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

Standing together

As our world struggles with COVID-19:

Our prayers surround those who suffer, the many who are working toward containment and healing, and those who sustain needed services for all of us.

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.

(The poem below by Laura Fanucci, a writer who also blogs on Facebook at mothering.spirit, was read on NPR’s Morning Edition this week. The author has given permission to use it with attribution.)

When this is over,

may we never again

take for granted

A handshake with a stranger

Full shelves at the store

Conversations with neighbors

A crowded theater

The taste of communion

 A routine checkup

The school rush each morning

Coffee with a friend

The stadium roaring

Each deep breath

A boring Tuesday

Life itself.

When this ends,

may we find

that we have become

more like the people

we wanted to be

we were called to be

we hoped to be

and may we stay

that way—better

for each other

because of the worst.