Some thoughts from Pastor Jenn
Over the last couple of months we have been doing a study on the book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has been used and abused in all sorts of ways, twisted to justify violence, judgment and conspiracy theories. It is used to instill fear of the ‘end times’ and the terrible punishments for those who fail to fall into line with a particular flavor of Christianity. What is lost, and what we need from Revelation is the hope.
Revelation is not really about the end of the world. It is about the end of the world as we know it. It is about the very human tendencies, habits, and institutions which keep us from pursuing and participating in God’s vision for our lives together. The end of the world as we know it is a wonderful thing. Scary and uncertain, but also hope-filled and exciting.
We are living in the end of an era, living at a turning point. We cannot be naïve to the destruction, heartache and pain that this moment of great change has brought about. No less can we fail to embrace the potential. For obvious reasons, we have been largely focused on the trials and challenges. But I want to take a moment to frame the stories you will read in this edition of The Wider Circle Times as bearing witness to the wonderful new life that can spring into being when we are forced to let go of the world as we have known it.
NPUMC has created vibrant online worship that will be continuing to evolve. Through this we have maintained connection with members who have moved away as well as some who, for a variety of reasons, are not always able to be with us in person. We have been able to bear witness to a type of Christianity needed desperately in the face of Christian Nationalism and other radicalizing forms of our faith. We have been able to provide a ministry to those who may love God but have been harmed by church, and those who, understandably, assume that ‘church’ and ‘judgment’ are synonymous.
The youngest in our community have discovered their own desire to be more committed to a life of faith, requesting a September 2021 confirmation program led by Margaret Howe. Leaning on her lifelong presence in their lives, two of our daughters are choosing their future, one that means recommitting to the vows made on their behalf at baptism. Our confirmands are developing their own program based upon putting their faith into action in the world around them.
Through Covid fasting from the Lord’s Supper, we have rediscovered how vital the sacrament of communion is in our lives. NPUMC takes eucharist very seriously, and we celebrate with great joy. In July we celebrated our first in person, outdoor communion service.
With our tradition of home baked, allergen free bread and word of liturgy that are fresh baked too, we celebrated the sacrament in a way that might have looked very familiar to Jesus – outside and in public, informally but packed with meaning. And creatively done in ways to keep one another covid safe as well.
Also happening on the lawn is the Free Fresh Food program. Working with our Lutheran and Episcopalian siblings, we give out fresh vegetables to anyone and everyone who comes by, rotating locations, each Sunday of the month. Food insecurity is high right now, and we have risen to meet the need. The food giveaway, which was started by Dianna Smith before she moved to Delaware (where she can s:ll worship with us, thanks to Covid inspired technology) has been the catalyst for a garden as well. Carol and Alex Bialy, along with Jackie Vedder and Kathy Weiss have taken the initiative to start a garden plot that is helping to feed our community.
We are not who we were before Covid. We have come to the end of the world as we knew it, and we have been inspired to trade in what we knew for something better, just as Jesus tells us we should.