Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-27

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Monday July 27, 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
Dear Friends,
One of the many hard things about pandemic is how our rituals around death have changed. No big funeral. No robust hymns. No reception with food afterwards. Many families are awaiting to bury their dead until the time when we can gather for a proper service. While waiting is not satisfactory, what is the alternative? 
This is hard on families, but it’s hard on church families, too. Gathering together—congregating—when there is a death is what the church family does. We mark milestones with worship, with a holy pause, with an opportunity for collective praise. This difficult silence is deafening.
Many of you have lost loved ones and could not travel for the small graveside. Or you are one of the many families waiting for a larger memorial service at such a time when it’s safe to gather. 
We know that God’s Spirit intercedes for us with “sighs too deep for words” and that our sighs of grief are matched by God’s at least sigh for sigh. This is good news, but our grief and this unnatural waiting is hard, so hard. 
Today please pray for those who have experienced loss during pandemic.

Take on Race:
On Memorial Day and Veterans Day we say “Veterans Lives Matter,” and we thank God.
On Labor Day we say “Workers Lives Matter,” and we thank God.
On 9-11 we say “Blue Lives Matter,” and we thank God.
On Presidents’ Day we say “Lincoln & Washington (and others) Lives Mattered,” and we thank God.
Our church has affirmed these and other times of special pause. We celebrate the Irish (at St. Patrick’s Day), and our largely European Heritage on Reformation Sunday, and our particular connections with Scotland in the Kirking of the Tartan. We celebrate and thank God for our LGBTQIA friends and family at nationwide Pride weekends. 
In our church, we have long affirmed, and not been ashamed to say, “Children’s Lives Matter,” “Young Lives Matter,” “Immigrants’ Lives Matter,” “University Lives Matter,” “Women’s Lives Matter.” 
I came to this church largely because of the efforts you made to embrace the world through ESL, the welcome of all races, and the special efforts to welcome Congolese and other new immigrants into the protective, celebratory fold of the church.
Celebrating these disparate members of the whole-wide household of God are all worthy celebrations. Why? Because God made and blessed us all, and, of course, all lives matter. So we lift up our youth  on “Youth Sunday” and our Veterans stand on “Armistice Day” and women lead worship when we celebrate the “Gifts of Women Sunday.” We focus on our Cuba Partnership when Pastor Daniel Izquierdo is in town. We give money and attention to our Raindrop agency, which differs year to year.
In these days when we are pondering racial disparity in our country and reaching to better live our creed and our national aspirations, it is appropriate to say “Black Lives Matter.” 
If we can’t say these words, then, I daresay, no life matters. 
Cheryl Kelton Bourguignon was Bev Kelton’s daughter. Her graveside was Saturday. 
Cheryl was stuck in a body crippled by MS. But family says that her spirit transcended her body. Speech, mobility, higher-level decision making became compromised when she was in her late twenties. But she always loved people, and she had a way of showing it. She wanted to a part of things. She liked being at the center. 
Prior to MS: Cheryl was the athletic one, a cheerleader, interested and proficient at language. Cheryl liked to travel. The world wasn’t big enough for Cheryl. She was vivacious. She was vibrant.
She was a good mom. She loved her boys, Nick and Mike. In these later decades, the family had to work together to help care for her. It was time and energy well spent. The family is richer for it.
Cheryl didn’t rail against MS. She lived into it. She was disabled by it, yes, but she was not defined by it. Cheryl was Cheryl, a child of God, the apple of God’s eye.
The family appreciates your prayers.

Tuesday Men’s Bible Study 8 am
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

Humor: (Serious times call for re-creation, joy, and humor.)
What has four wheels and flies?
A garbage truck. 

“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
Amos 5:21-24

Holy God,
bless us to be a blessing.
And help us reach beyond
our cocoons of safety
to a wide world,
which you love
and redeem.
PEACE to you all,
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138