Practicing our faith through the times of the Coronavirus

 Each day our Pastor will post a message to keep us connected while the Church is closed.

Day 13, March 26, 2020
“Bear Hugs”

        Just a few months ago there was an article circulating on social media about the importance of a long, extended hug, a hug lasting 30 seconds or more. Apparently, a hug like that has true therapeutic value. Apparently, a hug like that is good for the soul. Unfortunately, a hug like that is hard to find in these days of social isolation.

Knowing that a good hug is something we are all missing right now, my hope today is to give you a virtual bear hug. One of the most meaningful ministries we have as a church is our teddy bear ministry. Numerous furry friends are placed throughout the pews in our sanctuary. Each bears a note saying,

        “This cuddly friend has sat among the Congregation of Dunn’s Corners Community Church, Presbyterian in Westerly, Rhode Island. It has heard the Word read, prayers prayed, songs of praises sung, testimony given, and the sermon preached. It has been given love and has loved others. Now it comes to you with the blessings of worship, love and the prayers of our congregation.”

We have no idea how many “bear hugs” have been shared by our church, but the stories we do hear give witness to how important these bear hugs have been for people. I notice it every time we have a memorial service in our sanctuary. Without fail someone who has gathered to mourn the loss of a loved one will lift up the bear sharing the pew with them, read the kind note, tuck the bear under their arm, and carry it with them when they leave. Different ones of you have told of taking a bear to a young woman who suffered a miscarriage or to a friend who has lost a loved one.

Our first summer in Rhode Island our friends Steve and Susan visited from the Houston area. Susan told us a mutual friend had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. When Susan saw the Teddy Bears, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. She left Westerly with a Teddy Bear under her arm. She delivered it to a woman facing the most difficult challenge of her life. The woman expressed deep gratitude that someone remembered her, gratitude that someone noticed. Our friend facing cancer was so glad she received a bear hug.

My favorite bear hug story is about the day we received a package at church. When our office manager Luba opened it up there was a teddy bear inside. Someone had sent one of our bears back to us. The little bear had this note attached.

I want to return this lovely bear for someone else to have. It was a sweet comfort after my dad’s funeral and has sat long enough on my shelf. I have wonderful memories of my dad and mom and the many friends they had in their church community. Many thanks for the loan of this little bear.

All the best,
Rhonda (Moody) Kincaid

That same day, I had arranged to have lunch with one of our members, Craig Moody. When Craig showed up I asked him if Rhonda (Moody) Kincaid was any relation to him. He said, “Oh, she’s my sister.” So I told him about the bear and the note. And I asked, “When did you dad die?” Craig said about ten years ago. That little bear sat with a family for ten years, bringing comfort each and every one of those days. Now that bear is back in circulation. I wonder whose shelf that bear will sit on next.

Attached with this email is a picture of one of our teddy bears. First and foremost, it is a bear hug I am sending your way. But the bear hug is also one you can share. Is there someone in your life that could use a bear hug today? Forward this note to them. Send them a bear hug. Let someone you care about know they are not alone.

When I told Julie the idea about sending a bear hug, she responded immediately, “That’s perfect. Love bears all things…” (I Corinthians 13:7, Revised Standard Version) Nice. That is what we are sending, a bear hug filled with love.

Blessings dear friends, and as always, this note is sent with the love of Christ,