Deliverance From All Fires and Floods, Storms and Crises
Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and forgive our sins,
for your name’s sake.
Psalm 79:8-9 (NRSV)
All memes aside, 2020 is an objectively challenging year. We are past the half-year mark of the most widespread pandemic in any of our lifetimes. Confirmed cases ticking up in our state again.
Wildfire season in the Western United States is still young and yet has already broken tragic records in acres burned, property damaged, and mortality. Look up this evening here in New Jersey: our sunsets here on the East Coast have appeared soft and hazy from that smoke reaching all the way across the country.
This week saw five named tropical storm systems in the Atlantic for only the second time since records have been kept. Furthermore, we are running out of letters to name storms and will soon potentially see Alpha, Beta, etc for the first time since 2005.
Layer these disasters onto our existing social and economic crises and the cry of the Psalmist takes on new urgency: let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.
We get to a place where the compassion within us pushes us to ask, perhaps timidly, what can I do? Whether the crises are as large as fires and hurricanes or as small as viruses we can feel disempowered before them. Never underestimate the ability of faithful people to shine light, bring hope, and move mountains.
We didn’t celebrate One Great Hour of Sharing, also known as UMCOR Sunday, this past March as it fell on that first strange Sunday when we realized we needed to worship together but apart. If your heart has been touched by something you’ve seen these past weeks and you’d like to make a difference, consider making a one-time or recurring gift to the United Methodist Committee on Relief through this link.
Additionally, some members of this church (myself included) are card-carrying UMCOR disaster response team members. Given the restrictions of the present in containing the spread of COVID-19, there is less interstate and international travel for this work. However, our giving here can resource teams there where it’s needed most. Additionally, we are not impervious here to the challenges of hurricanes, tornadoes, or other disasters. If you are on the bench waiting for your opportunity, that day will come. If you would like to participate in the next training to help with UMCOR, please let me know.
Grace and Peace,
Church Conference to Be Held as a Charge Conference This Year
Our Church Conference will be held over Zoom this year on September 30 at 7:00pm. A link will be shared closer to the date. As a Charge Conference, current members of Church Council will be present and voting.
We have two additional items to vote on:
First, a vote to give thanks for the life of Paul Huffman and to receive his unrestricted bequest of 1.5 million dollars to be managed alongside the church’s existing funds with Evesham Capital.
Second, a move to further our missional effectiveness by combining our existing administrative board structure into a single Leadership Council. Pastor Ben has not received any questions about this, but if you are curious about other churches where this structure works and has led to growth and new ministries, he is happy to share them.
New Study For Fall and Advent
Richard Rohr’s “Falling Upward” is a reflection on the surprising way our deepening faith and expanded religious practice begin to take place later in life in many cases. While we often focus so much attention on building a perfect life with healthy relationships and productive work in our 20s and 30s, it’s only in our 40s and 50s and beyond that many seem prepared to ask the big questions of this life we thought we had figured out. If you’d like to participate, please let Pastor Ben know. This is a slightly different small group opportunity for a slightly different Fall and Advent.
Worship with Flemington UMC on Facebook
Each Sunday at 10:30am, reach for your phone, tablet, computer, or other internet-connected device for a time of music, prayer, scripture, and preaching. Watching live gives the opportunity to comment in real-time with prayer requests, updates on your life, and more, but if you view the service later you can still comment and share prayer requests and experiences from your life with your church.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can simply visit the church’s Facebook page:
The videos are all accessible there without the need to create an account or login. If you have technical questions, please reach out.