All posts by Pat Gustafson

Indoor Worship Resumed – Parking Lot Worship Continues

The Bishop Frank J. Beard has informed us that we can begin to meet, with strict guidelines, back in our sanctuary again. If you are not comfortable with gathering indoors, please continue to join us in the parking lot  at FM 98.3 or on the streaming video from either our facebook page or our webpage. Those who plan to come inside must wear a mask and maintain the recommended distance of 6 feet. If you are feeling any of the symptoms, please do not plan to attend in person.

Please keep our country in your prayers as we struggle through this challenging pandemic. A lot of traditions cannot be followed. Maybe we can find some new traditions. Call somebody you haven’t seen recently or who might be alone. Share God’s love.

Be safe and wear a mask when you must go out.

Grace and Peace, Church Council

King Harvest Ministry

A HUGE thanks to everyone who is helping with the special ministry.  For years our church family has supported the King Harvest ministry by providing sandwiches and dessert each Tuesday evening during the winter months to the folks who spend the night in the shelter. Due to COVID-19, the shelter is not opening. The great news is that the ministry remains active by utilizing a hotel in northwest Davenport.

Bethel Wesley’s Mission and Outreach Ministry has pledged to cover the 1st and 3rd Tuesday from December through March, with about 83 people being served nightly. We will provide dinners that include at least a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a dessert, and a bottle of water. <!–split–>

A committee members may contact you to help. If you are ready and willing to make a donation to this project, we are asking for volunteers to contribute 83 sandwiches, 83 desserts (homemade or purchased), bottles of water, or cash to purchase the items needed to complete the meal like fruit or chips.

Most of our opportunities to serve the community have been cancelled due to COVID. Please prayerfully consider getting involved in this rewarding ministry.

If You Are Hospitalized

Due to patient confidentiality laws, if you or a family member are hospitalized, please let the Pastor or Kara Ade know. When you check into the hospital, let them know that your church is Bethel Wesley UMC and/or have a friend or family member call the church  to inform us.

From The Parish Nurse . . . Pandemic Marathon Tips

A well-known saying among marathoners is that “There are two halves to every marathon—the first 20 miles and the last 6.2.” While not mathematically accurate, this saying is correct in that it takes as much effort to complete the first 20 miles as it does the last 6.2. <!–split–>

I have been fortunate to complete a few marathons over the years, so I know how difficult the final miles can be. Actually, it’s miles 20-25 that are the most difficult because once you get to mile 25, you get a psychological lift that the finish line is not far away. At mile 20, though, you are exhausted. The runners are no longer talking to each other (a complete change from earlier in the race) as they are conserving every ounce of energy they have in order to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The people cheering them on also disappear around mile 20 because spectators need to hurry to the end themselves to watch their friend or family member cross the finish line. Those last miles are lonely, and your mind plays tricks on you, raising doubts about whether you will be able to finish.

This all came back to me when I realized how exhausted I am feeling by this pandemic marathon we all are running right now. None of us signed up for this marathon. And none of us could have prepared for it because we had no idea it was coming. We have no way of knowing if we are now halfway through this race because no one can say for sure how much farther it will be to the finish line. Even if we are metaphorically at mile 20, the remaining miles will likely be more challenging than we can imagine.

I went online and researched some tips for first-time marathoners, looking for specific recommendations for the “second half” of a marathon. I share these tips with you here because I think they are timely for our current situation.

  • Hydrate and refuel often. Runners all have their favorite drinks, gels, and energy bars. They know from experience what boosts their energy best. We, too, know what boosts our spiritual, emotional, and physical energy and need to intentionally consume as much of that as possible right now.
  • Stop at every aid station, and get medical attention if needed. Marathon organizers add extra aid stations in the final miles, spacing them closer together. Medical tents are also available if needed. aid stations in a pandemic can be a phone or Zoom call with a friend or loved one, a walk around the block, meditation/prayer, or participating in an online offering that boosts our spiritual and emotional well-being. Unlike a marathon race, we may need to create our own aid stations, being proactive, and spacing them more closely together. And if you do need to visit the medical tent because you are in pain, know that it is a sign of wisdom and strength to reach out for support from someone trained to help, such as a therapist, clergy person, or medical professional.
  • Slow down and walk when necessary. Listen to what your body, heart, and soul are telling you. Feeling exhausted? Slow down. Take a break. Learn to rest, not quit.
  • Focus on short-term goals, rather than just the finish line. Some runners make it their goal to just make it to the next aid station or mile marker. Others focus on running for two minutes and then walking for 2 minutes. This week, I talked with someone who said their goal right now during COVID was to take a shower and get dressed every day. I applauded that goal. We are thrilled to read the good news about vaccines, and we so very much want the finish line to be just around the next corner. Right now, though, we need to focus on shorter-term goals and merely putting one foot in front of the other because letting our guard down now could risk not making it to the finish line or preventing others from not getting there.
  • If you see another runner struggling, stop, and offer support. Everyone has a story of why they run a marathon, and except for the few elite runners that are competing to win, everyone is cheering for and helping each other along the way. I will never forget once when I was walking and struggling to finish a race, and several people stopped and walked with me for a moment as they offered an encouraging word. It made all the difference.

This pandemic is an endurance event like no other we have experienced. We don’t know exactly how much longer we have to go, and the second “half” is likely to be every bit as challenging as the first. So let’s remember these marathon tips and do all we can to help each other get across the finish line, arm in arm, together.

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

–Used with permission by Living Compass

From the desk of Pastor Stan

This has been a tough year for so many of us. My heart aches for those who have lost loved ones, for those that have died from the pandemic, and those families suffering from all kinds of illness. But it is my hope that we remember what God said to us: “I am sending my Son and His name shall be Emmanuel”, meaning in Hebrew, God is with us. Please believe that just as God promised, He is with us and He will help us make it through. Let’s try to connect with each other by phone, email and texts.     –Pastor Stan   <!–split–>

 AGAINST ALL HOPE

Romans 4:16-21: Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed” (v. 18).

But that can’t be; there is no hope. If anyone could have justly said that, Abraham could have. He was an old man, aged 100. His wife, Sarah, was 90-years-old. But God said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5).

We think of hope as simply a reasonable belief. We have hope if we can understand what we hope for. But Abraham believed against hope. His hope was a conviction that stood beyond hope.

God is beyond hope because God is beyond our understanding of what can be. Abraham believed, trusted, and put his faith in God who is hope beyond all human hope. There are no limits to God, and there are no limits to hope. God is hope. This is not wishful thinking but reality, as real as God is himself. God answers our “there is no hope” doubtings. He shows us hope, a hope against hope.

Lord, thank you that hope is more than I think it is.

If you have put strings of limitation on God today, consciously cut those strings.

(from Bible Readings ON HOPE by Roger C. Palms)

-Author Unknown

FROM THE PARISH NURSE . . . Prayer for Putting on a Face Mask

Creator God, as I prepare to go into the world, help me to see the sacramental nature of wearing of this cloth. Let it be a tangible and visible way of living love for my neighbors, as I love myself.

Christ Jesus, since my lips will be covered, uncover my heart, that people would see my smile in the crinkles around my eyes. Since my voice may be muffled, help me to speak clearly, not only with my words, but with my actions.

Holy Spirit, as the elastic touches my ears, remind me to listen carefully and caringly to all those I meet. May this simple piece of cloth be shield and banner, and may each breath that it holds, be filled with Your love. In Your name and in that love, I pray.   AMEN. (Rev.  Richard Bott, Moderator of the United Church of Canada)  <!–split–>

Expressing Thanks May Be One Of The Simplest Ways To Feel Better.

The holidays have begun, so perhaps December is a good time to review the mental health benefits of gratitude — and to consider some advice about how to cultivate this state of mind.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.

Research On Gratitude

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect. But most of the studies published on this topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.

 Ways To Cultivate Gratitude

Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.

Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.

Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to your-self.

Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

Count your blessings. . Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

—-Harvard Health Publishing

 

From the desk of Pastor Stan

This has been a tough year for so many of us. My heart aches for those who have lost loved ones, for those that have died from the pandemic, and those families suffering from all kinds of illness. But it is my hope that we remember what God said to us: “I am sending my Son and His name shall be Emmanuel”, meaning in Hebrew, God is with us. Please believe that just as God promised, He is with us and He will help us make it through. Let’s try to connect with each other by phone, email and texts.    –Pastor Stan   <!–split–>

 AGAINST ALL HOPE

Romans 4:16-21: Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed” (v. 18).

But that can’t be; there is no hope. If anyone could have justly said that, Abraham could have. He was an old man, aged 100. His wife Sarah was 90-years-old. But God said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5). <!–split–>

We think of hope as simply a reasonable belief. We have hope if we can understand what we hope for. But Abraham believed against hope. His hope was a conviction that stood beyond hope.

God is beyond hope because God is beyond our understanding of what can be. Abraham believed, trusted, and put his faith in God who is hope beyond all human hope. There are no limits to God, and there are no limits to hope. God is hope. This is not wishful thinking but reality, as real as God is himself. God answers our “there is no hope” doubtings. He shows us hope, a hope against hope.

Lord, thank you that hope is more than I think it is.

If you have put strings of limitation on God today, consciously cut those strings.

(from Bible Readings ON HOPE by Roger C. Palms)

Remembrance Tree

This difficult year we are planning a special “Remembrance Tree” in front of the office. Paper doves with your loved one’s name on it will decorate the tree along with blue lights. Please email (or call) the office with your loved one’s name and we will make sure they are remembered this Christmas

King’s Harvest Ministry

For years our church family has supported the ministry of King Harvest by providing sandwiches and dessert each Tuesday evening during the winter months to the folks who spend the night in the shelter. Due to COVID-19, the shelter is not opening. The great news is that the ministry remains active by utilizing a hotel in northwest Davenport.

We have the opportunity to continue to provide the least among us with a meal. Bethel Wesley’s Mission and Outreach Ministry has pledged to cover the 1st and 3rd Tuesday from December through March. We will provide 50 dinners that include at least a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a dessert, and a bottle of water. <!–split–>

Since we will not be in the building for awhile to fill out the sign-up sheet, committee members will make phone calls to find out how you would like to help. If you are ready and willing to make a donation to this project, we are asking for volunteers to contribute 50 sandwiches, 50 desserts (homemade or purchased), bottles of water, or cash to purchase the items needed to complete the meal like fruit or chips.

Most of our opportunities to serve the community have been cancelled due to COVID. Please prayerfully consider getting involved in this rewarding ministry.