The violence, bloodshed, and war in Israel and Gaza continues to break my heart. The news of a Gaza hospital being bombed by the Israeli army is another stark reminder of how innocent lives have been affected on all sides of this conflict between the government of Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas.
The flames of this conflict also break my heart as they spread in this nation. Both antisemitism and Islamophobia continue to be on the rise and the common humanity and dignity of all of God’s children and creation continues to be overlooked or outright rejected.
In previous blog posts I suggested ways to still work in the midst of this heart-break, including donations to humanitarian organization, tending to relationships at home with Jewish Americans and Arab-Americans, and, of course, prayer.
I wish I had more suggestions today. I wish there were some plan that people of good faith and deep love could simply snap their fingers to make happen. But I don’t think that’s the way peace works, sadly. It’s a stubborn, effort. It’s several steps backwards and sideways for every one step forward. It’s personal relationship building—as Jesus often models for us—that many people have a hard time fully understanding or appreciating.
In other words, the best thing I know to do in these helpless situations is to keep on helping in whatever way we can. Keep donating, keep building relationships, keep praying with determined trust that God’s will, God’s power, God’s love even in bite-sized bits—will provide light in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend. It won’t look or may not even feel like enough, I grant. But it is still the work we are called to do.
The PCUSA office of Peacemaking developed a video during the pandemic that reminds us of this work. I have probably shared it before, but repetition is not a sin. Indeed, it is the very thin that encourages us to be faithful to God’s way of peace. May it serve such a purpose now.
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 service from October 29, All Saints Sunday Observance can be seen here:
On Sunday, November 5, we continue our Stewardship Season Series on “Treasures in Heaven” by considering how storing these treasures can transform into sharing them as well.
*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 has test kits on hand for those who need them. Please contact the office or pastor if you need one. Also, remember to get your COVID booster and Flu shot as you are able and feel led to do so.
*November 5th Chili Bowl and Stewardship Luncheon! On November 5, after worship, we will enjoy good fellowship and good food courtesy of the Friendship Circle’s annual Chili Bowl Fundraiser! While we gather we will also hear about our Faith Budget for 2024. Bring an appetite for chili and conversation about what good news God is sharing through us! All funds raised will benefit Habitat for Humanity and Garner Area Ministries
*Confirmation has Begun! Our young people are undergoing the process of Confirmation during September and October, where they will deeply consider what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. We have approximately a half dozen youth and adults serving as mentors involved in this process. Please pray for them!
* Garner Area Ministry NEED: 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.
* Crafting Crew: Attention crafters and other handcraft creators! The monthly crafting collective is restarting. We’ll be meeting on the first Saturdays of the month from 10 am until noon. The next date will be November 4. Bring whatever you’re working on and a beverage of your choice. We’ll spend the time in fellowship and learning new skills. Kathy Blue will teach any crocheters who want to learn how to do broomstick lace. Come join us!
*Walking Group: The Walking Group meets each Tuesday weather permitting. Starting Oct. 17th, the walking group will meet at the Village at 6pm to walk. We will park at Cadence assisted living on Minglewood Dr. and walk 2 laps around the Village. If you have any questions, contact Martha Long at 919-744-0751. In the event there is inclement weather, we’ll just gather the following week. The group meets weekly at 6:00 pm
We are also walking to Bethlehem from October to December! See the below for more details and call the church office to join with us!
*Cantata Practice Has Begun! Join the choir for Christmas Cantata Practice every Wednesday! The Cantata will be held on December 17, 2023, at 3pm in the sanctuary of FOCOG:
*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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