From Pastor Tim Phillips
People will no doubt be wondering what they can do to be of help to the people of Texas and Louisiana. This is what got sent out on FB:
The crisis in Texas and Louisiana is only beginning. Many of us are trying to figure out how to be helpful as an extension of our prayers. All indications are that the needs will continue for some time.
We have tried to make contact with our friends Brook Stanford and Kirk Johnson who live in Houston and have also reached out to the pastor of Covenant Church in Houston, one of our sister Welcoming & Affirming Baptist Churches. Paul Roby, David Bloom, and Jim Singletary all have connections with Covenant and we have heard from the pastor, Laura Mayo, that while their building has sustained relatively minor damage, many of their families have been forced out of their homes.
We will be finding ways to support the Covenant family. In the meantime, we recommend gifts online to: www.cwsglobal.org/Harvey. This is the same organization that manages the One Great Hour of Sharing offering we take annually to support efforts on behalf of those living through a disaster like this. Please hold those we know and the hundreds of thousands we don’t in your hearts and prayers.
From Keith Ervin
The tragedy in Houston gives us a new, sobering occasion to reflect on how climate change is disrupting people's lives right now, right here in the United States. The task before us is to face reality and hasten the transition to a clean-energy economy that will address the growing peril to this and future generations.
I hope Seattle First Baptist Church members who haven't previously thought much or done much about the climate crisis will consider attending Faith Action Climate Team's October 28 conference, "Love at the Crossroads: Climate and Social Justice." The day-long event will feature a keynote address by powerful Tulalip Tribes climate activist Deborah Parker, an interfaith panel and about 20 workshops on the intersection of climate and social issues.
Mount Zion Baptist Church is hosting the conference. (Thank you, Patricia Hunter and Georgia McDade!) I'm on the planning committee for the event, and the social justice arms of SFBC and Bet Alef are supporting it with cash contributions.
Click here to view a flyer for the event.
The flyer will be updated when the registration site goes live sometime in the next few weeks. The event also has a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/events/1574648875933402/
By Jim Segaar
Today was the Great American Solar Eclipse. I think that’s what CNN called it. Seems odd to nationalize a natural phenomenon like an eclipse, but whatever.
My sister, who lives in Minneapolis, drove with her husband, daughter, and son-in-law to St. Joseph, Missouri to witness the eclipse. It was cloudy and rainy, and they weren’t sure if they would see it. It was a cloudy, rainy day, and they weren’t sure what they would see. Here’s her text message to me:
“It got progressively more dusky. Just before complete occlusion there was a sunset along the horizons all around and with completion it was like a dark cone came down over us. Then it was as if God reached down and opened a window in the clouds and we saw the complete eclipse with the golden corona encircling it for just a few seconds and then it closed. Then we saw sunrise on the western horizon and sunset on the eastern horizon and gradually the dark cone lifted and it was light.”
Pretty dramatic stuff.
We watched a video of people in Oregon watching the eclipse, and the shouting, hooting, and “wow”ing made it evident that they had a tremendous experience.
Meanwhile we were in Methow Valley working on our little house in the meadow. Jim G continued running electrical circuits, and I kept putting on siding. We paused in our work at 10:15 a.m. to see what we could see, which wasn’t much. We hadn’t thought to get eclipse glasses, and watching through a digital camera wasn’t all that great. It didn’t get darker at all as far as we could tell, but did get cooler.
And now it is nighttime, 10 hours later. I just talked to my sister. They are sitting on a freeway in Iowa, creeping back home through road construction and heavy traffic. They would stop somewhere but my niece starts a new job in the morning. They’re not having fun.
Here in Methow night has fallen. The stars are coming out. The Big Dipper is bright tonight – the summer smoke must have cleared. The night noises – crickets etc. – are everywhere, and very few mosquitoes are about. Basically, it’s a lovely evening to look back on a productive day of work on our house.
It all reminds me of a quote from the gospel according to John – 10.16. “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” My interpretation of this text is something like “Chill out! I know other people who are not like you, who live in very different places, but they still are good people. They matter too. We are not all the same! Our experiences are not the same!”
It’s easy to assume that some experiences are life-changing for any human. Seeing a complete solar eclipse. Building a house in an earthly paradise. But as the song goes, “it ain’t necessarily so.” We are different people. We experience things differently. Our days are filled with different priorities and activities.
Today was a fantastic day. My sister (and millions of others) saw a total solar eclipse. I got quite a bit of siding put onto our house, and tonight the stars and crickets are sheer heaven. Fantastic, but very different. May it always be so.
By Cathy Fransson
I am loafing in an enjoyably warm, peaceful summer. Were it not for politics, war and my awareness of the inequity and poverty in our own neighborhoods, I would say I was content. But how can I be grateful for status or the wealth of my choices without the guilt that so many others suffer? There is no end of the need for us to be doing as much as we can to influence or correct these ugly realities.
The balance is very difficult to keep. Since Jan. 20, 2017 we get no help from a president who daily cries wolf. Nor freedom from wars and rumors of wars. In an “all hands on deck” mode, who is selfish enough to think our desires could come first?
And for us whose sympathies lie with the least, the last and the left out, who may also be tired, aged, ill or disabled so that, regardless what we do in our prime or what our lasting true gifts are, we do not have energy for the fight against the outrageous, heartbreaking need all around? My heart truly aches for the suffering. I do name them in my prayers. But is that enough?
Eventually, even the best known activists among us take time out. Some shift to mentoring, urging our younger, abler sisters and brothers to find their own passions among those who lack necessities like clean water, healthful groceries, ethical police, and children on our streets day and night.
We can do only what we can do, whatever it is, with God’s help. We plant seeds, water them, and every day, do what we can to lighten these burdens. We cannot “fix” homelessness, but we can decrease its numbers and improve our services. We cannot “fix” the juvenile justice system but we can continue to lobby for compassion and restorative justice. One of these priorities may exactly be your call.
We can imagine the realm of god, what it could look like, and talk about it, pray for it, and nurture faith and hopefulness. But we don’t have to work until we drop. Thomas Merton counsels us not to commit [ourselves] to too many projects, and thus succumb to violence….He continues, The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful. [Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander]
Discerning between our rush to help and our need for nurture is our primary, ongoing call. Not to decide is, of course, ironically, to decide. But to rush in every direction at once is to stall immediately. To put ourselves forward as helpers when we don’t have the mental, emotional or physical resilience, is to offer little.
Let’s lighten up and take in some love, friendship, summer laziness, sleeping in or staying up late, and visit the Science Center or a museum or two…not to mention parks, before this gorgeous summer again turns to rain. The world, the nations, and difficult people are always with us.
This blog includes thoughts from various contributors at Seattle First Baptist