April Message


It is near the end of March and we are deep into our Lenten journey.  We should be beginning to prepare for the celebration of Easter.  How can we plan and observe Holy Week this year, given our present circumstances with the current pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus?

 

We are going to have to do things in creative and new ways as we have been doing the last couple of weeks.  I am discerning that we can receive inspiration from the earliest followers of Jesus and their actions in the days between Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, death and burial and His ultimate victory in resurrection.  It was a time period of three days.  Yet those three days made all the difference.

 

Meditate with me on the Gospel accounts of those days.  There is not much detail given, so we will have to be prayerful and intentional to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.

 

Turn with me in the Gospel of Luke, chapters 22-24.  Reread these events. These events unfold quickly.   First, we recall the Last Supper.  Then Jesus is arrested and led away to be tried and convicted.  The crucifixion occurs after all of Jesus’ disciples and followers have left him except for a few women, including his mother.

 

After Jesus dies, the centurion proclaims Jesus innocent.  The crowd returns home.  Verse 49 states, “But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.” 

 

The women “stood at a distance” and yet they are present and watching.  They are waiting on God.

 

Joseph of Arimathea asks for the body of Jesus and buries him in his own tomb.  Once again, the women are present.  “The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid.  Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.  On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:55-56).

 

We don’t know exactly what they did between the evening when Jesus is buried and the first day of the week when they return to the tomb.  Scripture tells us that they observe the Sabbath according to God’s holy law; they rest.

 

They rest and are ready for the dawning of a new day.

 

Go ahead and read Luke, chapter 24 to see what they find at the tomb – the tomb where they saw Jesus being buried and the stone rolled to seal the entrance.

 

My friends in Christ, we know how this miraculous life-changing story ends: 

Jesus is not in the tomb!  God raised Jesus from the dead!  Jesus Christ is alive!

If we believe, we will be like Christ and share in His resurrection.

 

I would invite us to consider what God is teaching us and how we might look at the power and promise of the Resurrection in the context of what is happening in our world and our lives today.

 

How can we open our lives to the transformation and new life God has waiting for us?  How can we observe sabbath time, rest and pray and wait on God?  What do we need to let go of in order to embrace the new?

 

I pray that revisiting the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection will guide us in our spiritual journey to God’s something new.

 

One thing I do know:  we will never be the same after this Lenten experience.  We will never be the same Church we were before these days of the coronavirus.

 

My prayer for all of us is that God will shape us and mold us according to God’s vision and that we will open ourselves for God’s holy, transformative work.

As one who will rise again –

Pastor Stacey



To my beloved Salem Church Family:

     We have received direction from our Bishop that we will be continuing to connect only through non in-person ways through at least April 26.  Salem will continue to be the Church while physically distanced.  I know that this is disappointing news for us, especially in regards to the celebration of Holy Week and Easter.   We will continue to have something available for at-home worship each week and for special observances during Holy Week.  I hope to provide resources in a variety of methods because I know that everyone has differing abilities when it comes to technology and the internet.  I am having to learn new things very quickly!

     Here is what I am working on with Alyson and our Teach Team.

     Palm Sunday, April 5:  Worship will be available through a YouTube recording posted to our church Facebook page as well as our church website (salemunited.org).  Palms have been ordered and if we receive them, I would like to share them with the congregation in some way.  I will let you know by email as soon as I can.

     Holy Thursday, April 9:  We will have the opportunity to share together in a Love Feast in our individual homes.  Love Feasts were started by the Moravians in the early 1700s and were used by the early Methodists in the days of circuit-riding preachers.  A Love Feast draws people together around a simple, shared and holy meal.  We will be able to come together to a common virtual table – online or by phone – so that we can pray together, offer blessings, and eat simple food items such as crackers, fruit, or bread and drink juice or water. 

     I am working on how to do this and I looking forward to a new way for us to share fellowship and worship God together (while physically apart).  I will send an email with details but plan now for a Thursday evening virtual gathering.

     Good Friday, April 10:  Our ministerium was planning the traditional Cross Walk but we will not be able to do it this year.  I plan to send you resources for reflecting and meditating on the passion and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

     Easter Sunday, April 12: Our Baltimore-Washington Conference is planning a Conference-wide celebration online but we don’t know the details yet.  I would encourage us to worship through this opportunity and I will let you know how to do so.  In addition, there will be a recording from Salem Church for Easter.

     In terms of the Easter flower orders, unfortunately we will not be able to purchase flowers at this time.  I would like to hold all orders until we know when we will be gathering together again in person in our sanctuary.  We may be able to order flowers for that Sunday or soon thereafter.  If you would prefer a refund of your money, we will be able to accommodate those requests when we re-open the church office.  We appreciate your patience and understanding.

     Please contact me directly with prayer concerns and joys (cell #410-627-1944 or pastor@salemunited.org">pastor@salemunited.org).  If you are on Facebook, be sure to follow Salem’s page and you are welcome to “friend” me personally if you wish.  Susan Walker is updating the church website.  I am sending emails and we have started a phone calling tree for our church family.

     Please continue to reach out to others in our church family and keep one another in prayer daily.  It is a blessing to be the church with each and every one of you every day by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                                                 With my love and prayers always,

                                                                       Stacey





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