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For the first time in its 120-year history, Endeavor Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Lake Erie has running water. Yes, you read that correctly. Running water.
There are two constants in life: change and Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. In Christ, we live and move and have our being. To be a follower of his is to be forever mindful of the cross, of death’s defeat — and of resurrection power. And, as Wendell Berry wrote in one of his well-known poems, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” we, the church, are to “practice resurrection.”
A quick search on the Internet leads to countless facts about shifting American diversity. For example, in 2007, Rodríguez and García joined the top 10 list of most popular last names in the United States. And, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, beginning in 2030, the country will grow more by international migration than birth within its borders.
I thought I was prepared for my first mud season in Vermont. I wasn’t. The pastor nominating committee tried explaining that New England’s unofficial fifth season wasn’t for the weak. (Or for a former Manhattanite, is what I think they were really getting at.) Was I ready for melting snow that turned dirt roads into Slip ‘n Slide? I was. Did I have good tires on my car? I did. What about boots? Did I own a sturdy pair? I didn’t.
He looked no more than 14 as he came forward to welcome me with a hearty handshake. Assuming he was a primary school pupil, I asked about his teacher. He responded, “Hello, ma’am. I am the teacher.” Still skeptical, I began a full-scale inquisition: How old are you? How long have you been a teacher? Which class are you teaching? And finally, are you really the teacher?
Presbyterians are known for doing things decently and in order. That’s why at meetings, one can hear phrases being pulled from the parliamentary procedural playbook, Robert’s Rules of Order: “Do we have motion?” “I would like to amend the amendment.” “Point of order!”
It’s the way of the world these days, isn’t it? We expect everything to be available with the click of a mouse or tap of our thumb. We click and ship our way through Christmas. We order groceries online and pick them up without ever venturing inside a store. We even support our favorite nonprofit organizations through an online gift on Giving Tuesday — an opportunity for holiday shoppers to be altruistic after their Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail indulgences.
I recently posted on Facebook a picture of Sy Harrington, a lifelong member from Erwin Presbyterian Church in Erwin, North Carolina, shaking hands and passing a key for the facility to a commissioned ruling elder, Jose Perez, who pastors Manantial de Vida, a Latino worshiping community. A meeting had just ended between members of an administrative committee that dissolved Erwin Presbyterian, leaders from Manantial and staff from the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina. We met to discuss if Manantial, a growing worshiping community with up to 70 members, that was being forced out of their location, could meet on the property of the former church. After two hours of conversation, we closed with prayer. Manantial had a new home.
We are bombarded by news in our nation and around the world of the manifold ways the rich prey on the poor, the strong oppress the weak, and racism and religious intolerance erupt in horrific acts of violence. Moreover, the leaders of nations continually conspire to create international conflict in their reach for power.
Choosing a protein for a meal is no easy task. Can you afford it? Is it good for you? If you have kids, will they eat it? Then there are the less common and more challenging questions: Was the earth harmed? Were the workers treated well? Did the animal suffer? And how is our protein consumption contributing to carbon emissions and climate change?