My continuing ed this year is a class I’m taking through PSI – the Psychology and Spirituality Institute in NYC. Through the joys of Zoom I can take this class in my study at my computer! The intersection of these two disciplines fascinates me for I firmly believe that we are spiritual beings housed in clay jars. Our size and shape and color and gender are what others see us as but we are so much more. Only through relationship do we come to know that part of the other that is more than our looks.
I love the definition of spirituality that was offered to us, too. Spirituality places relationship at the center of our being. It’s the commitment to choose one’s relatedness with all that is. 50% of Americans now say they are not religious – but they are spiritual. There are several of us who are ordained taking this class but I am the only one in parish ministry. The other 26 are clinicians who deal with individual clients. As they talk about their experiences with clients, overwhelmingly they report the harm that church/religion has done to people. Rigid dogma, exclusiveness in relationship, judgment against others are some of the reasons clients report for leaving church. Their experiences of church has harmed their spirituality and their faith.
Heinz Kohut, a psychologist who was instrumental in the development of attachment theory, wrote “science explains art and creates beauty; religion brings meaning and psychological coherence – it sometimes understands but never explains.” There is room in this world and in our imaginations for both science and religion. Sometimes we need to lean on the mystery of our faith for it is not explainable. Karl Barth, the great 20th century theologian, told the story of his experience with Jesus. When asked if he really believed that Jesus could walk on water, he replied “I don’t know for a fact that Jesus could walk on water, I don’t understand how that could have happened. But, I do know, that when my daughter died, Jesus walked across the water to me.”
Spirituality is what directs our inward journey toward authenticity. The Delphic Oracle stated “Know thyself.” The Holy Spirit touches us and brings us in touch with the numinous, the unknowable and yet something we come to know through the eyes of faith. Legend says that no one can look on the face of God and live. While we might not see the face of God, though, we see what that face affects.
I’ve always loved the poem by Christina Rosseti:
Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I,
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.
There is a need for connection to a greater spiritual sense for that quest for spirituality leads us outside of ourselves. We seek a sense of wholeness that comes with accepting the mystery. In that search we are the relational beings we were created to be.
The church isn’t a building – it is the people who sit in the pews. When we acknowledge that we don’t need to hang on to hurtful dogma or “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” We know that what is most important is that anyone who walks through our doors is a beloved child of God and we welcome everyone. We need a place to meet, that is certain. But who we are as the church is the community of faith that gathers with us each week. Our mission must reflect that understanding as we continue to work on what it means to be a Matthew 25 church.
We will begin to do our mission study this fall which will need to be approved by Presbytery before we can search for a new pastor. In our discussions of the building we gathered information on what you think about the maintenance of our building and what priority the building should be, especially where finances are concerned. Now we must consider what you view as the mission of this church. Many of you volunteer for organizations that are very worthwhile in our communities. What can we do as a church to let our neighborhood know that we are Spiritual Christians who want to act as the body of Christ. Together, we can accomplish much.
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.
Sunday School Re-opening Survey – Please complete by Monday
Dear PPC parents,
As the Session is planning to re-open PPC for in-person worship in September, the Nurture Committee is also making plans to re-open Sunday School. We would love your input about these reopening plans, especially for those of you with kids under 12 years old. Thanks so much for taking 5 minutes to fill out this short survey to let us know how we can best prepare for your family to participate in worship and Sunday School at PPC this fall.
If possible, please complete this survey by Monday, July 12. If you have any questions or anything you’d like to discuss, please contact Kathy Cooper at email@example.com or anyone on the Nurture Committee.
Youth Group Activities Postponed
Not many youth were around this week, so we're rescheduling our kayaking outing for September. The sailing outing planned for August will also need to be rescheduled, but the new date isn't set yet. Stay tuned!
The next PPC book group gathering will be on Saturday, July 31, from 10:00-11:30am to discuss Louise Erdrich’s recent novel, The Night Watchman. Erdrich was awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for this book!