For some reason, this week has been the one in which I have hit the wall. I have forgotten appointments, missed a meeting, and generally felt fatigued. When will this nightmare end? How much more can we take of a federal government with a deaf ear to the plight of millions of Americans? When will we be able to see one another and gather in groups? What will the new “normal” look like?
I imagine that in 30 CE there was the same sense of hopelessness in Palestine. Herod Antipas was a cruel and capricious head of state. Corruption was rampant. Rome was an oppressive and demanding foreign power. To feed the coffers of the Temple leaders, Herod, and Rome, tax collectors did their jobs well. As the world began to make the change from a strictly agrarian culture to one of the wealthy elite and city life, many people were losing their land. Unable to feed their families from what the Jews believed was God-given land, many were forced to become day laborers. The life span of a day laborer was short. The old ways were disappearing. Despair was a reality for many inhabitants of what was now an Israel lacking its northern kingdom. Judah, home to Jerusalem and the city of David was the last remnant of the long ago memory of an Israel that was great.
Jesus appeared in the midst of this. Interestingly, his home town of Nazareth was known to be a hotbed of Zealots – those Jews who were agitating (protesting?) for a new Jerusalem. He offered hope to those who were forgotten and despairing. He spoke of a heavenly kingdom where everyone was of equal value. He spoke of a place where all knew they were loved as part of God’s creation.
In the midst of this fog that surrounds me right now, I remember that. If we choose to be followers of Jesus, though, that new kingdom is not going to arrive without some work on our parts. We can’t keep going on the way we always have. Something needs to change.
I read an article in the Outlook, a Presbyterian publication, by Jill Duffield that speaks about the anger that ended our GA this year. Her words struck a chord. “I do not think our polity can extricate itself from whiteness and therefore white supremacy. When we put Robert’s Rules of Order above God’s law of love, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit and we wound the Body of Christ and we are all diminished as a result.” These are powerful words. They opened my heart to the realization that we white people don’t know what we don’t know. It’s time, perhaps, that we let BIPOC folk lead us.
My struggle during these trying times will probably not go away just because I recognize it. But perhaps I can learn to be more patient with myself – and others. Our response to the requirements from us in this time of fear and the unknown will most likely change daily – if not hourly! Let’s try to be kind to one another.
Not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given us (Romans 5:3-5).
Hope does not come easily nor does it stay permanently. In our better moments we catch a glimpse of it. Remembering those moments is key to our survival in these times. To paraphrase Mordecai as he spoke to Esther: “perhaps you were made for times such as these.”
May it be so.
Peace and grace,
Sunday Worship 8/9 @ 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 virtual coffee hour :)
Audio recordings of the sermons can be found on our website here.
Bible Study 8/11
All are welcome to join in our remaining bible study of the parables from the Gospel of Matthew (18:23-35 and 20:1-16) on Tuesday, August 11, from 5:30-7:30pm via Zoom. You will need to have a bible. We will read the scripture during our meeting so there is no preparation necessary! Please let Pastor Deb know at firstname.lastname@example.org or (585) 703-0987 to make sure that she has your email address and can send you a Zoom meeting invitation on Tuesday morning.
PPC Book Group 8/22
Our next book group meeting will be on Saturday, August 22, from 10:30am-12noon to continue our discussion of The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh. We will focus on the latter half of the book and debrief on our real-time life learning (from a “growth mindset”) since our last discussion.
If you are interested in being a part of a newly forming grief group, e-mail, text or phone Pastor Deb at (585) 703-0987 or email@example.com.
Pastor Deb will also be leading a new members group via Zoom for anyone interested in finding out what membership in the PC(USA) looks like and what that means in our church. Let her know if you are interested (see contact info above).
If you’re interested in joining the Wednesday morning prayer gatherings (about 8 am, via zoom) contact Suzanne (401 523-4907), Jill Moles (401 241-9812), or Dan Blackford (401 273-2435).
To participate in Mission and Outreach through PPC please contact session elder Bipen Rai at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 499-7339.
If you are interested in serving as a worship leader for a particular Sunday or in general, call/text Jill Moles at (401) 241-9812.
If you can help in the church's flower garden please call/text Suzanne at (401) 523-4907.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact your assigned deacon if accessible, or otherwise contact deacon Milton Liu at email@example.com 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 including phone controls for muting/unmuting, and naming yourself.
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.