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  FROM THE APOSTLES DESK
FROM THE APOSTLES DESK
THE WHITE'S ITINERARY

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Psalms of lament felt hyperbolic before COVID-19. But amid 10,000 deaths, my locked-down church in Rome resonates with David more than ever.

[LEGGI IN ITALIANO] [LER EM PORTUGUÊS]

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Italian Christians pray and live their faith, amid a nation reeling from more than 10,000 deaths—the highest tally in the world—among 92,400 confirmed cases, second only to the United States [as of March 28].

During lockdown, we can no longer gather on Sundays or in home groups. Social gatherings, travel, and weddings are suspended, as are most businesses. If someone is caught outside their home without a valid reason, there can be a heavy fine.

But this season of exile has helped us discover three facets of prayer we often neglect in times of abundance.

1) Prayers of Lament

Psalms of lament often felt hyperbolic a month ago. For example, Asaph’s complaint that God has made his people “drink tears by the bowlful” could seem overdramatic; David’s cry to God of “How long will you hide your face from me?” was a distant feeling.

But as humanity struggles to contain a fear- and anxiety-provoking pandemic, lament feels newly relevant to all of us. In March 2020, Psalm 44 sounds pitch perfect:

Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?

We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Few Western Christians have experienced poverty, injustice, or persecution. Consequently, our worship usually reflects the moods of resourceful individuals in times of prosperity and peace: composed and mainstream. We do suffer individually; however, seldom is our corporate worship fueled by protest and mourning before God.

Lament is suffering turned into prayer. It’s ...

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Salmos de lamento pareciam exagerados antes do COVID-19. Mas, em meio a 10.700 mortes, minha igreja em quarentena em Roma se identifica mais do que nunca com Davi.

[READ IN ENGLISH] [LEGGI IN ITALIANO]

A pandemia do COVID-19 mudou a maneira como os cristãos italianos oram e vivem sua fé, numa nação que chora a morte de mais de 10.700 pessoas – o maior número de mortes no mundo – entre 97.600 casos confirmados, perdendo apenas para os Estados Unidos [em 29 de março].

Durante a quarentena não podemos mais nos reunir aos domingos ou mesmo socialmente em pequenos grupos. Viagens e casamentos foram suspensos, assim como a maioria dos estabelecimentos comerciais. Se alguém for pego fora de casa sem um motivo contundente, estará sujeito a uma multa pesada.

Mas esta temporada de afastamento nos ajudou a descobrir três facetas da oração que nós facilmente negligenciamos em tempos de abundância.

1) Orações de Lamento

Salmos de lamento pareciam exagerados há um mês atrás. Por exemplo, a queixa de Asafe de que Deus fez seu povo “beber copos de lágrimas” poderia parecer um pouco exagerada; O clamor de Davi a Deus perguntando “até quando esconderás de mim o teu rosto?” era uma realidade distante.

Mas, à medida que as nações lutam para conter uma pandemia que causa medo e ansiedade, o lamento parece ser bastante apropriado para todos nós. Em março de 2020, o Salmo 44 parece perfeito:

Desperta, Senhor! Por que dormes? Levanta-te! Não nos rejeites para sempre. Por que escondes o teu rosto e esqueces o nosso sofrimento e a nossa aflição? Fomos humilhados até o pó; nossos corpos se apegam ao chão. Levanta-te! Socorre-nos! Resgata-nos por causa ...

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Prima del COVID-19 i Salmi di lamento sembravano come eccessivi. Ma con ormai 10,000 morti la mia chiesa a Roma, chiusa dal blocco totale, vive più che mai gli stessi lamenti di Davide.

[READ IN ENGLISH] [LER EM PORTUGUÊS]

La pandemia del COVID-19 ha cambiato il modo in cui i cristiani italiani pregano e vivono la loro fede, in una nazione che è sconvolta dai più di 10,000 morti — il numero più alto al mondo — e dai più di 92,400 casi confermati (seconda solo dopo gli Stati Uniti).

Durante questo periodo di isolamento non è più possibile riunirci la domenica o nei gruppi settimanali. Uscite, viaggi e matrimoni sono sospesi, così come la maggior parte delle attività. Se si viene trovati fuori casa senza una valida ragione si rischia una multa pesante.

Ma questa stagione di esilio ci ha aiutato a scoprire tre aspetti della preghiera che spesso trascuriamo in momenti di abbondanza.

1) Preghiere di Lamento

Fino a un mese fa i salmi di lamento sembravano spesso come un’esagerazione. Per esempio, la protesta di Asaf che Dio aveva “dato da bere lacrime in abbondanza” al suo popolo poteva sembrare eccessivamente drammatica; il grido di Davide a Dio “Fino a quando nasconderai il tuo volto?” sembrava un sentimento lontano.

Ma mentre l’umanità sta lottando per contenere una pandemia che genera paura e ansietà, il lamento sembra avere una nuova rilevanza per ognuno di noi. A marzo del 2020, il Salmo 44 sembra risuonare perfetto:

Risvegliati! Perché dormi, Signore?
Destati, non respingerci per sempre!
Perché nascondi il tuo volto
e ignori la nostra afflizione e la nostra oppressione?

Poiché l'anima nostra è abbattuta nella polvere;
il nostro corpo giace per terra.
Ergiti in nostro aiuto,
liberaci nella tua bontà.

Pochi cristiani occidentali hanno vissuto povertà, ...

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How one church in Brooklyn, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, is responding to opportunities in their neighborhood.

I can still hear the music spilling from storefront churches on Sunday mornings, smoke billowing from the Caribbean restaurants cooking their jerk chicken and the consistent chaos of jumping on and off subway trains.

Woven into our culture is a consistent grind that fits well with the NYC nickname, “The City That Never Sleeps.”

Brooklynites in particular have a uniquely prideful ego—feelings of invincibility, constantly busy, always going somewhere, always working or hustling for the next job, and always in search of the next big event.

If you would’ve told me a month ago that Brooklyn would be brought to a screeching halt, I could never have believed it!

Here are a few especially unpreferred conditions for young New Yorkers, many of whom make up our church population: a city in panic, financial insecurities, and logistical limitations. Coincidentally, all of these have filled recent broadcasts as the COVID-19 crisis set up its pandemic epicenter in the cultural capital that is New York City.

The updates came quickly and often without warning or clarity, leaving many pastors and churches (including mine) scrambling, trying to figure out how to adjust to the nationally suggested guidelines and local directives—it’s been like building and flying the plane at the same time.

With these thoughts consuming our staff and elder meetings, beacons of hope have begun to emerge from the darkness; we’ve stopped merely looking at the problems and started looking at opportunities ahead.

Opportunities for individuals to serve their neighbors in a much more tangible way, for families to create healthier rhythms of rest and devotion, and for the church to digitally enter into homes previously outside our ...

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È fedele chi vuole sfuggire a un’epidemia? 
La riflessione del riformatore tedesco sulla peste può fungere da guida per i cristiani in Cina e dovunque il virus di Wuhan si è diffuso.

Dal suo epicentro a Wuhan, in Cina, lo scoppio dell’attuale coronavirus sta alimentando la paura e ha bloccato viaggi ed affari in tutto il globo. Più di 3200 persone sono morte solamente in Cina, e più di 561000 sono infettate in circa 170 paesi, superando così l’epidemia di SARS del 2003.

I cittadini di Wuhan, una delle maggiori città del centro della Cina, paragonabile a Chicago, sono sotto lockdown per ordine del governo e le attività pubbliche sono ferme, inclusa l’annuale celebrazione del Capodanno Cinese (che sarebbe dovuto iniziare il 25 gennaio). I cristiani cinesi, a Wuhan e in Cina, si sono dovuti confrontare con difficili decisioni da assumere, se essere tra i Cinesi che ritornano a casa per visitare la famiglia (come è usanza nella stagione delle feste lunari), fuggire dal continente o persino se riunirsi per i normali culti domenicali.

Ma i seguaci di Gesù hanno diritto di sfuggire a un’epidemia, quando le persone stanno soffrendo e morendo?

Nel XVI secolo, i cristiani tedeschi chiesero a Martin Lutero una risposta a questa importante domanda.

Nel 1527, meno di 200 anni dopo che la Morte nera aveva falcidiato metà della popolazione europea, la peste era riapparsa a Wittenberg, la città dove Lutero risiedeva, e nelle città vicine. Nella sua lettera Se è lecito fuggire da una pestilenza mortale, il famoso riformatore valuta quali debbano essere le responsabilità dei cittadini ordinari durante il contagio. I suoi consigli servono come guida pratica ai cristiani che devono affrontare la diffusione di malattie infettive oggi.

In primo luogo, Lutero sostiene che chiunque abbia una condizione ...

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The bread and the cup Zoomed for you.

Can ministers bless the Lord’s Table over Zoom? The worldwide pandemic provides all-new context for this theologically untested—and for some unthinkable—question. It may be time to consider what we mean by “presence.”

National guidelines now limit gatherings to 10 people. Churches have transitioned to online services and Zoom meetings. The sermon livestream is no problem—we’re comfortable with the Word transferring digitally. A recent study from the Pew Research Center easily pulled together 50,000 online sermons from Pentecostal to Catholic. Eighty-three percent of American protestant pastors agree that viewing a livestream is an acceptable option for the sick.

The controversy is with the latter half of Word and Table. “This is my body”—Christ’s words make our faith explicitly physical. But COVID-19 has transformed our physical bodies and gatherings from blessed unity to social-distanced partitioning. Hugs and hands convey fear instead of love. The bread and the cup elicit worry of viral transmission.

With physical gatherings canceled, congregations with quarterly Communion may slide the schedule a bit. But many evangelical Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians celebrate with bread and wine weekly. The shared Table is ordered and integral to worship. What now? Do you have to be present to partake of the presence?

Some “low church” nondenominational churches like Saddleback have long offered instructions to follow along with your own grape juice and livestream. Never mind 1990s HTML wonders like eHolyCom. While the United Methodist Church wrote exploratory papers in 2013, most sacramental denominations have relegated online Holy Communion to an exotic ...

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Church leaders are navigating new digital waters, with some hilarious results.

Megan Castellan has been livestreaming morning prayer from home every day through the coronavirus pandemic for her parishioners at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ithaca, New York.

But Thursday’s prayer (March 26) was an “epic disaster,” Castellan told her followers on Twitter.

Both the rector’s dog and cat decided to participate in the Facebook Live video, hovering over her shoulders on the couch.

Offscreen, her husband, forgetting Castellan was on camera, made a loud phone call, then motioned to her that he was going to go get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Castellan, also briefly forgetting she was on camera, responded by miming sticking a swab up her nose, part of the testing process.

Then a “mysterious loud noise” sent her dog leaping off the couch to investigate, returning in time to lick the rector’s hand enthusiastically through the final prayer.

Castellan briefly considered recording the video over again, she told Religion News Service, but then she realized that as lives have been upended by the pandemic, maybe somebody else needed to hear that everything was awful this morning and that everything that could go wrong, did.

"We don't want to fail in public, but I also think that one of the things that has restrained the church in doing online things is we don't want to seem ridiculous and we don't want to fail,” she said.

"The truth is, if you look at a lot of what we do, it is inherently ridiculous, especially to an outsider. And so we just need to sort of lean into that and let it go a little bit."

Clergy across the globe are learning similar lessons as they turn to the internet to offer encouragement to congregants ...

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Intercessory Prayer:  Sunday – Tuesday & Thursday – Friday 5:00 a.m.

Wednesday – 12:00 Noon & 6:00 p.m.

Saturday – 9:00 a.m.


    Abounding Love Ministries
    7076 Hooper Road
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana  70811
    Office Telephone:  (225)  356-4441 • Fax:  (225) 356-4454
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