Like many of you, I watched with great sadness as scenes from the devastating, hurricane-strengthened, wildfires in Maui occurred over the last two weeks. There are still some fires active as I write this message and those working to restore power, assist the displaced, and identify the dead and unaccounted for, must look out for further dangerous weather forecasts this weekend.
I have a minor connection to this tragedy, having been in those places, particularly Lahaina, in June. I wear a necklace purchased in that historic village which I’ve worn for the past 2 months as a reminder, that even when things are busy and challenging, there are places of rest and renewal.
I confess that hope seems more unsure today. The devastation in Lahaina seems total. The whole island is suffering. Rest and renewal look impossible.
But as I look again to scripture to steady my heart, I remember how God works in chaos. In the void, God shines and speaks light. In the fall, God comes close not only in judgment but in grace fashioning clothes for Adam and Eve. In the flood, God preserves a tiny portion of creation and then repents of the violence unleashed in the deep waters with the promise of the rainbow.
I see Jesus telling stories about seeds and great things coming from small, unexpected beginnings; I see him going to places that others would not touch or dare enter calling Lazarus to come out; I see him living, dying, and living again—and the Holy Spirit building the church through that same steadfast, stubborn hope.
Hope, our faith says, is not always an easy thing to see. But it is also not an easy thing to snuff out completely. It struggles, it fights, and in the chaos, it springs.
That’s why our denomination’s disaster assistance ministry—PDA_-has as its motto “Out of Chaos, Hope.” They believe in that simple, stubborn work and encourage all of us to do the same.
They are now marshaling their forces and efforts towards Maui. There is still much unknown, but you can track this webpage for updates: https://pda.pcusa.org/situation/hawaii-wildfires/
And you can go to this one to make a donation to PDA’s general fund that will help in Maui and can also be put to use in other places where chaos is evident but hope still survives and cries out. https://pma.pcusa.org/donate/make-a-gift/gift-info/DR000165/
May we be witnesses to that hope and may it find you in whatever challenge or threat of chaos you are dealing with these days.
The Lord Bless and Keep You,
*In-Person/Livestream Worship: Join us each Sunday at 11:00 am in person or online (via Facebook live) for worship!
Online participation via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/firstpresbyterianchurchofgarner
Our August 13 service experienced a “glitch” of some sort and did not stream or record Sunday. Our apologies! We are working on resolving the issue but know that it happens sometimes. We should be up and running by Sunday, August 20!
This Sunday, August 20, we continue our “This is Our Story!” series. Each week we will be looking at scriptures and focus in on one word that helps shape and form us as a Christian community. On Sunday, we read Genesis 9:12-16, Romans 8:31-39, and the Apostle’s Creed line “Descended into hell” and consider how God’s Love stands with us no matter what.
During worship, we will also celebrate our staff and invite everyone to do the same during Lemonade on the Lawn following worship!
*Service Opportunity! FPCoG is partnering with Raliegh PD’s ACORNS Team (Addressing Crises through Outreach, Referrals, Networking, and Service) Acorns needs our help again for an annual event where they provide resources and services for over 200 friends who are experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, and addiction and recovery. Please consider dropping off non-perishable breakfast on-the-go items (granola bars, cereal, etc.) and packs of water donations to the church between 8/13-8/21. Thanks for being the hands and feet of Christ and serving our neighbors!
*NC Department of Health reports and data show a recent increase in COVID-19 rates, perhaps due to a summer seasonal surge. The church encourages people to be mindful about ways to protect themselves and others, including maintaining distance, washing/sanitizing hands, wearing a mask (always welcome at FPCOG but still optional), avoiding large crowds when you are not feeling well, and having a COVID test on hand. The church office is gathering test kits to have on hand for those who need them. Please contact the office or pastor if you need one.
*September Spire articles are due to the office by Friday, August 18th!
* Garner Area Ministry URGENT NEED: In June, FPCOG contributed 424 lbs of food to GAM to help alleviate food insecurity in our community. The shelves need to remain stocked though! Please bring donations of ANY and ALL non-perishable food items to the church or directly to GAM in the coming days, weeks, and months.
*Walking Group: The Walking Group meets each Tuesday weather permitting. During these warmer months, please take precautions and stay hydrated! Because it has more shade, the group has returned to walking at Lake Benson Park until the fall. The group meets weekly at 6:00pm
*2023 Vision Update: Our Group is now set and meeting! Thanks be to God for Elders Deb Wallace and Megan Snapp, Deacon Regina Ekoule, and at large members Kathy Blue, Sandy Lee, Joe Prater, and Ken Summerville for being part of this work. They will not be alone though as the whole congregation will have the opportunity to offer feedback and ideas as we discern together what God is calling us to be and do in 2023 and beyond. Please pray for this process to be faithful and fruitful.
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