I hope this week has found you connected to community and warm in body and spirit. I can’t believe it is already November and that winter is just around the corner. This winter is said to be a cold one so, if you don’t have a winter jacket or need help getting one, please reach out to me or Pastor Kaji and we will make sure you and your family are covered. We also wanted to let you know that this past week was our Seminarian, Kelsey Creech’s last week with us. We are grateful for the time she gave to this community, continue to pray for her ministry, and wish her well on all that comes next. If you haven’t made a plan to do so, please be sure to join us Sunday Nov. 14th after worship for the 2022 budget hearing and 10:30 am for the Nov. 21st Congregational hearing. Please email Stephanie Wilson for details. As always, we look forward to worshipping online at 11:00 am where we will sing, learn, bloom, and connect with God together.
Friends this past month has been a challenging one. I know it has been challenging because I wake up in the morning singing worship music. For as long as I have been a person of faith, when my life needs a little help from God, I sing in my sleep and wake up with a song in my head. I know it sounds a little odd, but it has been a way that God has reminded me of God’s faithful presence when I am too bogged down to notice. The songs are always different depending on what is happening in life. Sometimes it is a song from when I was a Youth Director, sometimes it is Mozart from my choir days in college, sometimes it's Seasons of Love from my ordination. This morning though, it was Andrae Crouch’s Bless the Lord. So, when looking at the lectionary to pick a text for Sunday, I took it as a sign from God that when I read Psalm 146, Bless the Lord, popped right back into my head. Perhaps, God knew that I would need help making this decision and had thus been helping me prepare long before I knew I even needed to make a choice.
Blooming in Preparation as we are doing this month means thinking about or learning about things in new ways. So, before we begin, we need to prepare, and a little insight into this text I think is helpful. Psalm 146 is one of the final Psalms in the Book of Psalms (there are 150) and is one of the final six Psalms of praise (they all start with Alleluia or another shout of praise). We don’t know who wrote Psalm 146 or when, though top contenders are David (though probably not because of timeline and themes), Haggai or Zechariah, and was probably written after the Babylonian Exile in 538 BCE. Psalm 146 draws on imagery from Isaiah 61 which Jesus takes on as his work to liberate the oppressed in Luke 4:18-19. It’s a meaningful part of Christian liturgy in vespers and the lectionary, it has been turned into many songs and inspired others, and it is read in full by some Jewish people during Pesukei dezimra (daily morning services/prayers).
Not to sound too much like Stefon from SNL but this Psalm has everything and has inspired even more. Let’s read it now and see what it sparks in you?
Praise God, my soul!
I will praise you all my life;
I will sing praise to my God while I live!
Do not trust in rulers,
in mortals in whom there is no salvation.
When their spirits depart, they return to the earth,
and on that day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Israel,
whose hope is in God, their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in it!
God, you keep faith forever:
you secure justice for the oppressed;
you give food to the hungry;
you set captives free.
[Psalms 146:1-7 (ILB)/ Salmos 146:1-7 (NVI)]
What was stirred in you as you read this Psalm? Did you sing a song as you read a certain word? Did a phrase make you recall a memory? Or maybe you were inspired into justice seeking action as you read about God’s faithfulness for the oppressed? All of those things and more are possible as we read scripture. That is what I mean when I say each week that God is still speaking. God uses words, memories, songs, and relationships to continue to speak to us through words written thousands of years ago and I think that is something to be praised!
Friends, this week as you watch the seasons change and notice the changes within you as well, may you remember that God is forever faithful to us. And may you listen to the song God put on your heart, or maybe in your head as you wake up, and know that God is with you now, tomorrow, and always – Alleluia!
Simple Prayer: O Holy One, make your love known this day and always. Amen.
“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Leviticus 19:34
From the Bible’s instructions to present-day laws and walls, the status of the stranger—the immigrant—has been central to faith communities. What is the role of faith in caring for the strangers in our midst, and what have migrant communities taught us about how to have thriving ministries in today’s world? We’ll approach these questions from both academic and practical perspectives in this colloquium featuring short lectures from faculty and a panel discussion with those working with immigrants in our communities.
Presenters include: Dr. Joel Baden (Yale Divinity School), Rev. Dr. Joyce Mercer (Yale Divinity School), Dr. Grace Yukich (Quinnipiac University), Ashley Makar (IRIS), Rev. Kaji Douša (Park Avenue Christian Church), Rev. David Reed-Brown (First Baptist Church in New Haven), and Rev. Alan Gibbons (First Baptist Church in New Haven).
Pandemic of Love is a mutual aid community of care that was started in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. It humbly began on March 14th, 2020 by one person and was intended to help her own local community. But, like an epidemic, the act of love and kindness spread quickly and is now a beautiful movement helping those in need throughout the world.
What is a mutual aid community? It connects people in need with patrons who can help with that need. This is a tangible way for people to give to each other, quickly, discretely and directly.
What’s the catch? There is none. Kind people are introduced to kind people which results in an act of kindness and human connection.