Posts from August 2020

To My Beloved PBBC Community

Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics
American Baptists join other churches and denominations to offer special prayers as we approach our national election. We are encouraged to pray for our leaders and for our country.

A Responsive Reading
We acknowledge that God calls us to show respect to everyone –
regardless of their views on difficult issues that divide our country.

In response to God’s commandment, we will strive to treat those
who have different views as we want to be treated by them.

As we advocate for what we believe, help us to remember that the Bible
tells us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.”

In response, we will seek to do more listening
so that we might learn from others.

We remember that Jesus said we should forgive the sins against us
not just seven times, but “seventy times seven.”

In response, we will remember to forgive those who say harsh things about us
and resist the temptation to respond in kind when we are attacked.

We know that, as Christians, we are told to work for
increased understanding, justice and peace for all people.

In response, we will do what we can during the year ahead
to stay mindful of the sacredness of each person
and to apply Jesus’ Golden Rule in our personal lives and in our political activity.

We come together today to pray for our country but also for ourselves. We are thankful for the blessings of living in the United States, but increasingly fearful for our future because of the enmity and bitterness we see between our fellow citizens. Help us to be more mindful of your teachings and to act in love to help heal the deep divisions in our country. We pray that you will keep us mindful of your great command to “treat others as we want to be treated,” and that you will help us find ways to apply that principle in our daily lives. We believe that your way of love and kindness can transform our country and ask your assistance as we seek to show that love to others – especially those who hold views very different than our own. Amen.

Joining with you and with all of our sisters and brothers in faith, Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

Holy Are You
(Written by the Rev. Deborah Swift)

Holy are you, Source of Creation
Holy are you, Source of Rebirth
Blessed your name, our liberation
Blessed your love, our universe.

Only in you is our defender
Only in you is there a way
Out of the dark this world engenders
Into the light of your new day.

Take my life and let it be
A living gift for you, not me
Take my heart and let it sing
In praise of the One who gives us the Son.

Open my eyes, Spirit of wholeness
Open my eyes, make them to see
All that divides is just illusion
Come, make your home inside of me.

Holy are you, Father of silence
Holy are you, Mother of song
Birthing me now out of my weak times
Birthing me now into the strong…

This song was composed by my seminary suitemate, Deb Swift, more than thirty years ago; she sang it while I signed it for a New Testament class project we called, “Romans - The Musical.” Our professor for the course was Dr. Paul Hammer who died this year after a lifelong journey of academic excellence and faithful ministry; he was a scholar, a teacher, a servant, and a friend. You may know this song by the way our own Holly Boyle has sung it over the years, bringing it to life and making the music her own for various worship experiences of our congregation.

These lyrics are based on a biblical passage from the book of Romans (12:1) where the apostle Paul urges us to present ourselves as a gift, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. As we continue to live through these fragile and frustrating days of interrupted dreams and cultural divisions, may we make of our lives a gift…to the world and to each other. May we find a way.

In the name of the One who births us, and blesses us, into being,
Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

Psalm 23
(from “Psalms Redux: Poems and Prayers”)

This I know: my life is in your hands.
I have nothing to fear.
I stop, breathe, listen.
Beneath the whirl of what is
is a deep down quiet place.
You beckon me to tarry there.
This is the place where unnamed hungers are fed,
the place of clear water, refreshment.
My senses stilled, I drink deeply,
at home in timeless territory.
In peril, I remember: death’s dark vale holds no menace.
I lean into you; your eternal presence comforts me.
I am held tenderly.
In the midst of all that troubles, that threatens and diminishes,
you set abundance before me.
You lift my head; my vision clears.
The blessing cup overflows.
This I know:
you are my home and my hope,
my strength and my solace,
and so shall you ever be.

(Written by Carla A. Grosch-Miller)

I love the 23rd Psalm, and I love this new interpretation; for me it captures so much of what we long to find, what I hope you find, in these changing and challenging days.

Together we watch how things are going in our state, nation and world. Together we wait to see what happens with our schools, praying for students and staff and all those tasked with making such important decisions while facing such impossible choices. And together we look past this summer heat to October for a possible safe return to Sunday services in our sanctuary.

Next week we resume our “Bridging the Gap” prayer circles, with smaller groups this time around, and we look forward to being together once again. But for all of you there at home, may you find hope once again. May you find ways to remember, to refresh, and to be held in God’s presence once again. And may you find places of strength and solace once again.

Until we meet once again, Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

Jesus, Saviour, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal;
Chart and compass came from Thee:
Jesus, Saviour, pilot me.

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still.”
Wonderous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Saviour, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
‘Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

There’s something about a storm…

This week we experienced Hurricane (then Tropical Storm) Isaias as it made its way up the coast. For some it brought mostly wind and heavy rain; for others it destroyed property, brought down trees, knocked out power, and claimed lives. Storms are forceful yet sadly not always as predictable as we would like them to be. They can be relentless, unforgiving, fearful.

The same can be said for other storms we are facing. The effects of Covid-19 continue to rage on, creating storms of illness and loss, exposure and risk, testing and tracking, re-openings amid the threat of more shut-downs. There are storms of civil unrest and cultural division, personal grief and community struggle. When will they cease? We long for the calm after the storm.

The words of the old hymn “Jesus, Saviour, Pilot Me,” bring that sense of calm to my soul… Having weathered many storms together, we continue to trust that God will chart our course; we still turn to those we know and love to be our compass when we are lost; and we try to serve those who face the greatest perils, by calming their fears and leaning upon our faith.

Always with you, in the stillness and the storm,
Pastor Claudine