Life in the Desert

Years ago, I had occasion to drive across the American Southwest, through Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California. I was astonished to discover just how much of this country is desert. Indeed, over 1,500 miles of my own trip were through desert terrain.

A Joshua tree in the MojaveBut perhaps even more astonishing than the vast tracts of desert is just how much life there is in the desert. From the gorgeous Saguaro cacti of Arizona to the Joshua trees of the Mojave, there was life in abundance throughout this desert journey.

When we are in times of wilderness, it is easy to lose hope. It is easy to wonder, like the Children of Israel on their desert journey, whether they’d been brought out to this arid land to perish. When we’re in times of despair and anxiety, it can often feel the same way in that wilderness experience.

But what the Israelites learned was that God is in the wilderness. The same God who brought them through the waters of the Red Sea was with them even now in the arid wastes, causing water to gush forth from a rock. For, there is life in the desert. There is hope in the wilderness. For it is in that desert that we encounter the God who causes springs to burst forth from the rocks, and encounter the Christ who promises to give us “living waters” from which we will never go thirsty.

Rev. Mark Schaefer, Pastor


Thanks to everyone who participated in worship services Sunday. Thanks to Crystal Reed and Cara Schaefer for helping to set up and test the online connections, to Jeff and Chiara Griffith for being willing to greet at the church anyone who did not know about our closure, and to Paige Rammelkamp for providing our music last-minute. And also to our dog Beny for not misbehaving during the recording.
         Sermon: “The Wilderness of Despair,” Rev. Mark Schaefer
         Sunday’s attendance: c. 35
         Collection: $ TBD
NEXT SUNDAY SERVICES, MARCH 22, 2020, 10:00 a.m.—ONLINE (See Below)
Fourth Sunday in Lent

Sermon: “The Wilderness of Tragedy,” Rev. Mark Schaefer
Scripture Lessons: 1 Samuel 16:1–13; John 9:1–41

To Join Online: Want to help out in worship? Use our online sign-up to be a greeter, usher, liturgist, lector, or communion server.

Community Events & Information

Out of care and Christian concern for the most vulnerable members of our community, all in-person worship, meetings, and other events are cancelled through Friday, March 27, 2020. Read our pastor’s letter about the cancellations.
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!
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,
Tuesday, March 17, 11 a.m–1 p.m; Wednesday, March 18, 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 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 took called You Can Book Me. You can use this to book time to talk online via chat or by phone.
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,
A Joshua tree in the Arizona desertMarch 1–April 12, 2020

When you’re in the wilderness of want, fear, despair, tragedy, death and loss, or betrayal—where is God then? Beginning next Sunday, we will be embarking on a Lenten Sermon series exploring the experience of journeying through the wildernesses of our lives and where we encounter God in their midst.
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,

Regular Weekly Calendar

  • Monday
    • Monday Methodists, 9 a.m.
    • Knitting Circle, 10 a.m.
  • 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.

Prayer List

The son of Pastor Denise Millett, at high risk for infection, seeking excused absence from work
The family of Dave Dargo, mourning his death
Lydia and Joe Gladstone, mourning the death of Lydia’s mother Irene
, mourning the death of her brother
, with back problems
Eddie, with lung problems
The family and friends of Judy Stone, mourning her death
The family and friends of Tony, mourning his death
Rev. Warren and his family, grieving death and family tragedy
Lucien, with foot sprain
The family and friends of Mary, mourning her death
Becky, with a back injury
Judy, mourning the death of her son
Jaime, with difficulties in pregnancy
Caitlin, with pneumonia and an ear infection
Landon, with a broken arm
Derek, deployed to Bahrain
Melissa, suffering a bad cold
The family on Croom Road who lost their house in a fire
Morgan, returning early from study abroad in Italy
The family and friends of Amy Mackey, mourning her death
The family and friends of Bradley Brown, mourning his death
Jenn, going through a difficult time
Leora, with increasing memory problems
Joanne, going in for a heart procedure
Bill, with gall bladder problems
Becky Flade, recovering from a stroke and going through a difficult time
Jim, searching for a job
Clayton, for continued healing
Crystal’s friend, diagnosed with Parkinson's
Elsie and Chuck Tyler, in the hospital

Submit a prayer request
Have an announcement you'd like to see in the Weekly E-pistle?
Submit an announcement request.
Facebook Facebook
Website Website
Twitter Twitter
Copyright © 2020 Cheltenham United Methodist Church, All rights reserved.

Know someone who’d like to receive a copy of the Weekly E-pistle?
Forward this email to a friend

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp