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Ongoing Response to COVID-19

Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-10

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Friday 12 July 2020
 
Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends, 
 
            The only driver who never gets a ticket? Mary Gritten guessed right: a screwdriver. I hope to re-introduce my corney jokes in my next Monday emailer.
 
* * *
 
            Here’s a borrowed essay from Su Voz, produced by friends in our Cuba Partnership:
 
GOD IS ALWAYS HERE 
Psalm 34:4 and Isaiah 66:3
 
“I sought the Lord and he answered me…”
 Psalm 34:4a (CEB)
 
My mother was always someone very special to me due to all of the love and kindness with which she taught me.  When my father was dying, I was with him, observing how he agonized.  Desperately my mother read the Bible and passed her hands through his hair, kissing his forehead and praying.  Until this moment I had never accepted that God existed, that there really was a living and all-powerful God.
 
Something happened within me–I remembered the Lord’s Prayer that I had learned as a girl and I began to repeat it without stopping, over and over.  Instantly I saw this great God’s answer, and my father was full of much peace and gently left this world.
 
I left from that hospital room, looked for a place to sit under the stars of the dawn, a soft breeze surrounded me and an almost imperceptible drizzle touched me.  There was God in a sweet caress, saying to me: “You are not alone.  You called to me and I responded:  I love you.”
 
Dios siempre está ahí
Salmo 34:4 e Isaías 66:3
 “Busqué a Jehová y Él me oyó…” Salmo 34:4
 
Mi madre fue siempre alguien muy especial para mí por todo el amor y ternura con que me educó. Al partir físicamente yo estaba junto a Él observando cómo agonizaba. Desesperadamente mi madre le leía la Biblia y le pasaba la mano por sus cabellos, besaba su frente y oraba. Yo hasta ese momento nunca había aceptado que Dios existía, que era realmente un Dios vivo y todopoderoso.
 
Algo ocurrió dentro de mí que recordé el Padre Nuestro que había aprendido de niña y comencé a repetirlo sin cesar una y otra vez. Al instante vi la respuesta de ese Dios tan grande que tenemos, mi padre fue lleno de mucha Paz y partió apaciblemente de este mundo.
 
Salí de aquella sala de Hospital, busqué un lugar para sentarme bajo el cielo estrellado de la madrugada, una brisa muy suave me envolvía y una llovizna casi imperceptible me tocó. Ahí estaba Dios en una dulce caricia, diciéndome: No estás sola. Clamaste a mí y te respondíí, yo te amo.
 
* * *
 
            We need humor, human touch, and ice cream to survive. I’m a little nervous to share these “Mom” jokes that were shared with me. I don’t want to be guilty of ‘micro-aggressions’ against either women or moms. I have a beloved mom and I married a beloved woman. If I’ve stepped out of line, I trust you to tell me. (Seriously.)  
 
            I hope you enjoy these. 
 
            You are beautiful when you smile.
  
Why God Made Moms
 
Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions.  
 
* Why did God make mothers? 
1.  She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2.  Mostly to clean the house.
3.  To help us out of there when we were getting born.

*How did God make mothers? 
1.  He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2.  Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3.  God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

*What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

*Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom? 
1.  We’re related.
2.  God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s mom like me.

*What kind of a little girl was your mom?
1.  My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2.  I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

*What mom needed to know about dad before she married him? 
1.  His last name.
2.  She had to know his background.  Like is he a crook?  Does he get drunk on beer?
3.  Does he make at least $800 a year?  Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?
 
*Why did your mom marry your dad?
1.  My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world.  And my mom eats alot.
2.  She got too old to do anything else with him.
3.  My grandma says that mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

*Who’s the boss at your house?
1.  Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goof ball.
2.  Mom.  You can tell by room inspection.  She sees the stuff under the bed.
3.  I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

*What’s the difference between moms and dads?
1.  Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
2.  Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
3.  Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.
 
*What does your mom do in her spare time? 
1.  Mothers don’t do spare time
2.  To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long. 
 
*What would it take to make your mom perfect? 
1.  On the inside she’s already perfect.  Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2.  Diet.  You know, her hair.  I’d diet, maybe blue.

*If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be? 
1.  She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean.  I’d get rid of that.
2.  I’d make my mom smarter.  Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.
3.  I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.
 
* * *
 
See you on Sunday. Invite a friend.
  
* * *
 
Pay attention to God’s activity in the world around you.
            Be amazed.
                        Tell somebody.
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
864.386.9138
More
* * *
 
From your Nurture Team — Congrats to Kathy Schoeffmann for being the first to correctly recognize last week’s photo of Bill Marble!  

Here’s this week’s photo challenge. 

Visit http://fb.com/groups/firstpreschampaign to make your guesses, or email them to photos@firstpres.church.  
 
Please join in the fun!  We would like you to select a photo from your younger years (grade school, high school or early adulthood). Photos need not be professional. Candid shots are welcome. Please send your photos to photos@firstpres.church.
 
Saturday Evening French Prayer Service 6 pm
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

* * *
 
Friday Night at the Movies: What movies do YOU recommend? Send me the name of one of your favorites. I’ve shared with you mine. (I hope I told you about Local Hero and O Brother Where Art Thou?)
 
* * *
 
Two very different songs for your Friday concert.
 
Prayer…
The Lord Bless You and Keep You
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akT32E83zjI
 
…and, from our friends at Stax Records, dancing…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGVGFfj7POA&list=PLThMPoPkQmGzGyEgWPurRu13Whzc57Qo_&index=13
 
 
 



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-09

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Thursday July 9 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
            If there was anger or rage at Todd Ledbetter’s funeral last night in the parking lot of CU at Home I didn’t see it. There was rage and violence, certainly, when he was beaten to death within view of my office window on July 1st. One week after his death, however, peace, quiet, and muggy heat washed over the crowd. There were quivery voices. Tears. Lots of media. One elected city official (Jon Rector). Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians that I recognized. About sixty gathered. It was hot. The folding chairs were spread out wide. You could ride a bicycle through the spaces in the crowd. Prayers were offered. Guests shared remembrances. 
 
            A representative of his family was present. Todd’s mom was the second-born of a family of twelve kids. He learned the Bible from his grandmother. One man said Todd shared everything he was given. “Wealth brings many friends, but the poor are left friendless,” says Proverbs. While this may be often true, it’s not always true. 
 
            Last night was proof.
 
            Ten or so people spoke. They all shared some variation of one theme: friendship. Friends make our lives rich, somebody said. 
 
            One man said he was rich because Todd was his friend. Take on Race:
 
One Thing I Learned About Racism Last Week
By Ian Evensen
 
“Black lives matter!”
 
“Actually, all lives matter.”  
 
You might not see anything wrong with saying “all lives matter”. “All lives” includes “Black lives”, so what’s the problem? Until recently, I thought that “Black lives matter” and “all lives matter” were interchangeable, because they were both phrases that advocated the idea that everyone should be treated equally. For this reason, some people might say “all lives matter” with good intent, but I’ve learned why we should stop using this phrase. 
 
The Black Lives Matter Movement was created because of the excessive amount of people in this society that have failed to understand that “Black lives” falls under the category of “all lives”. The movement fully recognizes that all lives matter- it’s simply saying that in order to truly believe that, you must also believe that Black lives matter as much as all other lives. 
 
An analogy I read online sums it up perfectly: imagine you are having dinner with your family, and everyone gets a serving except for you. You say “I should get my fair share”, but your family replies, “everyone should get their fair share”. This analogy represents the problem with countering “Black lives matter” with “all lives matter”- you didn’t mean only I should get my fair share”, you meant “I should get my fair share too.” Likewise, the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t saying “only Black lives matter”, it’s saying “Black lives matter too.”
 
In today’s world, Black Americans are the ones that need attention. They are oppressed, mistreated, and subject to systemic racism and violence. The countless instances of Black Americans being brutally treated by White police officers clearly demonstrates that they are chronically treated like their lives don’t matter. While “all lives matter” is a true statement, it draws attention away from the unique struggle that Black Americans face- it’s a general statement that ignores the fact that there is one group of people that is disproportionately impacted by injustice and inequality. 
 
The analogy I discussed earlier is applicable in this regard as well- the reason you complained at dinner was that you didn’t get your fair share when everyone else did. Similarly, the reason people say “Black lives matter” is that Black Americans are the ones that don’t get treated with the same justice, objectivity, and righteousness that other people get treated with. How could your family say that “everyone should get their fair share”, and at the same time, choose not to address the fact that you didn’t get yours? In the same way, people who say “all lives matter” avoid addressing the fact that Black lives are the ones that are in need of help. 
 
This issue with the phrase “all lives matter” was one that I learned about recently, and I now know how important it is for all of us to educate ourselves about racism. We need to be aware of it in order for us to learn how to treat Black Americans better. We need to learn about racism and encourage others to learn about it so that we may better understand why so many people are upset, and so that we can make a change.
 
News:
 
Thank you Rachel Matthews for hosting, Eric for teching, and Claudia for telling her story at the Wednesday Vespers last night.

Fridays

Men’s Prayer Group 8:30 am
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

Friday Night Lights Study Group 7:30 pm
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

* * *Rob Dalhouse, director of CU at Home told me after the funeral that if Todd Ledbetter was murdered because of the $200 somebody had allegedly given him that evening, that was a waste. “Todd would have given the money away had they asked.” 
 
As of yesterday, the $2,500 PCUSA grant check First Pres sent to CU at Home is in their bank account with their gratitude. Lola Ruthmansdorfer, our Community Mission Deacon, called Rob today to touch base. He said, “It meant a lot.”
 
* * *
 
Nobody has asked me where the jokes went. Remember how I used to collect corny jokes for you each day? I’ve been saving some up. Please send me your favs. 
 
What kind of driver NEVER gets a ticket? (I’ll tell you tomorrow.)
 
Good Word: 
 
John 15:12-17            
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
 
Let us pray 
 
Our Holy Father, we confess the weakness and sinfulness of our lives. We have often turned away from thee to seek our own desires. And often when we have done no evil, we have undertaken nothing of good, and so have been guilty of uselessness and neglect. From this sin of idleness and indifference set us free. Lead us into fruitful effort, and deliver us from profitless lives. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
 
[Martin Luther King, Jr.]
 
PEACE to you all,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church


Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-08

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Wednesday July 8 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
 Dear Friends,
 
            How many of you have seen the play “Hamilton”? I saw it on Friday evening on TV. I was amazed. Check it out and tell me what you think. (Some of you have already chimed in.)
 
            Tomorrow, in my Thursday emailer, I hope to include another essay by Ian Evensen. Remember, he’s a high school junior in our church. I’ve asked him to write about this: “What have you learned this week about racism?” 
 
            What have you learned? Send me your essay.
  
Take on Race:
 
            My friend Allen Huff’s sermons are so good. He preaches in East Tennessee in Jonesborough. I hesitate to tell you this lest you defect. Listen:
 
            The life of faith takes hard work. It takes determination and conviction, imagination and creativity, patience and forgiveness. 
            [R]econciling the hard work of discipleship and the gift of grace doesn’t take fancy theological gymnastics. It’s a matter of perspective. The hard work of discipleship is our grateful response to God’s gracious initiative . . . [T]he longer and more intentionally we follow Jesus’ ways of compassion, forgiveness, and justice, his yoke fits more naturally and his burden causes less strain.
            Yesterday I re-read Martin Luther King, Jr’s. Letter from a Birmingham Jail. In this profoundly eloquent, prophetic, and love-wrought epistle, Dr. King calls religious leaders of all faith traditions to task for their reluctance to take on the yoke and the burden of solidarity with God’s love for all humankind, and especially for those who suffer discrimination and oppression. 
 
* * *
            I, for one, am not eager to take this yoke of naming and ending discrimination. That burden seems too heavy and my shoulders are too narrow. But I’m reminded that with Jesus I can do anything he calls me to do. And it’s not my will that matters, but God’s.
 
            So, this is my song. Listen, again:
 
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5krFNUMQHI
 
News:
 
A service for Todd Lebetter, the homeless man murdered last week at West Side Park, will be in the parking lot of the Phoenix Center on Washington Street, home of CU at Home, at 7:00 p.m. I’ll be masked and physically distanced; join me if you wish.
 
That is also the exact hour of our Wednesday Vespers on Zoom. Online is the safest place to ‘meet.’ Rachel will be leading the program, and you gathered saints can pray as Langston Hughes teaches:
 
Gather up
In the arms of your pity
The sick, the depraved,
The desperate, the tired,
All the scum
Of our weary city

Gather up
In the arms of your pity.
Gather up
In the arms of your love—
Those who expect
No love from above.
 
(“Prayer,” Langston Hughes)
 
* * *
 
The Wednesday Vespers Zoom link is: 
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

Thursday Youth Gathering 4 pm
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.
 
Good Word: 
 
Matthew 11:28-30    
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Let us pray 
 
Our Holy Father, we confess the weakness and sinfulness of our lives. We have often turned away from thee to seek our own desires. And often when we have done no evil, we have undertaken nothing of good, and so have been guilty of uselessness and neglect. From this sin of idleness and indifference set us free. Lead us into fruitful effort, and deliver us from profitless lives. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
 
[Martin Luther King, Jr.]
 
PEACE to you all,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 
 



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-07

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News

Education is the Pathway to Peace Wednesdays 1:30 pm
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

On July 8, Wednesday 7pm zoom prayer service, Rachel will interview Claudia Kirby about what she and her husband, Bob, witnessed several years ago when they spent three weeks at Frontera de Cristo and the surrounding area.
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

 
   
                                                       

                                                                   The Heart of Mission
                                                                           July 7, 2020 

           

2020 RAINDROP PROJECT 

It is raindrop time again. Some of you may ask: Raindrop? What does that have to do with us? Symbolically, one raindrop may make an insignificant impact in our daily lives, but enough of them added together provides us with all of the water we drink and foods we eat. In alternate years our local and world mission groups collect rain drops from you all so that we can provide extra help to one of our many agencies we support. Think of the many drops ranging from a dollar or so up to many dollars. For example, a dollar may provide a drink for someone, while other raindrops provide for a piece of clothing, a place to stay, or something to eat. All drops come together in a large pool which can make a significant impact in the needs of one agency. During the month of July, we will be collecting funds from each of you represented by each raindrop, your gift.
 
This year, World Mission agreed to select a mission that is suffering from the Coronavirus epidemic such as we are facing in this country. We did not have to look far. Mark Adams and Miriam Escobar, married coworkers (one of four PC(USA) mission co-worker couples we support), who were with us a few years ago explained the ministry at Frontera de Cristo, our neighbor.
 
Frontera de Cristo is a Presbyterian border ministry located in the sister cities of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico and Douglas, Arizona. They have their hands full right now. The Mexican/US border is now closed, they are ministering and providing for Mexican citizens that have escaped from life threatening communities in the south, the border conflict to the north, and now, most recently, the COVID-19 virus which has hit their town with casualties and job layoffs such as we are experiencing.
 
As one of five binational ministry sites of Presbyterian Border Region Outreach (presbyterianborder.org), Frontera de Cristo works with churches, presbyteries, and secular organizations on both sides of the border to do justice, love, mercy, and walk humbly with God. 
 
Their different ministries include the New Hope Community Center, Mission Education, Migrant Resource Center, Family Ministry, Church Development, CAME (Migrant Exodus Ministry), and a Health Ministry. (http://fronteradecristo.org/)
 
The cost of living at the border is about the same as it is in the United States. The difference is that people working in Mexico do not get government subsidies when they lose their job. Covid-19 has increased the loss of jobs and the border conflict has restricted commerce for our neighbors on the border.
 
How to Give in 2020
 
Each raindrop may not be much. All the raindrops together can make a big difference.
Each dollar may not be much. All our money together can make a big difference.
 
Choose an amount to give. Together our giving will help reduce the impact of COVID-19 and the increased financial need at Frontera de Cristo because of it. 
 
You can give either through check or online giving.
 
Please write the check to First Presbyterian Church, indicate “Raindrop” on your check or online giving information line.  https://firstpres.church/raindropoffering/
 
First Presbyterian Church will be sending one check to Frontera de Cristo at the end of our collection. The Raindrop Offering will be collected in the month of July.
 
During the month of July
 
This month you will be hearing bits and pieces from our World Mission Committee about the Douglas/Agua Prieta story which led to Frontera de Cristo. You will see a short video that shows many of the issues facing Frontera de Cristo as they provide for all of the needs of these displaced families. On July 8, Wednesday 7pm zoom prayer service, Rachel will interview Claudia Kirby about what she and her husband, Bob, witnessed several years ago when they spent three weeks at Frontera de Cristo and the surrounding area. We have also set up a fun webpage explaining how to give to the Raindrop project and allowing you to give online.  https://firstpres.church/raindropoffering/
First Presbyterian Church will be sending one check to Frontera de Cristo at the end of our collection. The Raindrop Offering will be collected in the month of July.
 
Some things have changed since Claudia and Bob’s visit. The United States/Mexico immigration policies have complicated border relationships. Now the pandemic has exacerbated practically all of the difficulties that the border ministry already experiences. Our goal is for the Raindrop Offering to help reduce the impact of this virus. Of course, we are hopeful that each of you will give an amount that you can afford. If you have any desire to go deeper in learning about our ministry on the border, Frontera de Cristo has lots of information on their webpage, Facebook page, and various webinars. 
 
Learn more about Frontera de Cristo on Thursdays, 7pm CT
 
We are fortunate that Frontera de Cristo has extended their Coffee, Conversations and Campassion Thursday zoom evenings. Note the time change to 7pm CT. They have been running these Thursday evenings since May with great success. So far through these conversations, they have impacted 120 families (600 people) affected by Covid-19 with 2 weeks of emergency food relief, 6 Covid-19 tests were provided, 338 pounds of coffee were bought, $2283 in donations were made to Covid-19 relief. 30% of Cafe Justo’s coffee sales went to this Covid-19 relief. 
 
Cafe Justo will continue to offer their coffee special through August 31. The next conversation will be The Impact of Mission Delegation Ministry: We talk with Young Adult Volunteer Hannah Singerline about Cultivating Relationships and Understanding Across Borders. Email “conversation” to office@fronteradecristo.org to get the Zoom link. Here is the link to order coffee online from Cafe Justo here
 
First Presbyterian Church Champaign’s Raindrop Offering will build on this success. 
 
Thank you for your generous support.
 
Peace,
 
Rachel Matthews, Temporary Mission Coordinator
 

 
Let us keep all our mission partners in our prayers, those who are waiting to go back to their place of ministry and those who are able to work where they are. Listen for God’s call to you in their ministry.
 
Our PC(USA) Mission CoWorkers:
Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar (Mexico)
Farsijanna Adeney-Risakotta (Indonesia)
Jeff and Christi Boyd (Central Africa)
Jo Ella Holman (Caribbean and Cuba)
Bob and Kristi Rice (South Sudan)
 
Our regional and global mission partners:
Kemmerer Village (and Camp Carew)
Lifeline Pilots
Marion Medical Mission
Mission Aviation Fellowship
Opportunity International
Friends of Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan Presbyterian Cuba Partnership
Special Offerings of the PC(USA)
Theological Education Fund
Young Adult Volunteers
 
Here in Champaign – Urbana:
CU Better Together
CU at Home
CANAAN S.A.F.E. HOUSE
CANTEEN RUN
COURAGE CONNECTION
DREAAM
eMPTY TOMB, INC
FAITH IN ACTION
JESUS IS THE WAY PRISON MINISTRY
THE REFUGEE CENTER
RESTORATION URBAN MINISTRY
SALT & LIGHT
 
Here at First Presbyterian Church
FPCC Amateur Preachers
FPCC Environmental Committee working with Faith in Place
FPCC Presbyterian Women
FPCC ESL
FPCC Children, Youth and Families
FPCC Mission Possible/Go and Serve
 
 
 


             302 W. Church Street
             Champaign, IL 61820
             217-356-7238
             info@firstpres.church

 
   
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Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-06

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Monday July 6 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
            Unimaginable.
 
            There are things in life we never want to face. We know we may. We know that no one is immune. But we don’t want to face them. 
 
            In WWII—not that long ago—my grandmother hung four stars in the front window of her house signifying that she had four men in the war: her husband (a stateside major inspecting training camps, my grandfather), both sons (my father and Uncle Jim), and a son-in-law (Aunt Mary Louise’s husband, Joe). The thought of losing a son must be unimaginable.
 
            In the Broadway smash “Hamilton,” Alexander and his wife Eliza face the death of a son. It’s “unimaginable” the chorus sings.
 
Chorus: If you see him in the street/ 
walking by her side/
talking by her side/
have pity. 

He is trying to do the unimaginable/
See them walking through the park/
long after dark/
Taking in the sights of the city.

They are trying to do the unimaginable. 
 
            That’s what dealing with loss sometimes seems: unimaginable. We can’t get our minds around it. We have nothing in our play book to help us. Our emotional tool box is empty.
 
            I love this song because it reminds us that the strangers we pass by on our walk around the park may be dealing with the unimaginable. Show pity. Be kind. You never know what they may be thinking about, suffering through, grieving. It just might be unimaginable.
 
            One of our DREAAM families is working through the death last week of a young daughter in a car accident. Laketia Thomas’s daughter Leondra Hopkins died. Melo, the brother, is a DREAAMer. Tracy Dace and his staff have responded with care and grace.
 
            And on Wednesday near midnight, Todd Ledbetter, a homeless man who sat and slept (and sometimes preached) on the park bench in front of the Episcopal Church across State Street from West Side Park was brutally beaten to death. On Friday, Damon Rowell and I sat on that bench awhile and visited his friends who grieved. We brought cold Gatorade, but they were drinking stronger stuff. We prayed. A parking lot service lead by Rev. Beth Maynard will happen soon.
 
            Unimaginable.  
 
            Your church is attempting to walk alongside those who grieve. It would be unimaginable if we didn’t. We are a part of something bigger that transcends our small lives. Your contributions matter. Thank you for your prayers. 

News
Men’s Breakfast Bible Study Tuesdays 8 am

Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

 
Take on Race:
 
  Racism
 
            When the wound stops bleeding,
            Will it heal?
            Will the rent flesh clot, scab, peel?
            Will the skin be as smooth to the touch,
                        as wondrous a sight,
            As Black or as Yellow,
            As Red or as White?   (C. Moore Grace)
  
* * *
 
Let America Be America Again
By Langston Hughes
 
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
 
(America never was America to me.)
 
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
 
(It never was America to me.)
 
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
 
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
 
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
 
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
 
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
 
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
 
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
 
The free?
 
Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
 
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
 
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!
 
O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
 
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
 
Good Word: 
 
Romans  7:14-25        
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
 
So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
 
Let us pray 
 
From Desmond Tutu:
 
The right hand of God is writing in our land,
Writing with power and with love.
Our conflicts and our fears, our triumphs and our tears
Are recorded by the right hand of God.

The right hand of God is pointing in our land,
Pointing the way we must go.
So clouded is the way, so easily we stray,
But we’re guided by the right hand of God.

The right hand of God is striking in our land,
Striking out at envy, hate and greed.
Our selfishness and lust, our pride and unjust
Are destroyed by the right hand of God.

The right hand of God is lifting in our land,
Lifting the fallen one by one.
Each one is known by name, and rescued now from shame,
By the lifting of the right hand of God.

The right hand of God is healing in our land,
Healing broken bodies, minds and souls,
So wondrous is its touch, with love that means so much,
When we’re healed by the right hand of God.

The right hand of God is planting in our land,
Planting seeds of freedom, hope and love,
In these Caribbean lands, let his people all join hands,
And be one with the right hand of God.

 
AMEN.
 
PEACE to you all,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church