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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Esbenshade farm 3/30/20
Take a walk with Brooksyne in our neck of the woods throughout our message today: 
Over the past 18 years I've walked through our neighborhood but yesterday for the first time I viewed this farm across the pasture land framed by the trees. I thought, "Wow, there's a farm I don't remember seeing in the past." Suddenly, I realized it's the Esbenshade farm I walk by all the time but never saw it from this distant viewpoint.
Click to enlarge

"Social Distancing"

Message summary: Don't let social distancing hinder you from "touching" in other ways you might never have thought of before.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"While He (Jesus) was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!'" (Luke 17:11-13).

Over the last several weeks we have been learning a lot about "social distancing" and practicing it as well. It's a term Brooksyne and I are unfamiliar with, but it has been around although not commonly used. The term was previously used in this sense: "Social distance refers to the level of acceptance people have of others outside of their own social group or class. This level of acceptance is defined by their general feelings toward others, and the amount of social interaction they have with people whose characteristics are outside of their social norm."

This is particularly seen in places like India with caste systems. We saw it in Guatemala among the Spanish and Mayan people. In various ways it's present in all countries. But now we use social distancing as a term applied to certain actions taken by Public Health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease most notably refraining from touching and maintaining 6 feet of separation.

Bible lepers were required to practice a form of social distancing similar to what we are experiencing today. This is seen in our daily text in the phrase, "Ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him". The contagious nature of leprosy was known in ancient times and thus this requirement. Apart from the disease itself this lack of human touch, interaction with others, and living apart from those you loved most was very hard emotionally, mentally and physically. Certainly it brought about financial hardship to the family as well when the breadwinners themselves contracted leprosy.

Leprosy is an age-old disease, described in the Bible and literature of ancient civilizations. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) leprosy is likely transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contact with untreated cases, much like we're told the coronavirus is transmitted. Untreated, leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes. It commonly disfigures the body where the leprosy occurs.

Children playing
During her walk yesterday Brooksyne witnessed some social distancing (at a 6' distance of course). In the photo above two children were riding their scooters in their 91 year old great-grandfather's driveway as he watched from the window. Their mother, Lucy, said they wanted him to know that he was loved and not forgotten. They have been communicating their love to each other by exchanging notes and writing poems which she showed Brooksyne as she stood at the front of Lucy's car. What initially caught Brooksyne's attention was the music from Lucy's radio playing Andrew Peterson's song, "Is He Worthy?", a song that her choir has sung numerous times.

Many years ago when we lived in Saint Marys, PA Brooksyne developed a foster grandparent program at our local nursing home with girls (ages 5-12) from our Missionette program at church. Each girl was teamed up with a resident and once a month the girls would visit their foster grandparents as a group, take them a card or gift, sing, recite Scriptures, and pray for them. Brooksyne always stressed to the young girls the need to move in close to the elderly resident and hold their hand. In that setting for many their greatest exposure to human touch are medical procedures such as a blood pressure readings or blood being drawn.

Human touch is a great component to wholeness. But when the human touch is restricted for valid reasons there are other ways one can warm the heart of another. Sometimes it's the unexpected and unhurried phone call you receive from one expressing interest and concern for your welfare. Last night during our evening walk a car pulled into a neighbor's driveway. A young person carrying a bag got out, stepped up on the porch, rang the doorbell, hung the bag on the doorknob, and left even before the neighbor got to the door. Perhaps an old fashioned letter sent in the mail would brighten one's quiet world when opening the mailbox is otherwise stuffed with junk mail or bills.

However God moves you, find ways to let others know you care about them; they're not forgotten. Don't let social distancing hinder you from "touching" in other ways you might never have thought of before.

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, love in any language straight from the heart pulls us all together, never apart. Sometimes our language is not spoken with words but is heard or seen through the acts of kindness we extend to others, especially those who least expect it. Instead of feeling that we are deprived of our freedoms during this most critical health crisis, show us ways we can be creative in our expressions of love and care to those who need it most.

Above all, call to our minds daily those in need of our prayer support such as our governmental authorities, our first responders, the massive numbers of health care workers, those who are managing the hospitals, both temporary and permanent structures and for those who are dealing with the public in various settings. Provide the necessary equipment for protective gear as well as therapeutic treatments for those with the virus and testing for those who are ill. Bring comfort and guidance to those who have lost loved ones due to this insidious virus and above all bring about a mighty revival of salvation to our country and throughout our world. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

From our archives we found this story which can provide a jolting perspective:

Pastor Jack Hinton from New Bern, N.C. was leading music for a worship service held in a leper colony on the island of Tobago. There was time for one more selection. He asked for a request, and a woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.

"I saw the most hideous face I had ever seen," Jack says. "The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. Most of her lips had rotted away. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ’Can we sing, Count Your Many Blessings?’"

Overcome with emotion Jack left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, "Jack, I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again." "Yes, I will," Jack replied, "but I’ll never sing it the same way again."

"Count Your Blessings"  Video  Guy Penrod

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Love in Any Language"  Video  Ladye Love Smith, Donnie Sumner, Lana Ranahan, Jessy Dixon  Brooksyne: I chose this song because it conveys the message that love will not be hindered by inability to communicate due to not understanding another's language. I apply that to our social distancing and believe we can communicate love and care by the things we do for people that reminds them of their worth to others.

"Is He Worthy?"  Video  Calvary Church Choir and Orchestra

Til the storm passes by
"Til The Storm Passes By"  Video  The Preacher's Daughters  I came across this song this morning and these two sisters (I presume) blew me away. They have a set of powerful lungs and they use it for God's glory. You will enjoy this tested and proven song!

Some more spring scenes from our neighborhood.

Esbenshade farm 3/30/20
This is the up close view of the Esbenshade farm seen in our first photo. Allen and his wife grow wheat, soy beans and corn every year. Many times I have walked by their farm and counted 14 to 20 cats or kittens. Of course Mollie, our border collie, especially notices them so every time we pass the farm Mollie is watching to see some cats or kittens appear in the driveway, but lately there have been none much to our disappointment.

Daffodils and hay bales 3/30/20
Bright yellow daffodils in the foreground overlooking a large farm that grows produce for our neighborhood produce stand. What a treat to find fresh produce within walking distance, although I've yet to pick up a watermelon and carry it all the way home and doubt that I ever will! After all I've always got two dogs with me!

Picking flowers for mom 3/30/20
I met Theresa just a few houses after I met Lucy on Kelly Ave. She was picking a bouquet so I struck up a conversation and learned that she was picking them for her mother. Theresa works at Hershey Foods and they continue to be open because, as she said, people can't live without chocolate (especially during a crisis). So she is practicing social distancing but making sure her mother knows she is thinking about her by picking spring flowers that she grows in her front yard and dropping them off for her mother.

Finally today:

Comfort naval floating hospital
We took this photo several years ago when we toured Baltimore Harbor and saw the huge 900 foot long Naval hospital ship "Comfort". It has been moved to New York City due to the Coronavirus Crisis.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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