Happy Fourth of July! If you are lucky enough to be spending this holiday with family and/or friends, you are blessed. The town where my sister lives which usually has a parade, a flea market, and fireworks every year has cancelled everything so although she invited me to come visit for a cookout, I will be here writing a sermon!
This year’s celebration feels so different.
My school years were spent in a suburb of Rochester, NY, home to Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Both of these historical figures contributed greatly to the culture of the place and both are buried in a local cemetery.
On 5 July 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a keynote address at an Independence Day celebration and asked, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” At an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, it was a scathing speech, in which Douglass stated, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” In this speech, he stated the obvious fact that when the Declaration of Independence spoke of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” the Founding Fathers were thinking only of white men.
Our celebrations this year, I hope, will reflect the dissonance of the written word to what has been, for four hundred years, in direct conflict with reality. Women and people of color (Asians, South Americans and Central Americans, Mexicans) have been excluded from this lofty sentiment for years.
Susan B. Anthony, who was a member of the Unitarian Church in Rochester, wrote, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” For those who want politics to stay away from religion, we must recognize that Jesus was speaking to the religious elite and the political situation of his day. It is ironic when he says “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). Everything belongs to God. How do we distinguish between the two?
We were born for a time such as this. Bringing our faith to the table, we show ourselves to be followers of Jesus. We recognize that the kingdom of heaven is what this world could be if we lived out our lives as God would want us to live. Let us celebrate this nation whose ideal is to create that place where all of us are truly equal. All of us are the beloved children of God. Hallelujah!
– Pastor Deb
Sunday Worship 7/5 @ 10am via Zoom
Welcome to online worship with PPC! Please join us by connecting on your computer or dialing in by phone. 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 to open/download the worship bulletin and hymns:
Receiving of offerings is missing from our order of worship but continues to be important to sustain our church community. We hope if you are able, you will continue to give to the church online or with a check mailed to the church (500 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906). Thank you!
We invite you to stay online after worship for virtual coffee hour :)
Reflections for This Week's Sermon
This week we learn about the tasks and challenges of discipleship. How do we show the world what it means to be a follower of Jesus? We are reassured that although the road ahead of discipleship may challenge us, in the end, those who follow Jesus will find that the yoke is easy and the burden light. (I can’t hear those words without thinking of the great chorus in Messiah – “His yoke is easy.")
Questions to ponder:
Has your perception of who Jesus is changed over the years? In what ways? What images of Jesus have become the most meaningful for you?
What do you make of Matthew 11:19 – “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds?” Do you think they reflect truth?
We Presbyterians, known as “the frozen chosen” rely heavily on our intellect and intelligence to make sense of scripture. Jesus seems to suggest that the wise and intelligent can miss out on the fullness of the gospel. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think we can reason our way through life?
How do you hear Jesus’ invitation to seek rest in him? The challenges of following him can be daunting. We white Christians perhaps, are feeling overwhelmed at our perceptions of how we must change if we want to dismantle the system of white supremacy. Can we find rest in our struggles? What must it be like to be a person of color who cannot lay down those issues ever? Where is the rest for them? Is there something to be gained in finding rest in Jesus?
By taking on his yoke, what can we learn? Does that yoke differ from other burdens we carry?
At this point in his ministry in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is in the midst of his journey toward Jerusalem. He has preached the Sermon on the Mount. In the previous chapter, 10, he has chosen the twelve apostles and explained to them what their ministry will be. It is not certain that those twelve understand, though, what that ministry means.
Picture them in their community in northern Galilee (a geographical location that is far from the center of the Roman rule and the religious elite of the Temple.) Theirs is the first kibbutz! At that time, it is known historically, that Nazareth was a hotbed for the Zealot’s movement. These were the Jews who were determined to overthrow the Romans and make Israel the kingdom that God meant it to be. Was Jesus part of that movement? Scholars believe that John the Baptist was definitely a part of the Essene community which was located near Jericho (this is where the caves are that housed the Dead Sea Scrolls for millennia.) It is possible that Jesus spent time in that community.
Prayers and Car Parade for Marissa
Sunday car parade:
Please join us to shower Marissa with love, appreciation, and good wishes as she prepares for surgery! We will meet this Sunday, July 5th at the parking lot of Eastside Clinical Labs at 154 Waterman St, Providence, RI 02906 starting at 5:30pm and around 6pm follow the lead car (which will be a grey Mercedes glc300 AD20873) to 69 Cooke St, around the circular driveway and then on your merry way! We will have either someone sitting in the middle of the circular driveway or a table in the middle to leave any items. We ask that if someone is in the center of the driveway that you stay in your car to lower the COVID risk for Marissa and her caregivers. Marissa will either watch from the driveway or from the house depending on her health. Facebook link: www.facebook.com/events/558116924867433
Zoom prayer morning of surgery:
Did you know that prayer and/or good vibes before a surgery has been shown to improve surgical outcomes – even if the person doesn't know about it?! 🤯 Please join us in sending Marissa off into a successful surgery with a virtual prayer circle. We will have the Zoom open from 8am–9:30am on Wed, July 8th for you to stop in! We're hoping Marissa will be able to hop on, but the entire thing will be recorded to comfort her throughout her hospital stay. Facebook link: www.facebook.com/events/273382477250687
Click here for the Zoom invitation.
Help end hunger through Bread for the World's Offering of Letters. Go to bread.org/2020-offering-letters and click "Write to Congress." You can choose to send a letter regarding domestic and/or international nutrition. Personalize you letters with 1 or 2 sentences on why ending hunger is important to you.
If you are interested in Mission and Outreach through PPC please contact session elder Bipen Rai at email@example.com or (510) 499-7339.
If you are interested in helping 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 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 including phone controls for muting/unmuting, and naming yourself.
Many resources such as COVID-19 info for congregations, summer book study, and event and prayer calendars can be found on our presbytery's website: psne.org.
A great deal of information including racial justice resources and the 224th General Assembly may be found on our denomination’s website: pcusa.org.