This week’s lectionary reading is from Exodus. In the passage we will read, Moses has finally made it back down from the mountain top of Mount Sinai, a holy mountain in Israel. On the top of this mountain, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God.
I don’t read much science fiction, so I haven’t read much Kurt Vonnegut, but there is a quote from his book, A Man Without a Country, that I love.
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us
never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with
tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments
be posted in public buildings. And, of course, that’s Moses, not
Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon
on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. ‘Blessed are
the merciful’ in a courtroom? ‘Blessed are the peacemakers in the
Pentagon?’ Give me a break!
Interestingly, the 6th commandment “Thou shall not murder” doesn’t say thou shall not kill. This left room for the Israelites to go to war with their enemies and not disobey a commandment. That wasn’t looked upon as murder.
I do this when I’m dieting! “Oh, I know I shouldn’t eat cookies, but just one won’t hurt!” We all find ways to edge our way around “the rules.”
Often today, it feels to me that we are forgetting the intent of these commandments. First and foremost, we must honor and love God. That is the most important relationship in our lives. The other commandments are about how to be good neighbors and develop in relationship with the people near to us and those far from us. My dismay in where we are now as a nation is that our present leadership completely ignores these commandments and treats people as objects to be used to gain power and control. When the president of this country calls out a group of private militia that openly espouses white supremacist ideas to be ready to patrol our voting places, I am enraged. And frightened. Which is exactly what these threats are supposed to do—frighten us. This isn’t a partisan plea. But, I encourage and implore everyone to vote. Our democracy has been wounded by the conversation that the those in power daily thrust at us.
I guess I’m a good Presbyterian, too, because it really bothers me when people don’t or can’t follow the rules. God’s rules are about how we are to treat one another. We are called, because we are loved, to follow those rules. Love, in the public arena, is justice. When we fulfill our civic duties by voting we are following Christian ethics. The church is not of this world but it is in it. It is our calling to be the reconcilers, to be ambassadors of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi said “Preach the gospel always, and when you must, use words.”
In my sermon this week, I am using the images of “pilgrim” and “tourist.” As you consider what this means in how we live out the gospel, I invite you to listen to this song from Enya, “Pilgrim.” Find a comfortable space, take some deep breaths, and listen to her musical thoughts on finding our way in this difficult world.
Peace and grace to you,
Sunday Worship with Communion
10/4 @ 10am via Zoom
Welcome to online worship with PPC!If there's a problem with zoom, check your email for backup plans. Please have Communion elements (bread and juice) ready for celebrating the Lord's Supper.
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.
The Ten Commandments Click here for printable activities based on this week's Scripture.
We Want to Hear from You
This fall we are collecting stories and feedback from as many people in the congregation as possible (including children), to get a better understanding of what draws us to this place. Write your story, draw a picture, write a poem, make a video, record some music. What about your life in this church has been meaningful to you? How does your church experience differ from other civic activities of which you are a part? 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 what our next steps might be.
Help Us Update Our Directory
Our church contact list is out of date. Help us update our records so that the church office has a way to reach you, and so that we have a directory we all can use. Our connections to one another are so important. We are family! Please email your contact info to Monica VanerBaan at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Pastor Deb at email@example.com.
Name Street Address Email Address Phone number – land line and cell (do you use text?)
If you know someone who should be in the directory but hasn't received this request, please ask them to send their information. Thank you!
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.
Visit our presbytery's website (psne.org) for summer book study info and more. Visit our denomination’s website (pcusa.org) for info about the recently concluded General Assembly, racial justice resources and more.