The picture here shows a cover over the cross in our sanctuary, a temporary protection while the area was being painted last week. I note that the covering is clear, so that the cross still shows through, which I think is an important visual for us in these times. We cannot let the gospel good news be hidden away or quiet. There are ugly voices and actions evident, words and actions of hate and violence, judgments that some people do not belong, that some lives don’t matter. Many of these ugly voices and actions, I’m sad and angered to say, come from people who claim the faith of Christ as their witness. But that view covers up the true witness of Christ — the one we call the Prince of Peace, the one who preached “blessed are the peacemakers,” the one who invited all to the table and the grace of God, the one whose first words of public ministry (in Luke’s gospel) were that he was anointed to “bring good news to the poor…release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” He said these words about his own work, but his whole ministry was about inviting all of us to join with him in this important work in God’s name. As a white person, I have to admit my privilege; in most aspects of life in this country, I am not one of the oppressed. I am called by Christ to work with those who are oppressed, including people of color, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ folks, the poor, so that all may be free from oppression, that all may have opportunity in this world to be who they are, so that all may know that God’s grace and love are for them, as they are. We here at Plymouth will continue to uncover this true message of the cross, and we invite you to join us. — Pastor Leslie
The remodeling work continues, as painting in the sanctuary started yesterday (8/9). Stopping by the sanctuary, I saw the scaffolding set up to aid in painting the ceiling, and it got me to thinking (a vocational hazard, as we pastors so often seek sermon illustrations wherever we go). What provides the scaffolding for our lives, our life’s journey? Scaffolding provides safe support, it helps us to do work that is needed, and it helps us to reach heights that we could not otherwise (or so easily) reach. We can think about faith in the same way: faith in God – a God whose steadfast love is promised to each of us and all of us, a God who promises to be with us always (in green pastures, beside still waters, in the darkest valley), a God whose divine spark is part of our very being – is the scaffolding of our lives, providing safe support, helping/encouraging us to do the work we were created to do as helping neighbors, and helping us to reach new heights of love, compassion, and peace. Sometimes it can be scary to use scaffolding and have trust in it, just as it challenges some of us (all of us?) to have faith and trust in God (and yes, in God’s people, who aren’t ever perfect, even though some think they are!). We have to challenge ourselves some times to have such faith, or to trust that God will be with us even in those times we can’t feel such presence. But this “scaffolding” is there for us, this I know and truly believe. May it bless you, today and always. –Pastor Leslie
We have begun some work on our gathering spaces, to update things like paint and furnishings, to change to more efficient lighting, and to make our spaces more flexible for different types of events (and for new ways of doing our worship service). As part of this process, we have taken the pews out of our sanctuary. It’s a big change, and for some they are wondering if such a change is good — will it still feel like church without pews? It will feel different, that is guaranteed, but as we see it, whether the sanctuary feels like a “church,” in the best sense of what the church can be — a place of blessing; where all are welcome; where can experience God’s love and grace through Word, through bread & cup shared, through peace passed — is more about the people and how we relate with one another than whether we have pews or chairs.
It will be interesting to go through this process, which led us to have a front lawn filled with pews last week (pews that are now being used by another church, which needed some seating for a new building they are moving to — paying it forward!). I will be posting periodically about the process, as a way of letting you know a bit more about us.