A Special Call to Prayer

Beloved Northminster Presbyterians —

As I head out a town for a week of vacation, in advance of our anticipated return to sanctuary worship on June 14, I cannot depart this Lord’s Day without acknowledging what a disheartening week this has been for our nation.  As if the strange days of Covid 19 were not enough, now a week has past marked by brutality, by protests both peaceful (righteous) and violent (unrighteous), and by divisive rhetoric all over the airwaves.  To be sure, this too shall pass, but my spirit is heavy and I join many of you in grieving the state of affairs.  What shall we do?  We shall pray.  And on this Pentecost Sunday, we shall pray that God’s Holy Spirit moves in the places where Good News is needed most.  And we shall continue to be the covenant community for which God has formed us, in ministry in Jesus’ name wherever we find ourselves.  In other words, we shall love.  We cannot change the World, alas.  But we can absolutely bless and better our little worlds, each and every hour.  In the power of the Holy Spirit, those hours are not nothing. 

As for prayer, my mind went to this lovely and applicable prayer of George Appleton, an Anglican bishop of a century ago:

O God of many names
Lover of all nations
We pray for peace
in our hearts
in our homes
in our nations
in our world
The peace of your will
The peace of our need.

May it be so, I say, in Jesus’ name.  Much love to you, Northminster Saints, and blessings on this first week of the month of June, and a Pentecost-week, no less.  I look forward to worshiping with many of you in person and others online on June 14.  Know that daily I give thanks for Northminster’s collective witness and love in my life.  You are a gift to me, and to Macon. 

Your friend and pastor, Ralph

Covid-19 Schedule Changes

March 17, 2020

Well, saints, these are strange days indeed. The kids and grandkids are home from school. People with a laptop are told to work from home. Everyone who can and should be is now hunkered down in an effort to prevent the spread of this nasty and infamous virus. This week is a dream for reading introverts … but a nightmare for hugging extraverts! And your congregation is responding  o these virus concerns as well. Here in this special addition of the newsletter, you’ll find updates on all your important gatherings and events, nearly all of  hich have been cancelled or postponed for now. Later this week, we will send out information about Sunday worship. Finally, promise me that if you have any needs this week — groceries, prescriptions, errands, etc. — you will call the church office  There are many of us in the flock happy to help with anything. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Meanwhile, here’s a favorite scripture for your prayer and reflection this week:
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication  ith thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of  raise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4

All will be well. Know that you are loved. RWH

This week’s cancellations:

Prayer Group
Women’s Bible Study
Men’s Lunch
Communion at Carlyle
Connections Hour – this Sunday
Bell Choir
Chancel Choir

Chili and Brunswick Stew competition and Dessert Auction

This Sunday at 5:30pm!You don’t want to miss this fun annual event, hosted by our youth.  Bring your favorite chili or Brunswick stew recipe to enter in the competition.  Don’t forget the desserts!  Your donated goodies will be auctioned off by our one-and-only greatest emcee & auctioneer, Minor Vernon!  All proceeds will benefit the youth ministry.


Pastors Corner

March 6, 2020

Our journey with Jesus through our Lenten wilderness continues this second Sunday of Lent with a reading from John 3:1-17.  The central character of this episode is a prominent Jewish leader named Nicodemus.   His prominence in the community is noted, inversely, by the fact that he must come to see Jesus “at night.”  Indeed, strange and unsettling events often happen under the cover of night.  Cars are stolen and fences are crossed and windows are busted out.  The sun’s departure invites all manner of tomfoolery in this broken world.

But sometimes the Holy happens upon us at night, too.  In John 3, the darkness provides a prominent religious leader the careful cover he needs to have the kind of open, searching, curious, and even agnostic conversation he cannot have in the daytime.  Persons of some prominence often lead fairly settled lives because of their settled roles and the settled expectations placed upon them by those among whom they are protuberant.  But Jesus’s ministry, particularly his healings, has prompted lots of unsettling questions for Mr. Nick, who seeks out the young, potent Preacher at great risk to his settled religious reputation.  Thanks to the gospel of John, we get to listen in on their conversation.

What questions are you carrying through this Lenten season, ones perhaps you can only reveal under the cover of Jesus’ patient and listening grace?

See you Sunday, saints.  RWH

Pastor’s Corner

February 28, 2020

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.”  (Matthew 4)

The grumbling stomach.  The weary knees.  The tongue that wants for the comfort of familiar food.  And then consider the wilderness of the mind: the erratic thoughts, the loss of perspective, the bottomless fall of anxiety.  Our bodies invite our brains to consider panic when it becomes clear that normal rituals of creature comforts will not be returning any time soon.  And there is no shelter out here:  only the howling unknown, the pickpocketing wind, the darkness that creeps closer each night.  This is the terrible business of fasting in the wilderness.

And yet.  The wilderness also offers its blessings: chief of which is renewed clarity about who we really are, absent so many distractions; and Whose we really are, absent so many temptations to worship something less than God.   In our gospel reading in worship on this First Sunday of another Lenten season, Matthew takes us by the hand and leads us out to where Jesus is: in the wilderness of famished clarity.   Says one commentator on this moment:  “Jesus has just been called and ordained in baptism. Now he is tempted to become three different kinds of messiah: prosperity giver, miracle worker, or political leader. But Jesus repudiates each temptation with a quote from Deuteronomy and says he will let God define his ministry.”

May it be so for us well.  See you Sunday.  RWH