Have we all survived the election (thus far)? As of the date and time of this email, we still don’t have a clear winner for the presidency, but it’s looking like Biden will win in the end. I have to say, I am feeling very grateful that there hasn’t been violence in the streets while we wait for all of the votes to be counted. Our democracy is holding steady thus far.
And what a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Have you been out enjoying the mild weather? This afternoon both Julie Miller and I were down at the Black Lives Matter rally. They’re being held from 4- 4:30pm now, while it’s still light outside. We had a great time chatting with the new friends we’ve made, and hearing from Jen Baxtron about the racial equality work that still needs to be done in our corner of the community.
Sometime in the last week you should have received a letter from Dale Hobson, along with a pledge card for 2021. Dale was writing to all of us to let us know that we’ve fallen behind in our regular giving in 2020. For some of us this will be because the pandemic is squeezing our finances, but for others of us it’s because we’ve simply forgotten to send in our pledges. (It’s not so easy to remember when there isn’t an offering plate being passed around every Sunday!) If you are not able to meet your pledge because of financial reasons, please just send a note to the church to let us know. There is no need to feel shame for having to say that times are tough right now– most of us are feeling the pinch in one way or another. Just let us know what you can or can’t commit to for the rest of the year, so we know what we have to work with. But if you’ve simply forgotten, tie a red ribbon around your finger! Our church needs us right now! Like all other organizations, we’re feeling the squeeze.
This is why I urge us all to spend a little extra time praying about what we might be able to afford to pledge for 2021. Don’t just ask your pocketbook what the numbers look like. Spend some time in prayerful consideration with God about what God might be needing from you right now. At the end of the day, our giving to the church is not just about keeping the lights on and the services running. It’s about our faithfulness to God’s call in our lives. What is God saying to you?
Now for the exciting news! Some of you may (or may not) know, but our church participates in what’s called the Potsdam Interfaith Community. I just recently started attending the meetings (COVID had shut things down for a while), and I’m getting to know folks. We had a meeting this last week, and I’ll tell you the truth– I was in tears by the end of it. PIC has helped to support our Free Friday Lunch program in the past, but while it’s down for the count because of the pandemic, the other congregations in PIC wanted to know how else they could be faithful. Our Session discussed it some after talking with some of the folks who used to come regularly for Friday Lunch, and we decided that the best way for PIC to support us is to help keep the pantry shelves filled. So each congregation will focus on collecting certain non-perishable items for each month, and bring them in for us. Do you have any idea how many people are going to be sending in their love? Folks from the Christian Science Church, and the Methodist Church, and the Catholic Church; people from the synagogue, and the local mosque, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Lutheran Church! Can you picture this in your mind– this beloved community, made up of people who sharply disagree on many things, choosing to come together to share what they have? If that weren’t enough, the Mormon Elders– the three young men who are serving their mission through the Potsdam LDS church– are going to help us do the grocery shopping each week for the perishable food items that we keep stocked in the fridge. (Yup, there I go getting teary eyed again…)
In a country where we are divided right down the middle by bitterness and suspicion of each other, I find myself groping around in what feels like darkness, to catch even a sliver of the light of hope. I cannot see how God is going to lead us to a place where we can call ourselves the United States of America, but I have a hunch that the light shining from within PIC has something to do with it.
Friend, how can you be a light of hope this week in our country? How can you shine the love of God on people you find yourself cursing against under your breath? Will you light your own candle from the flame being held by the Potsdam Interfaith Community, and carry it out into the community? If there’s ever a time for courageous compassion and kindness in the world, it’s today.
The writer of First John knew this well. He writes,
“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and matures in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day– our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear.”I John 4:17-18 (Message Version)
Come take your candle, and spread the light of God’s love this week!
Holding onto hope,