Posts from June 2020

To My Beloved PBBC Community

“Power for Life”

God, what would you have me say, do, or be like today?

you live in heaven’s domain.
The kingdom of heaven is in you.

Its energy surrounds you.
Let it wash over you and penetrate.
Bathe in its love.
Bask in its light.

You cannot make mistakes here.
All you say and do is within its grace.

Your talents, skills, curiosities
- even your styles of work and play -
are blessed gifts to you.

I give you your own works to perform,
and I look for a ripe return.

Offer yourself to my love and care today,
I will guide you and work with you,
in you, and through you.

This relationship is the divine exchange.

(Written by David Sharp)

We may wonder what God would have us do and say in these days, what “works” God gives us to perform…at home, in our communities, with friends and family, around the world. These words remind us that no matter what we do, God is guiding us, and the kingdom is within us.

As we begin putting the church back together again, piece by piece, one small gathering at a time, may it be a “divine exchange” of love for life, of sorrow for joy, of despair for hope.

Until we meet again…soon,
Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

“For the Power of the Spirit Among the People of God”
God of all power and love,
we give thanks for your unfailing presence
and the hope you provide in times of uncertainty and loss.
Send your Holy Spirit to enkindle in us your holy fire.
Revive us to live as Christ’s body in the world:
a people who pray, worship, learn,
break bread, share life, heal neighbors,
bear good news, seek justice, rest and grow in the Spirit.
Wherever and however we gather,
unite us in common prayer and send us in common mission,
that we and the whole creation might be restored and renewed,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Prayer offered by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Episcopal Church, USA,
in Washington National Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday, May 31st, 2020)

These continue to be times of uncertainty and loss for all of us…for our nation, for our world, and for our own communities, friends, families and churches. But I send you love today from your church family, along with warm heartfelt greetings from your community of faith.

Our Church Council was blessed to meet in person for the first time last week, sitting 6 feet apart, wearing masks as needed, sharing news and reports, hopes and fears, plans and possibilities, laughter and prayer…and dreaming of the day we can all be together again!

We watch closely as our state moves through each phase of reopening, and we wait to see which guidelines best serve our plans for safety and well-being. As we carefully study the restrictions for churches reopening, we feel it is not yet in our best interest to resume Sunday morning services. At this point we look toward September to gather in our sanctuary again, and we will continue to record worship services each week. We will also hold small midweek gatherings of 12 people at a time, summer prayer circles called “Bridging the Gap.” We will be making phone calls to sign you up, or you can call the church office to make your reservation.

Eager to see you, to serve you, to keep you safe, and to sustain you in God’s love…
Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community on the 30th Anniversary of my Ordination…

Eternal God, in wisdom you govern all things,
and from the beginning you have chosen faithful people to serve you in ministry,
calling some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
to equip all your people for the work of the ministry and for building up the body of Christ.

You are also the God of the living church and the loving heart;
send your benediction, we pray, upon this your daughter, Claudine Patricia Crooks,
whom we, in your name and in obedience to your will,
by prayer and the laying on of hands,
set aside and ordain to the ministry of the church.
Confirm her in your own service and make her wholly yours.

Quicken within her an abiding sensitivity to your presence,
that she may ever live not in herself but in you.
Deeper her sense of unity with all people
and give her an understanding and loving heart,
that she may minister to all troubled souls and open to them the doors of peace.

God of justice, make Claudine a prophet of your truth,
seeing clearly and speaking bravely, without hatred, bitterness or fear,
but ever with her face turned toward the morning of a better day.
May every cause of righteousness be stronger because of her ministry.
Help her to bring wider horizons of love and justice
and social vision to all who hear her.

Bestow on Claudine the power of your Holy Spirit, confirming what we do this day.
Let the same mind be in her that was also in Jesus the Christ,
that your love and grace might also be seen in her.
Increase her faith in you as life-giver,
that her ministry might nourish your people with hope.

O God of us all, we joyfully commend Claudine and her ministry to your watchful care,
that, having created her and redeemed her, you might also sustain her all her days.
In so doing, we commit ourselves to supporting hers and all ministries of the church we love.
Through Jesus the Christ, our Sovereign, our Savior and our Friend, we humbly pray. Amen.

Prayer offered by the Rev. C. Burtis Crooks for Claudine P. Crooks
On the occasion of her Service of Ordination, Sunday, June 10th, 1990
South Congregational – First Baptist Church, New Britain, CT

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