Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-07-29

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Wednesday July 29, 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
Dear Friends,
Here is a great devotion from my friend Rev. Kevin Murphey. Be enriched:
These words of Isaiah (noted below) were written centuries before Jesus was born, yet they describe him so completely the gospel writers are confident it is referring to him. Jesus certainly is the one who will bring forth justice, quietly, gently, diligently, faithfully. The way Jesus lived and ministered to all he met is surely how we too are called to bring forth justice. Those who have been bruised by this world, those whose spirits are dimly burning need us, even deserve for us to carry on Jesus’ life-giving work. We need not shout it out in the street. We can be adamant without being obnoxious. And the only way we can do it is by relying on God’s Spirit.

What does bringing forth justice look like in today’s world? It begins with understanding each other. We hear their stories and by listening well, rather than trying to lift up our own voice and tell them how they ought to live, we find the places of connection between us. From those stories we also learn what it is that motivates them, what are they passionate about, what are they good at doing. When we get to know the other we also come to understand what bruises them, where in their lives their spiritual wick is burning down. Hopefully, they are listening to us and our stories also. Then God’s amazing Spirit walks with us and helps us develop deep empathy for them. Our imaginations begin to work and we start coming up with new and fresh ideas that move the world toward justice. It is slow work. It cannot be rushed. New relationships need time to deepen. We need to rely upon God’s help, so prayer and listening for God’s guidance is a must. 

The work of bringing forth justice is good and necessary work anytime, but especially today. There are so many bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks out there. There are so many structures that do not treat everyone fairly or equally. This is the work of Christ and it is the work to which Christ calls his church. In doing it we are made new, we are refreshed by God’s Spirit, we find joy in sharing God’s love. In doing it we are being the blessing for which God has blessed us. 
Take on Race:
Light looked down and saw darkness.
      “I will go there,” said Light.
Peace looked down and saw war.
“I will go there,” said Peace.
Love looked down and saw hatred.
“I will go there,” said Love.
So he, The Lord of Light,
 the Prince of Peace,
the King of Love,  
came down and crept in beside us. 
Praise the LORD.
The Lord’s name be praised.
Prayers for Sarah Laufenberg’s family are appreciated. Her dad, Gordon, is expected to be in hospice care soon. Prayers for Gordon, wife Kathleen, our local Laufenbergs are appreciated… “Be good to me, Dear Lord; the sea is so wide and my boat is so small.”
Wednesday (tonight!) Mid-Week Gathering 7 pm
Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

Humor: (Serious times call for re-creation, joy, and humor.)
These from Ruth Craddock:
Does anyone know what page of the Bible explains how to change water to wine? Asking for a friend.
Yesterday my husband saw a cockroach in the kitchen. He sprayed everything down and cleaned thoroughly. Today I’m putting the cockroach in the bathroom.

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.        Isaiah 42:1-4 
Let us pray:
Holy God, we pray that families who grieve might be strengthened by your presence. Where there is pain, bring comfort. Where there is sorrow, bring the healing of your joy. Redeem our memories. Help us, by your Holy Grace, to commend our lives and work to your merciful and eternal care. AMEN.
PEACE to you all,
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138