Hello Dear Hearts,
It’s Friday the 13th, and a chilly one at that–well, at least by the standards of that delightful warm spell we had for nearly a week! Wasn’t that something? I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some of it. We’ve been discussing at my house that even though climate change is frightening, sometimes it can have silver linings– like those delicious warm days.
A handful of volunteers took advantage of the weather this past week to work on putting the church grounds to bed for winter, and to plant over one hundred daffodils and tulip bulbs for a celebration this spring! A big thank you to Dick and Joanne Partch for the bulbs, and to Brian Wilkinson and others for your raking, clipping, and pulling! I can’t wait to see what joy those flowers bring after the end of this difficult winter.
Along with the yardwork, Ron and Dick took down the large Black Lives Matter banner that Renee Stauffer had made and wrapped around the large maple tree in the front yard. The tree, which is almost entirely dead, will be coming down within the week. I will be saying a prayer of thanks for all of the decades it has lived, and breathed, and brought life to the corner of Elm St. and Lawrence Ave.
Also, a thank you to Dale Hobson for offering to serve as our church’s newest commissioner to Presbytery. He joined me this week at the November Presbytery meeting.
Continuing on with the spirit of thanksgiving, I am overjoyed to let you know that Father Rocker, the priest serving at St. Mary’s Catholic church, is sending a $200 donation to put towards the Free Little Food Pantry. Last week I had explained to you about how all of the congregations involved in the Potsdam Interfaith Community had volunteered to collect donations for the pantry each month, and how overwhelmed I was by the grace of it all. But this gift from St. Mary’s will be on top of their food collecting efforts.
I have served in churches in the past where bad blood lived between Protestants and Catholics. It brings me great joy to know that in Potsdam, we support one another. If any of you have any ideas of how we might be able to offer a bit of grace back to St. Mary’s, do please let me know! I haven’t been around long enough to have even had the chance to meet Father Rocker, so your input is most welcome.
It helps me to hold onto my faith on my dark days, to know that God’s beloved community is at work in the world right now. My gratefulness for the kindness in our community is helping to hold me together right now.
As we grow closer to Thanksgiving, I would encourage all of us to sprinkle some form of gratitude into our Pandemic Soup Pot. Even just a pinch will season the flavor. I know that things are hard right now– and getting harder with each passing day– but this is the funny thing about the life that God gives to us: We can be stressed out, and worried, and filled with sadness, and still find room in our hearts for giving thanks. It’s possible to do both things at the same time! So, even while we might be grieving the fact that we won’t be together this Thanksgiving with the people we love, we can also hold space for other goodness that surrounds us.
Can you pay extra attention this week to discovering what you do have? Is your car in working order right now? Can you feel the air filling your lungs? Did you have a chance to laugh at a good joke today? Or maybe you had yourself a good cry and were able to let it all out. Maybe you got a hug from someone this week, or you found delight in sending a note card to someone in the mail. Did you get your yard put to bed or listen to a spectacular piece of music? Maybe you just barely made it through the day, but you did in fact make it (and tomorrow will be a new day).
When we can find the secret joys that live hidden in the cracks and slivers of what is hard, God strengthens us anew. This is why Nehemiah told his weary and grievous people, as they returned to the rubble of Jerusalem after having lived in exile for 70 long years, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Joy gives us strength. Gratitude gives us strength. They’re God’s secret sauce for making soup taste good– even a Pot of Pandemic Soup.
So…. may you be mindful to find the secret sauce this week!
In God’s joy,
p.s. If you haven’t already sent it in, please remember to drop your pledge cards for 2021 in the mail to:
First Presbyterian Church, Potsdam
42 Elm St., Potsdam, NY 13676