Even as this pandemic hangs on, the time seems to go by so quickly! Here we are, in the middle of November, having been blessed with the most amazing weather for nearly a week. Praise God!
Last night as I was walking my dog around the block at 11:30, three police cars pulled up across the street from where I was walking. I couldn’t figure out what was happening as everything seemed quiet and I saw no activity going on. Except for what appeared to be a large pile of trash—made up of what appeared to be quilts. As the three police officers approached the pile, they turned on their flashlights and shone them upon the pile. I heard the woman say, “You have to get up. You can’t stay here all night.” Slowly, the pile unraveled and a man emerged.
I have never seen a homeless person camped out for the night in my neighborhood. This man was dressed respectably. I’m not sure what happened because I continued to walk with my dog and we turned the corner. My heart was hurting.
This week we read in Matthew 25:14-30 the parable about the talents. This is a difficult parable to read. If we think that the master is God, we are left wondering what kind of God would become angry with a slave and cast him into outer darkness. Is there a way to read this parable that might be less confusing? And point us to a loving God? After all, we all sin and yet we believe that is the power of God—we are all forgiven. We know that the English word “talent” comes from the unfortunate transliteration of the Greek talenta.
We mustn’t forget that Jesus tells this parable in the middle of his own personal high-risk venture. It was during the last few days of his life. Earlier, he had made the decision to leave the safety of rural Galilee and go to Jerusalem. He had to know that in the capital city, the religious authorities and the Romans would regard him as a threat to the status quo and their own power and prerogatives.
I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if the first two slaves had put the money in a high-risk venture and lost it all. The point here is not really about doubling your money and accumulating wealth. It is about living. It is about investing and about taking risks. It is about Jesus and what he has done and what is about to happen. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus and be faithful to him?
This pandemic has changed the way we behave as church. We can’t have the BBQs and the gatherings we are all so accustomed to recognizing as church. If we can’t get together, what does it mean to “be church”? I have listened to many of your stories as you so lovingly remember the activities this church has sponsored. Your times together have given you all a special bond. What a blessing this church has been to you all. That is something to be celebrated and lifted up.
What comes next? When we can all gather together again, we won’t be the same as we were before. What risks are we willing to take together? How will we invest our talent?
These are questions that we will need to answer as we work toward forming a PNC (Pastor Nominating Committee) and preparing for your next installed pastor. In the new year, with the help of session, I will be forming small groups that will be invited to meet on Zoom as we envision together for what will come next here at PPC. When you receive your invitation, please make the effort to be a part of these discussions. We need everyone to participate if we want everyone to be a part of the solution.
Seeing a homeless person sleeping in my neighborhood opened my eyes to a new reality. While some of us are doing well during this trying season of illness and political unrest, there are others being left behind. At first I thought I should have invited that man to my home but I hope that the officers helped him to find a safe space last night. I have to—as do we all—consider my own safety.
We have declared ourselves to be a Matthew 25 church as we join almost another 1,000 PC(USA) churches in this country. Let’s open our hearts and eyes to the new realities and look for those ways in which we can be church even when we aren’t worshiping in the sanctuary.
By phone: call (646) 558-8656 and enter meeting ID 864 6572 5219
Click here to open/download the worship bulletin and hymns:
Receiving of offerings continues to be important to sustain our church community. While it is missing from our order of worship, we hope you will continue to give online or with a check mailed to the church (500 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906) as you are able. 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.
Parable of the Talents Click here to open/download.
Youth Group Update
We hope everyone had a good time at our Virtual Fall Festival last weekend! Thanks again, Jo, for putting it together and hosting!
We will have another virtual activity tomorrow, November 15, at 4:30 pm. The Zoom link was emailed to the group—if you did not receive it, please contact Jo Fisher at 617-893-0865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Going forward, we will plan to have youth group activities on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month with Sunday school continuing on the 2nd and 4th Sundays, so there is an opportunity to connect each week. The zoom link will stay the same. If you have any ideas or requests for future activities or themes, feel free to send them to Jo!
Virtual Fall Festival Mummy Wrapping
Bible Study Tuesdays
Our Bible study continues to meet each Tuesday evening from 5:30-7:00pm. On November 24, Nancy Collins will be our guest speaker and share her final mission experience in Zambia.
If you would like to join, send Pastor Deb an email at email@example.com so she can add you to the email list and send you a zoom link. All are invited!
PPC Book/Discussion Group
Our next meeting will take place on Saturday, November 21 from 10:30am-12noon, continuing our discussion about our hopes for the next four years and how we want to engage in action:
What are our hopes and dreams for the next 4 years? How might we live in hope?
What can we do? How can we continue to engage in practical action and advocacy for justice?
By phone: call +1 646 876 9923 and enter meeting ID: 943 9109 2770
Contact Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or suggestions, or would like to be added to the group email list.
Here's something you did!
Responding to an idea that first germinated in the PPC Book Group, the members and friends of our church have made contributions amounting to $1500.00 for college scholarships for graduating RI High School students. These donations support a long time effort of the Providence area chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a sisterhood of graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. For many years Millie Nichols has been an active member of this organization.
We in the Book Group want to thank the whole congregation for their generosity and faith in this effort. We believe such gifts in this time are a critical act of support, a concrete sign that we really mean it when we say Black Lives Matter, moving us beyond words and good intentions into a significant expression of caring and relationship. And in this congregation we have wanted to support the ministries and outreach of members and friends in the wider community.
In case you didn't get to make a donation (small or large), here is the information you will need: Send a check to: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc PAC, PO Box 40175 , Providence, RI 02940. In the memo line, put "Scholarship/PPC/bookgrp/Nichols”
Reminder: We Want to Hear from You
We are still collecting stories and feedback from as many people in our congregation as possible to gain a better understanding of what draws us to this church community. What about your life in this church has been meaningful to you? If there are areas of concern for you, include those also. We are trying to envision a future for this congregation that is satisfying and helps us grow spiritually. Your contribution will help Session as they consider our next steps. Send your feedback to Pastor Deb at email@example.com.
Also, please help us update our church directory by emailing your contact info (name, street address, email, phone/text numbers) to Monica VanderBaan at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Pastor Deb at email@example.com. It just takes a minute and it is so helpful for keeping us connected!
Continuing Opportunities & Needs
Please contact the leaders listed below if you are interested in getting involved in any of these ongoing opportunities for fellowship and service:
Volunteer to be a Worship Leader: call Jill Moles 401-241-9812 or click the button to sign up here:
If you or someone you know needs help, contact your assigned deacon if possible, or otherwise contact deacon Matt Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-340-9444 and he will coordinate care.
If you have a prayer request or would like to be included in the prayer chain, call/text Suzanne Affigne at (401) 523-4907 or email her at email@example.com.
Milton has put together some helpful tips for using Zoom – read them here and here.
Our presbytery's website (psne.org) and our denomination’s website (pcusa.org) are great resources for information about our faith, connecting with the larger faith community, and opportunities for action.