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Ongoing Response to COVID-19

Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-03

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Friday 3 July 2020
 
Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,  
 
            “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) 
 
* * *
 
            When my grandfather (Deda) died, my grandmother (Baba) slowly adjusted to life without him. She eventually emptied his closets and his drawers. 
 
            Deda’s workshop was in the garage. He threw his scraps in a chest-high wooden box, and fed these scraps into the potbellied stove, which took the chill off Tidewater Virginia’s winters. While she gave a lot away, Baba kept that box filled with scraps. Piece by piece she’d rescue and sand down Deda’s scraps. She’d glue them together into sculpture, staining or painting as necessary. One of my favorites, signed from 1973, is called “Extravaganza.” 
 
            I loved what she did with Deda’s leftovers. She handled each scrap gently, in a holy way, looking at each piece with imagination. Baba thought, “What can I do with this piece?” And, “What piece would go nicely with this piece?” With sandpaper, glue, patience, and love my grandmother made something extraordinary from simple scraps of wood. 
 
            When you look at these ‘sculptures,’ some just see scraps of wood. I see Baba and Deda and their love for each other, and their love for their eight-year-old grandson named Matt.
 
            On the night of his betrayal, Jesus took bread and wine and did something extraordinary with it. This bread and wine were already sacred, symbolizing the mighty acts of God in the Passover. But on that night, he said, amazingly, “This is my body, given for you.” And, “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in my blood, shed for the forgiveness of your sin.”
 
            It’s just ordinary bread and juice. There’s nothing gourmet about it. But the bread and juice remind us powerfully of Jesus. Do this in remembrance of me, he said. And we do.
 
            Some see just bread and juice. 
 
            We see the love of God. 
 
Matt Matthews
* * *
 
Rachel reminds me that my birthday is today. It’s poor form for a pastor to ask his flock for a present, but I’m asking. Consider making a donation to DREAAM House in my honor (or in anybody’s honor). I’d be SUPER glad if you did that. I love DREAAM, what they stand for, how they work, and the love the DREAAM Team has for its “dreamers.” Write a check to DREAAM and send it to the church address. Help a young person dream!
 
* * *
 
I’m preaching this Sunday about sin. This topic is sure to cause a large turnout(!) It’s also communion Sunday, so bring some bread and juice.
 
I love worshiping with you on Sundays. 
 
Invite a friend.
 
* * *
 
Pay attention to God’s activity in the world around you.
            Be amazed.
                        Tell somebody.
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 
 
* * *
 
From your Nurture Team — We didn’t have anyone successfully guess Kathy Schoeffmann in last week’s Photo Challenge! 

   
Here’s a new 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.
 
* * *
 
A birthday song…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cs5vUfddkT8
 
Aretha!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWANdsaWhG4
 



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-02

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Thursday July 2 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
 Dear Friends,
 
            Thank you for those who joined the Wednesday service for wholeness. Eric Corbin crafted a beautiful service, and he and Judi Geistlinger led it beautifully. God is good.  
 
Take on Race:
 
Racism is anti-Christian. In 2016, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved a comprehensive churchwide anti-racism policy called “Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community.” The policy states:
Racism is a lie about our fellow human beings, for it says that some are less than others. It is also a lie about God, for it falsely claims that God favors parts of creation over the entirety of creation. Because of our biblical understanding of who God is and what God intends for humanity, the PC(USA) must stand against, speak against and work against racism. Anti-racist effort is not optional for Christians. It is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship, without which we fail to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Structural racism is not only the “opposite of what God intends for humanity,” but is also an example of how sin is systemic rather than simply personal. As the PC(USA)’s anti-racism policy states, “Reformed theology offers a nuanced understanding of sin. Calvin did not understand sin to be simply an individual belief, action, or moral failing (Calvin, 1960). Rather, he viewed sin as the corporate state of all humanity. It is an infection that taints each of us and all of us. No part of us — not our perception, intelligence, nor conscience — is unclouded by sin.”
Psalm 14:3 and Romans 3:10 remind us, “There is no one just, not even one.” The PC(USA)’s policy also reminds us that this realization “does not mean that human beings are awful. Rather, it means that we must have humility about our own righteousness, and that we must cling to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.”
 
NEWS:
 
Make a donation to DREAAM for anyone’s birthday. Send  them to the church, or directly to DREAAM at  https://www.dreaam.org/take-action

Fridays

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

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

Good Word: 
 
Ephesians 2:19-22
 
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
 
Let us pray 
 
As the wind is your symbol, so forward our goings. As the dove, so launch us heavenwards.
As water, so purify our spirits.
As a cloud, so abate our temptations. 
As dew, so revive our languor.
As fire, so purge out our dross. Amen. 
Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) 
 
PEACE to you all,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-01

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Wednesday July 1 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
            Wholeness.
 
            That’s what we need and want for our world, for ourselves and neighbors, and our beloved church. The Hebrew tradition calls it “shalom,” which means an all-encompassing peace. Wholeness. Well-being. Welfare.
 
            This kind of wholeness transcends physical health. It’s a spiritual thing. It’s what Herbert Richardson felt in the movie “Just Mercy” right before he was executed. Since Vietnam, his mind was unsettled, and his life was addled by night sweats and terror. His time on death-row equalled constant emotional anguish. In the death chamber he said, “I have no ill feeling and hold nothing against anyone.” And for the first time in the film we see a placid man.
 
            “Shalom” is what Auther Moses “Truluv” felt even though he was sad upon the death of his wife Nola. It’s the feeling he shared with a frightened, pregnant teenager, and a grieving nextdoor neighbor in Elizabeth Berg’s novel The Story of Arthur Truluv. (A member of our church wrote me and said she wishes she could be more like Arthur, and to me, she is.)
 
            Shalom is what my family felt for a few moments last night when we watched the brief movie from their childhood, “The Snowman” based on Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book. (All three of my boys are home for my birthday.)
 
            Join us tonight for our WEDNESDAY evening gathering for a “Service of Wholeness.” We start at 7:00 and we end no later than 8:00. Together, let’s pray for shalom.
 
            See you there.  Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.
 
Take on Race:
 
Structural racism can show up in multiple ways, including:
  • Housing discrimination that limits where people of color can live and steers them to rental markets rather than home ownership.
  • Laws and policies that deny people of color access to quality education, employment and adequate health care.
  • Food apartheid — areas deliberately devoid of quality, affordable fresh food.
  • Mass incarceration and criminal justice systems that disproportionately target people of color with lengthier sentences, “stop-and-frisk” laws, the over-policing of communities of color, the school-to-prison pipeline, etc.
  • Environmental racism — the dumping of hazardous waste, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of access to clean water that results in a range of serious health problems in communities of color.

Where have you seen racism at work?
 
NEWS:
 
Make a donation to DREAAM for your friend’s upcoming birthday!

Thursdays

Compassion, Peace & Justice 11 am
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

Youth Meeting 4 pm
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.
 
Good Word: (read this several times…)
 
Song of Solomon 2:8-13
8   The voice of my beloved! 
          Look, he comes, 
     leaping upon the mountains, 
          bounding over the hills. 
9   My beloved is like a gazelle 
          or a young stag. 
     Look, there he stands 
          behind our wall, 
     gazing in at the windows, 
          looking through the lattice. 
10  My beloved speaks and says to me: 
          “Arise, my love, my fair one, 
          and come away; 
11  for now the winter is past, 
          the rain is over and gone. 
12  The flowers appear on the earth; 
          the time of singing has come, 
          and the voice of the turtledove 
          is heard in our land. 
13  The fig tree puts forth its figs, 
          and the vines are in blossom; 
          they give forth fragrance. 
     Arise, my love, my fair one, 
          and come away.”

Let us pray 
 
Thank you, Lord, for 
sweaty-high humidity 
that reminds me
of what I’m made of.
 
Thank you for hot 
temperatures that 
remind me of what I 
hoped for last January.
 
Thank you for long days 
to enjoy you and the 
sweet, sweet memory of
neighbors and friends.
 
AMEN.
 
PEACE to you all,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church
 



Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-30

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

Midweek Online Gathering 7 pm Wednesdays
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

 
 
   
                                                       

                                                                   The Heart of Mission
                                                                           June 30, 2020 

           
On June 26, 2020 Rev. Daniel Izquierdo from Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada en Luyanó, Habana, our sister church posted a sermon on Facebook called “Hold on to Hope,” based on Romans 15:13, ′′May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace that believe in him, that you may be filled with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.′′ June 26 is Cuba Presbyterianism Day. Daniel writes,

            Remembering the beginnings of our Presbyterian church in Cuba, 130 years ago, the theme of hope highlights since its founding. Evaristo Collazo, the initiator of the work, begins it justly imbued with a hope, and so writes in letter addressed to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Southern United States Presbyterian Church in March 1890: ′′ I feel inspired by the hope that this seed that the Lord, by his Spirit, has driven me to plant, will never disappear.”
            We live difficult times, it is a tangible and evident reality worldwide and in our own homeland. To our poor and inexperienced economies add damage caused by climate phenomena, plus the havoc of epidemics, especially that of Covid-19, and the possibilities for international cooperation are reduced due to the greatest economic crisis experiencing the planet, for its multiple dimensions in the social, financial, energy and ecological. Harsh realities we face and with unforgettable forecasts! It seems like we have no visible short-term solutions and hopes often fade.
            The history of the beginnings of the Presbyterian work in Cuba shows us Evaristo Collazo starting work without resources or proper preparation, only trusting by faith and hope. By faith he seeks help and asks for it, by faith he trusts to become a pastor, by faith he launches himself into distant missionary camps, amidst strong opposition then by the Catholic Church. By faith he leaves his home in Havana when he is ordered to move to Santa Clara to settle there and continue his evangelizing effort. We certainly can’t help but exclaim what a man of faith!, what a man of God!, What a vigorous hope!
            The Cuban Presbyterian church lived moments of hopelessness in the 1980’s, due to the state of its facilities, the low membership, the exhaustion of its reduced pastoral body and the lay leadership, due to the external pressures of a society declared atheist. When his forces were over, when he did not glimpse much light on the horizon, the God of history created crisis situations that caused many to look back at Him, and came the growth experienced in the 90’s, which is maintained still. And it’s valid to wonder: what did the believers then keep their choice for a ′′decadent ′′ church before human eyes, and persevere in their attempt? Can hope and a certainty of faith even if they lack the necessary answers?
            If we don’t see the way out to problems and obstacles that seem unbeatable to us, we usually surrender, we are prey to discouragement, pessimism and inaction. But the Church of the Lord, when horizons seem to collapse, must continue to seek guidance in the Word, a handle.
            God calls us to live a life of faith and hope, in love and service. It’s time to cry out to God, and humbly wait for the Lord to make us come out strengthened, it’s time to sow hope for those who have totally lost it, it’s time to be salt and light for this Cuban land. The always present God has called us to follow and serve Him, and hopes of our faithfulness, of a testimony that responds to our convictions, to continue celebrating many years of the presence of our Presbyterian church in our homeland. In these times, clinging to hope is vital. May God continue to bless us. Amen.
 
Friends, I am so grateful to our sisters and brothers in Cuba. Their hope gives me hope. So great a cloud of witnesses we have to help us grow in faith and walk the walk.
 
Peace,
Rachel Matthews,
Temporary Mission Coordinator
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS:
 
DREAAM and the Pentecost Offering – Prayers for Jessie  Riley’s fiancé, Ora Currie, who had cancer surgery June 24.  Jessie  is a saint who  works for DREAAM House.
            Praise to God for the generous givers to the Pentecost Offering which, to date, raised $5,150.  40% of that is $2,060 which goes to DREAAM. Earlier Heart of Mission newsletters have described how the other 60% is used by the PC(USA).
PUT JULY 8, 7PM ON YOUR CALENDAR  – Our Wednesday Night zoom gathering will have a mission focus.
Presbyterian Mission – The Vital Congregations team hosts weekly Zoom conversations on Wednesdays at 3pm through July 20 on the Seven Marks of a Vital Congregation. Guests from around the denomination and globe will discuss how God is using the marks to transform congregational life – as they navigate COVID and post-COVID waters. Join via https://zoom.us/j/95057957584
 
Canteen Run Remember volunteers go out Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. 
They welcome The Phoenix back to their regular place, at 70 E. Washington in Champaign, beginning on June 26. Their current need is Men’s underwear. They thank their wonderful volunteers who do the Canteen Run, those who organize the shed where we take the ambulance, the people who donate sandwiches, and those who hand in items, such as: men’s and women’s underwear, socks, blankets, coats, gloves, hats , scarves.  All of this is done though donations, people who makes the sandwiches, and volunteers and coordinator’s, and volunteer’s, without a salary. They can be reached at canteenrun@gmail.com.  Follow them on facebook and twitter at Barb Davies@canteenrun.
 
Sangla Hill, our PEB school in Pakistan – Mrs. R. Kashif, Principal, PEB School System, CG Higher Secondary Branch, Sangla Hill, wrote us a note:


A close up of a sign Description automatically generated

            Dear Friends of Sangla Hill,
                        Hoping you all will be under His hand and safe. No doubt we all are facing a very tough time due to this COVID-19. 
                        Our school remains closed and most of our parents are not in a position to pay the school fee as many have lost jobs or are unable to find daily wage jobs in the current situation.
                        But this is the grace of our Lord that we are blessed with great leadership and generous people like you who are supporting us a lot and we are still getting salaries, despite the schools having been closed for the last 3 months.
                        Thank God, with your kind prayers, we all at Sangla Hill are safe and sound and we are doing our level best to facilitate our students academically online. All teachers are working hard and have prepared notes for the students and we are providing them the hard-copies of notes. A few teachers were not able to work and help the students online, so they willingly refused to take salaries in order to reduce the financial burden on PEB. They will rejoin us when the schools will reopen.
                        Although we are working hard to continue the study of our students, we are all missing our school and students very much.
                        May our Lord Jesus Christ forgive our sins and restore our World! Amen.
            Regards, 
            Mrs. R. Kashif
            Principal, PEB School System, CG Higher Secondary Branch, Sangla Hill
 
Community Mission Deacons – Using Matthew 25 as a guideline at the June 23 CMD meeting the community mission deacons voted to donated above budgeted quarterly amounts of local mission money to the following agencies Salt and Light $1000, Jesus is the Way $1000, RUM (Restoration Urban Ministries) $1000, Faith in Action $100.
 
CU at Home – Thank you for joining them in prayer and reminds everyone that each Thursday is a special day of prayer for their ministry. They ask, “Would you consider fasting in some way (from food, television, or the computer) and praying during that time for C-U at Home? The work that we do is founded on prayer!
As a reminder, the services CU at Homes provides to our friends without an address are deemed “essential services” and we remain committed to serving those in need during this COVID-19 situation. Our Phoenix Drop-In Center hours have EXPANDED AGAIN and we are now open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and Sat/Sun 9am-4pm.
Recently, they also announced both the men’s and women’s emergency shelters would remain OPEN for year-round services! The season was set to end April 15th but due to the needs of those they serve, and because of AMAZING community support, both shelter will remain open for the summer, fall, and beyond!
Their prayers and praise are as follows:

  • Would you join us in prayer for a friend without an address who recently had a little baby boy? As she seeks treatment for her substance abuse issues, we pray that she would find sobriety and healthy living so that she may be in her son’s life for years to come! 
  • Please pray for all our friends without an address as businesses and the places they used to hang out open back up this week. We pray that they would be welcomed and not shunned as they integrate back into the community. 
  • Would you also pray for a friend who is having knee surgery next week? We ask God to be present with the doctors and nurses and that this young lady will be up and around in no time!
  • Thank you God for the men’s and women’s shelter being fully staffed and ready to take on the summer, fall, and the rest of 2020! 
  • Praise the Lord for a friend who is getting a second chance! As we lead with grace, we thank God for the second (and sometimes third and fourth) chances He gives us! 
  • Praise to Jesus for one of our friends who stayed at the men’s shelter for 90 nights this season but last week, he moved into his own apartment! Praise God that hard work and perseverance pays off! 

 
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 Maidonado Escobar (Mexico)
Farsijanna Adeney-Risakotta (Indonesia)
Jeff and Christi Boyd (Central Africa)
Jo Ella Holman (Carribean 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

 
   
Attachments:
 
 
 
 
 


Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-29

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Monday June 29 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
 
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
 
Dear Friends,
 
Your Covid-19 Response Team of the Session has been meeting every week. Prior to that, our Science Advisor Peter Yau has been in weekly conversation with me, your staff, and your Session. We’ve been asking: What now? What’s next?
 
We cannot predict the future. We don’t know how “phase four” of our recovery will go. If Covid cases and deaths continue to drop and area hospital ICUs remain uncrowded, we feel like our plan at First Presbyterian Church *may* unfold as noted below. If things change, these plans will change.
 
The organizing principle of our work has been this: we do not want our church to become an incubator for this virus. We want to be a “super-spreader” of Gospel-love only, not of the Corona Virus. Your Covid-19 team would prefer to be too cautious, too slow, and too thoughtful. Why? We want to keep people safe. We want our sanctuary to be a sanctuary. A safe place.
            
Note also, First Presbyterian Church will not “open fully” until we’ve safely reached “phase five,” when a Corona Virus vaccine is found, tested, and available. 
 
After September 1st, we hope to resume some form of limited face-to-face worship in our sanctuary. Right now, we’ll limit the total of number of leaders and participants to 50 people; this number may change when we get closer to that date. We will attempt to preregister for worship. We will rethink how we do communion. We will, likely, not engage in congregational singing (as singing is known more widely to spread aerosolized air and singers more deeply inhale that air). Spoken liturgy will be limited. All persons will wear face masks and we will exercise physical distancing of six feet. We’ll have no paper bulletins. We’ll have no coffee hour (and doughnuts!) after worship.
 
Currently, face-to-face meetings at the church are considered on a case-by-case basis. Either I or the Covd-19 Response Team will make those decisions. Face-to-face  office appointments with me may be arranged.
 
Should you come to face-to-face events? 
 
The CDC recommends these guidelines. If you fit any of these categories, rethink your participation:
 
* People 65 years and older
* People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
* People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
* People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
* People who have serious heart conditions
* People who are immunocompromised
* Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
* People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
* People with diabetes
* People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
* People with liver disease
 
So, we’ll not be back in face-to-face worship until September at the earliest. As stewards of creation, we recognize that keeping our flock free from situations where Covid-19 could be spread is a sacred goal. The body is a temple of God.
 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20     Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body.
 
Questions? Comments? 
 
Give me a call, anytime. 
 
* * *
 
Take on Race:
 

Why do we talk about structural racism?  Racism is not primarily about individual prejudice or an individual’s beliefs and attitudes. Rather, racism in the U.S. is a socially constructed system. Some people are advantaged, and others are disadvantaged, merely because of their skin color, ethnic identity or their ancestral background. Social power and prejudice have combined to treat people differently, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Some people are privileged while others are oppressed. As a consequence, there is unequal and inequitable access to resources such as money, education, information and decision-making power.   

 
* * *
 
Have you seen the movie “Just Mercy”? I watched it ONLY because I suggested you watch it. How can I ask you to do something I’m not willing to do? As I suspected, it was difficult and painful. But like as good dramas go, the movie was satisfying. A lot of people are reading about racism; this story takes all of the intellectualization and make it a matter of the heart. I recommend it. Jamie Foxx and Tim Blake Nelson are great actors. 
 
NEWS:
Tuesday, Men’s Breakfast Bible Study, 8 am
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

Don’t forget out Wednesday Night Potluck on ZOOM. Tune in each week.
 

Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.
 
* * *
 
Make a donation to DREAAM for your friend’s upcoming birthday!
 
Good Word: 
 
Matthew 11:28ff        
28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
 
Let us pray 
A Prayer in a Time of Anger, Unrest, and Injustice 
Holy One, whose Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, 
whose children you empower to prophesy,  
whose youth see visions and whose elders dream dreams, 
we cry out to you with a loud “Hosanna!” 
Where else shall we go, O Savior? 
You alone have the words of eternal life.  
You came that we might have life more abundantly, 
but that abundance eludes too many of us, O God. 
Our news cycles are filled with despair. 
Our hearts ache as we wade through a global pandemic, 
reaching grim milestone after grim milestone. 
But even as we navigate a new threat, old ones still linger. 
Communities of color bear the uneven weight of a new disease, 
yet we see that racialized violence 
and the systemic injustice undergirding it 
have by no means given way to the demands of a pandemic. 

We speak some of the most recent names: Breonna Taylor, 
Ahmaud Arbery, 
George Floyd, and Tony McDade. 
We add them to the litany already in our macabre collection: 
Aiyana and Emmett, 
Eric and Sandra, 
Jordan and Rekia, 
Trayvon, Atatiana and Tamir, 
and the myriad others in far too long a list. 

This great cloud has witnessed persistent injustice 
and our perseverance in the face of it. 
Yet, how can they rest when so many keep joining their ranks? 
We are slow to confront our complicity 
and investment in white supremacy and dominance. 
We live in a world in which Indigenous, Black and Brown siblings 
are expected and compelled to offer forgiveness at a discount. 
When the cheeks are turned, 
they are met with another hand to the face 
— or knee to the throat. 
Forgiveness is too infrequently met with repentance. 
This, O God, we name as sin. 
It is our sin. 
Many of us lament and strive against that sin. 
Help and empower us to continue that work with diligence and faith.
 Too many of us still waver and are unconvinced that there is a problem. 
Remove our hearts of stone
 and replace them with hearts of flesh 
that are softened toward our siblings. 
Help us to reckon not only with our personal failings, 
but also with our institutional history 
and the ways the church has helped to create systems of inequity. 
By your Spirit, help us to 
corporately live into our creeds and confessions 
and provide sanctuary for all God’s children. 
When we say that “God, in a world full of injustice and enmity,
is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged” 
and that “the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination,” 
help us to truly mean it. 
We humble ourselves and cry out to you 
in the hope that you will hear us and heal us. 
We lift the communities of Louisville, Minneapolis, Glynn County, 
and all where racialized violence has occurred and unrest has been stirred. 
Holy God, we recall the words of our ancestor Dr. King, 
who reminded us that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” 
Open our hearts, minds, and understanding 
to your movement in the margins, 
so that when your people speak, they are indeed heard, 
and when they tell the truth about your deeds of power, 
they are not dismissed as something other than sober and of a clear mind. 
In this way, let the fires of uprising 
give way to the fires of your Spirit, 
where your people hear the Good News of your kin-dom, 
hear it with joy, and make haste to take part in it. 
Let us release our attachment to our current world order 
and walk bravely into the world you’ve intended for us, 
even and especially when it costs us something. 
We are mindful that, as Rev. Dr. Cornell West states, 
“Justice is what love looks like in public.” 
Your kin-dom come, 
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
Jesus is still Lord. 
To the one and only God, 
our Divine Parent, 
Jesus, our Gracious Sibling, 
and Holy Spirit, 
be the honor and the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 
(from the PCUSA’s  Office of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries)
 
PEACE,
 
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138
Matt@FirstPres.Church