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from Pastor's desK

September 29, 2023

Dear Friends,


I hope you can make it to our board game night tonight! Bring a snack and beverage and your favorite games. We’ll set up some tables in the sanctuary and hopefully laugh and carry on for a bit. Everything starts at 6:30. Let me know if you’d like pizza, so I can be sure to order enough.

(However, if you are feeling sick, please stay home! We have a bunch of Covid tests here at the church, so don’t hesitate to ask for some if you need).

Also, please plan to come to our Fall Ball, October 21st, at 7pm. It will have German Fusion food, music by CrowdFunk, and, with your help, cool items in the Silent Auction. So far, we’ve got pottery, a pack of pottery lessons, Margaret Chen’s Grandma’s Pie and Pastor John Cooks for You. Do you have something someone wants to bid on? Get in touch with me!

It’s wet out there! Super wet. I’ve heard Bennett and Broadway has turned into a river. But whatever the damage, we can’t forget that this is going to occur more and more often. I was going to say luckily, there is something we can do about it, but it’s not luck at all. We—the citizens of New York—can do something about the flooding of the city. We can organize and demand that we cut fossil fuel consumption and spend the money we need on infrastructure. It’s true that a lot of damage is already baked in, but there’s still a lot we can do to protect our city and state.  Call your state officials today ask for their vote for the Climate, Jobs, and Justice bill package which includes the Home Energy Affordable Transition Act (NY HEAT), the Climate Change Superfund Act, and the Just Energy Transition Act (JETA).

You can learn more about the Climate, Jobs, and Justice package here.

Finally, I hope to see you in worship on Sunday. If you’ve been meaning to come but have gotten stuck in a back-to-school funk, or if the weather is getting you down, just know this: we’ve got coffee and music. It’s always worth it.

See you soon,

Pastor John

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September 22, 2023

Dear Friends,

I suspect you and I may suffer from a similar malady, one shared also by the ancient prophet Jonah: it's the Justice for You, Mercy for Me Syndrome. We encountered this last week when Jesus told the parable about the man who was forgiven much but refused to forgive others. This week, we get the snippet of Jonah at the end of the book, when he sits down to watch God destroy all the sinners in Nineveh--only to see them repent and God relent from destruction. This makes Jonah very, very mad, so mad that he wants to die. He wants the guilty to be punished, but God is not the Punisher. God is full of love and compassion, and when the Ninevites change their ways, God blesses them. Jonah was very happy to accept God's forgiveness when it was offered to him, but angry to see that God had given it others.

I would love to see the wicked perish, but yet many wicked prosper. It's enough to make me a full-time fulminator. But that's not a good way to live--if you fulminate too much, if you spend your time hovering over injustices on the wings of vengeance, you'll burn out, burn up, or fall into injustice yourself. There's a reason Jesus taught us to pray "Forgive us our sins and we forgive those who sin against us." It's for us to recognize our own ways that we hurt and oppress our neighbor, and give us a desire to change. And that makes us better able to reach others and speak to others. Perhaps the funniest part of Jonah is that God wants Jonah to feel compassion for the Ninevites--God wants us to feel compassion for everyone, so that we can better help all people to turn to God's life-giving path.

Both Jonah and the Ninevites had to change--it just took Jonah three days in the belly of a fish to do it. It can take me years. Maybe you're more like the Ninevites in the story, and it only takes you days. Whether it's rock bottom, right away, or somewhere in between, if you'll look closely, you'll see God always finds a way to turn from sin and toward the way of kindness, compassion, and care. You can do it! You'll see.

I want to remind you of a few things: first, our Fall Ball is fast approaching. October 21st, 7pm. Tickets are $45 in advance, $55 at the door. Please get ready to purchase tickets next week! And don't forget to see if you can help us by donating something for the Silent Auction.

Finally, a week from today, we're having a board game night. Speaking of fulminating, I've found myself watching far too much television. What better way to break that habit than spending an evening having fun with you all? September 29th, 6:30 pm. Bring your favorite games, snacks, and even friends.

See you soon,
 

Pastor John

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September 15, 2023

Hey Friends,

You never know where life will take you, or what awaits in the future, whether good or ill. I’m going to preach on the last part of Genesis this Sunday, using some things we explored in our Bible Study earlier this year. Principally I’ll be focusing on a very interesting thing Joseph said to his brothers: “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…” We are often caught in heavy moments, where the world is too much with us, when things don’t go our way, or more than that, when we suffer, really suffer, unjustly and without an end in sight. This happened to Joseph. But sometimes God has a way of taking suffering and evil and turning it into something good. Sometimes you get lost so you can love home so much more; sometimes you get lost and realize that you don’t want to go home at all, but make a new home. Whatever it is, there is no evil God cannot turn to good, one way or another. That’s a property of being God. And the gift of being God’s child is watching with wonder as God takes evil and turns into good—there is nothing more amazing. Our job is to tell the story when we see it.

I need to ask for your help. Our Fall Fundraiser is only a month away (October 21st )! Here’s what we need:

1. We need you to come and enjoy yourself, along with all your closest friends and relatives.
2. We need you to donate items, experiences, and other things for our silent auction.
3. We need your help.

We hope to have our ticket sales live on the website next week, and of course you can purchase tickets in person at church ($XX in advance, $XX at the door). But we definitely would like to start receiving items for our silent auction, whether it’s art, a class, a getaway—we need your help.

Contact Sarah Lauducci (sarah.lauducci@gmail.com) or me to get started.

Thanks so much!

Pastor John

 

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September 8, 2023

Dear Friends,

It’s often disorienting coming back from vacation: suddenly you have responsibilities, many of which you may have forgotten. If your vacation was long enough and disconnected enough, there also comes the return of stress, a weight and drag on your mental well-being, even if it’s a reasonable and justifiable amount. Now school has finally started, and fall might also be on its way.

Perhaps we think this is the natural order of things: things should slow down in the summer, resume in the fall with the baseball pennant races and play-offs. But that’s not really true—it’s the way our particular society has evolved. The rhythm of our lives, which seem so immutable, are often completely contingent, sometimes convenient, sometimes complicated. Baseball isn’t that old, and neither is universal suffrage or even constitutional government. But we get attuned to these contingencies, like the orchestra tuning to E-flat.

I’ve been thinking a lot about disruptions to our lives and why it can be so hard to face them. Covid is one of those things: in a matter of months, we suddenly had an airborne respiratory illness that is now the 4th-leading cause of death in the United States. Or a threat to democracy, stemming now from one political party, which is actively encouraging people to armed revolt if Donald Trump is convicted in one of his 91 indictments. Or climate change, withering our forests, accelerating hurricanes, driving people out of their homelands. Each of these requires us to shake off the contingencies we thought were immutable ways of life, birthrights, or the just desserts of being born in a wealthy nation. The golden age brought about by centuries of public health is fading, and with it comes a great distrust of the means that brought us to that age; democracy, which seemed like a beacon and an eternal flame to the world now flickers and falters in its lamp; the bounty of our farmlands and orchards and aquifers is all under threat. We have to change or we will see the things we love and cherish slip away.

I used the analogy of an orchestra tuning to E Flat. But if every symphony or concerto or song was in E Flat, music would be very boring. We’d miss out on B Minor masses, C Major sonatas, A Minor arias. A musician who could only play in one key would be very sad indeed. However, it requires work—you’ve got to practice and play scales. And then, of courses, you might find out that there’s music out there—in Japan, say you’ll encounter five note scales. And then a guy like Schoenberg comes along, or John Cage, and they blow up the whole idea of music—scales? We don’t need no stinking scales! You may not like it, but suddenly music finds a wider horizon, a new vocabulary, and suddenly at the Met, you have to listen to an atonal piece before you get to the Beethoven.

Our faith can lead us through these revolutions. Its ethical demands remain: accept and tell the truth. Forgive. Be kind and compassionate. Cultivate patience and hospitality. Its spiritual gifts do not falter: the Spirit continues to move, the Resurrection of Jesus happened so that ours will happen, the community of disciples still is called to be the body of Christ in the world. Those touchstones really are permanent. And they can give us both guidance and strength to engage with the world when everything shifts and the same old way of life doesn’t work anymore. Sometimes it is time to change key. But the composer, the singer, and the song remain: the Holy Trinity.


This Sunday is Rally Day: please come, especially if you’ve been away this summer. Bring a dish to share for our brunch potluck.

See you soon!

Pastor John

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September 1, 2023

Pastor John finishes his last days of vacation this Labor Day weekend. 
The Reverend Marsh Drege, Executive Director of Seafarers International House, will be leading us in worship and communion on Sunday.  

Learn more about Seafarers International House HERE.

Join Us!
Everyone is Welcome.

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August 27, 2023

 

Dear Friends,

Pastor John and his family are on vacation for a couple of weeks.  We hope they are resting, rejuvenating and having a wonderful time.
We welcome Deacon Ross Murray to lead us this Sunday in the Service of the Word!

Join Us!

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