A prayer of thanks

*Excerpted from Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

O God of timelessness and time,

I thank you for my time

and for those things that are yet possible

and precious in it:

daybreak and beginning again,

midnight and the touch of angels,

the taming of demons in the dance of dreams;

a word of forgiveness,

and sometimes a song,

for my breathing…my life.

Thank you for work

which engages me in an internal debate

between right and reward

and stretches me toward responsibility

to those who pay for my work,

and to those who cannot pay because they have no work;

for justice

which repairs the devastations of poverty;

for liberty

which extends to the captives of violence;

for healing

which binds up the broken bodied and broken hearted;

for bread broken

for all the hungry of the earth;

for good news

of love which is stronger than death;

and for peace

for all to sit under fig trees and not be afraid;

for my calling…my life.



			

Election Day

More than 50 % of North Carolina has cast ballots with 3 days left of early  voting | WLOS

Everyone I know is on edge today. Much is at stake in our national election. In the midst of this tense time of decision, calm is fleeting. I believe that we should speak and act and vote with all the passion for good we can.

But maybe we can pause from time to time, breathe deeply, and remind ourselves that love endures. Voices calling for justice and integrity will not disappear no matter what happens. God’s spirit is abroad.

The words of Psalm 46 were written in the context of intense conflict and political turmoil. From that moment came the call: “Be still and know that I am God.” (v.10a)

Breathe. Hear that call.

You may want to listen to this version of Shawn Kirchner’s song, performed and posted on youtube by Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Calgary.

Moving forward…

Cairn,water,river,stones,stone tower - free image from needpix.com

DO NOT BE DAUNTED BY THE ENORMITY OF THE WORLD’S GRIEF.

DO JUSTLY, NOW.

LOVE MERCY, NOW.

WALK HUMBLY, NOW.

YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO COMPLETE THE WORK,

BUT NEITHER ARE YOU FREE TO ABANDON IT

-rabbinic commentary on Micah 6:8

We are continuing to meet via Zoom on Sunday mornings. You can join us from your computer or by telephone for sharing and worship. If you’re interested in being part of this time, contact us at upcob@aol.com and we’ll send instructions.

Food and Justice

And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10: 29)

What does it mean to love our neighbors as ourselves when many around us are suffering the effects of a damaged economy? When our nation is grappling with racism on personal and structural levels?

Some here are reading “So You Want to Talk About Race?” (by Ijeoma Oluo) together in coming weeks, and discussing what it means for us.

Some are contributing to a special Food & Justice offering, to be divided between the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Route One Communities Care (an effort to support some of our small local restaurants & their staff, who will be paid to prepare free meals for those experiencing food insecurity in our neighborhood.)

Some among us are helping to fill the Little Free Community Cupboard outside the church — a pantry to which neighbors are also contributing, and from which anyone in need may draw.

Feel free to contact the church if you’d like to participate in any of these steps!

We are continuing to meet via Zoom on Sunday mornings. You can join us from your computer or by telephone for sharing and worship.  If you’re interested in being part of this time, contact us at upcob@aol.com and we’ll send instructions.

The voices that are calling

” I can’t breathe.”

Few of us are unmoved by a knee pressing down on someone’s throat, preventing breath and crushing life. George Floyd’s tragic experience is also too often a metaphor for what people of color meet in our culture. In the midst of those voices crying out, God also speaks.

Calling for repentance and transformation in our personal and national lives, local faith communities and neighbors gathered on June 4 in a vigil for solidarity. Some in our congregation were involved in planning and participation. The death of George Floyd has mobilized protests and called on all of us to confront anew the systemic racism with which we live.

About 300 people, spaced because of COVID-19 across a wide expanse of lawn at University Christian Church, came together to pray, lament, and listen to the voices of citizens and leaders seeking change. Next steps envisioned are contacting county officials to urge immediate deployment of body cameras for police officers and joining in an upcoming community forum on change and accountability.

Feel free to contact the church to be added to a list of those receiving followup messages from this gathering!

We are meeting via Zoom on Sunday mornings. You can join us from your computer or by telephone for sharing and worship.  If you’re interested in being part of this time, contact us at upcob@aol.com and we’ll send instructions.

Crop-sharing

With food insecurity growing among families in our community during the COVID crisis, one of our neighbors had an idea. In collaboration with a friend at St. Camillus Catholic Church, who normally works with school garden projects and has access to great sources of vegetable seedlings, they invited people to sign up for a crop-sharing project. Plants would be provided, participants would grow vegetables and commit to giving away 2/3 of the harvest to food distribution programs. 44 people signed up.

We played a role in helping it come to pass last Saturday, as tomato, squash, cucumber and bean plants, fertilizer and straw were distributed in the church parking lot. A careful system allowed for non-contact pickup during this time of physical distancing. Now it’s up to sun, rain, and the growers! (We planted a batch of the vegetables in the church garden, too!)

Pause for a moment

Peace…”Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”)

Sunday mornings

We are continuing to meet via Zoom for sharing and worship each Sunday at 11:00 a.m. All are welcome! If you’re interested in joining, please send a message to upcob@aol.com and we’ll get instructions to you.

“Either (God) will keep you from all evil or…will give you invincible courage to endure it.”

(Francis de Sales, 16th c. bishop of Geneva)

May our prayers reflect yearnings not only for safety but for the wisdom and strength to meet the challenges of this time together!

SEEING WITH THE EYES OF THE HEART: CONTEMPLATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP

Interested in exploring “holy seeing” through the lens of a camera? We’re beginning a small group using a book called Eyes of the Heart, by Christine Valters Painter, to guide us. No expertise is necessary and a phone camera or any other digital camera is all that’s needed.

The group involves a weekly theme and basic input, time spent being receptive to images, taking photos, and sharing (online) something of what we’ve received. Join the group by contacting upcob@aol.com.

Moving into Easter life

We walk into the season of Easter, ironically, while still in the wilderness of pandemic. For this time, hear the blessing written by Jan L. Richardson (in Sacred Journeys):

God hold you in this turning,

Christ warm you through this night,

Spirit breathe its ancient rhythm,

Peace give your sorrows flight.

Love robe you in her graces,

Faith offer rich repast,

Joy pour her healing wine

for ease, for cheer, for rest.

OTHER NOTES

REACHING OUT: Aware of food needs around you?

The church office has collected resources that could help meet needs for those experiencing food insecurity during this time of disruption.  Please contact the office if you want to pass these resources on to others or use them yourself!

COME ALONG ON A VIRTUAL SAFARI!

Wild Animals Around the World (An Easter special from New Community Project for children of all ages)

Click on the link below to join the safari, hosted by David Radcliff:

https://zoom.us/rec/share/u5NaJJLJ0zJOX4nmtXPmC7IBAKnLeaa8gXIZ-KVYzkjUR6J7CC_FFZLBtCl_IqCX