Friday, March 27, 2020

Spring Has a Story to Tell Us

John 1:1-5: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The world all around us, even in the midst of crisis, awakens and speaks to us these truths. 





Thursday, March 26, 2020

Lenten Live Stream: Week 3, March 24, 2020



We are going to explore Jesus as a miracle worker this week and see what that means for us this Lenten season when so much has been tossed up in the air by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Here's a Link to Today's Worship Service via Facebook Live 3/22/2020

Pastor's perspective for Facebook Live worship.
Note to pastors, if you don't give the service a title, you don't get to live-stream!
Follow this link to see the recorded worship service of Sunday, March 22, 2020, in the age of the pandemic. I hope this gives you some comfort and you'll join us again next Sunday. Strong message of hope and support. We even have an old favorite hymn.
https://www.facebook.com/LansdowneBaptistChurch/videos/691165211639317/

Don't Live in Fear

Romans 8:15-16 reads: 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God...

I want to add an observation to this from scholar Eileen R. Campbell-Reed from an article she wrote in Christian Century. "The Gospel of John tells us Jesus inspired a crowd of 5,000 to pull bread and fish from their cloaks and baskets and share food with everyone. People called it a miracle." God provides us with a sacred abundance that will see us through even this pandemic. What do you suppose we as individuals and as a congregation have up our collective sleeves? Remember too, when God provided manna to the his children in the wilderness, it would only last a day (it also came every day) and anyone panicky enough to hoard manna found it rotting the next morning. If we don't succumb to panic and don't hoard, there will be enough for everyone. 

Thanks for Prof. Campbell-Reed for the good thought! Thanks to Paul for the ever relevant letters! 

Have a blessed day.
God has placed sources of joy all around us

Please share this message with your friends!
~Rev. Jeff Snyder

Rest Assured: God Has Plans for Us

Jeremiah 29 reminds us God has big plans for us: 11For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14I will let you find me, says the Lord ...


God has not abandoned us. God is not smiting us. this isn't caused by some tv preacher's hot button issue of the day that god's heated up about. god didn't send us jesus out of anger, but out of love for all humanity. spend some time in prayer today, walk with god, and be assured. i'm praying for you too. 

~Rev. jeff snyder 

Facebook Live Church Today

In these days of social distancing and gatherings no larger than ten, Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 11 a.m., Lansdowne Baptist Church will meet virtually via Facebook Live for a short Sunday morning service during Lent. You will find a link to our Facebook page in the left hand column with information about our church. Imagine, worshiping with your coffee, robe and slippers is you like! God is good! 

Remember also, you are never truly alone. God is with you always. God has plans for you, as Jeremiah 29 reminds us: 11For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14I will let you find me, says the Lord

We hope to see you there! 

Peace, 

Pastor Jeff Snyder




Friday, March 20, 2020

American Baptist Leaders Calling for Prayer

Members of the National Executive Council and Regional Executive Ministers Council are calling for 21 days of prayer beginning March 21 to April 11, 2020. See it here: https://www.abc-usa.org/2020/03/american-baptist-leaders-issue-call-to-prayer/?fbclid=IwAR2UxgMA-ui8TsPwQO0SlC4TkphieNwyZJBodylappyEv5FJStJp_hboI4s


COVID-19 Information Resources for Pastors and Congregations

American Baptist Churches USA has collected some valuable resources for use by ministers and their congregations in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Immersing ourselves in fact is one way to avoid fear, and certainly a way to avoid misinformation, allowing us to follow the instruction in Ephesians 5:5: Let no one deceive you with empty words. See: https://www.abc-usa.org/coronavirus/

May we all stand on our faith in God. May God be our rock in times of trouble, our firm foundation in the storm. 

Pastors Looking to Livestream Services

No, this is not the laptop I'm talking about.
Hi pastors! If you're looking to livestream, here's a couple tips. I started doing this two years ago for Bible studies ... and never expected that experience to be as useful as it is today. 

If you're going with Facebook Live, it's easy. It will work entirely with your own laptop's camera and microphone. I'll attach a link to a quick video on how to get started with Facebook Live. That video had all I needed to provide a Sunday worship service on the first Sunday our church closed in March due to COVID-19. Link: https://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2020/03/how-to-livestream-your-church-service.html

One thing you need to know, the preview won't last long. On my computer, it freezes if you don't go live quickly. If it does freeze, just start over and roughly 30 seconds to a minute later, you'll be live and nobody will know the difference. 

Now, YouTube Live is another kettle of fish. For this you'll need an encoder. OBS Studio is free and works well. Follow a YouTube instructional video on how to get started. There's a steeper learning curve here, but it's worthwhile. 

Another thing you'll likely need. If you're like me, you can't keep up with the newest, most expensive equipment. My laptop is a few years old and has limited storage by today's standards (150 GB hard drive). This can be a problem as you need a decent amount of memory available for livestreaming seamlessly (along with a good, strong, fast internet connection). I was pushing the limits and discovered flash drives (tiny, meant to install in your laptop and stay there) with 128 GB memory, for a very reasonable price on sale. Needless to say, that nearly doubled the amount of space I had to play with. I transferred all the photos from the laptop to the flash drive (how did I end up with 60 GB of photos, that's over 11,000!) deleted the photos from the laptop's main drive, and the computer is running faster than it has in years. The errors caused by limited space should be done. One thing, when transferring files, open the overall file (in this case Photos) and select all the files & photos within, and pull those over to the flash drive for copying. If you try to pull over the overall file (Photos), you'll get an instantaneous shortcut to the file, but the material IS NOT transferred. You can see the disaster this would create if you weren't careful. 

We live in a new age. We will have to figure out how to stay connected with our congregations differently, how to hold worship digitally when needed, and perhaps this will change some of the things we do after the pandemic is over forever moving forward. That may be something God wants from us. It's worth considering, prayerfully. 

Good luck! 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Update and Advice with Pastor Jeff



An update on how we'll handle Sunday's service in the age of coronavirus and how we handle uncertain times as Christ's followers.

Annual Community Dinner Postponed

For everyone's safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, our annual free community dinner has been postponed until further notice. We hate to do it, but we love our community and want you all to stay safe. Once the pandemic has passed, we'll brush ourselves off, thank God we're here, and prepare to celebrate together, breaking bread in joy. See you then. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Lenten Live Stream 2



On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, we continued our study of Jesus, using the book Jesus: The God Who Knows Your Name by Max Lucado. We explored Jesus as friend. He was a friend to his disciples, to the outcasts, to the overlooked, the powerless, and the lost. He is our friend as well. See what that means for us. If you like what you see and want to join in on Tuesday evenings, connecting with others interested in seeing how our faith is applicable to our daily lives and making a personal connection in the age of "social distancing," go to YouTube and subscribe at my J.S. Brooks channel and become part of the conversation. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBxxX5sENGIcCowZ314locA?view_as=subscriber. . ~Rev. Jeff Snyder

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Sometimes You Need a New Plan

Sometimes you just need a new plan. I am building an N Scale model railroad on a door at home. It helps me decompress after a stressful week. I was looking to make my own trees. I selected a tree plan from a YouTube instructional video (they cover just about everything on YouTube), had most of what it took to and decided I could make a few reasonable substitutions. Well, the result is what I call my zombie tree (in the foreground) ... even from a distance you can tell something's just wrong about it. 
Meet my "zombie tree." A different plan was required.

It was discouraging. But, I sat back, thought it over, admitted I didn't have all I needed to successfully complete that plan. I went back to YouTube, found another plan, and this time made no substitutions. At the same stage of development, this tree looked a lot more like a tree. 

Looks more like a tree to me.

The finished tree I liked well enough to make another ... with a third on the way ... and try two different leaf application plans. I enjoyed the results of both. 
Two finished trees with another on the way.

But why am I telling you all this? Because, life right now seems to be strongly suggesting we try another plan. The one we are familiar with just isn't going to work during this COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We need a new plan for church worship. The PBA developed one in league with the CDC's recommendations and American Baptist plans from around the nation. Here it is and we have the resources to implement it and that's what we will do to keep everyone safe. We can worship together now as we will gather in numbers below the unsafe threshold and we have plenty of room for social distancing. It will seem unfamiliar at first, perhaps a little unsettling, but the safety of our beloved church community is the priority. Here's what the PBA offers as a new plan. 

I have compiled and listed below recommendations for congregations to follow as we live through the challenges that we face given the outbreak of coronavirus.

First:
The PBA Ministers Council gathered this week and discussed the challenges and shared helpful recommendations for congregations as we face in this public health emergency. Please click on the link to review their recommendations and share your thoughts by filling out the survey https://form.jotform.com/200715356940150

Further, the Ministers Council plans to develop webinars and an online community that helps us to coordinate our efforts in serving and protecting church members.

Second:
I have gathered and compiled some of the recommendations from Regions across ABCUA. The PBA does recommend our churches consider the suggestions below:

WORSHIP
Churches face decisions now and in the future about cancelling worship services.  We have been advised to avoid gatherings over 250 people (now the number is down to 50); our larger churches will have a more difficult decision.  In your sanctuary, spread out!  Create some distance between persons
If possible foregoing print bulletins, and replacing them with electronic or projected versions, is advisable. If this is not feasible, make sure greeters are wearing gloves as they pass out bulletins, and have worshippers sanitize their hands as they enter the sanctuary.
Consider live streaming or podcasting your services for those who elect not to attend, and to prepare for the possible cancellation of live worship in the future. 


MUSIC
It is not known at present how long COVID-19 is able to remain viable on surfaces. Projecting lyrics is a good way to prevent the spread of the virus. Remember to disinfect the keyboards, remotes/mouse and desks. If this is not feasible a printed song sheet may be a better option, and if this will not work then encouraging hand washing and sanitizing after worship is recommended (which should be a standard practice).

OFFERING
Plates or baskets should be placed in a location where the people may leave their offering. Plates should be handled by gloved ushers and not passed by the congregation. While there are costs, encouraging online giving would also help protect those who handle the offering after it is taken.

PRAYER TIME
If your church passes a microphone around at prayer time, have the person holding the microphone in the front listen to each request and then repeat it for the congregation.

HANDSHAKING
Following CDC guidelines, handshaking should be avoided. As we greet one another or Pass the Peace, we should do so without physical touch of any kind. A gentle bow or a nod can be substituted. 
People could be taught to sign “I love you” or place their right hand over their heart and then turn it outward to their neighbors—the latter is considered by many to be a sign of peace. A friendly nod and smile is also a good alternative.

COMMUNION
Passing plates and cups is inadvisable at this time, as too many hands end up touching the elements and the potential for spreading the virus is increased. Churches may want to consider inviting congregants up front for communion, keeping a least three feet between members, and have gloved servers hand worshippers the elements. You may also consider using pre-filled communion sets.


OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS:

Who should forego worship gatheringsPersons who feel, or within the past two weeks, have felt unwell or run a fever should be discouraged from attending church services or events, both for their own protection and the protection of others. If anyone in a household is unwell, everyone in the household should remain at home.

In particular, the following persons who are at particular risk from COVID -19 should take extra precautions: persons age 60 or over, anyone with a respiratory condition such as asthma or emphysema, anyone with an autoimmune disorder, anyone who is undergoing or has recently received chemotherapy, and smokers.


Cleaning:  Make sure to wipe every surface that is often touched with disinfectant: doorknobs, handrails, the tops of pews.

Food service:  Food served at coffee hour, feeding programs or other gatherings should be in individual servings. If food is not in individual servings, a person wearing a new pair of food service gloves should be assigned to pre-plate and serve the food. Serving utensils should be handled only by the person preparing and serving the food.

Virtual meetings are encouraged where possible. Church or program staff may be encouraged to work from home, provided their physical presence is not required.  Some free or low-cost online meeting platforms include: Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex Meetings, and Microsoft Teams.

Pastoral Care:  Please be aware that pastors may need to reduce or eliminate their physical presence in hospitals and nursing homes.  Many facilities are already limiting such visits.  We have had our first case of a US pastor contracting this illness.  Pastors do not want to become unintentional carriers by entering high-risk areas; in addition, many pastors have family members in high-risk groups, or are themselves at high risk.  Prayer by phone or video can indeed be Spirit-filled.


The Rev. Dr. James E. McJunkin
Regional Executive Pastor

In the end, the new plan that succeeds (and it may take a couple tries to get it right) creates something beautiful ... and perhaps a little different from what was expected! 


Monday, March 16, 2020

Meeting at the Well



Sermon for Sunday, March 15, 2020, based on John 4:7-14, the most complex story in the book of John, in which Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. Life application connections made to the current coronavirus pandemic facing us all. This was an experiment (as so many pastors were making that Sunday) using Facebook Live for the first time. The recording you see here was made in parallel with that recording. That's why the angle and you see me looking between my computer screen (with camera and microphone) and my iPad with my sermon notes.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Lenten Live Stream 2020 #1



On Tuesday evening, March 10, we set aside the book of Mark for the rest of March. We're giving up Mark for Lent and giving up a little of our personal time to study Jesus together. We're going to grow in faith as we puzzle over what Jesus means to us. The book by Max Lucado titled Jesus: The God Who Knows Your Name will be the focus of our study. Come watch. All are welcome. Peace, Rev. Jeff Snyder

Temptation



This is the sermon from Sunday, March 8, 2020, based on Matthew 4:1-11. This is the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and how that experience applies in our lives today. Really, the title says it all. Everyone is invited to watch.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Timely Information on COVID-19

The Acting General Secretary of our denomination (American Baptist Churches USA) provides valuable information on dealing with the COVID-19 virus. As of this writing (3/11/2020), the virus has just been declared a pandemic. Here is some important information you need to know. We American Baptists want all our communities to stay safe. 


Dear American Baptist Family:

I join you in our common concerns regarding the effects of COVID-19, which is being referred to as the coronavirus.

We continue to be in prayer for the recovery of those who are ill, the medical teams caring for the sick and, for those who are working to contain and combat the virus.

While much uncertainty still exists regarding the virus, here are a few quotes posted on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website:
  • COVID-19 was first detected in China and has now been detected in almost 90 locations internationally, and 35 states within the U.S. COVID-19 is part of a family of Coronaviruses.
  • Reported illnesses from the virus have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. Information collected so far suggests that most COVID-19 related illnesses are mild.
  • Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
  • Symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath have surfaced 2-14 days after exposure. Persons are most contagious when they are most symptomatic.
  • Persons with the illness have contracted it through travel and through close contact with known cases. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In addition to seeking to curb the spread of illnesses, another reason to try to contain the disease is so that local health agencies will not be overwhelmed by many persons contracting the disease at the same time in the same area. To help contain the disease, please continue to practice everyday preventive behaviors as listed below:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects.
  • Maintain at least 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
  • Avoid shaking hands and encourage the congregation to greet one another with a smile and a hand over their hearts as a symbol of Christian love.
  • Have hand sanitizer available for communion servers to use prior to distributing the elements. You may want to consider using individual cups and pieces of bread rather than a common cup and loaf of bread.
For several years, American Baptists have been learning and practicing how to have respectful dialogue with one another through our “Mission Summit Conversations” and “Baptist Talk.” We have learned how to listen well, how to seek to understand before responding, and how to show respect in our conversations. We have learned that “how” something is said is as important as “what” is said.

Let us lead the way as we discuss our concerns about this illness and other matters with our friends, family, and neighbors. May we express concern without panic, calmness in our questions, and kindness in our conversations. Now is not the time for blame or condemnation. Rather, now is the time for care, compassion, and empathy. Every crisis is an opportunity to share God’s love and compassion with others.Additional information can be found at the following website as well as your state health department websites.

CDC LINK: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fpreparing-individuals-communities.html

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. C. Jeff WoodsActing General Secretary

We at LBC are praying for you all. We are concerned about your safety. 

Annual Dinner with Our Community

The Lansdowne Baptist Church's annual dinner, free for all who come, will soon be upon us. It occurs on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Please call the church office and let us know who you are and how many people you will be bringing with you. We look forward to breaking bread with you soon. 

The safety of everyone in our community and church are of utmost importance to us; we love our neighbors. If the situation with the COVID-19* virus worsens in Lansdowne, we will reconsider this meal. If we have to suspend the dinner, we will be sure to let everyone know. We will keep actively monitoring the situation and following offical recommendations for actions, should the need arise. Stay safe, everyone.

*For more information on COVID-19 and your defense against the virus, see: https://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2020/03/timely-information-on-covid-19.html