From the Pastor’s Desk, 1/24/22

 The Christian Century magazine always includes an art selection inside the back cover of each issue. In the latest issue, the selection is a work entitled Praise by Martin Wenham, and includes a verse from Daniel 3 (The Catholic Bible) which reads, “Let the earth bless the Lord, yea, let it praise him and magnify him forever.” Psalm 148 includes similar language: “Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord…”

   The word “let” in both of these passages captured my attention. Let the earth bless. Let the sun, moon, and stars praise the name of the Lord. Doesn’t it seem odd that these prayers provide instructions to let the earth, sun, moon, and starts praise the Lord? Why is there need to let this take place? Surely, these created celestial bodies in the totality of their created magnificence expound praise automatically. It is a given that by their presence alone in the solar system they are offering praise, right? Yes, but.

   But, humanity in its fallibility impinges on the freedom of the created celestial bodies to organically continue in unending praise. So, in essence, the prayers in Daniel 3 and Psalm 148 could easily be construed as instructions for humanity.

   Why? Well, humanity can be careless in caring for creation. Our current global climate dilemma speaks volumes. Because we purposely or inadvertently introduce flora and fauna species into unnatural habitats, the local environment is upset and becomes imbalanced in ways that choke out or displace or disrupt natural life. No longer can the earth fully shout its praise. The ongoing transmission of carbon and methane into the atmosphere disturbs the earth’s natural patterns and rhythms. Imbalance excels and the earth agonizes, and it loses its ability to sing praises.

   Let the earth bless the Lord, then, is a call to humanity to give back to the earth its natural ability to shout and sing praises. The manner by which humanity can let this happen is through good and natural creation care protocols.

   Much too frequently, conversations about creation care devolve into political arguments. What if, whenever these conversations happen, instead of thinking politically, our thoughts turn to Daniel 3 and Psalm 148. The scope of the discussion would be reframed from narrow socio-political ideals and enlarged to theological reflection and perspective. No longer would the conversation remain focused on personal fulfillment. Rather it would shift to common concern, empowering humanity to let the earth be its created self, allowing it to naturally bless the Lord…forever.     

Recap: Worship, Jan. 23, 2022                                

   Deciding to move forward with a decision can be difficult, especially if the choice involves significant risk. But what if the chance to do something risky for the good of all is passed by? A video presentation shared during worship offered some insights, one of which is that chance is an opportunity for receiving power to be able to promote something good for all (this video will make you rethink life – YouTube).

   Another video shared (SPARK by Art Class Curator – Augusta Savage, The Harp (Lift Every Voice and Sing) – Bing video) offered a look at a sculpture designed for the 1939 World’s Fair. The sculpture, The Harp, alludes to the song Lift Every Voice and Sing, or what is frequently referred to as the African American anthem. The song speaks about the strength of those not privileged with power standing firm for their dignity and place in the whole human race.

   It is important to do what is right for the good of all even when the road ahead is stony and difficult. The choice to make in these moments is “I think I can” rather than wondering if it’s worth the effort.

Worship Services January 2022

   The Leadership Team recently engaged in conversation regarding continuing to meet in-person for Sunday worship services in view of heightened pandemic concerns. Consensus reached was to continue in-person services noting the importance of following helpful pandemic protocols such as wearing masks, practicing social distancing, sanitizing, and washing hands. Also, if you are not feeling well or have been in contact with anyone with COVID, please refrain from attending in-person, and if you have the capability, connect via Zoom. We are continuing to provide the Zoom option with all in-person worship gatherings. The Zoom link is included here (also above in the opening article) for January through March services. If in-person services need to be canceled due to inclement winter weather or state mandated pandemic protocols, information about such changes will share using the prayer chain and other means as needed.

   January through February worship services will follow themes from the SHINE curriculum. SHINE curriculum is produced by Brethren Press. Biblical stories encountered during worship include Nathan confronting David, Esther saving her people, proclaiming jubilee, a son returns home, Zacchaues making amends, and more. We will spend two Sunday’s on each theme.

Topic: Worship Services January – March 2022

Time: Jan. through Mar. 2022 each Sunday 09:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

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