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July, 2020 - Issue #190

Thanking God for the Freedom to Congregate in Person
by Pastor Jack Winkle
We are living in unprecedented circumstances. Without going into anything political, we are faced with a yearning for the freedom we had just a few months ago, and a desire to do what is necessary to protect the vulnerable members of our family, friends and loved ones. We all look forward to finding the right balance in our approach to returning to normal as soon as possible.
The good news - literally - is that God is always open for business. He is omnipresent, so we don't even have to go and find Him. He never sleeps, He is always ready to meet with us, He knows our needs even before we bring them to Him, and He always hears our prayers. God enjoys meeting with us as much as we enjoy meeting with Him - and each other - in person!
With that in mind, we are glad the restrictions on churches have been eased, and we've begun meeting in person again at Calvary Chapel Golden Valley. It had been 9 weeks without in-person fellowship, and I don't think we'll ever again take for granted our God-given, 1st Amendment freedom to practice our faith. We have enough space to accommodate everyone, and we will continue to offer online services for those who have health concerns. We hope you can join us as we study God's word - the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - together again. God bless you, and remember to give thanks to God for the freedoms that are being restored to our daily lives.
Jack Winkle is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Golden Valley. calvarychapelgoldenvalley.org

Be Present Today to Find Strength for Tomorrow
by Reverend Nicole Reilley

How do we find hope in times like these? I know spending time outside has been helpful to me.
I love the flowers in bloom, how the light hits the trails and the rabbits I see when I go out for a long morning walk. Nature helps me live in the moment and find strength.
Jesus says, "Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:34)
Jesus' words remind me that living in this moment is a critical practice. If we focus on today in times of trouble, we will not only give our attention to what matters now, but we will also have the strength to focus on tomorrow.
Join us this month at Valencia United Methodist Church as we look at some big, beautiful faith concepts - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Visit us virtually and, we hope, in person by July. We will warmly welcome you into a community of faith that focuses on Jesus, service and community.
No one belongs here more than you.
Reverend Nicole Reilley is the teaching and lead pastor at Valencia United Methodist Church. umcv.org

Celebrating Shavuot and the Value of Preparation
by Jay Siegel
In late spring, the holiday of Shavuot is celebrated. This Feast of Weeks commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The revelation at Sinai in the Bible is described as a happening with smoke, lightning, flashes, thunder, fire and clouds. One could imagine a truly awesome moment, an awe-inspired time. Shavuot is the time of renewed acceptance of God's gift of Torah, and a time for us to recall and imagine this awesome moment as if we were witnesses at Sinai. Three days before commencement of Shavuot, the Torah suggests preparing for the holiday and preparing for this moment in time.
Over the past few months, we have been separated from our friends, families and community. At Congregation Beth Shalom, we are ready to come together again. Although, it is true we have been open this whole time - we have connected in new, innovative ways - we still long for the moments we can be together. We are aware that togetherness will look different, yet it will fulfill us in ways we have craved. So, we look forward to opening our doors. We look forward to receiving our community back into our spiritual home. We look forward to receiving warm smiles and the laughter of our beloved community.
For us to truly receive these gifts, we must prepare. With this goal in mind, we are working enthusiastically and with great joy as we prepare to welcome our community back to a safe and healthy environment. We understand the importance of preparation and communication. In fact, those are the hallmarks of a strong and healthy community, so it is with that in mind that we offer the traditional Hebrew welcome. B'rachim HaBaim. May you be blessed in your comings.
Jay Siegel is rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom.
cbs-scv.org
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