TCC Flash - Weekly News
NO PLACE FOR HATE| Rev. Dr. Norm Bendroth.
Would that every moral issue was so clear and unambiguous. “Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
Racism is a sin. White nationalism is idolatry. Hatred is evil. There are no “two sides” about that. There is no debate about people’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are self-evident, or used to seem so. As the prophet Isaiah put it, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)
We all watched with horror the violent, white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, VA. They came heavily armed with night sticks and fire arms carrying lit torches chanting “Black Lives Don’t Matter,” “"You will not replace us" and "Jews will not replace us." There were also neo-Nazi chants of "blood and soil" and "one people, one nation, end immigration". One eyewitness vividly described how alt-Right members encircled a group of clergy who were kneeling in prayer, waving their AK47 rifles and shouting all manner of abuse at them. And if that wasn’t enough, in an act of domestic terrorism, a young man only 20 years old, plowed into a crowd killing a young woman and injuring 19.
I worry deeply about the soul of our nation when such hatred and vitriol is on display, particularly when so many of them are young white men in their 20s and 30s. I also worry about an appropriate response. Many of us are deeply angry, but is it the anger of an “eye for an eye” or a righteous anger that springs from the Gospel?
Jesus rarely got angry, but when he did, watch out. The angriest he ever got was when he grabbed a whip and drove the money-changers out of the Temple. What prompted such an outburst? He told us why. “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:17)
This is a quote from Isaiah’s vision of the day when God will bring “the foreigners” and those of all nations to be part of the universal people of God. “Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely separate me from his people’” Isaiah said, “and do not let the eunuch say, ‘I am just a dry tree.’” (You might recall in the book of Acts (Acts 8: 26-40) a eunuch from Africa came to trust Jesus and was immediately baptized, fulfilling Isaiah’s vision.)
The money-changers in the Temple courts, the Court of the Gentiles, were preventing those whom God had welcomed into his house of prayer, by charging exorbitant prices for animals used in sacrifice or literally getting in their way. Jesus would have none of it and reclaimed the space for God who desires all tongues, tribes, nations and races to worship God through Jesus Christ.
Both the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and the money changers were seeking to keep people away from the kingdom of God, people they didn’t feel were worthy of it. “Those others.” “Them.” But Jesus knocked over their tables and barriers and kept doing so when he rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent his Holy Spirit to transform human hearts. It was if he cried, “No more of this!”
It is so important to remember this because many of those promoting white supremacy claim to do so in the name of Jesus Christ. They do not use the name Christianity, but “Christendom”—by which they mean white European cultural domination. Nothing could be further from the Gospel.
Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, asks a stark and bold question of the white American Church:
This sort of ethnic nationalism and racial superiority ought to matter to every Christian, regardless of national, ethnic or racial background. After all, we are not our own but are part of a church — a church made up of all nations, all ethnicities, united not by blood and soil but by the shed blood and broken body of Jesus Christ. The church should call white supremacy what it is: terrorism…. that often pretends that it is speaking for God.
If Jesus of Nazareth were present in Charlottesville, Virginia, he would be quite angry. The question is: Does it anger his church?
What can we do?
Of course, when confronted by heinous acts of violence and moral outrage, too often we throw up our hands and say, “What can one person do?” Christians might also say, “Well, the world is fallen, what do you expect?” But, if sin is “not the way things are supposed to be,” then God’s call is clear— “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) St. Augustine put it well: “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
Join The Fun at Harold Parker State Forest!| Sue Panilaitis.
TCC’s camping trip is this weekend and all are invited even if you don’t want to camp! Come join the group for the day at Harold Parker State Forest Campground on Saturday, August 19th (you will need to pay the “day use fee” to enter the campground). TCC campers are located on sites along the pond with site numbers in the 80s. There will be a group dinner offered Saturday night for anyone joining us (any side dish would be appreciated). All are welcome!
UCC News Updates| Church Clerk.
Being summer there are just a handful of events, but I wanted to make sure everyone saw the updates from the Tri-Conference Annual Meeting and General Synod. Next issue will be early September. Please click on the attachments below for more information. http://www.macucc.org/newsdetail/synod-wrap-up-8735064
LOCAL CHURCH PUBLIC EVENTS
Saturday – September 9, 2017 at 11:30 AM
Free Community Luncheon at Groveland Congregational Church
Submit an Article for TCC Connection-Still Time!| Mercy Delgado.
The third issue of the TCC Connection Newsletter is coming together. If you would like to contribute an article, there's still time! You can submit it to the church office by Tuesday, August 22nd, to be included in this next issue.
If you would like to go green and receive future editions of the TCC Connection Newsletter in digital format, please contact the church office at 978-851-9411, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
September Communion| Board of Deacons.
The Board of Deacons has voted to reschedule the Sacrament of Holy Communion from September 3rd to September 10th, so as to take it off a holiday weekend and have it when everyone returns for Rally Day. This notice is to fulfill the bylaw requirement that the Deacons make an effort to notify the Congregation thirty days in advance of any deviation from our usual practice of serving on the first Sunday of the month.
OBITUARY - SOMEONE ELSE| Rev. Dr. Norm Bendroth.
Our church was saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valued members, Someone Else. Someone's passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years and for every one of those years, Someone did far more than a normal person's share of the work. Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, a meal to make, one name was on everyone's list, “Let Someone Else do it.”
Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results; “Someone Else can work with that group." It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most liberal givers in our congregation. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed Someone Else would make up the difference. Someone Else was a wonderful person; sometimes appearing superhuman. Were the truth known, everybody expected too much of Someone Else.
Now Someone Else is gone! We wonder what we are going to do. Someone Else left a wonderful example to follow, but who is going to follow it? Who is going to do the things Someone Else did?
There are lots of examples in the Bible of characters who tried to hand off their call to “someone else.” We think of Moses who made a bunch of excuses for why he couldn’t go back to Egypt and liberate his people. Gideon, the Mighty Warrior, wondered if God was really talking to him, so he asked God for a bunch of signs to prove it. Jonah tried to run away from his call to preach to the Ninevites, but the fish got him first. Every one of them became the someone else they hoped would do the job.
When the summer winds down and fall activities start up, let’s stop looking around for someone else and do what needs to be done. Many of you contribute greatly to the life of TCC whether on boards and committees, teaching Sunday school or in quiet, behind the scenes ways. But there are many small, time limited ways we can all pitch in according to our gifts, interests and schedules. May we all be like Isaiah, who answered God’s call with these words: “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
Called to Care
As a community of Faith, we are Called to Care for one another. Please visit our Called to Care page to learn how you can offer or request care for yourself or for a member of our church family.