Saturday, May 2, 2020

From Mother Vicki

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
                                                                                                    Psalm 23 KJV

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Good Shepherd Sunday is this coming Fourth Sunday of Easter.  Our psalm is always Psalm 23, the most popular psalm for weddings AND funerals, those liminal moments when we are at our most open and vulnerable to huge changes in our lives, joy and sorrow.  It is the psalm that people know by heart.  I like to include it in the King James Version because that is a deep memory for many of us.  And in this time of tension and stress, it is a wonderful psalm to say as you are trying to fall asleep at night.

The first part reminds us that we are in God's hands, not ours.  We are not in control.  So rather than trying harder, step back and allow yourself to rest in a beautiful space.  Please remember to take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Be kind to yourself.  We are all living in a time of great tension.  Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine lying down on a beautiful green pasture, chirping birds, perfect temperature, gentle breeze, lovely still water, and the gift of restoration of body and soul.

This image of a God who loves us profoundly, who watches over us and who is with us when we have to confront "the valley of the shadow of death" whether for ourselves, a stranger or someone we love is very helpful, especially in these trying times.  The psalmist talks about us walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  We don't stay there.  And we don't have to fear evil because the Lord is there.  We are not alone.

This is when we, as Christians, are gifted with the good news that God loves us, and sent his Son to live among us, to suffer death upon the cross and to be resurrected.  Jesus Christ understands the complexity of what that means--the joys and the sorrows of being mortal, of being protected and blessed in the midst of evil.  We are never alone.

There are many on-line resources for continued prayer throughout the day.  We are attaching Bishop Dietsche's Wednesday sermon, and are also including a link to listen to podcasts of Forward Day by Day, which we have not been able to receive in physical form.

Please continue to let me know your prayer requests.  We pray especially for the Yonkers Police and Fire Departments (please pray for Aaron McKinney) who, as first responders, are witnessing the great toll this pandemic has taken by helping people in complex emergency situations, including at the time of death.  This is very difficult.  We pray for all who have died, including Carrie Parkey's brother Neil Parkey of colon cancer at age 53 and Dorothy Wood Stone who died at age 75 (sorry I got this wrong last week!).

Prayers for Chris Craft, Carol's son, who has COVID-19, Hampson Sisler who also has the virus, Naomi Henderson who is recovering, Carol Shoemaker and Raul and Mercedes Chavez who are also recovering from the virus. We pray for Susan Spielmann, Briana, Kayla, Jessica and Jayson who are all struggling with some sort of bug.  Prayers continue for Al DeFeo, the DeBride and Henderson families mourning the death of Marielou DeBride, the Walsh family mourning the death of Dottie Stone, Ralph Tremonte (current situation unknown), and all who are grieving or struggling with illness, depression, fear and anxiety.  May God bless and hold us all gently.

Thanks to our wonderful Executive Committee and Vestry for two really good ZOOM meetings this week.  Thanks to Jen Longley for setting these up, for Kelly Giannone who takes terrific notes, for Carol Craft who continues to make sure the bills get paid, and Karen Lorence who helps us see the bigger picture financially. Thanks to Chris Canty, who has been helping out in tremendous ways including putting in our PPP application, sorting the mail and getting it to the right places.  And thanks to all of you dear souls who have remembered to send in pledges and other gifts by check or PayPal.  We are incredibly grateful!

We continue to send out e-blasts on Sunday morning with our worship offerings including hymns sung and played by our wonderful musician/singer/organist Jason Slayden.  This Sunday you will hear Hymn 645, "The King of Love my Shepherd is" (based on Psalm 23) and Hymn 708, "Savior, like a shepherd lead us."  Thanks to Carrie Parkey, who is reading our first lesson from The Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47 as well as Psalm 23, and Peter Walsh II who will be reading 1 Peter 2:19-25.

Our ZOOM coffee hour is a joyous time!  Please put a note on your refrigerator or somewhere prominent to remind you to join us on Sunday, May 3 from 11:30 a.m. until noon. It is SO good to see each other!

I love you all.  It breaks my heart not to be with you in person.

"The King of love my shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am his, and he is mine forever."                    Hymn 645, verse 1, Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877)

Easter blessings, prayers and much love,
The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota
Saint John's Episcopal Church
Getty Square, Yonkers
mothervsirota@gmail.com; cell phone 443 257 9963

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