Good day to you, Church!
I hope you’ve been snug as a bug in a rug these past few days. Between the cold and the ice, we’ve been having a taste of old school January! Tonight, especially, is supposed to be brutally cold– so stoke up those fires and put an extra blanket on the bed!
Here’s the news for the week:
Going Remote This Sunday
If you haven’t already heard, we will be going fully remote for worship starting this Sunday. Please look for a bulletin and the hymns to be emailed to you from Claire on Saturday, and then plan to join us on the church’s Facebook page at 10am Sunday morning.
Shalom Book Group via Zoom
Our new book group, facilitated by Monica Sandreczki, will begin this Sunday after our worship service. If you want to participate but didn’t receive the zoom link, just email me back and I’ll send it to you. We will plan to gather remotely around 11:25(ish).
For the month of January, we will be putting our monthly men’s and women’s lunch groups on hold due to the recent spike in Covid cases. In a couple of weeks we can reassess the situation and decide whether or not it’s wise to meet up in February. Stay tuned for more details!
Last Week’s Trans and Non-Binary Sunday
If you attended church last Sunday, you will know that the day was both educational and thought-provoking. Jamey Merkel did a wonderful job explaining to us about what it means to be trans, non-binary, or intersex, and they helped us to understand why it’s so important that those of us who are cis-gendered support these communities of people. We had 22 people in attendance at the church building for Jamey’s presentation, including a number of high school students, and 170 people watched online.
I wanted to share with you a message we received on our Instagram page from someone we’ve never met before. They didn’t attend our Sunday events, but they had seen the message we’d written on our sign out front, which read “Non-Binary People are Beloved of God, Too.” After seeing the sign, this person went out of their way to look us up on social media and relay their gratitude. They wrote, “Hi! I’m a non-binary Jew who just moved to town recently and I wanted to say I saw your sign out front yesterday. Thanks for the love, neighbor! May the Eternal bless you and keep you. If there’s ever an opportunity for us to do some interfaith queer-affirming study together, I would love to come together.”
Friends, if there’s ever a way to know if we’re following in the footsteps of Jesus, this individual’s message is it. To be non-binary, Jewish, and new to town is to live on the margins of our North Country society. Offering this quiet message to them might have been the most important way that we, as their neighbor, could have welcomed them to our larger community. Thank you for being the sort of congregation that is courageous enough to heed Jesus’ call to hospitality in such an unwelcoming world.
*Also, if anyone is interested in coming together for an interfaith, queer-affirming study, please email me and let me know. If we have enough interest, we might be able to do something with the Synagogue at a later date!
Dear Hearts, how are you holding up this week? Has fear or anxiety crept into your house? I know that I am feeling alarmed at the state of Covid, and I would be lying if I said that waves of fear do not creep up on me sometimes. My dad caught the virus a couple weeks ago, despite being vaccinated and boostered. He’s been struggling with illness and having a hard time breathing, but I’m grateful to say that he hasn’t had to go into the hospital. When this starts to get the best of me, I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and find my spiritual balance.
Even for those of us who are vaccinated, there’s still a decent chance that we will contract Covid. If this happens, I pray that, like me, you can work on turning yourself over to God’s peace. (There’s that shalom word again!) I pray that you can find this peace because you remember who you belong to. Friends, no matter how bad Covid gets, it’s never the end of our story. God’s ever-lasting love will always remain our story– it is the beginning of our story, this present moment of our story, and the end of it as well.
This week I have had to root myself in Romans 8:38-39. The apostle Paul, writing to Christians living in Rome who were experiencing all sorts of trials and tribulations, wanted for them to keep their challenges in perspective. So he wrote saying:
“I am convinced, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
May God’s peace, which passes all understanding, hold us together these next couple of weeks.