We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.Paul, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Dear Friends in Christ,
There was a lot going on in Corinth when Paul wrote those words to a church almost exactly the size of ours in a small city very much like Newton.
There is a lot going on at NHCC, too, even during our cautious, “abnormal” seasons. Some of it is simple and some of it is perplexing, but all of it is ministry.
Black History month is over. But on March 7 an interfaith group will gather at Union Church in Waban to examine the effects of racist housing policies in Newton and talk about what we can do now. Our Christian commitments have barely begun.
Four men from Afghanistan are now settled fully, thanks to donations from NHCC and the hard work of Temple Shalom. But you can come to the Temple on March 4 at 6:30 pm for a refugee sabbath and meet these men.
As I write, Russia is pushing farther into Ukraine—the first land war of this type in Europe since World War II. But we have contacts in both nations, and on February 27 Yevgenia Semeina brought us “Melody” on the piano from Myroslav Skorik, a Hero of Ukraine, and you can hear it on YouTube from our worship. And our mission to this crisis is just beginning.
The Covid surge of January is abating. But we’ll still wear masks for a while, as we ease into safety, especially caring for the most vulnerable among us (not all children nor all seniors in our sanctuary are safe without masks). And our ministry to these seasons will go on as long as needed.
These are only some of the events, commitments, concerns, and characteristics of our parish. These are only some of the reasons that God brings us together to worship and serve—to become Christian anti-racists, those who welcome the stranger, those who work for peace, and those who foster and pursue Jesus’ healing ways. We do it as adults and we teach it to our children.
In March we begin the season of Lent. In March we hope to finish our organ repairs and re-claim our pews! We will begin planning for our 150th anniversary (which is in June, like our Annual Meeting). We’ll finalize details regarding whether we can or cannot complete our Senior Housing mission on our parsonage property. We hope and pray that we can return to in-person fellowship time. We’re taking yet another step to upgrade our audio and video quality to broadcast worship.
On February 27 this bit from Second Corinthians was read just before the opening prayer: “Now, our sovereign is God’s Spirit, and where the Spirit of Jesus is, there is freedom. And all of us… are being transformed into the divine image from one degree of glory to another… Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.”
Whatever happened in January, whatever challenged us in February, we are recipients of the gift of God’s mercy so that we do not lose heart. Whatever Paul says about afflictions and persecutions, he gets to this mercy and ministry and heart full of hope.
Only in retrospect will we know with clarity what we have accomplished and what we have given these months. But I am sure that worshipping God, praying for peace, loving our neighbor, and letting the little children come unto us are right every season, so I enter Lent with heart and hope, and long to see you soon—even when that means you call me to come to you.
Pray for peace,