After events of this past week, I was reminded that one of the songs my grandfather used to love to hear me sing when I was eight was entitled “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.” It began simply “There was an old woman who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed a fly, perhaps she’ll die.” It went from there, with creature after creature who led up to her swallowing a fly and ended with “perhaps she’ll die.” I loved to sing this for him because he was so appreciative and never failed to laugh.
The fly, who stole the show at this week's vice presidential debate, reminded us of what laughing can do for the soul.
My Sabbath retreat paid for and led by our denomination and the Board of Pensions became a time for me to remember that the world goes on. The sun sparkles on the roaring waters of the sea and comforts me. There is such beauty in this world for us to enjoy. Of course, then I hear the news about hurricane Delta as it bears down on the Gulf coast. That picture reminds me that I’m not in control. We’re not in control. How can we find peace in our lives in this time of climate change, violence, anger and fear?
Those Israelites at the base of Mt. Sinai, waiting for Moses to descend, are worried about the same thing. The future shows no hope, They’ve been wandering around the wilderness for decades. Fear controls their lives. What will become of us?
And so, at Aaron’s bidding, they cast a golden calf. Another something to put their hope into. This god can be seen. This god is real. Maybe now the way will become clearer. Maybe now all the hopes and longings for security and home will come to fruition. The god in the pillar of smoke and fire doesn’t appear to be acting in a way that portends fulfilling promises.
Our prayers are so often about asking for what we want. When we don’t get that something, we are often convinced that God is not real. “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” asks the psalmist (Psalm 8:4). We are the part of Creation made in the likeness of God. We were given responsibility for the care of the planet and all Creation. In the coming weeks as we consider our votes in this national election, let’s keep that thought in mind. There is a small window in our future to make changes that can affect this planet so that we continue to have potable water and good harvests so that everyone can eat and be filled. While we can’t control the wind and the rain and fires raging across our western coast because of climate change, we can take the small steps over which we have control. Our votes are some of those small steps. Perhaps this congregation could do a study together on how we can become a green congregation.
Perhaps my grandfather laughed at that old woman and the fly song because he understood that his death was closer than mine. At eight, I had no realization about what death meant. It tickled his fancy that I, an eight year old, was singing about death. I’m not really sure. I do know that my grandfather loved the earth. He was a gardener extraordinaire – as he was growing up his family had enough to eat because he kept the family garden. He taught me that sometimes your crop isn’t all that you wanted it to be but you don’t give up. You plant again next year. You have faith that the rains will come and the sun will shine.
Our votes will determine the way in which we go forward tending to Creation. In the meantime, don’t forget to laugh! Hold on tight to the memories of what God has done for us in the past. Rejoice that our God is a loving God and does have a plan for our future that includes hope.
Peace and grace,
Worship (with Youth Sunday School)
10/11 @ 10am via Zoom
Welcome to online worship with PPC!If there's a problem with zoom, check your email for backup plans. Youth grades 6-12 will meet for Sunday school during worship; a zoom link will be shared at the start of the children's sermon in the chat and via email (contact Matt Harrison at email@example.com if you do not get the email and want to be added).
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. Gifts for the Peace & Global Witness special offering of the PC(USA) are also gratefully received (be sure to indicate of the purpose of your gift). 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.
You Are Invited!
We are facilitating a series of small-group, socially distanced outdoor gatherings at PPC on Sunday, October 18 on the PPC lawn(Rain date: Sunday Oct 25) to provide an opportunity for people to reconnect in person. Here are the details:
Five slots of 45 minutes each: 12:00-12:45, 1:00-1:45, 2:00-2:45, 3:00-3:45, and 4:00-4:45. Pastor Deb plans to attend each slot.
You must register for your slot. Attendance is capped at 15 per slot.
We encourage you to bring your own chairs/blankets, and food if you'd like. (No sharing of food.) Church chairs will be available, if necessary, and will be wiped down after use between slots.
To keep everyone safe, social distancing will be required at all times and masks will be required when not eating. The CDC recommends that people of age 65+ or with certain medical conditions avoid all unnecessary personal contact. Please stay safe and skip this event if you are at increased risk.
Youth Group Corn Maze – Change of Plan Saturday, 10/17 @ 10am–12pm
The corn maze at Dame Farm is not yet ready for the season, so we will be visiting a different corn maze and changing our start time to 10am (not 9:30 as previously announced). We will finalize the location soon and let youth group families know by email. Rain date is October 24th at 10am. If transportation is an issue or you would like to be added to the youth group email list, please contact Jo Fisher at (617) 893-0865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's Something You Can Do
Feeling isolated these days? Powerless as you try to cope with life during a pandemic and an economic crisis? Seriously concerned about a racial reawakening? Frightened by a political nightmare? All of the above and more?
Some of us in the PPC book group have a suggestion and request: Convert those thoughts and feelings into something concrete, useful and much needed. Join us in making a financial contribution, large or small, to a college scholarship fund for high school grads in RI to which we have contributed in the past, one that has long been actively supported by Millie Nichols. Because of the pandemic this year their usual fundraising events cannot take place, but the need and the scholarship mission continue.
Beyond the dollars you give, a donation would be a critical act of support, a concrete sign that we really mean it when we say Black Lives Matter, moving us beyond words and intentions into a significant expression of caring and relationship.
Here's what to do. 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”
Building & Grounds Help Needed
While our church building is unoccupied during the epidemic, we have several indoor projects we would like to get done and need help with. We would also love help with lawn mowing and leaf removal. If you have some time to give, please get in touch with Sheryl Mason at (401) 206-7839 or email@example.com. Thank you!
Reminder: We Want to Hear from You
We are collecting stories and feedback from as many people in our congregation as possible (including children!) to get a better understanding of what draws us to this place. 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 what our next steps might be. Send your stories and feedback to Pastor Deb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, we are building an updated church directory. Please email your contact info (name, street address, email, phone/text numbers) to Monica VanderBaan at email@example.com or to Pastor Deb at firstname.lastname@example.org. It just takes a minute and it is so helpful for keeping us connected!
Election day is Tuesday, November 3
Please contact the leaders listed below if you're interested in any of these ongoing opportunities for fellowship and service:
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 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.