Dear friends in Christ,
As I write this, it has been one week since the horrifying murders of school children in Uvalde, Texas. The month of May brought mass shootings in New York, California, and other locations in the United States. Although I do a lot of talking for a living, I have found few words with which to express my emotions. People of good faith across this country are grieving, angry, and worried about the future.
What can we do? On the one hand, our faith teaches us to lift all things to God in prayer. (1 Peter 5:7). On the other hand, Scripture also teaches that empty words are devoid of true faith. (See the book of James for a discourse on the need for faith in action.)
Tragedies such as what we have witnessed in Uvalde, Buffalo, and at the Presbyterian church in California do not occur in a vacuum. We each share responsibility for prevention and response. I encourage each of you to turn emotion into meaningful action. The early Christians took actions that sustained human life, such as caring for widows and the sick in their communities. The Apostle Paul led an international fundraising effort to help the poor in Jerusalem. Let us follow in the footsteps of the early Christians as we accept responsibility for the well-being of everyone in our communities.
For our part here at New Hope, I have asked one of our members, an emergency response professional with over 20 years experience, to help us develop awareness and safety procedures for our congregation. Please note, those who study and work in emergency management have a variety of perspectives on how to prevent mass shootings and other tragedies. With this good leadership, we can take a big step forward in taking responsibility for safety in our community.
Additionally, you may have heard in late May that the Southern Baptist Convention was the subject of a scathing report on failures to protect churchgoers from sexual abuse. Our congregation made a commitment to child and youth safety years ago, with background checks, training, and appropriate policies. As we transition back to in-person activities during the summer and fall, we will be following all policies and procedures to keep our beloved community safe.
Finally, I was encouraged to receive an email from Orange County Schools, notifying parents that the school system now has a full-time director of security. The three local schools near our congregation are an important part of our community.
I am in prayer for each of you as you seek ways in your own life to turn emotion into meaningful, effective and substantial action. May this summer be a safe reprieve for children across this nation.
(Many versions of this prayer exist. Often it is called the Breastplate of St. Patrick or the Lorica of St. Patrick. This version appears in the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship).
I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three.
I bind this day to me forever, by power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on the cross for my salvation.
His bursting up from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the star-lit heaven,
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea
around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
God’s eye to watch, God’s might to stay,
God’s ear to hearken to my need,
the wisdom of my God to teach,
God’s hand to guide, God’s shield to ward,
the word of God to give me speech,
God’s heavenly host to be my guard.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the name,
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, the One in Three,
of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Join the Northern Orange County Dr. MLK Jr. Virtual Commemoration
You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Jan 17, 2022 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Northern Orange County Dr. MLK Jr. Virtual Commemoration
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Mt Zion A.M.E. Church
Thank you for your generosity this season! We had a Giving Tree full of gift cards for students at local schools – all the cards were purchased and delivered. We also gave winter coats to Stanback Middle School, and “double stuffed” Power Pack food bags to students at New Hope Elementary School. Your generosity made a very special Christmas for families in our local community.