world. Together, we celebrate that when good people seek to make a positive difference in the world, it is there that real ministry happens.”
Feel free to contact Pastor Susan via email at email@example.com or by cell phone at 610.393.6971.