Dear Church Community,
As we move forward in 2024, I intend to highlight Good News. Not to deny the very real bad news in the world but to acknowledge how much more good news there is than typically reaches our newspapers and feeds. Here are three sources I’ve recently discovered plus one I already knew:
I believe we’re going to need many such sources of good news this year, as we endure the rhetoric of an unprecedented election season and figure out how best to be a voice for reason and compassionate action amidst a landscape of Christian nationalism, climate crisis, and global conflict. We’ll need to remember there are many people out there performing acts of courage and kindness each day. And if current research is correct, this is the best way to inspire us to do the same.
We can also pray the news. Years ago, there was a wonderful story about a group of Carmelite nuns, an order that’s completely cloistered. After being asked what they were doing to make the world a better place, they revealed their secret. Every morning, with the newspaper open in front of them, they “prayed the news.” As they read each story, they held up those experiencing violence, illness, natural disaster, poverty, and loss and prayed for them. They honored their humanity, their fragility, and their dignity, and they prayed for them.
We can do the same.
I spent last weekend at the Southern Lights Conference on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. The speakers were incredible, including Diana Butler Bass, Brian McLaren, and Cole Arthur Riley, whose new book, Black Liturgies, just came out this week.
We were a mostly white audience of progressive Christians, and the theme, Hierarchy and Patriarchy, challenged us to examine our biases, listen to the “other,” and reach out to all people with love. It was exactly what I needed to begin this uncertain year, and I hope to bring some of the stories and conversations into my preaching this winter and spring.
When I arrived, I didn’t know anything about this area of Georgia, and I was struck profoundly by the deep ancestral trauma of the land on which we met. St. Simon’s Island was home to fourteen plantations worked by enslaved people, and it was also the place 75 captive Igbo tribespeople, after revolting and taking over a slave ship, chose to end their lives by drowning rather than submit to slavery. Today, three large houses occupy the location where they ran the ship aground, marked only by a plaque reading, “Ebo Landing 1803.”
May they rest in peace and their souls soar forever free.
It takes a village to hold our worship services. And lately we’ve been short-handed. If you’d be willing to help set up or greet people before worship, it would be much appreciated. We also need Coffee Hour hosts, which is now a much easier task since the Fellowship Committee has switched to using regular coffee makers (no more percolator unless you love using it!). If you can help a Sunday or two, please sign up here.
Finally, with this very cold weather, it’s important to know the following if you see a person who lacks access to housing. Call the DC hypothermia hotline at (202) 399-7093 or 311. Transportation to a shelter is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during hypothermia season.
With Love and Gratitude,