I’ve been thinking a lot about The Man of La Mancha today. You remember the story, Don Quixote, an old Spanish nobleman, picks up his sword and invites his trusty servant, Pancho, to go with him to fight against the evils of this world. At one point, with the help of a barber, he sanctifies a barber’s bowl as the golden helmet of Mambrino. He stops at a local Inn and identifies the serving girl, Aldonza, as his Dulcinea. Through his madness, he re-creates the world around him.
This week I wanted to do exactly that. It seems that weekly our senses are assaulted. Just when you think, we can’t get any lower as a nation, something happens to show us that we can. Another Black man, Jacob Blake, is shot seven times in the back, as he attempted to get into his car. His three sons were in the back seat. Then, in a protest of this horrific behavior, a 17 year old kills two with his AR-15 and wounds another. What do we pray for? When will it end? Please, dear God, bring an end to this madness.
I confess that I have a hard time thinking good thoughts of those whom I perceive to be my enemy. Those white supremacists who are well-armed and are now showing up at protests to make sure no property is destroyed. How will this end well? I am angry.
The first words we hear Jesus preach at his home synagogue come from Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free” (Isaiah 61:1-2). If you remember that story, his own people run him out of town and threaten his life when he announces this. What is it about this news that so many do not want to hear? Why are the very people who will benefit from health care for all, good public education, and pay parity so dead set against those who might work to make it happen? Are we so invested in the old ways of white privilege that we will murder those who represent the plea for an end to oppression?
The lectionary this week addresses the way to deal with a member of the church who “sins against you.” I struggle with the idea that you should go and point out to that one what they did wrong. That kind of confrontation does not usually end well. It’s important not to let your anger simmer but if you are facing someone with an AR-15, I don’t think you’re going to get very far in keeping the peace or in bringing the confrontation to a peaceful settlement. (This method of settling differences is based on interpretations of Leviticus 19:17-18.) While a church member is probably not going to bring their gun to this discussion, still, when confronted directly most people respond by becoming defensive.
I see the answer in remembering that whenever two or more of us are gathered in the name of Christ, how can we be anything but loving toward one another? This is not to say that we agree on everything. Only that in our behavior we show respect to another human being. Christ unites us and in the uniting we can find strength to stand up for what we believe.
Don Quixote sets out only with Pancho on his lonely journey to cure the ills of the world. As he interacts with others however, he builds up a community around him. This community is a motley crew – a prostitute/serving girl, a barber, a dishonest innkeeper and others. His angry family who are following him to bring him back home even soften their stance to his madness.
As this old, idealist man, lies dying, this community gathers around him and reminds him of the hymn he taught them.
To dream the impossible dream,
to fight the unbeatable foe,
to bear with unbearable sorrow
to run where the brave dare not go.
To right the unrightable wrong
to love pure and chaste from afar
to try when your arms are too weary
to reach the unreachable star.
Jesus reminds us that we are called to love one another. No matter how difficult that may seem. We must put one foot in front of the other and go forward with these words on our lips “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
May you find comfort in this truth. It’s going to take us as a community of love to bring the kingdom to hand.
Congressional Meeting 8/30
Tomorrow morning at 10am before worship starts we will have a brief congressional meeting to elect officers. We urge all members to attend so that we have a quorum for voting.
Deacon, class of 2023: Matt Harrison
Elders, class of 2022: Kathy Cooper, Sheryl Mason, Monica Vander Baan
Nominating Committee (representing the congregation): Dan Blackford, Karen Jorge, Uluma Sharpe
Zoom Tip: How to Raise a Hand
Did you know you can raise your hand in Zoom to signal you'd like to speak? This helpful tip from Milton explains how. Use it as one way to vote at this Sunday's congregational meeting! It's useful any time you'd like to speak in a Zoom meeting, for example, during the Joys & Concerns segment of worship.
Sunday Worship 8/30 @ 10am via Zoom
Welcome to online worship with PPC! If there's a problem with zoom, check your email for backup plans.
To join by phone: call 646 558-8656 and enter meeting ID 864 6572 5219 (followed by #)
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.
Invitation to Join Nurture Committee
Are you interested in getting involved in the planning of spiritual development, religious education, and fellowship opportunities for children and adults at PPC? Please contact Kathy Cooper at email@example.com if you would like to join or contribute to the work of the Nurture Team. Curious about what we do? Join us for our next meeting this Wednesday evening, September 2 (email Kathy for the Zoom invite).
PPC Book Group 9/12
Our next meeting is Saturday, September 12 at 10:30am. We will continue the discussion that’s emerged from Dolly Chugh’s book, The Person You Mean to Be, specifically focusing on what we will DO. How are we being invited to engage practically and actively as builders – both as individuals, and as part of the PPC community? Stay tuned for the zoom link in next week's email.
Bible Study 9/15 – 9/29
On Tuesdays, September 15, 22 & 29 at 5:30pm, Pastor Deb will lead a Bible study on "The Women of the Bible." Mark you calendars and join us as we immerse ourselves in God's Word together.
Below is a list of ongoing opportunities for fellowship and service. Please contact the leaders listed if you're interested in any of these activities.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact your assigned deacon if accessible, or otherwise contact deacon Milton Liu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-340-5847 (text/voicemail) 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.
Click here for some helpful Zoom tips from Milton.
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.