Our Wilderness Journey

For this Lenten season we have journeyed with Jesus through the wilderness. We have looked at the wilderness of want, of fear, of despair, of tragedy, of death and loss, and of betrayal. We have seen throughout that just as the Israelites encountered God in the Sinai wilderness after the Exodus, so, too, do we encounter God in the midst of these wilderness experiences.

That lesson will bode us well as we continue our journey into the drama of Holy Week. We will see Jesus embroiled in conflict and controversy, betrayal, arrest, denial, trial, rejection, punishment, and death upon the cross. Even in the midst of these crises we can see the presence of God in Jesus’ life and in our midst.

This is a hopeful word. For we as a community, a nation, and a world are in a new and unfamiliar wilderness. The COVID-19 outbreak has wrought havoc on our world. Our economic life, our social life, our communal life, and our religious life have all been affected greatly. When change comes on so profoundly and so suddenly, it can be greatly disorienting and we can find ourselves in a wilderness experience like none other we’ve seen. And all the most recent indications we’ve seen suggest that we may be in this wilderness for a while.

But even here, in this wilderness God can be found. We have already seen glimpses of God’s presence in the compassionate response of social distancing and the self-sacrificial actions of those who have traded their privilege and in many cases their secure livelihoods to protect the most vulnerable among us. 

Our road ahead is a difficult one, but as with the Israelites before us, and as with the Christ we have pledged to follow, we know that God is faithful and will lead us before too long into the Promised Land.

Rev. Mark Schaefer, Pastor


Thanks to everyone who participated in worship services Sunday. Thanks to Becky Boyd, Brenda Bowen, and Crystal Reed for reading our Passion Play, to Crystal Reed and Cara Schaefer for running the Zoom and Facebook livestreams during worship, and to Chiara Griffith for taking the time to record and provide our music. And also to our dog Beny for not misbehaving during the recording for the fourth week in a row, despite the untimely arrival of an Amazon delivery.
         Sermon: “The Wilderness of Betrayal,” Rev. Mark Schaefer
         Sunday’s attendance: c. 65
         Collection: $ TBD
  • ☛ To watch a recording of this Sunday’s worship, watch our Facebook live video at

NEXT SUNDAY SERVICES, APRIL 12, 2020, 10:00 a.m.—ONLINE (See Below)
Easter Sunday

Sermon: “The Promised Land,” Rev. Mark Schaefer
Scripture Lessons: Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 28:1-10

To Join Online: See below for Holy Week Services

Want to help out in worship? Use our online sign-up to be a greeter, usher, liturgist, lector, or communion server.
If you’re looking to make your contribution of tithes and offerings online, you can do so easily at the following links:

Community Events & Information

Apparently, all kinds of bad actors have been joining other people’s meetings and causing disruption by sharing pornography or contributing racist slurs. (Sin abounds, my friends.) To combat this, Zoom is requiring a password on all meetings. I have made our password a standardized one for all our events that should be easy for Cheltenham folks to remember: 001873. So, if you are prompted for a password when logging into Zoom by device or telephone, use 001873. In the links below, I've also added a link from BitLy that has the password embedded in it and is identified as a one-click link. If you click on the BitLy link, you should be taken straight to the meeting without having to enter a password at all.

Our church website,, has been offline over the weekend. (It’s really perfect timing.) We have been working with ShareFaith, the company that hosts the site to get it back online as soon as possible. If any of the links to our site do not work, please try them again later. In the meantime, donations can be received directly through the Vanco website at

We will have services for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday using our online channels, Zoom and Facebook livestream. Here's how to join us:  
At Grace UMC in Baltimore, in addition to online worship experiences, the church is involved in mission during the pandemic, continuing to collect donations of food for their partners in the Govans Ecumenical Development Corp. They're also involved with sewing masks.
     They share: "Johns Hopkins has a goal of making 50,000 masks. This online document has detailed steps for an approved design. More tips from Johns Hopkins on making the masks include: use 100% pre-washed woven cotton and non-shiny ribbon/fabric head ties; they MUST be made with patterned fabric; no blue/white prints. The wire for the nose strip will be added once Hopkins receives the masks. See a video on mask-making. This very user-friendly site also has information on obtaining materials, donating money to support this effort, and more. For this week, the drop off time at Grace UMC is Friday morning from 10 a.m. to noon. Please call 410-433-6650, Ext. 102, before arriving."
Monday, March 30, 2020, 9 a.m.–11 a.m.?

The Monday Methodists are back in action and will be meeting online for their regular prayer meeting using Zoom from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.. As per our usual custom, Monday Methodists will be followed immediately by the Knitting Group at 10 a.m.. You are welcome to join us for either or both meetings by logging in any time after 9 a.m.  Here’s how you can participate!
  • Using Zoom on a smartphone, computer, or other device
  • Calling in on your telephone
    • Dial  +1 (301) 715 8592
    • Enter meeting ID: 306 194 066#
    • Enter password: 001873
Contact (Monday Methodists): Lu Lawrence,
Crystal Reed (Knitting)

Tuesday, March 31, 9:30 a.m., Zoom

The Pastor’s Bible study continues this week and every Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.  We continue our deeper dive into the lectionary texts used on Sunday during worship. Everyone is welcome to attend. No prior experience required! Because of the closure of the church building, we will be having this Bible study online. Here's how you can join!
  • Using Zoom on a smartphone, computer, or other device
  • Calling in on your telephone
    • Dial  +1 (301) 715 8592
    • Enter meeting ID: 456 431 396#
    • Enter password: 001873
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,
Tuesday, March 31, 11 a.m–1 p.m; Wednesday, April 1, 2 p.m.–4 p.m.

Rev. Schaefer’s office hours will be online this week for both the Tuesday in-office session and the Wednesday in-a-coffee-shop session. You can connect in a number of different ways.
  • Through Zoom Group Meeting:
    • Use the Zoom app to join the meeting via smartphone or other device
    • Or Call in to the Zoom meeting on your telephone at:
      • Tuesday: +1 (301) 715-8592, enter code: 173 570 837#, password 001873
      • Wednesday: +1 (301) 715-8592, enter code: 493 671 679#, password 001873
  • Use Google Chat
    • From your online gmail, initiate a hangout chat and invite him ( to chat. Once you're connected, you can talk online through chat. 
If you cannot make office hours but would like to talk with Rev. Schaefer, you can book a time to do so through a handy online tool called You Can Book Me. You can use this to book time to talk online via chat or by phone. You can also reach him by phone at (202) 486-6061.
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,
April 19–May 24, 2020

Join us for an exploration of some of the more frequently encountered questions of faith that people have. Throughout the Easter season we'll explore questions like: Am I lost if I have doubt? Is the resurrection real? Why does God allow evil? Do non-Christians go to heaven? How is Jesus both human and divine? and Does forgiveness require me to be a victim?
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,

Regular Weekly Calendar

  • Monday
    • Monday Methodists, 9 a.m. (ONLINE)
    • Knitting Circle, 10 a.m. (ONLINE)
  • Tuesday
    • Cheltenham Academy, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • Pastor’s Bible Study, 9:30 a.m. (ONLINE)
    • Pastor’s Office Hours, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. (ONLINE)
    • AA and Al-Anon, 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday
    • SLOGGS Meeting, 11:30 a.m. (2nd Wed of month)
    • Pastor’s “Office” Hours, 2–4 p.m. (ONLINE)
    • Book Club, 6 p.m.
    • Band, 6 p.m.
    • Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m.
  • Friday
    • Pastor’s Sabbath
  • Sunday
    • Sunday School, 9 a.m.
    • Sunday Worship, 10 a.m. (ONLINE)
    • Fellowship, 11 a.m.
The COVID-19 outbreak has been a challenge to so many of us, and yet, in our responses offers us some real reasons for hope. Read Rev. Schaefer’s reflection entitled: Solidarity, the Coronavirus, and Salvation.

Prayer List

Family, friends, and all those mourning the deaths of
     Terry Putnam
     Dave Dargo
     Irene, mother of Lydia Gladstone
     The brother of Janice
     Judy Stone
     The son and grandson of Rev. Warren
     Judy’s son
     Amy Mackey

     Bradley Brown
     Ginny Lang
the brother of Connie
     Chris' friend and co-worker
Steven Banks, diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia
Phoebe, in a custody struggle, hoping to return to the US with her children
Sy, tested positive for Coronavirus
Annie, ill with autoimmune encephalitis
Robin, working to provide comfort to patients and families 
Cristina, returning to work as an RN to treat COVID-19 patients
For artists left unemployed without income
For students whose education has been interrupted
For parents, providing safe, happy, educational and nurturing environments for their kids
Meredith's daughter, five weeks from delivering a baby
Pets left worried and confused while owners suffer from COVID-19 in hospitals
Dan, called back into service with the army
Maria del Mar, comfort after losing her job of 10 years this week
Porters, doormen, and staff working in apartment buildings to keep conditions safe and clean for residents
Kendra’s friend’s father, elderly and hospitalized with presumed COVID-19 complications
Kris, with a serious illness
Susie, whose son-in-law Steven is a first responder in DC and daughter Brooke, a nurse
Jonas Brachfield, 95, loving in locked down independent living home, struggling with loss of sight
Connie House’s mother and family, mourning death of her brother Steve as her mother’s dementia continues to progress
Sarah, distressed and looking for a job
Ellie, recovering from hip surgery, suffering from COVID-19
Sarah, furloughed from her job
Betty McDermott, dying from COVID-19 and her daughter Martha, quarantined with her
First responders, providing urgent medical care during this pandemic
Doug House, the homeless ministry, and those he serves
Connie, and all those working in nursing homes during the pandemic
Indigo, traveling mercies and all those concerned with job insecurity and finding employment
Joanne and Bill, with health issues
Leonard B., for quick recovery and good test results following recent surgery
The son of Pastor Denise Millett, at high risk for infection, seeking excused absence from work
Clayton, with ongoing health problems
Miriam, with back problems
Eddie, with lung problems
Lucien, with foot sprain
Becky, with a back injury
Jaime, with difficulties in pregnancy
Landon, with a broken arm
Derek, deployed to Bahrain
Jenn, going through a difficult time
Leora, with increasing memory problems
Becky Flade, recovering from a stroke and going through a difficult time
Crystal’s friend, diagnosed with Parkinson's
Elsie and Chuck Tyler, in the hospital

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