All posts by mcharlto


Most of you have already noticed something new and different about the messages you’ve been receiving.  Good Shepherd is officially transitioning to Flocknote for all emails and text messages.  You are receiving messages in the format (email or text) you selected on the yellow communication preference forms you completed many months ago.  We plan to switch over to Flocknote emails only by June 8th.  If you think you have not been receiving emails or text messages, please check your SPAM folder and mark it as “Not Spam”.

Message from the Senior Warden

From the Senior Warden

Well, we are two months into the Coronavirus response.  As a society, a parish and as individuals, we have endured some dynamic and interesting changes in how we interact.  I applaud the efforts of so many in our parish.  We have shifted the structure of our services.  We continue to increase our internal reach to the parishioners.    I recognize that these times pose some personal challenges caused by loss of work, reduction of hours or pay and the general uncertainty of what “normal” will look like.  Throughout everything, you have helped to maintain Church of the Good Shepherd as a viable, thriving community.  Financially, we maintain a healthy outlook.  Your contributions have remained steady.  Our expenses have been reduced.  These two factors, combined with a federal aid package, have reduced most of the financial threat.  We all have a stake in stewardship and we are meeting the needs.  I ask that you continue your support through envelope giving, direct donations, or the electronic debit service.  All of the parish leadership is working to reduce costs and expenses.

The Vestry recognizes that the societal impacts do not hit everyone equally.  Some of us have been hit in the purse.  Others have lost social connections.  Some may be unable to maintain their homes.  Some may feel a loss of humanity.  The parish is available to help with some of these matters.  Some of our members have asked the Vestry to assemble a small group to manage a specific donation fund to aid our members in financial distress.  If you need to confidentially request assistance, please reach out to Mother Susan or Deacon Carl.  The intent is to get you “over the hump”.  The Senior Class of Pitman High School has approached us with a program they call “Seniors Helping Seniors”.  It is limited to Pitman residents.  If needed, the PHS Seniors will come to your property and provide free lawn services – mowing, edging, raking, etc. while maintaining safety and social distancing.  Please reach out to me, if you need this assistance.  With the suspension of normal church activities, many have lost their ties with each other.  At the last Vestry meeting, we have asked a couple of our internal ministries to take the lead on reaching out to you.  The goal is to maintain our contact, but it will be at your convenience.  Some may want to check-in each week.  Others might want this twice monthly.  Others might appreciate the effort, but require nothing more than the initial call.  Please discuss this when the member contacts you and set a schedule that works for you.

The big question is “When will we be able to return to services and our regular church activities?”  The lousy answer is I do not know.  The Bishop has discussed this topic and has candidly stated not until at least the latter part of June.  The other thought I have is “what does the new normal look like?”  Will services be the same?  What about gatherings and meetings?  Of course, many of us want to know what does the sacrament of Coffee Hour look like.  I wish I could tell you and answer all of your questions.  I do know some things.  We will do what we can, when we can and maintain a safe and secure atmosphere for our parishioners, staff, and ministries.

The third verse of God Be With You (Until We Meet Again) by Jeremiah Rankin works well in this instance —

God be with you till we meet again,

When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put His arms unfailing round you,
God be with you till we meet again.

with regards,


Good Friday’s Sermon

Sermon Good Friday ’20 – Mother Susan

(I speak of the picture of the Tim Holmes sculpture)

This is the day when we are called to remember the cruelty  of the cross, of crucifixion. But let’s face it, most of us don’t have associations like that with the Cross. Most of us think of the cross as a religious shape, a symbol, nice and clean, and not much beyond that. We don’t think of it as a way to punish someone, as a way to kill a human being.

We think of the cross as a pretty thing, maybe even a piece of jewelry – brass or gold or silver. We wear crosses around our necks or as pins. We make crosses of palm branches. We make crosses with flowers. We will have one in the front yard of our church that will be filled with flowers this Easter Sunday morning!

The people of Jesus’ time didn’t waste resources. Crosses were used again and again. Nobody cared if a criminal bled all over the dried blood of the last criminal.  The concept of cruel and unusual punishment – well, that just wasn’t a concept that bothered the people of the ancient world much.

On our website I have included a picture of a sculpture by Tim Holmes. If you can, take a look at it. It’s called “Returning the Nails: Endurance.” It shows a man with an outstretched arm holding three large nails. The nails were probably made of iron. They were too valuable to leave around after the criminal died.  So after death, the nails would be torn from the body and returned to the executioner to be used again.

But interestingly, most historians agree that Jesus was probably tied to the cross. The Romans wouldn’t have wasted nails on him or on the thieves who died with him. People died on a cross from suffocation, from asphyxiation, from being deprived of air as their hanging bodies crushed their lungs. That’s probably how Jesus died.

It brings to mind an image far removed from pretty crosses, doesn’t it?

The only thing beautiful about the death of Jesus was that he was willing to die. His life and death were acts of love. We know that pain is real. We know that as humans we can feel pain. Jesus’ death on the cross was his final act as a human. He experienced pain just as we do. But unlike so many nameless humans who die everyday, he was meant to be remembered. And he has been, for over 2000 years.

We can’t really understand Jesus’ death. Was it an act of sacrifice? A sacrifice for our sins? Was it an act of intercession? Was it the final statement of his humanity? “I am here. I am real. I am one of you.”

Or was it the first statement of Jesus as God? “I am here. I am real. I will always be with you.”

So here we are, looking at a man in unspeakable pain and the very depths of loneliness. We are here at this time, in the Springtime of 2020 as people who are experiencing a very different kind of loneliness. But it is still profound.

Perhaps this year this is when we truly meet Jesus on this day. From our places of loneliness, our sense of strangeness as we feel the night fall on this strange Good Friday in the midst of a pandemic in the year two thousand and twenty. What’s next? What could we look forward to without our faith? Let us embrace Paul’s words to the Hebrews.

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, and (when we can, however we can) not neglecting to meet together, but encouraging one another, and all the more as we see the Day approaching.”

There will be Resurrection. That’s the promise.