And so, a New Year begins. We’ve been told that the next few weeks could be a bleak time as cases of COVID-19 rise but that as more people are vaccinated we might find hope come spring. In the meantime, please stay home as much as possible and wear your mask!
This past week has been one of horror for our nation. The Confederate flag, which never made it to DC during the Civil War, was proudly on display in the Capitol rotunda on Wednesday. A t-shirt bore the words “Camp Auschwitz”. Five people were killed. I watched in horror as these events unfolded before our eyes. One group of these rioters broke into a prayer vigil being held by an ecumenical circle of clergy from DC and the greater Washington area. These terrorists enacted the death of George Floyd in front of the clergy in attendance and called them horrible names.
Perhaps most disturbing, though, was the ease with which these terrorists got access to the building itself. There were Capitol police taking selfies with these invaders. There was not resistance, it appears, to the mob making its way in. National leadership did not give approval for the National Guard to be deployed in spite of the request that had come from Muriel Bowser, Mayor of DC, the day before the event. Her request was denied by the Pentagon. In these non-actions taken, it is clear that white supremacy and privilege ruled the day. For a BLM march this past summer in DC, military forces with no personal identification displayed (as it should be) lined the steps of the Lincoln monument. They were fully armed. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the disparity and the injustice that BIPOC experience every day. I am frightened by the apparent collusion that exists between our police forces and white supremacists.
An irony of the day, perhaps, is that it was Epiphany. The day we celebrate as the one on which the wise men found their way to the manger to honor a king – an infant king. If we pay attention to the story we read that Herod intervened in their journey with evil intent. What we saw this week was a contemporary telling of the events of that long ago story. Herod, who was described by Nadia Bolz-Weber when she wrote, “On today, the Feast of the Epiphany, I am reminded that an insecure ruler named Herod was so threatened by the birth of Jesus that he tried to overthrow the result by putting a hit out on a toddler.” There are many similarities between Herod and Trump. They were and are narcissistically threatened men in power with a need to destroy what cannot be subjugated by other kinds of force. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we cannot ignore the politics of our nation. We must stand up to bullies and speak up for those who are marginalized and terrorized by the forces of empire. The white church, particularly, must come to terms with how it has embedded white supremacy in its worship and in its politics. This is a time to act boldly. It is a time for repentance and self-confession. This will be hard work but it must be done if we seek reconciliation.
On a totally different topic, as we begin this New Year I want to share with you the hope that we can find in our church. We have had consistently between 50-70 people worshiping with us on Zoom each week. We have a youth Sunday school class and we will begin a Sunday school class for children in K-fifth grade. Sally and Jill continue to work on packets for the youngest children that are emailed each week. We have two groups meeting on a regular basis – the book club and Bible study.
I have had a personal epiphany this past week! I have been stressing about what I’m accomplishing as an interim. When I reviewed our accomplishments through this “unprecedented” time, I realized that this isn’t a time to accomplish the usual interim tasks. We are doing what we need to be doing. We are more than surviving. Through this difficult time, then, I believe our focus needs to be on keeping the church healthy. If the “way be clear” as we like to say in Presbyterian circles, my time with you may be longer than we first envisioned. Session is looking at some assessment tools that we can use as a congregation and there is intentional thought about the future. I don’t think any of us, though, are in a place to be making changes or envisioning our futures. We will remain strong – together – and weather this storm.
If you have any questions about this interim time and the expectations you might have had about what would happen, please feel free to contact me by phone (585) 703-0987 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Communication and conversation are always good and I look forward to hearing from you.
We step into an unknown future. With faith, hope, and love, however, we lean on the arms of God. We know that whatever happens, God is with us, Emmanuel.
Peace and blessings in this New Year,
Sunday School for grades 1-5 will meet this Sunday before worship, from 9:30-10:00 am. The Zoom link was emailed to the group and remains the same each week. If you do not have the link and wish to be added to the group, contact Jo Fisher at 617-839-0865.
Sunday School for youth grades 6-12 meets every 2nd and 4th Sunday during worship at the start of the children's sermon. A zoom link is shared at that time in the worship zoom chat, and is also emailed in advance to the group. Contact Matt at email@example.com if you did not get the link or wish to be added.
Sunday Worship 1/10 @ 10am via Zoom
Welcome to online worship with PPC! Youth Sunday school will meet as usual during the second half of worship. Please note the new Zoom link for 2021.
By phone: call (646) 558-8656 and enter meeting ID 817 8173 3351
Click on the image below to open/download the worship bulletin and hymns.
While we are unable to pass the offering plate during worship, we hope you will continue to support the mission and ministry of the church if and as you are able—online, through your bank's bill payment system, or with a check mailed to the church (500 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906). All offerings are gratefully received. Thank you!
We invite you to stay online after worship for our virtual coffee hour.
Transcripts and audio recordings of recent sermons can be found on our website here. Audio recordings of older sermons are available here.
PPC in the Local Community
Yesterday, Rebelle posted a year-in-review blog article with a shout out to Providence Presbyterian Church for our donation of Thanksgiving turkeys. We are so pleased to have partnered with Rebelle and Camp Street Ministries in providing needed holiday meals for local families.
From the blog: "Befriending our neighborhood activists Jackie, Donver, Eugene & Helen, and brainstorming ways to work together, has been a gift for us. Getting a call from them when they know our team or I can be helpful lets us know that we’re an appreciated resource to our community. I am especially proud that we were able to finagle a gift of 132 turkeys for Camp St. Ministries’ Thanksgiving dinner drive! This donation was made possible by the generous funding of Providence Presbyterian Church and our Sysco rep Tom, who moved mountains and cut through red tape to get us turkeys delivered at cost during a pandemic year when turkeys were scarce."