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To My Beloved PBBC Community

“We can’t fight our way out of violence, only love can do that.
We can’t fight our way out of racism, only love can do that.
We can’t answer brutality with brutality, that’s the job for love to do.
We can’t blame our way out of systemic racism, love has to do that,
love of ourselves, love of our families, love of our communities.
That will guide us to find a new way.
Because love is the most durable power in the universe –
death is not…
And our job as human beings on this earth and this country too
is to decide to become better not bitter.
As we press for justice, we must move with dignity and discipline,
using only the most powerful weapon, the weapon of love.
…We must avoid blaming, scolding, attacking, destroying.
We must avoid violence, we must avoid destruction.
We must focus on building not breaking –
on lifting not crushing,
on helping and hoping.
Beloved, we must start to use our tender hearts that are so broken,
our beautiful minds that are so critical,
and our overwhelming grief to fuel a more excellent way.
Some say it’s impossible, we’ve gone too far
…but we have never outpaced God.
We have never outpaced the power of the Holy Spirit.”
(The Rev. Cheryl Harris, newsletter of The Ministers Council, ABC/USA)

“To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising
against the disorder of the world.”
(Karl Barth)

The images of face masks and empty buildings have been replaced by the images of protest signs and burning buildings, but our hearts continue to grieve just the same…for lives lost and lives taken, for the suffering of this pandemic and for rage against the sin of racism. We long for new images…of help and hope, of communities reopening and communities rising up, of safe gatherings and peaceful marches, of God’s people all kneeling in prayer and solidarity.

May we listen to the voices shouting in the streets, accept our own responsibility for injustice, and find a new way. May God turn anger into action, war into peace, and hatred into love.

In the name and spirit of George Floyd and all those who have gone before him…
Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

We believe in the Spirit who blows through our lives:
unsettling us,
stirring us up,
propelling us forward.

We believe in the Spirit who comes as a fire:
warming us,
empowering us,
re-making us.

We believe in the Spirit who frees our tongues:
for talking of God,
for prayer,
for advocacy.
We believe in the Spirit:
the Counselor,
the Helper,
the Breath of God.

As we prepare to celebrate the Day of Pentecost this coming Sunday, I am inspired by these images of the Holy Spirit; they speak to so many of our experiences right now…

Winds of change blow and we are unsettled by our lack of human contact, stirred up by our fear of the virus, propelled forward by our faith that will not let us go.

Flames of passion burn and we are warmed by acts of love and generosity, empowered by stories of sacrifice and service, re-made by losses and lessons we are moved to appreciate.

Tongues speak and we talk of all that is essential in the eyes of God, we pray for all that is burdened in the grief of God, we advocate for all that is left unsaid in the justice of God.

In these days of Pentecost let OUR spirit become a HOLY Spirit, as we become counselor to those who struggle, helper to those who serve, breath of God to all those who believe.

I believe in you, and remain with you…Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

as I listened to the winds and rain hitting hard the windows all night
I thought of the tulips in my backyard
thin and long stems just out of the ground
such gentle petals
will they survive

the sun came out as if nothing happened
and I found the tulips
as tall and proud
like a miracle

over and over again I learn
there’s power in gentleness
and often I find
it is a gentleness
that gets us through the storms

people like tulips
who seem too gentle therefore vulnerable
when the storm comes
while hard branches get broken
the wires get cut
yet they still stand tall
because their gentleness
kept them from damaging
themselves and others
(The Rev. Ho-Soon Han)

Today is the day our state begins its cautious and critical journey toward reopening, and I am mindful of my own need to find places of peace, patience and resilience along the way.

Despite my early hopes of gathering for Sunday worship in the next few months, and in light of anticipated state restrictions and church guidelines, we will likely need to wait until fall.

I plan to continue recording Sunday services; I also hope to create safe, joyful ways to hold small weekday prayer services at church during the summer. In this way we will survive and stand tall, and in gentleness, like the tulips, keep from damaging ourselves or others.

Eager to be with you again, in God’s resilience, patience and peace,
Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

You can trust God:
In the moments of celebration,
At the high points of life,
God is there,

You can trust God:
In the dark moments,
At the low points of life,
God is there,

You can trust God:
In the moments of doubt,
When decisions fail you,
God is there,

You can trust God:
In the certainty of faith,
When you are inspired,
God is there,
(“Prayers to Share” by David Sparks)

As this journey continues to stretch out before us, we may need these words more than ever…to know that when we are hopeful, God celebrates with us; when we are struggling, God sustains us for another day; when we are uncertain, God clarifies what is essential; and when we are confident, God goes with us to be the people we are called to be.

We are all waiting and watching, listening and learning, as our state nears the first phase of reopening. Churches are receiving guidelines on how and when we can safely begin to move toward resuming public worship services. Our Council is preparing to meet on June 8th to make plans for the coming months; we will keep you informed as to where we go from here.

But no matter where we go or how soon we get there, through these ever changing and challenging days, through high and low points of life, through doubts and certainties of faith, we will stay together, trusting the God who celebrates, sustains, clarifies, and goes with us.

As always, Pastor Claudine