A Path of Healing and Hope
July 15, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I find myself deep in the chaos of life and searching for the Holy as I write this. So many hurting, so many drowning in their despair, and yet, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there is always a path of healing and hope. One of the hardest things in this time of this global pandemic is seeing all those conflicted and suffering. Not so much from the virus itself but from wrestling in their own worry. Is it real? Is it not real? Is it going to affect me or my family? I hear phrases like “I’m tired of this.” “I’m done being afraid.” “I want to…” “I should be allowed or able to…” And then, then the bickering and the name calling and the arguing of who’s right and who’s wrong and people trying to defend the current situation in the name of the economy, for example. And what did Jesus say about putting money first? The evils of money? Oh, but he didn’t mean…Oh, but I think he did! I am reminded that Jesus spoke about the evils of concentrating on money in 11 of his 41 parables.
Here we are, four months into what easily could be going on until – in some estimates – til the spring of 2022, and yes, I know some think it will be over right after the election. Oh, how I wish and pray. However, I also know common sense and science tells us what we can expect. So, take heart, pull yourself up and don’t let fear and worry paralyze you. And the words come flooding back: “Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning.” And I know God’s joy can and will come every morning no matter what is going on in the world around us if we but open ourselves to it.
Anne Lamott wrote in her book, “Help, Thanks and Wow: Three essential Prayers” that God hears us no matter if we have the words or not. Lately, the words can be hard to come by. Everyone seems to be looking for that magic pill, that façade they can exude, that courage that seems elusive, by defiance and perseverance. The “fake it until you make it” mentality of our “we’ve got this” doesn’t seem to be holding up for a lot of folks anymore. So, could we maybe just try to fully rely on God? You know, responding to our brothers and sisters in ways that are not curt and disrespectful. To think of Christ’s commandment first and foremost to love, to be the church to all people? Is it really that hard to fully rely on Christ, to give of ourselves fully for others in service of words and deeds?
People give reasons continually for not giving or doing or offering their best for others. And continually I wonder if we give as Christ asked and directed us to with our time and our talent and our gifts, and yes, our monetary gifts too. Can we not believe what Christ asked of us and promised us? Would we not realize something beyond our imagination, something beyond ourselves and Christ centered? Like Christ’s promise of peace that surpassed all understanding and full contentment.
Let me ask, how many of us give 10 percent of our time to being the church? Now listen to what I just asked. How many of us are giving 10 percent of our time to being the church? I didn’t say, just to the church. I said, being the church - which could mean the church, too. How many spend 10 percent of their prayer time praying for others, offering their God-given talents and gifts to help others, or even 10 percent of their income to helping others or to the church?
Maybe I’m just an old preacher with old ideas. However, if I say I follow Christ, should I not fully be following? Christ said if you are not with me you are against me, if you are not hot, nor cold, I will spit you out if you are lukewarm. And that goes for us all and we continually have to work on that. And all too often I see and experience people saying and acting in a way that says I will Jesus, IF there is anything left over after I do what I want to do. What are we doing with God’s gifts and money?
Martin Luther said, "There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the conversion of the mind, and the conversion of the purse." Why is it I believe that this time, this time of unease and unrest and fear and fighting can be overcome if we but have or allow these conversions to take place in our lives?
It amazes me that some very conservative followers of Christ aren’t afraid to judge and spew hate and denounce others loudly, ensure they give to protect their cause to protect the image of a ‘god’ they have created, yet traditional progressive Christians are afraid to speak out as boldly with all that they have. That full conversion seems elusive.
Who are we? Why are we called? What gifts and talents do we have to spread the good news of love and acceptance of grace and good will of charity and hope? Do you fully support what you believe in? Can we all commit to live in to what Christ asks of us? Give of our time, our gifts and our talents to live in to being the church Christ created us to be? To be the loving, grace filled presence of Christ in the Community?
Oh, and by the way… I’m asking for a friend.
May you discover the peace of Christ in even deeper ways in these days of uncertainty. For God loves you, showers you with grace and we, your church family, love you deeply too!
PS I say all of this acknowledging some hurt and pain of this time of separation of loved ones cannot be changed by attitude, yet I pray that everyone going through this knows you are not alone. You have us, you have this faith family to walk the journey and listen and be there for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, it’s how we are family, it’s how we are church.
On our prayer list this week we continue to remember both the Bowersox and Campbell families as they mourn the loss of their loved ones. We also remember the murderer and pray for him, his recovery and that he may receive the mental health help he so desperately needs. And we give thanks for the person and lift the one who was able to intervene and prevent a third death. God, in your mercy, only you know what all these families may need, we lift them to you.
Additionally, please continue to keep Ray and Dottie Leeser, Tom and Priscilla Lanks, Gail Ernst, and the unspoken requests as many struggle and this time of uncertainty marches on. May we all put our faith and trust in the one we call our Savior.
A few announcements for you:
Staying connected through the Summer:
We celebrate birthdays this week with and give thanks for:
Nancy Everett, Thursday, July 16
Aidan Rice, Saturday, July 18
Autumn Faust, Sunday, July 19
Sharon Fisher, Monday, July 20
Dave Reid, Monday, July 20
If for any reason we don’t have you or a family member’s birthday on our list, please contact Geri in the church office so we may add it to our list.
***RESCHEDULED*** for this Sunday evening, July 19 our family hike at Dale’s Ridge. This will be a guided hike with social distancing. Please call the church office (570) 568-1433 or email Geri at firstname.lastname@example.org to register so we will know who to expect and the number of guides we’ll need.
Our Consistory will meet Tuesday, July 21, 6 p.m., logistics to be announced.
For our Confirmands, they will spend some time this Summer in “active duty” as we invite them in to ways of being the church and helping serve the broader community. Our next Fresh Express is Thursday, July 23. Masks are required, of course.
Our next Intergenerational Vacation Bible / Summer Sunday School - 6:30 p.m., Sunday evening July 26 at Milton State Park. Come join us for a great evening fun and learning!
Saturday, August 15 (New date). There will be an outdoor evening with special treats, swimming and maybe a movie too! Watch for details.
Monday Morning Preacher, 10:30 a.m. each Monday. We gather via Zoom and all are welcome to this Monday morning Bible Study. Dial in: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5705681433
Lastly, Midweek Musings and Theology, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, continues through the Summer. The books are in, “Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism”. Please contact Pastor Tim to get a book or learn more. We begin discussion setting up the study this evening.
Shalom, Pastor Timothy Hogan-Palazzo