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May, 2020 - Issue #188
Learning to Flourish Amid the Pandemic
by Rev. Nicole Reilley

How do we flourish in times like these? Is it even possible? That is the question I have been asking myself as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a pastor whose husband and son are medical personnel, I am well aware of the seriousness of this time. As a mindfulness meditation teacher-in-training, I know how difficult it is for many to stay present in the midst of anxious feelings. As a pastor, I know how real our faith becomes when things are falling apart.
This is a time when we need God and each other. And it is also a time when we need skills that help us deal with our emotions and anxiety. We are offering practical help and welcome you to join us.

On Sundays, we will be worshiping online at both 9am with classic hymns of our faith, and 10:30am with modern music and a band. We will be exploring how we not only find our way in this season, but also have the opportunity to flourish.

On April 19, we will begin with the topic of mental health and look at flourishing emotionally, physically and spiritually. Our livestream is open to everyone, and I encourage you to engage in ways that help strengthen your spirit in this season of pandemic. Plus, each Sunday is recorded for later viewing and is available on our YouTube channel. Find out about all of our growth opportunities (for all ages) offered online and open to all. No one belongs here more than you!

Join us by tuning in at umcv.org/live-stream.
Rev. Nicole Reilley is pastor of Valencia United Methodist Church.

In Uncertainty, God's Grace and Peace are Assured
by Jack Winkle

Are you wondering how the current "Safer at Home" requirements might change our daily lives, even after this time of uncertainty? That's a legitimate concern. But what I can tell you, by the authority of scripture, is that God's message to each one of us is that His love, His peace and His grace endure forever. No matter the situation around us, He really is in control. Caution? Yes. Fear? Not necessary. We're in good hands.

At Calvary Chapel Golden Valley, we take the simple approach of teaching the Bible chapter by chapter, book by book - the whole counsel of God. We've recently added a "Special Needs Service" for entire families dealing with autism and other disabilities, Sundays at noon. As parents of a 20 year-old autistic son, my wife, Julie, and I know it is difficult for those in the autism community to meet and worship together in a traditional Sunday service. We offer an abbreviated, 20-25 minute service that is adapted to the Special Needs family. The worship is quieter with a single guitar and singing, and there's a brief Biblical message on God's love, grace, mercy and compassion, followed by a time of fellowship and prayer - again, for the whole family. We invite those who might benefit from this kind of service to join us in an understanding and loving setting! Our services are now live on our Facebook page on Sundays at 10am and Wednesdays at 6:30pm.
For information, please visit calvarychapelgv.squarespace.com. Jack Winkle is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Golden Valley.

We are in this Together
by Jay Siegel

These are extraordinary times. We are asked to distance ourselves at a time when we have never been more in need of physical embrace. During this time of year, we look forward to spending time together - celebrating, appreciating spring, enjoying the school year and observing holidays.

This new reality is counterintuitive, sad, lonely... yet entirely necessary. As all religious and spiritual traditions teach, there is no higher value than the preservation of life. Preservation of life is paramount, and so at this time, we think of others and how we can come together to help. We pray for a speedy and complete healing, of body and spirit, for all, whether far or close to home.

An anonymous author writes, "Working together, sharing our experiences with one another, and also sharing a mutual trust, understanding and love - without strings, without obligation - we acquire relationships that are unique and priceless." Maybe we cannot be physically together, yet we can connect with each other and share our experiences. We can reach out to others. Perhaps we may feel isolated, yet we know we are working together for a common good. We each have to do our part. During this time, we have seen neighbors and friends give of themselves, as we, too, look for new and unique ways to give back. Let us all focus on understanding and love. Then, when we do come out of this period, our relationships and community will be strong and unified.
Jay Siegel is rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom. 254-2411
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