Rejoice with those who rejoice, and…Romans 12:15
Dear Friends in Christ,
Let’s ponder some good news, worthy of rejoicing. We had our first infant baptism since before Covid in worship on Reformation Sunday. We have more to come! Due to gifts given graciously by folks like you (dear reader), our Council sent $2,250 to support an Afghan refugee family via the good works of Temple Shalom, immediately. People gave a lot of towels (I haven’t counted). We’ve started a Community Choir once a month. Our church school is baking 14 pies to send to 14 families on November 20. (If you can help cook a turkey or a side, we’re organizing meals: more below.) Our after-hour discussion regarding Christian complicity in systemic racism had a solid start. Our Confirmation class is actually growing as it goes along. And, as always, many things are going on under the radar, in quiet conversations and projects, reflecting what Jesus calls the greatest Commandment: that we love our God and neighbor and self.
One item going on not under the radar is a discussion of baptism in our Council and Deacons. Stick with me: our by-laws state that only baptized Christians can join NHCC as a member. This is common in many churches. And traditional. But sometimes adults aren’t sure if they’ve been baptized. Sometimes we’re not sure if people receiving communion have been baptized. What to do? Modify our by-laws? Clarify our invitation to communion? This is the perfect place to ask, “What would Jesus do?” And that’s just what Deacons and Council are discussing — they are studying scripture and tradition, and all of us welcome your questions or suggestions. This discussion will take several months, so plenty of time to participate.
All this is to say, we have much to celebrate, as Paul invites in Romans. We are discussing important church issues (as Paul invites in Romans!). But then that’s not the end of Romans 12:15. Paul goes on and says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
There has been much to weep about these weeks and months. You know the global list. Although, even then a measure of the list is below radar (again), as our members and friends take a journey of private grief. At any given moment a number of our beloved — God’s beloved — are nearby the valley of the shadow. And neither God nor I neglect them. For example, our list of Saints this year, for November 5, 2023, includes two murder victims and a five-year old, all connected to this parish. So we weep with those who weep, for sure. We weep often.
And not only is this our church and our world, that is what God knows is afoot in our church and our world. Rejoicing and weeping. Those who help and those who need help. It is why I am thankful for a helpful place where we can sing and pray and learn and serve.
Let us know if you can help at Thanksgiving, if you can sing once-a-month, or have a question about baptism and membership. Because the very end of Romans 12, which also talks about peace and harmony and community — the very end says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” When we’re doing it right, that’s what we’re doing every month.
God’s peace to you,