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May 30, 2020
Beloved Friends in Christ,
May 31st is Pentecost Sunday! On this date, Church of the Cross marks 60 years in service to our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. While we cannot gather like we had planned, we still celebrate 60 years of BEing Christ’s church in Hoffman Estates. To celebrate Pentecost is to BE living in God’s creation, serving the community with compassion and care.
I will be celebrating Pentecost this week by taking vacation—lots of outside work awaits my attention all while it reminds of the beauty of God’s creation! If you have a pastoral care emergency, contact one of our Deacons or Elders.
I also offer up the possibility of your temporarily borrowing a hymnal from the church to use for our Sunday worship services. Please contact the office if you would like to stop to pick one up for use during this time. Since the hymnals haven’t been used in months, they are germ free in their pews, so you can take one from there.
Friends, as I write this, we are all aware of the unrest in our country triggered by the death of yet another person of color. I am heartbroken for the families of all those killed in recent weeks… and in our country’s history. I am heartbroken for all people of color who experience racism on a daily basis. I angered by those who incite violence and destruction in the wake of tragic death. These families and communities and our country need prayers and our action.
I share this video from the PCUSA Stated Clerk, The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, for your reflection on how we can be a part of the solution. I implore you to take the time to view this video. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to do justice. Racism is real and deadly for people of color. Racism is a human construct ingrained in the fabric of our society. Yet, through the power of the Holy Spirit we are given the courage and stamina to overturn the construct of racism. Dr. Nelson, noted in this video, “We can only prove [we are a better country] by countering with an ethic of love. … Join me and others—there is work to be done, my friends, right now.”
Racism is such a huge construct of oppression we often don’t know where to start. So I ask you to consider joining me in learning about it and our call to work against it. This summer I will begin a series of a book studies for us to learn how to be a part in the dismantling of racism. Please email me if you are interested in joining in this journey.
On this week of Pentecost, let us remember we live our lives in the season of Pentecost. While Pentecost only appears on one Sunday of the church calendar, the Holy Spirit has come and remains with us, giving us all we need to BE the church in our world—today and every day.
I close with a prayer from The Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter, PCUSA Director of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries.
Please pray with me…
A Prayer in a Time of Anger, Unrest, and Injustice
Holy One, whose Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, whose children you empower to prophesy, whose youth see visions and whose elders dream dreams, we cry out to you with a loud “Hosanna!” Where else shall we go, O Savior? You alone have the words of eternal life.
You came that we might have life more abundantly, but that abundance eludes too many of us, O God. Our news cycles are filled with despair. Our hearts ache as we wade through a global pandemic, reaching grim milestone after grim milestone. But even as we navigate a new threat, old ones still linger. Communities of color bear the uneven weight of a new disease, yet we see that racialized violence and the systemic injustice undergirding it have by no means given way to the demands of a pandemic. We speak some of the most recent names: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Tony McDade. We add them to the litany already in our macabre collection: Aiyana and Emmett, Eric and Sandra, Jordan and Rekia, Trayvon, Atatiana and Tamir, and the myriad others in far too long a list. This great cloud has witnessed persistent injustice and our perseverance in the face of it. Yet, how can they rest when so many keep joining their ranks?
We are slow to confront our complicity and investment in white supremacy and dominance. We live in a world in which Indigenous, Black, and Brown siblings are expected and compelled to offer forgiveness at a discount. When the cheeks are turned, they are met with another hand to the face—or knee to the throat. Forgiveness is too infrequently met with repentance. This, O God, we name as sin. It is our sin. Many of us lament and strive against that sin. Help and empower us to continue that work with diligence and faith. Too many of us still waver and are unconvinced that there is a problem. Remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh that are softened toward our siblings. Help us to reckon not only with our personal failings, but also with our institutional history and the ways the church has helped to create systems of inequity. By your Spirit, help us to corporately live into our creeds and confessions and provide sanctuary for all God’s children. When we say that “God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged” and that “the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination,” help us to truly mean it.
We humble ourselves and cry out to you in the hope that you will hear us and heal us. We lift the communities of Louisville, Minneapolis, Glynn County, and all where racialized violence has occurred and unrest has been stirred. Holy God, we recall the words of our ancestor Dr. King, who reminded us that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Open our hearts, minds, and understanding to your movement in the margins, so that when your people speak, they are indeed heard, and when they tell the truth about your deeds of power, they are not dismissed as something other than sober and of a clear mind. In this way, let the fires of uprising give way to the fires of your Spirit, where your people hear the Good News of your kin-dom, hear it with joy, and make haste to take part in it. Let us release our attachment to our current world order and walk bravely into the world you’ve intended for us, even and especially when it costs us something. We are mindful that, as Rev. Dr. Cornell West states, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
Your kin-dom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus is still Lord. To the one and only God, our Divine Parent, Jesus, our Gracious Sibling, and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Note: My weekly Sabbath begins Sunday afternoon and I return to work on Tuesday morning.
PLEASE NOTE: anyone, even non-Facebook users, can access this live stream @ Facebook.com/cotcpcusa. Just click the link to view COTC’s Facebook page. Following live streamed worship, the service will be posted on Facebook and on our website. Holy Communion will be shared during the May 3rd worship service, so be sure to have your bread and cup ready to go!
Donations and Pledges
Please consider making a donation or pledge via our online Donate page, or mail in a check to our address listed below. Despite our building being closed due to the pandemic, your donations continue to support the ongoing ministry of COTC which is beginning to take on new opportunities to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ!
In quickly moving times, we are dedicated to ‘walking together’ through these difficult days, so here are a couple of other opportunities to help those in need:
Connecting in this time of physical distancing is vital to our remaining connected in life giving ways. Zoom Gatherings can be accessed with a computer, a tablet, a smart phone, or by calling in on your regular phone. We gather every week on Tuesdays at 11 am; Wednesdays at 6:30 pm; and Thursdays at 9 am. Contact Pastor Julie for Zoom sign-in information.
Wednesday Noon Lunch Bible Study
We are resuming our weekly bible study. EVERYONE is invited to join us!! Contact Pastor Julie for Zoom sign-in information. Here is the schedule of dates and passages we will be discussing: