Hey Everyone!

OMGoodness. We had quite the amazing event earlier this week at FPCS with nearly 600 folks from the NEXT Church Conference swarming through the building and filling the Sanctuary.  It was two and half days packed with prophetic challenge, inspiring worship, and a deep sense that the relentlessly creating Holy Spirit is not done with us yet (First Pres. and the larger PCUSA denomination)! Visions were enlarged, souls fed, hopes deepened.  Gratefulness to Good oozed all over the place!

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As I write this eNews our world has been shattered by yet another hate-filled white supremacist terrorist attack - this time with Muslims being gunned down in mosques in New Zealand.  Early this morning I was moved by the heart-wrenching wisdom of Dr. Omid Safi, Director of the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University, who wrote:

*This terrorist attack is not an aberration. This is not about mental illness, it is not about one person. This is where all the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant discourse over the last few years leads to. A friend Susannah Heschel recalls her father, the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel saying:  “Hitler did not come to power with tanks and guns; it all began with uttering evil words, with defamation, with language and propaganda. Words create worlds…”

Words create worlds.

Beautiful words create beautiful worlds. 
Hateful, divisive, angry words likewise create a hateful and ugly world.

We have to confront racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, patriarchal words. If we wish to create a different world, we have to confront these words everywhere and everywhere, and offer beautiful words instead.

*This is global. The terrorist in New Zealand praised Trump, and praised Serbian genocidal anti-Muslim movements. The response also has to be global. Those of us committed to love and justice have to be reaching out to one another, comforting one another, loving on one another, and protecting one another.

*Start at home. Hug your kids. Reach out to your Muslim friends. 
Show up. Show up in love and solidarity and support. 
We are in this together. Some of us are more vulnerable than others. It’s up to all of us to love and protect one another.

Especially as we continue in the 40 day season of Lent – a time of spiritual preparation and repentance, of turning to God – we not only confess our personal sin, but our participation in sinful systems that do not protect vulnerable people, and with God’s help, we rededicate our lives to “show up in love and solidarity and support.”

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In the sermon text this Sunday, Luke 13:31-35 Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. Jesus laments.  Take a look at the text and see what taps you on the shoulder (for me it’s this verse: “How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gather her brood under her wings…”).  Bring yourself to the text, notice your questions – and we’ll share in a sermon conversation together on Sunday.

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Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi