eNewsletter Feature Story – Week of May 9 – May 15, 2021

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Julie Ruchniewicz,
FPCE Parish Nurse.

This Sunday’s worship service is scheduled to be outside. However, as of today the weather forecast is less than ideal and we may need to resort to an online-only gathering. Please keep an eye on your emails. We will announce a decision about this Sunday’s service by 11 a.m. Saturday at the latest.

Dear friends,

They walked in tandem, each of the 100 students, filing into the crowded auditorium. With graduation gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked and felt very grown up. Dads held back tears while moms unreservedly swept theirs away from moist cheeks.

This class would not pray during the commencement ceremony. That was not by choice, but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it. The principal and student speakers were cautious, staying within the guidelines of the court. They gave motivational and thought-provoking speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for holy blessings on behalf the graduates or their families. The speeches were good, but predictable.

That was until the final presentation, which inspired a standing ovation. One student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still, not saying a word, and then it happened. All 100 graduating students—each and every one them—sneezed!!!

The student at the microphone took a moment, smiled at the audience and said, “GOD BLESS YOU, each and every one of you!” He then walked off the stage to explosive applause. The graduating class had found their own way to invoke God’s blessing on their future, with or without the court’s approval. This is my account of the event, based on a true story.

I started with this anecdote because it epitomizes this past year, and because it always gives me goose bumps.

I heard a speaker once share that she believes goose bumps must be from God. A signal from God to pay attention, enjoy the moment because this is a small fragment of Heaven and He is so close we cannot imagine. We can’t control goose bumps; we can’t turn them on and off, so they must be under someone else’s control.

Perhaps God does this because in our intellectual world, we are used to analyzing, criticizing or otherwise judging something. We meet most events in our lives with our rational sense. This is good, but there are those moments when God doesn’t want us to be rational. He just wants us to enjoy a piece of his creation, a beautiful song, the scent of a baby or a good story and so he bypasses our brain and sends a signal right to our hearts.  The signal says, “Pay attention right now. This is me.”

In one of our recent staff meetings here at First Pres, we discussed “God moments.” We, like the students in the story, are consistently looking for ways to bring God into our own lives or the lives of others. We, the church, are working at being creative and focused on a common goal. This year, more than ever, I have had time to think and be grateful for the “God moments” in my life, but our church has good reason to be grateful too.

God was there when, on March 15, 2020, our service was recorded in the Sanctuary by the staff, with no congregation present, because of COVID-19.

God was there when Hannah McConnell, Crofton Coleman and Rebecca Chu continued to bring beautifully creative worship services into our members’ homes through their video.

God was there when Caryl Weinberg and Kelly Levander lovingly worked to reach out to our refugees and all the disenfranchised.

God was there when Andy Wallgren was hired to ensure our building stay safe and operational.

God was there when the Front Desk staff stepped in to keep the church as open as allowed.

God was there, on April 27, 2020, when Pastor Henry Coates and Pastor Amanda Golbek welcomed their son Jacob in the early weeks of the pandemic.

God was there when Eleanor Ehresman and Scott Klamm graciously stepped in to help the Business Office maintain its responsibilities.

God was there when, despite the pandemic, Janice Dobschuetz’s son, Jadon, graduated from 8th grade and Jim Teague’s son, Daniel, graduated from Carnegie Mellon.

God was there when after years of dedicated service Pat Verbeck (14.5 years) and John Carlson (15.5 years) retired.

God was there when Pastor Ray Hylton was able to leave on a long-awaited sabbatical.

God is present in our work and in our church. We just have to make sure to notice. I am grateful for my work, this church, its members and staff, but most of all I am grateful for the goose bump moments.

Blessings to all of you this week,

Julie Ruchniewicz,
FPCE Parish Nurse

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