Greetings to the Downers Grove FUMC family and friends! Sunday will be the first worship service for myself and Pastor Anna Voinovich to lead as the new pastoral team. We gratefully thank and richly bless Greta and Jim McDonald for leading this wonderful congregation as God's shepherds through worship, proclamation, pastoral care, teaching, and administration. We will work together as pastors and parishioners to continue the good work Jim and Greta both diligently performed for the building and strengthening of the family of God here.

I also want to give a note of clarification concerning the intense fire that many of you have heard about that consumed the bench at the Grove Street entrance. The Fire inspector told us that it was a crime of arson resulting from a contentious disagreement between two homeless people during the often rainy Grove Fest weekend. It was not directed at or against the church.

The Bible reading this Sunday comes from Mark 5:21-43, where Jesus raised a girl from the dead and healed a woman who suffered greatly from a debilitating chronic health condition. Both the minor and adult females were not named and thus their identities were hidden both at that time to the readers who were unfamiliar with that community and presently due to the gospel writer's omission of their names. But the girl was raised and the woman was healed by Jesus in spite of the veils cast over their true identities. While focusing on central points for my sermon, I asked myself, "Are our true identities often veiled or masked today even with so many ways to discover them? If so, how do those masks prevent us from receiving spiritual healing from God?"

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