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To My Beloved PBBC Community

“When this is over, may we never again take for granted a handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theater, we hoped to be Friday night out, the taste of communion, a routine checkup, the school rush each morning, coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring, each deep breath, a boring Tuesday, life itself. When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be. And may we stay that way – better for each other because of the worst.” (Laura Kelly Fanucci)

I shared these words in my sermon on Sunday, and this is certainly our hope, that after this difficult time and every difficult time, we become better for each other…more caring, more compassionate, more mindful, more like the people God has created us to be in the world.

Thank you to all who have adopted members and all who are making face masks! We have more in the church office if you need any, including smaller sizes for our children. May we be thankful for God’s blessing, may we pray for God’s people, and may we trust in God’s promise to be with us always…

Missing you and sending more love for the journey,
Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

Grace from your pastor and greetings from your moderator, your staff, your church family and your worship team! We miss you all more than words can express, but we feel your prayers each day, we pray for your safety each moment, and we lean mightily on your faith each week. It has been an honor to share worship services with members and friends.

I am grateful to Richard, Barbara, Betty, Ron, Pete, Mei Ling, Janet, Jonathan, Li Ling, Holly, Noelle, Marvin, Sue, Dianne, Pat…for making sure we are connected, clean and comforted, for tending to our finances, future and fellowship, for leading, learning and loving along the way, and for keeping us inspired, tethered and grounded in God’s peace.

It has been more than a month since we have been able to gather together, and it looks like another month (at least) lies ahead of us on this challenging yet critical journey toward health, healing and hope. I share these encouraging words by Evan Drake Howard.

Almighty God,
by whose power tragedy becomes triumph…
I rejoice today because the tomb is empty,
the stone rolled away, the Easter miracle accomplished.
When I thought the adventure of following Christ was over,
you surprised me with the good news that it was just beginning.
You did not leave me without hope;
you fought the battle against death and despair until the victory was won.
Now I need not be afraid.
No matter how dark the night, no matter how hard the struggle or ominous the foe,
I am more than a conqueror through him who loved me.
Thank you, Lord, for proving that nothing is impossible for you,
for kindling the fires of resurrection and renewal in the ashes of defeat…
O God of new beginnings,
bring life where there is death, I pray.
Set before me some high challenge that will force me to rely on your power,
the power at work within me to do far more abundantly than all I can ask or imagine.
Focus my thoughts not on what I cannot do because of my limitations,
but on what you want to do in and through me by your Spirit.
May I live in the light of Easter’s dawn,
and may there always be room for an alleluia in my heart.

What a wonderful image…making room in our hearts for an alleluia! In my heart there is room for every face mask you carefully create, every member you lovingly adopt, every call, card, text and email you faithfully send, every prayer you urgently whisper.

In the words of the apostle Paul, let us fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith. In the spirit of the Risen Christ, let us look for signs of new life around us and within us. And in the power of God’s presence for those who most need our prayers, let us care for one another and for this world with courage, imagination, gratitude and joy.

With love so amazing, so divine…Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

As we journey through this Holy Week, know that I am holding each of you in my heart, and I am lifting all of you in my prayers. I share with you this poem written by my daughter, Heidi, as she is holed up in her New Haven apartment. May her words, along with God’s Spirit, bind us together in these days of darkness…

A Poem by Heidi Butler

As busy school months give way to isolated learning
Or more accurately, guilt of not accomplishing and falling behind
And not having the energy to care
As busily preparing clergy and church leaders
Excited for their yearly retelling of the church’s origin story
Find themselves in eerily empty sanctuaries
Having been reminded we are dust, yet waiting ever longer for the Hallelujahs and Hosannas that
wouldn’t come this year
As ritual foot washing is replaced by vigorous hand washing
And a communal meal of bread and wine
Becomes yet another meal scrounged from what is in the pantry
Or what remains on bare supermarket shelves
Eaten at the table that is now office and classroom and theatre and pew
As we wait in uncertainty
How much longer?
When will this end?
Will it?
What will we lose in the process?
Though it feels so different, we recreate daily the dark days of the early disciples
Who had seen death, had lost a friend, had had their movement disrupted and their plans cancelled
And mourned in secret
They did not know where to turn
Or what to do
Or how to go on
Or if they should go on.
They could not know
Separate and alone
That God had not yet finished the story
And Sunday would come.

A Blessed Easter to all of our members, friends and families…

With love, with gratitude, and with hope,
Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

I find it hard to believe that it was over a month ago when we gathered in the sanctuary for our Ash Wednesday service. It was the last time I saw many of you, and it was the last time I spoke to some of you, saying “Your past is behind you; God’s future is before you; walk the road to Jerusalem with Christ.”

We had no way of knowing what that road would look like this year…that we would meet for only two Bread and Broth suppers, that we would only just begin our Lenten study series, that our “words” for Lent would speak to us in isolation from one another, that our hands would not wave palm branches, that our bodies would not eat this bread or drink this cup, that our eyes would not see the cross taken down and lifted to the balcony.

As I prepare services for next week, I think of the words of a colleague who said that as she thinks about Holy Week she feels like those first century disciples must have felt…holed up in their own homes, locking the doors in fear of the growing darkness, trying to walk with Christ and keep the faith, seeking to live in love and wait for Easter’s light.

It may not be the road we imagined, but we are walking it together, and God still holds the future before us. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.”

As we prepare for the worst and pray for the best, may your past be behind you and may you know peace, comfort, and even joy in the days ahead. Thank you for your blessings and your prayers, for your gifts and your offerings, for your faith and your friendship.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness, and great is my love for you,

Pastor Claudine