First Congregational U.C.C. Charlevoix
January 07, 2021
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A Message From Toby…
Yesterday – Wednesday, January 6 – in the early afternoon, I was working on this very newsletter, when I gave into the urge to check my phone to see how the certification of the election was going in the Senate. My newsfeed took me to Senator Mitch McConnell’s speech about how it was time to accept the results of the election and move on. I breathed a sigh of relief, said to myself, “Finally!” and headed downtown to get Eloise a birthday present. When I got back into my car and turned on NPR, I heard the reports that the capital had been stormed, that the Senate and House had been evacuated, and that shots had been fired. You all know how the story proceeds from there…
What are we to think in light of all this? What are we to do? Of course, I turn to scripture and prayer during such times as these. As luck would have it…or maybe it wasn’t mere luck…the passage for my devotional yesterday was Psalm 37. Check this out:
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
20 But the wicked will perish:
Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.
27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
34 Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace
38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.
39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
Wow! Could a passage from almost 2000 years ago be any more relevant than this? I have been leaning on and leaning into the 37th Psalm ever since I read it on Wednesday. I’m thinking on it, praying on it, and sharing it with everyone I know.
What happened yesterday in our nation’s capital was both wicked and evil. The people who stormed the halls and threatened the heart of our democracy were misguided, misinformed, and misled. My daughter turns 13 today, and I must now try to explain this horror to her and calm her fragile nerves. She is learning about democracy in school – how it works and what its principles are. But what she and the rest of the world saw yesterday has absolutely nothing to do with democracy or our core values as a nation. Yet somehow the perpetrators see themselves as patriots, and even the President commended them.
May the vision and truth of the 37th Psalm come to pass this day and as we continue to move through this critical period of transition in these United States of America. Amen.
Our Beatles’ sermon series got off to a good start last week, as we examined the theological and biblical implications of Paul McCartney’s classic “Yesterday.” What a dream come true for a hack singer like me to be able to perform that song with a live cellist accompanying me. Thank you, Bryon Ferrar. This Sunday we’ll turn to one of George Harrison’s compositions from the 1968 White album, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” If you have some time between now and this Sunday, give it a listen and take a look at the lyrics. George was the most spiritually minded Beatle, and his gentle, thoughtful personality is on full display in this tune.
We’ll be blessed once again by a member of the Gerber String program’s faculty, as Trisha Berquist joins us on viola. You’ll be able to read all about Trisha in the online bulletin that Leah will send out later this week.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge two people who have been doing some very quiet, very unglamorous but important work for our church. Pam Smith and Hugh Hansen have been meeting with me every week since early October to review and draft proposed revisions for our bylaws. This is neither exciting nor fun work, but it surely is important. Our bylaws have not been reviewed since 2011, and so much has changed in not only this church but in the world since then. Updating this important document is vital if we want to be a church that matters in the future. The work that Hugh and Pam have done with me has not been a 3-person enterprise. With every proposed revision, we have taken our written ideas to each and every board, committee, and officer that would be affected by our proposed changes, if, in fact, the revisions are eventually adopted. All of those constituencies are weighing in every step of the way, which makes the work Pam and Hugh are doing that much more painstaking and laborious. I want to publicly express my thanks to them and ask you to express your gratitude to them as well. You’ll be hearing more about their work in the weeks to come.
Attention Church Leadership
2020 Annual Report submissions are due no later than January 10, 2021. Please submit your typed reports via email in an editable format, preferably Microsoft Word. No JPEG or PDF files, please. If you need help submitting your report, please let the church office know. If you would prefer, a submission form can be found on the church’s website at https://chxucc.org/2020-annual-report-submission-form/
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~New~ 2021 Photo Directory
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