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from Pastor's desK

November 25, 2022

Dear Friends,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with people you love and love you back.

Did you know that one of the names of Holy Communion is the Eucharist, which is just the old Greek word for Thanksgiving? Eagle-eyed bulletin perusers will have noted that the section of the service following the sermon has something called the Great Thanksgiving, and a series of prayers modeled on ancient practices, often including the line," Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe,” a blessing naming God as the subject of our thanksgiving.

I hope that as this weekend progresses, you’ll find some ways to praise and thank God—even in the middle of the chaos of life, the presence of God abides. Try some of these on for size: Blessed are you that our turkey didn’t catch on fire; thank you that Uncle Robert was able to keep his conspiracy theories to himself for a few hours; blessed are you for the gift of family and friends and fall and a long walk in the evening; thank you for the times I saw you at work in my life this year. 

We continue giving thanks at the table we all share on Sunday; thanks to God for making all that exists, thanks to God for loving all that he made; thanks to God for loving us so much that through Jesus Christ he bridged the chasm of death and sin to make us part of his family table forever.

There are a dearth of great Thanksgiving movies, but maybe that’s a story we can share together, something not fiction, but altogether real: that we are part of a wide family table, and God has a place for us, right here in the hinterlands of the universe, a special place. Thank you, God, thank you for making room for us.

Pastor John
 

 

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November 18, 2022

Dear Friends!

 

This week we celebrate the newest of the Christian holy days, Christ the King Sunday. We celebrate the gentle reign of Christ that stands in contrast to the reign of human beings and human institutions, and we celebrate the cosmic reign of Christ, in whom, as Paul writes, “the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Christ reigns. And Christ reigns over our life.

 

We have chosen this day—not purposefully exactly, but rather serendipitously—as this year’s Pledge Sunday. Pledge Sunday is the day we pledge our gifts of money, time, and talent, to God’s work in our congregation. We will have a special moment during the offering when everyone can bring their pledge sheet forward into the offering basket on Sunday—this can be a very moving act, even if it’s just a short walk with a sheet of paper. But if you can’t make it Sunday, you can also pledge online here. Our Stewardship team will do its best to reach out to you to ask you do things—but if you feel like you’re not getting asked enough, pester me, pester the office. God’s gifts in you need to be deployed and employed. God has created you to do good things in this world.

 

It’s good to take a minute and remember that this really is God’s world, and all that we have in this world comes from God. We can take none of this with us when we die, but we can leave the world a bit better for the people who live on after us. Our faith and trust in God’s reign lead us to the care of all things and compassion for all—and that care and compassion, in turn, lead others to God. 

 

I want to talk a little bit about care and compassion on Sunday—we are going to have a potluck. But please, if you want to stay for the potluck, please take a rapid Covid test Sunday morning. Thanksgiving is next week, and many of us will be going to see friends and family. If you are sick, have a tickle in the throat, a little stuffy nose, keep your mask on and take a rapid test—an infection you pass on this weekend will ruin someone else’s Thanksgiving. There are a lot of viruses going around, and it is both a duty and joy to take care of someone else by taking care of yourself. 

 

We have plenty of rapid Covid tests here in the office. I would love to hand them out to everyone before Thanksgiving.

 

See you soon,

 

Pastor John

 

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November 10, 2022

Dear Friends,

 

The number of hospitalized people from Covid-19 has doubled since September. The CDC currently advises everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear masks in public settings here in New York and the Tri-State area. Please protect yourself and others, and don’t forget to call your doctor if you contract COVID-19, and to call 212-COVID-19 for help. Use rapid tests before gathering with family and friends at Thanksgiving.

 


Last Sunday was All Saints, and I heard so many of you give thanks for examples of the saints, and also that we had constructive way to hold and process grief. It was a union of grief and hope, of mourning and joy. Grief for what we have lost but hope for what we yet may gain; mourning for death of what we have loved, but joy for the redemption of God that overcomes even death. For some reason I have an image in my mind of driving at twilight, perhaps on the eve of Thanksgiving, leaving home behind but looking forward to seeing the rest of the family, as the gloaming covers the earth in glory until the stars break out and shine. Maybe that’s the feeling we have when we know God is at work in love above and beyond and under and within us.

 

We are entering the final weeks of the church year, and my mind also is turning to Advent, the beginning of the church year, a beginning in both darkness and in hope. Our Sunday School has been studying in depth the Creation story, and the curriculum we’re using made pains to show that darkness as such is not evil—God is at work in the dark as he is in the light. The Psalms says,

 

"If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

    and night wraps itself around me,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

    the night is as bright as the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

 

 

So it’s good to remember that as sure as night follows day, the stars come out, and dawn breaks. And through the night, God is no more absent than he is during the day. God is always there. So take courage, no matter what. Mourning and dancing, crying in pain and crying with laughter; this life belongs to God, and so do you, forever.

 

 

Pastor John

 

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November 4, 2022

Dear Friends,

Please come by the garden Saturday afternoon from 1:30-4:30 p.m. to hang out in the garden and write some letters to our state elected officials—let them know now is the time to make a swift and just transition to clean energy. New York State can do this—we just need the political will to make these things happen. And that happens when we let our elected officials know that we have expectations.

So come by and write a letter or two. We’ll have music playing, and plenty of resources for you. Bring your children, and have them write a letter, whether they are just learning how to write or can write well already. We’ve got resources for them. Bring your grandparents and uncles and aunts.

I promised I will make donuts, and I will. I hope I will run out of them and have to run to Dunkin’. And I hope that all our elected officials get a whole bunch of letters explaining that it’s time now to move to sustainable, clean energy. It’s going to be a fun day, with lots of laughs and lots of neighbors, and it will make a big difference.

Sunday brings our All Saints' celebration, and with it the memorial of our loved ones who have died in Christ. Just remember that when Christ comes, he brings his friends with him, and if Christ is with you, so are the ones you miss. So Christ be with you, before you and behind you and on every side, and take courage—because we have the hope that will not disappoint us, the hope of glory of living with Christ.

Pastor John