I’ve been thinking a lot about sin lately (I know, you’d think I had time on my hands…). Sadly, it’s often defined as “immorality,” when it would be better understood as “alienation from God.” And we are furthest from God when we take on the role belonging only to God: judgment of self and others—which effectively disconnects us from all three (God, self and other).
The great novelist E.M. Forster once wrote: Only connect. And friends, this may be our mandate. For, if alienation from God is sin, then connection with God, self, and others is righteousness, or, better, grace. Therefore, Jesus’ command that we love God and love neighbor (as ourselves) translates to: connect with God, neighbor and self. For connection may be our closest human approximation to the Love of God.
We have many opportunities to connect this Lenten Season (see Upcoming Events below): two Spiritual Retreats, a new Bible Study Group, a Spring Spiritual Practice series, and our 100th Anniversary Commemoration Service. In addition, there are two “about to be published” authors in our midst, David Finnegan-Hosey and Chessy Prout! Both books are “must reads” in today’s culture, one focused on mental health and the other on sexual violence. Both are also deeply personal, brave accounts of the authors’ experiences. Please check out the following websites and stay tuned for the accompanying Coffee Hour Conversations:
Christ on the Psych Ward: In June 2011, shortly after finishing his first year of seminary, David admitted himself into a psych ward in Washington, DC. “Christ on the Psych Ward” is a book that emerges from this experience. The book weaves together three threads: personal narrative about David’s time in and out of psychiatric hospitalization in 2011, theological reflections from the standpoint of mental illness, and practical guidance for communities of faith discerning how to be in faithful ministry aside people with mental health struggles.
I Have the Right to: Chessy was a happy freshman at a prestigious New England boarding school when her life was suddenly disrupted by a violent sexual assault. In the aftermath of the attack, she faced a backlash from her school’s community. Written in partnership with a Boston Globe Spotlight reporter, this memoir analyzes how institutions respond to sexual assault, and why there is a tendency to blame victims over perpetrators. Chessy aims to help other survivors of assault find their voice. Her story advocates for trauma victims, offering real solutions to overturn contemporary rape culture
Finally, some of you have asked how our congregation will respond to the ongoing and horrific gun violence in our country and culture. Please stay tuned for more information about the March For Our Lives on Saturday, 3/24, and consider making a contribution to that event, www.marchforourlives.com and/or Everytown for Gun Safety.
Peace and Blessings to you and yours,
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Lenten Retreat, 2/24—We’ll gather from 1:30 to 5:00 pm for a restful retreat in this season of introspection and intention. Please join Pastor Ellen for an afternoon of meditation, contemplation and spiritual connection. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FaithLife Group, 2/25—This group meets one Sunday a month from 5:30-7:00 pm to discuss how faith impacts our lives (and vice versa). This winter we’ll explore our deeply held beliefs via “This I Believe” resources found at www.thisibelieve.org. Please join us! Questions: email@example.com.
Spring Spiritual Practice, 3/6—Join Rosemary Peters for a four-week series (through 3/27) on Tuesdays from 7 to 8:15 pm in the church parlor, then sessions continue online 4/3 and 4/10. Rosemary is an experienced yoga teacher and will share a variety of breathing and relaxation practices during this Lenten Season of reflection and introspection.
100th Anniversary Commemoration Service, 3/11—Join us for a service that celebrates the 100th Anniversary of our congregation as a worshiping community! We’ll see friends old and new, hear stories from ten decades of life together, and enjoy a choral piece commissioned and donated in honor of the occasion by our Music Director, Dorothy Mora and her mom, Georgie.
Bible Study Group, 3/11—This new group has decided to meet once a month after worship. They’ll begin at the beginning, with Genesis, chapters one and two, and decide where to go from there. All are welcome! Contact Dit Talley with any questions: DitTalley@aol.com.
Poetry Hour, 3/18—Join us from 4-5 pm in the church parlor and bring one or two poems on a “Change” theme (with 8 copies to share). Friends are welcome! Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many Ways to Pray Retreat, 4/6-7—Join Kris Davis, Rosemary Peters and Pastor Ellen at Bon Secours Retreat Center in Marriottsville, MD for a weekend of Opening. Using prayer, meditation, art and nature, we’ll explore many ways to open our hearts and minds in this season of rebirth. Cost: $175 single (overnight/3 meals) or $110 double. Space is limited, so please register early: email@example.com.
Special Notice: The Red Cross needs 20 products A and B negative and positive blood types for a pediatric case in a local hospital for Monday 2/12 through Wednesday 2/28. You only have to wait 14 days after donating whole blood to be eligible to donate platelets. If you have any availability and are willing contact: Debbie Pannel, Coordinator, American Red Cross Rockville, Deborah.Pannell@redcross.org.