We know that God works all things for good. That is, God can bring light out of even the darkest of circumstances. What lessons do you hope humanity is learning during these weeks and months? What are you learning? What new ways of being are we choosing for ourselves, our families, our communities and world? “Turns out the Bible is surprisingly well supplied with instances of people stuck in limited spaces for a while. So let’s see what we can learn…” For some light-hearted reading of examples of “quarantines” in the Bible,
— Pastor Diane
I direct you to this blob entry by Debra Rienstra:
The Garden of Eden
The first chapters of Genesis say nothing about walls and gates around the garden, so perhaps it’s a stretch to propose that the human race began in a quarantine situation. However, Our First Parents—only the two of them, according to Genesis 1 and 2—were apparently isolated, at least from other humans. And since these early chapters also say nothing about God giving them a compass, one guesses they were not compelled to venture far, even without a wall to prevent them. Stuck in place, then, perhaps the fruit-eating episode could be read as the world’s first instance of people getting bored and restless while cramped in tight quarters together. Lesson: behave yourselves while in quarantine. If you do break the rules, don’t blame each other. It just makes it worse.
Noah was on the ark with family and critters for, let’s see… 40 plus 150 plus… carry the one… 377 days of floating lockdown. What I’m saying is that even if you are now cooped up in the house with small, rambunctious children who behave like monkeys, things could be worse. At least you do not have two or seven of everything. And unlike Noah, you may well have Netflix and takeout. Happily, the ark story may suggest a method the CDC could use to figure out when this is all over: ravens and doves.
After the pottage incident, Jacob wisely determined to self-isolate from Esau, even if it meant living with wily old Uncle Laban in Haran for a while. Jacob’s experience demonstrates that in quarantine situations, one thing leads to another and before you know it twenty years have passed. However, if you play your cards right, then love, babies, and animal husbandry skills can result. Not sure if all that applies in our modern situation, but there it is. Other lessons of uncertain application to present circumstances: When making deals with relatives, get things in writing. Also, look under the veil before saying “I do.”
I suppose we could read the Exodus as one interminable, sand-scoured, post-slavery quarantine. I know we modern folks are looking at several dreary weeks of being stuck at home, but chances are slim this will last forty years. One hopes. Anyway, much like the Israelites, we had to scramble to prepare and we are finding ourselves sorely ill-equipped with appropriate skills for our sojourn. Eventually, the Israelites figured out that if you complain annoyingly enough, the Lord will provide, but I’m not sure you would want to share that biblical lesson with your children. It would be fun to announce that you are serving manna and quail for dinner, though.
Skipping ahead to the book of Judges, we find Canaanite commander Sisera attempting to shelter in place after the defeat of his army by welcoming himself to the tent of an apparently compliant Israelite woman. Jael is not stupid, though. She is certainly not about to share her carefully hoarded toilet paper supply with an enemy army commander. So she deploys the tent peg up her sleeve, achieving a permanent solution to her Sisera problem. Kind of a worst-case scenario among possible sharing-close-quarters outcomes.
The psalmist frequently finds himself in a pit and begs God to get him out. He doesn’t want to be there, he didn’t choose it, maybe enemies dug the pit for him. In any case, “the pit” is the biblical source for a phrase we may be using frequently in the next few weeks: “This COVID-19 business is the pits.”
The Lion’s Den
Feeling exiled in a house full of relatives and/or restless pets who are starting to feel like devouring lions? Daniel’s example suggests a three-pronged plan: insist on your innocence, pray a lot, and learn to be a lion whisperer. Lesson: virtue is rewarded.
The Desert, Redux
On to the Gospels. Both Mark and Matthew report that immediately after Jesus’ baptism, he was driven to the desert. We’ve always assumed this was in order to fast and pray. But remember that Jesus had just been baptized in the Jordan, with a crowd of others. Jesus probably realized that the Jordan River was a veritable petri dish of germs. Maybe the forty days in the desert was a noble act of self-isolation, just in case. Jesus wanted to spread love and forgiveness, not the plague. The fasting may have been a result of not packing enough sandwiches—so hard to estimate what you’ll need—and the temptations, well, who of us isn’t facing our demons during this time?
The Upper Room
The other Gospels are vague about this, but John reports that after the crucifixion, the disciples locked themselves in a room “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). Tradition has it this is the same upper room where the disciples shared the Last Supper. Makes sense they would return to self-isolate in a place they knew. Thankfully, according to Luke, they remembered to pack a supply of fish and a broiler (Luke 24:42). This story offers some comfort: Even if you’re afraid, hang in there, eat some fish, and wait for Jesus to come and bring reassurance and peace. Current recommendations from the CDC, however, stipulate that you gather in groups of fewer than eleven.
The House of Ananias
Actually, it was the house of Judas on Straight Street in Damascus (Acts 9:11). Immediately after his blinding road-side experience, Saul goes to this house to recover for a few days. Soon enough, Ananias, the local ophthalmologist, shows up to restore Saul’s eyesight. That’s all great, except that when Saul bursts out the door and announces himself ready to help with the Christian cause, no one trusts him. He gets passed along from place to place and eventually winds up in the desert of Arabia (Gal. 1:17-18). It takes him three years—working remotely the whole time—to retool his scripture knowledge and gain trust with HQ in Jerusalem. The good news is that, eventually, his involuntary quarantines lead to a new career as curmudgeonly evangelist and epistle-writer. Lesson: perhaps now is a good time to retool for that career shift you’ve been considering.
Isle of Patmos
I keep seeing social media memes about how, when the theaters were closed for the plague, Shakespeare wrote King Lear. Very impressive. But how about that Apostle John? Tertullian claims that the Romans tried to boil John in oil, but he popped out unharmed. So instead they banished him to the Isle of Patmos. There he wrote the book of Revelation, which has way more than five acts and a body count far above Lear’s measly nine. And what’s more tragic than apocalyptic horsemen and bowls of wrath? I guess this means either that situations of banishment and isolation can lead to extraordinary divine visions, or it means we could all go wacky crazy.
No doubt there are more examples of biblical quarantines one could ponder. Let’s get a-pondering because the next weeks and months will be rough. We can only hope Jesus meant it when he said, “And surely, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”
No Hugs, No Bugs
LPC’s Protocols for Health and Well-Being
in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
The building is closed, but the church is always open. That is, the congregation is continuing all of our regular programs that can be done ONLINE! Officers are making phone calls to people. “Tech Deacons” are training anyone who needs some assistance to be able to join on Zoom. Though the building is closed, Pastor Diane and Toby are in the building, practicing social distancing and wiping down everything they touch.
Note Toby’s hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9 AM – 2 PM.
We are asking that everyone who needs access to the building to be especially mindful of the following protocols:
- No one but Toby is to enter the main office, 24/7.
- This includes, of course, sitting at the large table in the office.
- Only Toby and Diane may enter the kitchen.
- If you need to pick something up from the office, make arrangements with Toby, and the items will be made available for you on a small table at the entrance to the church.
Thank you, everyone, for your understanding and cooperation. The work that is being done in the office is crucial, so we are being extra protective of Toby’s workspace.
No Hugs, No Bugs
Pastoral Care During Personal Distancing
The God who has made us has equipped and called each of us “for such a time as this” (Esther4:14).
It is very important for our well-being and our ability to sense God’s leading to remain intentional about our prayer lives, time in the Scriptures, and personal as well as corporal worship.
It is equally important to “be the church” by staying intentionally connected to one another. The congregation will receive phone calls from our elders and deacons as well as myself during this crisis. Pastor Diane has provided brief readings and prayers on our Facebook page. A Zoom gathering on Thursdays at noon is available (see “Community” section in this newsletter for details). Recordings of the full worship services are on our YouTube channel.
To arrange a scheduled pastoral visit, please email Pastor Diane directly or call the church office to set a time. Diane can speak on the phone or have Zoom conversations. The days for pastoral conversations are Mondays-Thursdays. The other days are available for emergencies, of course.
To set a time with Pastor Diane, reach out:
email: revdianeRford@gmail.com (remember the middle initial)
Companions on the Journey
Thursdays – 12:00-12:30 PM on Zoom
During these unprecedented times, join us weekly. What to expect?
As you enter the online platform (Zoom) you will hear soft music. We begin with a guided meditation, Scripture,
a time to check in with one another in small groups, and then breath-work (methods of breathing for calm and physical renewal).
This is for the public, so invite broadly. Pastor Diane Ford and Deacon Jane Chou of Lincroft Presbyterian Church are co-leading this weekly place of renewal and hope.
Questions? Reach out to Pastor Diane at revdianeRford@gmail.com. Replying to this email will go to our office manager’s email, which is usually checked M-Th 9-2.
To join this online gathering, we are using Zoom. Here is the Zoom invitation with the needed contact information.
Topic: Companions on the Journey
Time: Thursdays at 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 283 290 837
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A Next-Door Post
by my Generous and Thoughtful Oak Hill Neighbors
“My wife and I have been wondering how we can help during these strange times. We are not witty or funny, we cannot dance or sing, our tiktok videos get negative views and you certainly don’t want us giving medical assistance. So, we will leave the medical assistance to our fearless doctors, nurses and first responders, comedic humor to our late night hosts, dancing to the dancers and singing to Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, just two of the great ambassadors for our great State. One thing these two do preach is feeding the hungry and that is something we are able to do (on a much smaller scale).
We have decided to set up a Free Yard Pantry. I am using this platform to hopefully get the word out to those in need. Thankfully, maybe most of us in this neighborhood do not need some food, but you never know. If you or someone you may know is in need, please pass this information on or you might be someone that can leave something in the pantry. We live on a very small Cul-de-Sac, where very few people drive by. The pantry is at the end of our Cul-de-Sac on Wren Court off of Bamm Hollow Road. Again, it’s not much, but it was something we could do. We do not have Facebook, so this was our only platform to get word out. Please, if you know anyone that might be in need of some small items, pass this information along.
We are doing this until the current conditions change and things start to get back to a new normal. At the end, we will donate all the leftover food to The Food Bank of Monmouth (Fulfill) in Neptune.
Thanks for your time. Stay healthy.”
LPC/COG CLEANING SUPPLIES
This is 1st Officer Gianna reporting from Lincroft, New Jersey, Earth. LPC has collected a generous $500+ to cover for the costs of the cleaning supplies for the families at the Community Outreach Group (COG). Furthermore, 40 additional rolls of widely desirable toilet tissues were donated to more families for this outreach.
With the worldwide outbreak of a disease called COVID-19 and the closing of businesses including the Calico Cat Pantry, the Deacons at LPC were not satisfied that their much-needed supplies were to be sitting idle on the floor of the closed Pantry. As a result, 3 Deacons went out to deliver the supplies door to door to 16 families. Well done to All at LPC! I am proud to call this planet my second home.
LPC began a project in April to make Covid-19 face masks to donate to the community. The mask-making project resulted from a Zoom discussion in April by LPC’s Evangelism & Church Growth (ECG) team. As a result of the pandemic, our team had to cancel our outreach ideas for 2020, but at the same time saw an opportunity to provide a needed service to the community. Many people are contributing to community needs in many ways. The ECG team believes that making and donating masks is one-way LPC can provide a needed service and maybe get some local visibility.
LPC members and a few non-LPC members that we invited to help have assisted with this project. Recently, we donated 38 masks to the NJ Veterans Homes in Menlo Park, and our group continues to make more masks to give away.
We would like to give our masks more locally if possible. Some possibilities might include a local supermarket, nursing home, home health agency, food bank (such as Lunch Break in Red Bank), police station, fire station, EMS, salvation army, school (if open), or local hospital. We welcome your suggestions on where we might donate them locally.
This is a great way to volunteer to help our community. Please consider providing mask-making materials (or cash to purchase them) or contribute by using your sewing skills.
Please feel free to invite non-LPC members to help with the project. Mask making is not only a great way to connect with individuals in our congregation; it’s a way to include our friends, family, co-workers, etc. to do good works during a time of special need while getting to know us better!
Contact Patti,, Susan or Frank for more information.
Our Friend Claire Burrows
Our faithful friend, Claire Burrows, passed away on Good Friday, April 10, 2020. Her friends and family like to imagine her in heaven with her fun-loving (“very”) Irish husband Leo. Claire was an inspiration to all that knew her, and visits with her were uplifting and enlightening. Though in her later years she had stopped doing watercolors, one of her paintings was featured on the cover of the bulletin when Pastor Diane was installed in 2015 (see image). Claire, a member of LPC since April 11, 1968, enjoyed our tape ministry, listening to the recordings of our services every morning. By listening she was able to keep up with who to pray for, and she knew the voices of those speaking by heart. Her family held a brief time of prayer, scripture and song with Pastor Diane in Claire’s beautiful backyard, and her ashes will be interned at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Red Bank, NJ. She will be truly missed but not forgotten.
Official Address for LPC
As some of you have noticed, the old mailbox on Everett Road
has been replaced with a new locking mailbox in the driveway.
Going forward all church mail will be delivered to that mailbox. When sending any correspondence to the church, please stop using the PO box. Closing the PO box saves LPC the annual fee and also eliminates the need for Toby to go to the post office for mail several times a week
Please use this address:
Lincroft Presbyterian Church
270 Everett Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738
As the Fire Department requires that our street number be prominently displayed on the side of the street, we also have a new street number post.
Japanese Kwanzan Cherry Trees
Spring comes to LPC in the beauty of our Japanese Kwanzan cherry trees. The big one (top left) is alongside the driveway. The smaller ones, a Memorial to Jenny Giguere, are along West Front Street.
photos by Joanne Irwin
You are invited to join the LPC Women’s Book Group
These are the 2019 selections. To attend, just read the book and let the hostess know to expect you. Join us for thoughtful discussions and to make new friends! Call 732-741-8921 for further information.
|May 19||Tightrope; Americans Reaching for Hope||Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn|
|June||Jill||The Dutch House||Ann Patchett|
|July||Joanne||Talking to Strangers||Malcolm Gladwell|
LPC Men’s Discussion Group
The Men’s Group held its April monthly meeting on the 20th via Zoom. This was our second meeting this year on Zoom, and as the pandemic has taken hold, we’ve learned that our lives and habits have changed a lot. At the same time, God has presented opportunities in our new environment for spiritual growth.
We talked about how our lives have changed, and how God truly is in charge. As stated in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
In our meeting, we discussed what of value we have individually received in our radically changed circumstances, and God willing, how we are adapting. We each outlined our new daily routines and the reinvigorated and new activities we’ve undertaken — sorting boxes of old photos and old family letters, cleaning cabinets of files dating back many years, new exercise programs, more frequent reading, and more purposefully reconnecting with family members and old friends.
Participants were Doug, Frank, Bob, Dave and Phil. All men are invited to participate, including men who are not members of LPC.
The next two meetings will be held via Zoom on Monday May 18th and Monday June 16th
May 18 – Rob
June 16 – George