I love the UCC’s current motto: “God is still speaking.” Sometimes, when we read stories from the ancient world as recounted in our scriptures, do we think, “Oh, well, that was back then. What does it have to do with me now?” Do we imagine, then, that the ancients heard God speak but we no longer can?
I choose to believe that it is in those stories that we see ourselves. We may have a lot more technology than they did 5,000 years ago, but are we really so different as people? The brilliance of these stories is their applicability to so many situations. The truth of these stories is found in their metaphorical value. We aren’t located by the side of the Reed Sea but have you ever felt that you were trapped between what looked like two death sentences? Whether physically or spiritually or psychologically, we can find ourselves with our backs up against a wall wondering how we will ever be freed.
Four hundred years is an awfully long time. That’s how long the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt. That’s how long Africans were in slavery here in the USA. I’m an impatient person, I know, and I have trouble when I have to bear hardship for more than a week. How do we learn to trust that God will provide in the long term? For those placed in chains in the American south four hundred years ago did it seem to them that they had been abandoned?
The very earth upon which we stand, it feels like, is shifting. We can’t go back and relieve the pain of those who endured slavery here so what can we do? For those of us with European heritage, we’re going to have to look at the world with new eyes. Change is coming. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
As we hear the words of the continuing saga of the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness in this week’s reading, we hear all too familiar grumbling and complaining. “We’re thirsty, Moses. When are we going to have our thirst fulfilled? Why did we leave Egypt? We might have been slaves there but at least we had water.” This sounds like some of the family vacations we went on!
Yes, as people of faith we have questions. Why has God allowed suffering, and for so long? What about all those people today, the Syrians, the Yemenites, the Palestinians, the Blacks, the Jews, the LGBTQIA+ community, the women held in detention in Georgia who have received hysterectomies without their consent? As people of faith, what are we called upon to to do about these abandoned people today? What are we doing currently as a community of faith here in Providence Presbyterian Church?
In this time of transition here at PPC, we need to be intentional and ask some of the hard questions of who are we as a community. You have a long history of taking care of families in need by nurturing them through Sunday school and beyond. How can you take this tradition into a new phase of your being? It’s hard to have these discussions, I know, as we are so isolated. With the Session, I will be thinking of ways that we can talk with one another about the future. There will be conflict! That is not a bad thing – what’s important is that everyone feels safe enough to say what they truly think or feel.
Nothing is easy during this pandemic. We must all learn how to be patient! In the meantime, please know that I feel incredibly supported and cared for here. You are a caring and Christian community of which I feel blessed to be a part.
I leave you with a quote from John Shelby Spong that made me laugh this week! “The church is like a swimming pool. All the noise comes from the shallow end!”
In Christ’s love,
Sunday Worship 9/20 @ 10am via Zoom
Welcome to online worship with PPC!If there's a problem with zoom, check your email for backup plans.
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.
VIDEO: GOD PROVIDES Families with children: check out this video related to this week's second Scripture reading!
High schoolers and middle schoolers, join us for a hike on Sunday, September 20, at 2:00 pm. We will meet at Neutaconkanut Park (675 Plainfield St, Providence, RI 02909) beside the parking lot, between the playground and skate park. We'll hike the trails and then toss around a football and frisbee. Items to bring: water bottle, mask, hoodie/jacket, hand sanitizer. Please let Jo Fisher (617-893-0865 or email@example.com) know whether you are planning to join us or not so we don't take off on our hike before everyone arrives.
Bible Study: Tuesdays 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." If you would like to participate, contact Pastor Deb at firstname.lastname@example.org she can send you the zoom link.
PPC Book Group: Saturday 10/3
Our next zoom gathering will be on Saturday, October 3, from 10:30am – 12:00. We will discuss how we might engage in productive dialogue across political differences, particularly as race and politics are so intertwined, and how we might get ready for the November election and possible social unrest. To prepare for this conversation, there are two resources we’d like to watch/read:
(1) A video recording of a talk hosted on Sept. 10 by InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministries at the University of New Mexico and the Deep Differences Project:
*If it asks you for a passcode it is this: d!l29mCW
*The video lasts 1 hour and 19 minutes
*You can learn more about John Inazu from the event flyer here.
(2) Review chapter 10 of Dolly Chugh’s book, The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. The chapter is entitled “Educate and Occasionally Confront Others” and discusses the 20/60/20 rule (p. 209).
By phone: call (646) 876-9923 and enter meeting ID 941 8046 4200
WHAT CAN I DO?
Most of us are feeling not just isolated these days but also powerless as we try to cope with life during a pandemic, an economic crisis, a racial reawakening and all of the personal ramifications of the above and more. Some of us in the PPC book group, which still meets on Zoom every couple of weeks, have not just been sharing our own stories and situations but also continuing our reading about racial justice, implicit bias, and the systems of our life and nation that are the focus of the Black Lives Matter movement. We are not just reading and discussing these things but have been asking ourselves, "What can I do?"
We decided that we want to make financial contributions to a particular college scholarship fund for high school grads in RI which has long been actively supported by Millie Nichols. Two years ago Millie invited the rest of us in the book group to support her sorority's annual fundraising gathering. Because of the pandemic this year that kind of event can no longer take place, but the need and the scholarship mission continue.
We also want to invite the rest of the PPC community and friends to join us in making contributions. Your gift in any amount, large or small, will have an immediate impact on the lives of High School students in the next graduating class in RI. Consider this as an opportunity to "do justice" locally. It’s also a way in this time of social isolation that we can gather ourselves and our resources together to support the lifelong efforts of one of our members and take part in a significant action in a wider community.
Here's what to do. Send a check to: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority PAC Inc, PO Box 40175 , Providence, RI 02940. In the memo line, put "Scholarship Fund suggested by Millie Nichols”
—Murray Blackadar and the PPC Book Group
ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE?
Often we feel like nothing we do matters – however, any adult citizen of the US is eligible to register and vote. This a fundamental right as citizens. The national election day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic not everyone desires to vote in person at their designated polling location. Mail in and absentee ballots are available, but you must act now and make your request. For voting information, visit the secretary of state websites below for CT, MA and RI or contact your local city/town.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact your assigned deacon if possible, or otherwise contact deacon Matt Harrison at email@example.com 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.
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.