On Sunday, I'll preach on forgiveness from Matthew 18:21-35 as we continue our series on The Way of the Cross. In preparation, I've been reading about historic acts of forgiveness in the face of human cruelty: the Amish community at Nickel Mines who forgave a school shooter. The survivors of apartheid atrocities who publicly forgave their perpetrators in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Emmanuel AME Church's astonishing courtroom forgiveness of Dylan Roof, who murdered the "Charleston 9" in an act of racial hatred.
These stories unsettle us, and they should. Because we bear the image of a just God, we long for justice when someone is wronged (particularly when that someone is ourselves). Forgiveness looks weak, powerless, and foolish in the face of such profound injustice. And yet Jesus calls his disciples to unlimited forgiveness. We'll explore this challenging teaching together on Sunday.
Reading about past injustices is weighty. So is reading the news. I've been heartbroken this week by the news of the Libyan floods and Moroccan earthquake. Sometimes the only faithful response to such brokenness is to lament. When our own words fail us, we can turn to the psalms and the collects in our prayer book to give voice to our deepest cries.
And if you'd like to "cry out" with your finances, ARDF's disaster relief fund does excellent work with well-vetted, trustworthy local partners. They are currently securing local partnerships to offer aid to survivors of the North African natural disasters, their fund also supports relief in Maui and other recent tragedies.
In other news...
Vestry elections are coming up in early October, and the nominating committee is actively engaged in follow-up conversations with those who were nominated. I love this process; each year it demonstrates the thoughtfulness and dedication of so many in our congregation to the mission of this church. Our bylaws require us to notify the congregation of all vestry vacancies. You already know of two: Jenni McSwain and Nancy Sung are stepping down as their terms expire next month. However, we now also have a third vestry vacancy, as Tom Pienaar has let me know that he will also step down before the end of his term after serving 2 of his 3 years. I fully support Tom's decision (I hope everyone in our church feels free to discern their limits and commitments), and I could not be more grateful for his compassionate leadership over these past two years. We will thank Tom, Jenni, and Nancy for their service at our Parish Meeting on October 1. This means that our next vestry election will select 3 vestry members, rather than 2, and that one of these members will serve for just a 1-year term in Tom's place. That person will then be eligible to stand again for a full 3-year term, for a total of 4 years, if they so desire. Please pray for all those discerning whether to stand for vestry service, and for the leadership of our church in this next season. It matters so much.
And a few final reminders from me:
Sign up for a small group if you haven't already! Groups are underway but people are still more than welcome to join.
Register for the fall retreat - it's going to be great! We'll be exploring The Lord's Prayer together, and for those who enjoy a bit of pre-reading preparation, we'll have copies of Wes Hill's The Lord’s Prayer to borrow, read, and return on Sunday. This is a rich and beautiful little book, and I'm not just saying that because Wes was my New Testament professor!
Interested in membership? Email me!
It's a gift to be your pastor. Please reach out if there's any way I can support you through listening, prayer, or practical help.