Covid-19 Reflections

October 26th, 2020 Reflection

Today I want to share about some struggles our Nigerian sisters and brothers are currently facing. Half the students in the course I am currently teaching at Bethany Seminary are from Nigeria, and they have asked me to share with you their current plight and to ask for your prayers.  Nigeria presently is in the midst of protests calling for Nigeria’s government to shut down its Special Anti-Robbery Squad, which is a police unit known as SARS. This squad was launched to fight crime, but instead it has carried out torture and killings, according to news reports from the people and also from Amnesty International, which is tracking it.  In response to SARS, a #EndSARS campaign has spread across the country and has received so much attention and public support that the Nigerian government announced that it would agree to disband its SARS unit. At the same time protestors are calling for more widespread reforms than the government is willing to address.  Corruption continues to be widespread.  This is not unlike our own Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S.  The people are tired of being targeted by the government for simply wanting a better chance at life, and so they’ve taken to the streets. 

Last week there were peaceful protests in major cities around Nigeria, calling to an end to police and government corruption, and to corruption beyond what the #EndSars initiative is addressing.  In Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, the people organized a protest village, where streets were closed off and food tables, music, overnight tenting, and other venues were set up so people could remain in that place to nonviolently and even joyfully protest in the spirit of community and hope for a better future.  Here’s where my students come in.  I started receiving calls and texts from them, and in one text Musa, from Lagos wrote, In respect to what is happening in Nigeria we sincerely need your prayers. I live in Lagos very close to the Lekki toll gate where the situation is bad.” (The Lekki toll gate is where the protest village was set up.) “The protest started peacefully and the government took it to be politics, claiming that it is the handiwork of anti-government politicians, and now it has turned to bloodshed.  Last night, my family and I did not sleep as we were running for our dear lives. My house is very close to one of the police barracks, and since the army starting shooting at protestors, some of them have decided to start destroying government structures, military and police barracks, that is our situation now. I live in the middle of this. Please pray for us, Musa.”

In another text came this message from a student named Ezra. “In the city of Jos-where I live ,it has been a peaceful protest for some days now, with the youth demanding an end to SARS, which means an end to bad governance, and a demand for police reform.  It has been a peaceful protest all this while, until some aggrieved Muslim youths invaded the peaceful protest with guns and machetes, killing the peaceful protesters because they believed it was a protest against our president, who is Muslim.  Lives were lost and properties were destroyed during the clash, which led to the state governor imposing a 24 hour curfew within the affected local government areas.

Please ask your churches to pray for the following happenings in Nigeria:

1. Families that have lost their loved ones and properties, that God will continue to comfort them.

2. Provide for the basic needs of families especially those that have to  find work to be able to feed their families.

3. The happenings in Jos is taking a religious dimension, with  Muslim youth believing this is a protest against a Muslim president, not realizing it is a protest for the betterment of our nation.

4. We need prayer to strengthen our faith in these trying times because of economic, religious and political challenges.  And we need prayers to find joy in our faith.  Thank you for your prayers.  Ezra Parah”

            And finally, one other student, Susuya Lassa, who is from Nigeria but currently is studying at Bethany Seminary in Indiana, wrote, As I write this assignment for our class, my body is weak and my energy is depleted. About 4-5 hours ago, Lagos state and the Nigerian government authorized the cutting of cameras around Lekki Toll Bridge where protestors were galvanizing to protest peacefully against police brutality.  They turned off the lights surrounding the protestors, sent armed militants to shoot and kill them, and blocked them in, not allowing emergency services to get through. (The official death toll is 12, but Nigerians are claiming at least 30 people died after the military arrived.) “Videos and pictures of this tragic day in our history have been circulating on social media world-wide, despite the government’s efforts to silence the population.  I grieve for the lives lost today, and for those whose lives have been irrevocably impacted. I am tired of seeing bodies brutalized by state-sanctioned violence. I am trying to think about our reading, and about the larger theme of conflict transformation that guides our course, but today I am struggling. I find it hard to think about how to help people apply pressure and advance negotiations. All I can think about is the people protesting peacefully, and then dying. Of what merit is the long-term goal of resolution or transformation to a dying man or a grieving mother? Where in this can one find a seedling of hope when in a pit of despair?” 

            We often hear the call to be joyful in our faith and a question I have after reading many posts from these students is, how do we remain joyful and especially how do we encourage our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and in other places where suffering is an everyday occurrence, to find joy in their faith as they continue to suffer so much?  One thing I know is that we must continue to live out the golden rule, which runs through both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament through various stories and instructions. This might seem a bit superficial to people who are trying to do that but who are still suffering and dying. But each of us, one by one, must try and find joy in the heart and potential of living by the golden rule, even if it doesn’t come to fruition for everyone today.  Most of us reading this don’t have the obstacles Musa, Ezra, Susu, and others have, and so we can work on living by the golden rule.   As Nigeria feels our prayers, and trusts that the way we live with each other will affect their potential to have justice and mercy in their lives, that brings them some amount of hope, and of joy also.  We know there can be a better way, and we are called to live this better way.  When we do, Nigeria feels it, feels our prayers and our dedication to being faithful people of God, and is hopeful because of it.  That’s what my students are saying, that when we live out our faith, when we refuse to condone injustice for ourselves and others, they feel it and it gives them hope.  May they feel our prayers this week as we yearn for a more just world for everyone.

In community with you, peacefully, simply, together,          
Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

Thank you for prayerfully discerning the letter written by our Leadership Team to help remind us of our church’s ministry in our valley and to invite us to continue to support Ellisforde in whatever creative ways we can during these challenging times. As we prepare for our yearly Church Council meeting (date to be announced), may we also commit to giving on a regular basis to our church’s ministries.  The time for our meeting and the link to join will be included in this check in/reflection in the coming weeks.

Special Financial Request: The Leadership Team has agreed to hire an outside person to work 10 hours on outside clean-up in November, and a person has been found who is willing to do the work. If you are willing to donate to this effort, please send your checks to the church or to Miriam Caddy with “outside cleanup” written on the memo line.

In Person Worship being Considered

Please weigh in on whether we should resume in-person worship beginning in December.  We would like to see how the virus is faring in the colder month of November before making a final decision.  We have agreed on the safety protocols of sanitizing the sanctuary each week, masking, supplying hand sanitizer, keeping well over the 6ft of distance required in CDC and WA state protocol, and making separate exit and entrance spaces available into and out of the sanctuary.  We are still in the discernment phase of this and would like to have your input.  Please email or call Debbie if you have an opinion about this.

The Upper Room print weekly reflections have arrived.  If you have not received your copy and would like to, please let Debbie know.  There are plenty to go around (for Whitestone folks also).

Daniel has started a weekly Zoom room for one hour each Wednesday, from 5-6pm.  Should we at Ellisforde do the same (not at the same time!)?  Would you appreciate a time to plug into zoom and know that I will be available for a chat?  Let me know if this would be helpful for you!

Zoom Worship in November

Nov 1             Daniel will lead worship and preach.  Debbie will send out her reflection Nov. 2 and deliver it to those who do not have email access.

Nov 8             Daniel will leader worship and Debbie and Daniel will share the message.  We will also offer a Zoom-type communion service during Worship, in place of our usual Love Feast in November. Debbie will send out her reflection Nov. 9 and deliver it to those who do not have email access.

Nov. 15         Daniel will lead worship and preach. Debbie will send out her reflection Nov. 16 and deliver it to those who do not have email access.

Nov. 22         Thanksgiving Sunday.  Debbie will lead worship and preach.  She will send out her reflection Nov. 23 and deliver it to those who do not have email access.

Nov. 29         First Sunday of Advent.  Daniel will lead worship and preach.  When there is a 5th Sunday in the month, Debbie will not send out nor deliver an additional reflection.

In our Prayers

Bill Peterson’s Memorial Service will take place at Ellisforde sometime next spring or summer, when we are safely able to meet again in person.
-Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy, who now awaits the procedure to have a stimulator implanted permanently.  The stimulator proved to be a great relief for her pain, for which we are grateful, but as it was temporary and she has to wait another two weeks for the permanent implant, she is again in pain.  Our prayers continue for her.
Cecile Klayton, Daniel’s mom, as doctor’s have discovered in an X-ray a spot on her thyroid.  The initial results of the biopsy were unconclusive so she continues to wait for the results of another biopsy. Our prayers continue with her and Daniel’s dad, and their family, as well as with medical staff if treatment is necessary.
-The Tonasket Food Bank, as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need.
All of us, as we grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings, and as we try to figure out how best to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas while staying safe.
Others? Please let Debbie know.


October 19th, 2020 Reflection

Last week Steve and I drove to Seattle for a dental appointment.  Our regular dentist is just across the border in Canada, but since we haven’t been able to visit him in the last 8 months as the Canadian border is closed to nonessential traffic, we decided to see another dentist for the time being.  His hygienist, Brenda, is from Vietnam and when she learned I had travelled in Vietnam with a class when I worked at the University of La Verne, and that our son, Seth, had studied in Vietnam for his year abroad experience in college, she told me about her own experience growing up there.  She shared that before going back to visit in the last few years, she had very little knowledge of the country.  During the American War (their name for what we call the Vietnam War), she was not able to explore her city nor her country because it was too dangerous.  Her family lived in Saigon (now Ho Chi Min City) and she and her siblings only went from their home to school and back, or from their home to one set of grandparents and back, all within walking distance.  When Brenda was 4 her father became one of a large number of boat people who successfully survived the trip across the water, and eventually ended up in Seattle.  When she was 14 she and her extended family was able to obtain refugee status and join her father in Seattle, after waiting for three weeks in a refugee camp near Bangkok.  She described their fortune of only having to wait for a few weeks for a flight to the United States, when many others had to wait for many months.  When they arrived in Seattle, they followed other passengers off the plane, assuming that was what they were instructed to do.  No one in her family spoke English, and no one giving instructions to them spoke Vietnamese.  When they walked across the tarmac they noticed the weather was so much colder than in Vietnam, and that all the planes they saw on the tarmac said “Alaska Airlines” on them.  So they assumed somehow they had gotten on the wrong plane and had arrived in Alaska.  They had no money, spoke no English, carried all their possessions with them, and wondered if they would be wandering around some Alaskan city for weeks or months with no one to help them.  They also wondered if they could survive the cold if they had nowhere to stay.  Imagine how elated they were to enter the airport and be greeted by her father – also a husband, uncle, brother – whom she hadn’t seen for 10 years!  That was in 1991 and she still feels the joy of that reunion.

            I have been thinking of Brenda’s story all week, especially as the tensions with this virus, our election process, our economy, Black Lives Matter, and other concerns overwhelm us these days.  That Brenda finds reasons everyday for rejoicing was a wake up call for me.  Saturday I went to a small peace gathering in Omak, celebrating women’s voices and reminding us we are a people of creative energy, peace, and a yearning for justice for everyone.  At the end of one of the speeches, one speaker said, “We move when we are moved.”  That’s so true.  When we are inspired, we act – we go the second mile, we smile at someone who needs it, we work to make our world a better place for everyone.  Brenda’s story coupled with her positive spirit and enthusiasm for life, plus the women in the crowd on Saturday, moved me to focus on the positive energy we all carry to help make this world a treasure for all. 

Sometimes I carry with me a psalm or another reading to remind me to be thankful and to work for positive change.   This week I’m remembering the folk song of the 1920s made popular by the Carter family, “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

There’s a dark and a troubled side of life;
There’s a bright and a sunny side, too;Tho’ we meet with the darkness and strife,
The sunny side we also may view.

Chorus:
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life;
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,
If we keep on the sunny side of life.

Tho’ the storm in its fury break today,
Crushing hopes that we cherished so dear,
Storm and cloud will in time pass away,
The sun again will shine bright and clear.

Chorus

Let us greet with a song of hope each day,
Tho’ the moments be cloudy or fair;
Let us trust in our Savior always,
Who keeps everyone in God’s care.

Chorus

The Carter Family

In community with you, peacefully, simply, together           
Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

Thank you for prayerfully discerning the letter written by our Leadership Team to help remind us of our church’s ministry in our valley and to invite us to continue to support Ellisforde in whatever creative ways we can during these challenging times. As we prepare for our yearly Church Council meeting on November 8 after worship, may we also commit to giving on a regular basis to our church’s ministries.  The time for our meeting and the link to join will be  included in this check in/reflection in the coming weeks.

In our Prayers

Bill Peterson died last week at North Valley Extended Care.  His obituary is included later in this Reflection/Check-In.  May we keep his son, Jeff in our prayers as he adjusts to the death of both his father and brother, Greg, in the last week.
-Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy, who now awaits the procedure to have a stimulator implanted permanent.  The stimulator proved to be a great relief for her pain, for which we are grateful!
Ton Reitveld, Leaha Passaro, and Athena Rietveld, as Athena is recovering from COVID 19 and her parents so far have tested negative for the virus.  We pray for Athen’as complete recovery and for her family’s continued health.
Cecile Klayton, Daniel’s mom, as doctor’s have discovered in an X-ray a spot on her thyroid.  They are waiting results, and as she has experienced cancer in the past, there is some reason for concern.  Our prayers are with her and Daniel’s dad, and their family, as well as with medical staff if treatment is necessary.
Cara Johnson, for recovery from knee pain and a medical procedure because of it.
-The Tonasket Food Bank, as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need
All of us, as we grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.              
Others? Please let Debbie know.

Obituary for William Ernest (Bill) Peterson

 Bill Peterson, 97, of Oroville, passed away on October 16, 2020 at Extended Care in Tonasket.  He was born in Lynn, MA on October 30, 1922 to William (Sr.) and Adria Peterson.  Bill’s family settled north of Ellisforde when he was 7 years old, and he lived in the area for the rest of his life.

Bill attended school in Ellisforde and Tonasket. As a child, he spent a year of his life bedridden with Rheumatic Fever.  Fortunately, he recovered and flourished.  At Tonasket High School, he was class president, quarterback of the football team, played basketball, competed in track and field, and graduated in 1941.

Bill worked a variety of jobs in the years following high school.  During World War II, he stayed home to help care for his ailing father. He had a strong sense of loyalty, and the desire to always do the right thing was a guiding principle throughout his life. 

Bill married Margaret Lund in 1947.  They had three sons: Greg, Jeff, and Roger.  Bill was an excellent provider for his family.  He planted a 10-acre apple orchard, worked full-time as an apple packing foreman at Oro Fruit Company, and still found time to build his family a house, where he lived until the last few weeks of his life.  

It was a difficult time for Bill and his sons when Margaret passed away suddenly in 1970.  He married Nina Reese in 1973; they spent over 45 years together. Nina’s health deteriorated in her final years, and Bill was her full time caretaker until she passed in 2019. 

Bill enjoyed the outdoors, fishing, hunting, skiing and working in his orchard and garden.  He had a curious mind, always seeking to learn new ideas and skills.  He took up woodworking in his 70’s, creating wooden bowls, Christmas decorations and replica Oro Fruit bins. Bill was a long-time member of the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, where he served on the board, sang in the choir, helped maintain the pipe organ, and performed many other duties.

Bill Peterson was, by all definitions, a truly good person who gave much more than he took, and the world is a better place because of him.

He is survived by son Jeff (Adrienne) of Richland, WA, Jeff’s daughter, Ellen, Greg’s sons Eliot and Daniel, and Roger’s son, Andrew.  He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings Adria and Hank, first wife Margaret, second wife Nina, and sons Greg and Roger.    A celebration-of- life will be held at a future (post-pandemic) date.  Contributions in Bill’s honor can be made to Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition (octn.org) or the North Valley Hospital Foundation (nvhospital.org).

Okanogan County Crematory is in care of arrangements.


October 12th, 2020 Reflection

Reflection on Psalm 23

As we all know, Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known, well-loved psalms in the bible.  Many of us know it by heart.  This psalm is often used to comfort us when our loved ones pass, and it’s read when we need that reminder that God is always with us.  We know it as a psalm of David, who was a shepherd before he was a king, so he knew well the imagery of this psalm – the shepherd, the pasture, the water, the valley of shadows, the rod and the staff. The psalm begins with the idea that “I shall not want,” and continues with God leading us beside still waters and restoring our soul.  And then there’s the part where God prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies. This is the line that jumped out at me this week.  We often interpret these words that God protects us from our enemies, as if God puts a protective shield around us so nothing bad can get in.  But the words in this psalm describe us sitting with our enemies.  God prepares the table for us.  For all of us, together. And in that spirit, our protection really comes when we sit down with our enemies and share a meal and conversation with them, when we’re willing to be in the same space with each other.  God provides the table; our actions and our trust that if we’re willing to sit together and eat together, that there is hope that things could get better – that is what provides the protection.  So it’s God’s presence, plus our hope, plus our actions – God preparing a table in the presence of our enemies.  Psalm 23 continues that we’re anointed as we envision having a conversation with those of whom we have been fearful.  Have you ever avoided someone or a group of people because you find yourself in a state of anxiety or fear?  Sometimes we’re uncomfortable because they’re strangers – we don’t know them. Sometimes tension arises because they have different priorities than we do, or different customs, or are from a different culture or religious tradition.  Or maybe we’re anxious because we’re in a strange place and we don’t know the customs and we assume our presence isn’t wanted.  In this Psalm we read that we’re anointed and our cup overflows because we’re willing to sit at the table with those whom we fear, those we assume to be our enemies.  And as we do so it might turn out to be ok.  We read, my cup overflows.  That sounds to me like it’s going to be ok. To take the step of sharing our space and our food and our conversation.  So hospitality, in this sense, includes God’s presence, our willingness to sit at the table God provides, and when we do that, when we allow the possibility of relationship, we are dwelling in the house of the Lord.

In community with you, peacefully, simply, together,

Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

The Leadership Team has drafted a letter that encourages us to discern our commitment to giving at Ellisforde – to help remind us of our church’s ministry in our valley and to invite us to continue to support Ellisforde in whatever creative ways we can during these challenging times. The letter is copied below and I invite you to prayerfully consider what you might offer our church financially as we prepare for our yearly Church Council meeting on November 8 after worship. 

Yearly Church Council Meeting

Next week’s reflections will have details about how to tune in to this meeting.  It is tentatively scheduled for Nov 8 after our worship ends.  Please plan to join us either by zoom or by phone.  We need your input!

In our Prayers

Bill Peterson is comfortable at Tonasket Extended Care, and moving into his last days.  His care there is exceptional and his family is grateful that he is in such a caring environment when they cannot be here with him each day.  Please pray for Bill, for Bill’s family, and for the staff at North Valley Extended Care.
-Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy, whose pain has been greatly relieved by the temporary procedure she had last week.  She now awaits another procedure to make this permanent.
Ton Reitveld, Leaha Passaro, and Athena Rietveld, as Athena has been diagnosed with COVID 19 and her parents are hoping their masks and distancing will help them escape a similar diagnosis.  So far Athena is experiencing cold and minor flu symptoms.  We pray for her recovery and for her family’s continued health.
Cara Johnson, for recovery from knee pain and a medical procedure because of it.
-The Tonasket Food Bank, as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need
All of us, as we grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.              
Others? Please let Debbie know.

Click here to view our appeal for discerning financial giving.


October 5th, 2020 Reflection

The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”            
Matthew 13: 10

Up until chapter 13 in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus has been busy teaching and preaching, he’s been healing, he’s been explaining, he’s been gathering disciples, he’s been traveling, and, now in this chapter he does something new.  He tells his audience a story – a parable – and his disciples wonder why.  Why tell a story that only a few get?  Jesus has just told the Parable of the Sower – and the disciples wonder why.  “Why get your point across this way?  Why not just say what you want to say?”  And Jesus answer is this Matthew passage, that parables require looking into in order to be understood.  They kind of prick the mind.  So you have to listen carefully, and there’s a difference between hearing and listening.  We have hints in this chapter that some are listening and some are only hearing.  I don’t think it’s that Jesus chooses some over others when he says in verse 16 “You have God-blessed eyes, eyes that see; and God-blessed ears, ears that hear.” (The Messenger translation)   Parables encourage us to ponder and grapple and struggle.  That’s part of listening.  And if we’re willing to do that, we find ourselves in a different place than if we just hear something and don’t spend time thinking about it.  We have to be ready in order to listen; parables help us get ready, but then we have to put in the work.

            Again and again Jesus shared stories, and those who were willing to listen, heard the message behind the stories. If we put ourselves in his shoes, then when I share with you and you share with me, we practice having God-blessed eyes and ears, eyes that really see and ears that actually listen.  I nudge you with my story and you nudge me with yours, helping to create readiness for insight, and wisdom, and hospitality, so that together we might help bring to earth God’s kingdom.  In the Hebrew scriptures, God’s relationship with the people was understood as mostly a vertical one, God up there talking down to the people, the people obeying God’s instructions or not, but rarely talking back to God (there are some occasions where we see this back and forth in an actual conversation, but not usually).  In the New Testament, a different understanding of God emerged. Jesus instructs and has dialogue and lives out the ministry he teaches about.  The people are invited to engage with him, and with the spirit within them which represents God in us.  So in our relationships with each other we take the idea of dialogue, and presence, and deep listening seriously.  That’s what makes our world a better place, bringing the kingdom of God to earth.  Listening to each other. So building bridges by sharing stories.  There’s a Quaker writer, Gene Hoffman, who said, “An enemy is someone whose story we have not heard.”  In other words, it’s more difficult to keep the wall up, to keep the barriers in place, once you hear someone’s story.  And that’s a good reason why not to literally build walls between communities and between countries.  How do we gain access to each other’s stories if there is a wall between us?

Throughout the New Testament gospels we see an understanding of a God who seeks relationship with God’s people by the way the people are in relationship with each other.  Jesus is our teacher in this New Testament relationship, and again and again his ministry encourages us to listen deeply, to hear and to see in new ways so that we can get better at living out the love and compassion that God continually calls us toward. 

We read that Jesus told stories to create readiness, to nudge creative thinking, to get us thinking about the same old same old in a new way…. in a way which could help restore and heal.  He perked up his listeners’ ears, by not saying only what they expected to hear, but saying more than they expected.  And those who heard, he called blessed.

In the end, it’s really our choice, whether or not to listen deeply to the stories we hear, that is, whether or not to have God-blessed eyes and God-blessed ears. 

In community with you, peacefully, simply, together,
Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

We at Ellisforde continue to be more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering in person, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. The Leadership Team has drafted a letter that encourages us to discern our commitment to giving at Ellisforde – to help remind us of our church’s ministry in our valley and to invite us to continue to support Ellisforde in whatever creative ways we can during these challenging times. As we prepare for our yearly Church Council meeting, we will have our finances before us as part of our discussion.  The letter will be coming out this week, by email and by regular mail, and will ask us to please prayerfully consider what each of us can give financially, especially in these difficult times when we are not meeting in person and collecting offerings each week.

Yearly Church Council Meeting

It looks likely that we will have our end-of-the-year Church Council meeting by zoom and phone this year, hopefully in midNovember.  Please plan to join us at a possibly virtual pot-luck.  The Leadership Team is meeting this week and at that time will name a date for the meeting, and whether or not we should make it a potluck.  You can weigh in anytime by contacting me or a member of the Leadership Team (Ken V, Norm W, Miriam C, Kay S, Daniel K, Sandy B, Kathy S, Alisa W).

In our Prayers

Bill Peterson was moved to North Valley Extended Care last Tuesday.  Please keep him and his emotional and physical state in your prayers as this will be an adjustment for him.  Keep his sons and extended family in your prayers as well.
-Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy, who finally has an appointment today, Monday, for a procedure to help with her back pain. By Friday she will know if this is the procedure that will help her.
-The Tonasket Food Bank, as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need
All of us, as we grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.              
Others? Please let Debbie know.


September 28st, 2020 Reflection

This morning, Sunday, was my turn to lead worship and to preach for our Zoom church service for Ellisforde and Whitestone congregations.  Daniel had a well deserved day off. But unfortunately we were not able to connect to the zoom site, for some complicated reasons about a possible zoom upgrade or Daniel needing to log in first, which he didn’t because he was finally taking a break, or some other reason I haven’t figured out.  I called everyone I could think of who attends or who might attend in both congregations and we waited for close to an hour before giving up and calling it a day.  When these kinds of things happen it is initially frustrating and even panic-inducing (at least on my part!) as I wonder if my small knowledge of technology is to blame.  But when I began making calls and found others could not connect either, then we knew something bigger than us was up.  It will surely be figured out before the end of the day, certainly by the time you read this (in fact Daniel has alread mostly figured it out though the explanation is almost beyond me), and we will have almost forgotten about it by this time next week.  We’ll try again next Sunday, the same time, the same bulletin, the same theme, the same zoom and phone connections, and we hope we have better luck!

            In the meantime, as I was getting ready for the worship, and then trying over and over again to connect, I listened to Steve and Rob Thompson downstairs practicing a hymn they were going to lead, and once they realized the service wouldn’t happen, they moved on to other songs.  One of them is a poem by e.e. cumings (his use of lower case and odd word sequence is part of his identity and his written poetry), “i thank you god for this most amazing day.”  Hearing Rob and Steve play and sing it, I got to thinking about how best to move on when an upset occurs.  This poem is a wonderful guide for us in our daily living as well as when things don’t go the way we had planned.  cummings’ advice is to be ever grateful, no matter what you’re thrown, to think about what we’re given, not what we lack, to look outside and whatever we see, to be thankful “for this most amazing day.”  This is always good advice, but in these times it is especially wise.  For these days don’t we often wake up wondering what might go wrong today, what news we might hear that we don’t want to hear, what the new infighting will be, etc? 

I’m including a painting of Cummings’ as in his day, painting was the endeavor he invested most of his time in, even more than his poetry which is what most of us know him for. One of his favorite subjects to paint was the landscape surrounding his summer home at Joy Farm in Silver Lake, New Hampshire. The elation he felt in this environment of wooded hills, fields, and lake he worked into several of his poems. One writer wonders if the phrases “leaping greenly spirits of trees” and “blue true dream of sky” were inspired by a view from his farmstead one August day.  I have copied one of his paintings below, and included below it the words to “i thank you god for this most amazing day.”  I hope it helps to make the end of this day and the beginning of tomorrow special for you.

In community with you, simply, peacefully, together,              
Debbie

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings

Finances at Ellisforde

We at Ellisforde continue to be more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering in person, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. The Leadership Team is drafting a fund raising letter that will be sent out soon, to help remind us of our church’s ministry in our valley and to invite us to continue to support Ellisforde in whatever creative ways we can during these challenging times. Please prayerfully consider what you can give financially. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

Yearly Church Council Meeting

It looks likely that we will have our end-of-the-year church council meeting by zoom and phone this year.  So expect sometime in November to join us for this important meeting, where we discuss our ministry and finances.  Should we make it a virtual pot-luck?

Check-In

How are we doing with our weekly check-ins? Do we need to re-establish the list and assignments of whom we call?  I am checking in with you to see how this is going, after 6 months of living with the CORONA virus, and will continue to make calls this week.  Let me know if you would like to continue to be called, to call someone, to change the person you are calling, etc.  This is one way of keeping connected during this difficult time while we can’t meet together at church.

In our Prayers

Bill Peterson will be moved to North Valley Extended Care on Tuesday.  Please keep him and his emotional and physical state in your prayers as this will be an adjustment for him.
John Verbeck, who had a stay in the ER and hospital in Wenatchee to be evaluated for stroke-like symptoms.  He is at home and doing well.
Wayne Verbeck, who also visited the ER and is being scheduled for knee replacement surgery hopefully still this fall.
David Silvercrow, who continues to experience health issues.
-Dale Swedberg, as he experiences ongoing pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy, who finally has an appointment next week on Oct 5 for a procedure to help with her back pain.
-The Tonasket Food Bank, as we juggle volunteers after 6 month of this pandemic, and as clients are in more need
All of us, as we grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.              
Others? Please let Debbie know.


September 21st, 2020 Reflection

This past week we have suffered another loss in a year where it seems like we have a number of them, from COVID to racial injustice to hurricanes and wildfires with the worry about smoke being our new summer normal in the northwest, to election concerns.  This week our loss is Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the Supreme Court justice who died of complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.  She was a voice for justice among the justices, and was widely acknowledged as a trailblazer in establishing women’s rights.  Along with friends and strangers across our land, I deeply grieve her loss in an era where politics seems to have run more amok than usual, and the spirit of compassion and  love, along with the rational knowledge of science, are in a tie for yet another loss.

            Though I know loss is inevitable on life’s journey, it is still tragic, leaving despair and misery in its path.  The wound from it is a gnawing pain that eventually will heal, to a degree, yet is reopened again and again along the way by memories, regret, and the absence of what we once had.  As we’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all this, at least I am, I searched for a poem to help comfort and to assure that loss is part of the journey of life.  I came upon one by Maya Angelou.  Though it might reflect better the loss of a person when our losses include what once seemed normal, still it describes the inability to breathe, and it describe the hurt, to be in the zone of unreality for a spell.  Her poem ends with a message of hope and renewal, that after a great loss, “We can be…better. For they existed.”  And we can be better for finding a new way to exist into the future, a way that opens the door for more than our own individual and privileged desires. I hope you find comfort and inspiration in it, as I have, and will read it alongside the psalms you find helpful, or repeat some of its lines in your daily prayers and meditations.  We will get through this time of great loss and change, with God’s spirit in our every breath, and poems and readings like this one that craft words for our distress, and hope for our renewal.

When Great Trees Fall                                                    by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants slumber after safety.

When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence,

their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die, the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile.

We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid,

promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us.

Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always irregularly.

Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed.

They existed.

We can be.

Be and be better.

For they existed.

In community with you, simply, peacefully, together,

Debbie

District Conference 2020

This past Friday and Saturday our district churches navigated our first District Conference on-line, via Zoom.  As boar chair Howard Ullery said afterward, “…and we did it with attentiveness, conviviality, and great spirit (and Spirit too).  This is an example of good, effective work…  Much of the value of consensus work is that it draws forth shared problem solving rather than debate; today’s meeting reflected that well.” 

As we continue a time of re-envisioning our district structure,  we focused small groups on 8 areas of ongoing discernment: 1. Where do we see gaps or items falling through the gaps that need to be recovered or let go of?  2. How do our camps relate to our future?  3. Without a paid District Executive how do we provide community, collaboration and training for our clergy?  4. As some congregations face an unviable future how can the District use technology and online resources to keep District people connected?  5. How do we advocate for polity changes that could lead to a “District of Shared Values”?  6. How do we provide apprenticeship or model ways of including the next generation and new people into District leadership?  7. How do we continue to provide a voice of “just peace” beyond our congregations to impact our Pacific Northwest Region.  8. How do we redefine “church” that makes us inclusive of those who may seek to embrace our online presence, or our “just peace” efforts but don’t fit into a traditional model of membership?

Our conversations were rich and it was wonderful to reconnect with various church folk across WA and OR.  Next year’s District Conference will be September 17-19 in Wenatchee, with an option for on-line participation.  I hope some of you might put the date on your calendars and plan to join us, either in person or from a distance!

Finances at Ellisforde

We at Ellisforde continue to be more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering in person, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. The Leadership Team is drafting a fund raising letter that will be sent out soon, to help remind us of our church’s ministry in our valley and to invite us to continue to support Ellisforde in whatever creative ways we can during these challenging times. Please prayerfully consider what you can give financially. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

Check-In

How are we doing with our weekly check-ins? Do we need to re-establish the list and assignments of whom we call?  I have checked in with you to see how this is going, after 6 months of living with the CORONA virus, and will continue to make calls this week.  Let me know if you would like to continue to be called, to call someone, to change the person you are calling, etc.  This is one way of keeping connected during this difficult time while we can’t meet together at church.

Zoom Worship for the remainder of the month

Next Sunday, Sept 27, I will be offering the message for worship over zoom.  Hopefully some of our musicians will be offering music.  I’ll send the bulletin out at the end of the week with a reminder of the zoom address and phone connection number.

The zoom link is:  https://zoom.us/j/236009838 

To call in:  call 1-301-715-8592, then enter 236 009 838# when prompted, then # again.  We would love to have you join us and those at Whitestone who are regular attenders!

In our Prayers

Victims of the fires and SMOKE in our valley, in WA, OR and CA, those who have been evacuated, firefighters, command center personnel, those suffering from the smoke, and all affected by the fires.
Bill Peterson, in North Valley Hospital suffering from kidney failure, rapid heart rate, and fluid on the lungs.  His condition hasn’t changed from last week, but he is attentive, able to have some visitors (screened and with masks), and seems comfortable.
John Verbeck, who had a stay in the ER and hospital in Wenatchee last week to be evaluated for stroke-like symptoms.  He is now at home and doing well.
Wayne Verbeck, who also visited the ER last week and is being scheduled for knee replacement surgery hopefully this fall.
David Silvercrow, who continues to experience health issues.
Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
Miriam Caddy, who finally has an appointment in early October for a procedure to help with her back pain.
The Tonasket Food Bank, as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need
All of us, as we grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.
Others? Please let Debbie know.


September 14th, 2020 Reflection

In the middle of the book of Exodus we read about how Pharaoh was compelled to allow the slave people, Israel, their freedom from bondage.  He had no choice, really, because plague after plague compelled him to rethink his refusal to liberate them.  But after he set them free we read he decided to pursue them after all, and chased them into the sea, where his armies’ chariots got stuck in the sand, then were overcome by a wall of sea and were annihilated altogether by God.

I’ve heard this story a thousand times and every time before now, it’s been about the liberation of  Israel, it’s been about our religious forbearers counting on God to overcome the evil powers, this awful Pharaoh and this awful Egypt, in order for God’s people to finally be free. In my Sunday school days up to now this has always been a story about a powerful military force pursuing a group of slaves to whom God has promised their liberation and land for their future prosperity.  And each time I’ve put myself in the shoes of my people, our people, the Israelites, as I was taught to do.  But this week I’m rethinking this story in light of our nation’s past and present history.  What does our liberation mean when throughout the history of our own nation, and other nations as well, under the claim of Christianity and our assumed God given promise of freedom and land, we have uprooted those who were on this land before we arrived? There are also the Africans and others forcibly removed from their countriesin order to serve whites who believed they were following the call of God to enslave those Africans, and Haitians, and Jamaicans, and others.  In these instances, Christians have felt it was their God given right to take land belonging to others and to make it their own, at whatever cost, and to take people who belonged to another land and were part of another people, and make them into white property.  That’s pretty much what Egypt was doing.  When we think of our religious history of liberation beginning with Egypt, and then we think of what we and other Christians have done to maintain our liberation over the centuries and into the present, are we so different from Egypt?  That’s partly what I wrestle with this time as I read about the beginning of Israel’s exodus from Egypt.

In the last verses of Exodus, chapter 14, we read, “thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians…and Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians.” Is elimination of our oppressors the final answer?  In our own history, in the ways we have and continue to demand our status of liberation, which is not available to everyone, should we then, be annihilated because of our actions as Egypt was annihilated for theirs?  Instead of annihilation, might there be opportunities to hear God’s call in a new way, to repent and be transformed? What is true liberation as we ponder our religious history and then move forward?  

I noted last week that I am in the middle of a semester teaching at Bethany Seminary where half the class is made up of Nigerian students. In their dire circumstances, I hear them longing to find avenues for redemption and restitution rather than retribution for their enemies, that retributive justice doesn’t work in the long run.  To kill the herders if you are a farmer, for destroying your land by overgrazing their animals on it, or to kill the farmers if you are a herder, for not letting you graze on their land – this is not getting them anywhere.  They’re dying at each other’s hands every day.  Neither group is liberated by destroying each other and each other’s livelihoods.  We have been taught in our cultures that retribution is the way we deal with injustice and harm.  If they do an injustice against us, lock them up, harm them somehow, even kill them.  But these Nigerian students see that it isn’t working, and so they are searching for another way.  We need transformational experiences that are lasting, and the story of God killing every last one of Pharaoh’s army even as they were running away, does not lead either side to lasting transformation .  There needs to be another way, and the New Testament is full of examples of how Jesus taught that other way. 

The book of Exodus was written much later than the actual events the writer reported, as a way of looking back on their history to understand God’s actions and presence in it.  I hope that as writers look back on our own history, they are able to report the flaws as well as report how we were able to look at our actions and turn toward better ones, that we learned something from our misdeeds because we paid attention to our New Testament history that encouraged confession and change, along with seeing our enemies as potential sisters and brothers, even as we might be compelled to draw lines in the sand against their actions toward us. 

In community with you, peacefully, simply, together,                   
Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

We at Ellisforde continue to be more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering in person, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. So this is a reminder to continue to support our ministry in whatever creative way you can during these challenging times! Please prayerfully consider what you can give financially. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

Check-In

How are we doing with our weekly check-ins? Do we need to re-establish the list and assignments of whom we call?  I will be checking in with you this week to see how this is going, after 6 months of living with the CORONA virus!  Let me know if you would like to continue to be called, to call someone, to change the person you are calling, etc.  This is one way of keeping connected during this difficult time while we can’t meet together at church.

Zoom Worship for the Remainder of the Month

Next Sunday, Sept 20, Daniel will be offering the message for worship over zoom.

The following Sunday, Sept 27, Debbie will be offering the message for worship over zoom.

The zoom link is:  https://zoom.us/j/236009838 

To call in:  call 1-301-715-8592, then enter 236 009 838# when prompted, then # again

Pacific Northwest District Church of the Brethren District Conference

Each year we meet as a district to discuss how our various churches are doing in WA and OR, and to decided on district business matters.  This year our district conference will be by zoom, so if you are inclined we would love to have you join us – for your input or simply to welcome you to hear and be part of a district meeting.  To register, email pnwdcob@gmail.com.  We will have a worship experience on Friday evening at 7:00pm, and time for sharing and business on Saturday from 9:00-11:00 am, and 1:00-3:00 pm.  A zoom link or telephone number will be sent once you register.  I hope some of you will join us!

In our Prayers

-Victims of the fires in our valley, in WA, Or and CA, those who have been evacuated, firefighters, command center personnel, those suffering from the smoke, and all affected by the fires.
Bill Peterson, in North Valley Hospital suffering from kidney failure, rapid heart rate, and fluid on the lungs.  His family reports this morning that his condition hasn’t changed from last week, but that they hope to hear an update this afternoon.
David Silvercrow, who continues to experience health issues.
-Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy, as she finally has an appointment for a procedure to help with her back pain.
-The Tonasket Food Bank, as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need
All of us, as we continue to grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.
Others? Please let Debbie know.


September 7th, 2020 Reflection

From Matthew 18: 5-20 – about conflict in the church

Many of you know that along with my service to our congregation, September brings with it my fall teaching at Bethany. Each year I teach an overview of conflict transformation, this year with students from Nigeria as well as from the U.S. It is a humbling experience to teach about conflict to students who are in the midst of violence in Nigeria, who sometimes have to travel 12-16 hours on rutted roads to get to the technology center in Jos in order to do on-line work. In the midst of the pandemic it is even more difficult for these students. I had a conversation with a woman named Kate last week.  Because she is a middle-aged single woman, she has not been permitted to rent an apartment on

her own in the city of Jos. So she has been living with her sister’s family. But with COVID, her sister asked her to move out to keep the family safe. She moved in with a friend two hours from Jos, and now uses public transportation to get into the city each day in order to access the course at a cybercafé, as she doesn’t own a computer or laptop – risking a public bus in the midst of a virus in order to hopefully gain more freedom from a graduate degree. She asked me if it was crucial that her essays be double-spaced, because she has to type them on her cell phone, which doesn’t easily give spacing options. So I am teaching a course about conflict to people whose lives are centered around conflict. Kate is a woman in Nigeria, at a disadvantage in almost every arena, especially as she chooses to remain single. She knows first-hand more about conflict than I likely ever will.

But still, we are learning together, me along with the students. In one of our first readings, from the Mennonite scholar and conflict practitioner John Paul Lederach, we have a section on Matthew 18: 15-20, one of the most quoted verses in the church, where Jesus outlines a procedure for how to deal with conflict. The section ends with verse. 20, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  Lederach outlines several points in these 6 verses: 1. Conflict is a part of the church – Jesus rightly assumes that in the life of the church, as in any relationship, there will be times of disagreement, conflict, interpersonal and group clashes. We are individuals in the midst of community, after all. How can we help but clash on occasion, and might not that be a time to learn from each other rather than labeling conflict as sin? 2. Jesus invites us to move toward conflict, to move toward the source of our anxiety rather than our usual practice of moving away from conflict because we think it’s too messy and thus there is no place in the church for it. When we move toward conflict, including toward those we label as “other,” we more readily value the diversity, including diversity of opinions, that makes up the human family. In the church, of all places, conflict could be understood as a place for learning and growth.  3. So the church is the place for expressing and handling conflict.  It is not a place for judgement and shunning, but rather a place to express differences, work through relational and theological disagreements, and seek vision as well as the skills necessary to deal with the conflict at hand.  4. This passage is often misinterpreted as pointing out the error of someone else’s ways rather than as pointing to the church’s need for reconciliation and healing. Restoration has little to do with assigning blame.  5. God is present with us.  With this last verse we realize that “…where two or three are gathered…” refers not to small numbers of gathered worshippers in any setting (which is how we usually use this passage), but to those who come forward seeking healing, restoration, and reconciliation.

In other words, Jesus is saying that when we take seriously the work of reconciliation, when we address our conflicts by taking the time and energy to hear each other, he is there with us. The journey of reconciliation in this passage is where we meet others, where we meet ourselves, and where we meet the sacred.

As I consider Kate and others as I read these verses, including myself as a pastor, I realize we all have a ways to go in learning the opportunities as well as the danger of conflict.  Kate has every reason to be bitter as her own conflicts within the church (for example she is not allowed to pastor a congregation) and society put a weight on her gifts that seems almost impossible to get out from under. As she reads Lederach’s interpretation of this passage about conflict, it wouldn’t surprise me if she felt frustration rather than hope, that her own situation is so far from his reading of Matthew 18. But her posts show gratitude rather than resentment as she expresses confidence that things will change for the better. All the more reason for the rest of us to look at this passage anew and walk the talk of the steps of conflict engagement Jesus invites here.

In community with you, peacefully, simply, together,
Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

We at Ellisforde continue to be more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering in person, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. So this is a reminder to continue to support our ministry in whatever creative way you can during these challenging times! Please prayerfully consider what you can give financially. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16  Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

New Book Study

Any who are interested in our book study beginning toward the end of September, please let Debbie know.  We will be reading Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, by Isabelle Wilkerson.

In our Prayers

-Victims of the fires in our valley, in WA, and in the western U.S., those who have been evacuated, firefighters, command center personnel, and all affected by the fires.|
-Dale Swedberg as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy as she waits procedures to help with her back pain.
-Marlene Laws-Convery’s friends and family at her recent passing
-The Tonasket Food Bank as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need
All of us as we continue to grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.
Others? Please let Debbie know.


August 24th, 2020 Reflection

Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.                                                                                                
-Isaiah 51: 1

If El Shaddai had not been on our side, had not held us up when so many tried to keep us down, we would have been swallowed alive in the flood of their anger…

The waves of their oppression would have swept us away. The torrents of their resistance would have overwhelmed us…

Our help is in the name of El Shaddai, mother of heaven and earth!  
– Psalm 124

(Last week was the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. In appreciation of this historic victory for women, I used Marchiene Rienstra’s translation of Psalm 124.  In her book of the Psalms, Swallows Nest, Rienstra uses feminine names for God, in this one El Shaddai, translated from the Hebrew as “breasted God.” )

The Palmer Mountain fire has added to other burdens we carry these days, living in a time of a pandemic,  living in a very unsettling political climate, and now worried about fires when we thought just maybe we had escaped this year.  So we wake up each morning with our worries and our burdens, but also with the assurance from Isaiah that God is our Rock, and from Psalm 124 that God intervenes in the midst of crushing circumstances.  This psalm is also about people who keep getting up after the worst has happened because, even in all their disappointment and feelings of abandonment  and struggle, they ultimately trust that God is with them, not that God changes their moments of grief but that God is with them in their grief and pulls them out of it in order for them to somehow keep going.  More often than not God’s intervention is not swooping down with fire upon our enemies, but pulling us up out of our despair.  Sometimes we’re so down we just can’t make ourselves get up.  And then something happens – we see a little spark of light, someone we know calls us, the sun shines, something shifts.  The writer’s community in this psalm has come through the latest catastrophe, or maybe a series of catastrophes, and the people are rejoicing again because now, finally, after the bad times are over for a spell, they remember that God is always and has always been with them.  In the Psalms we never really know exactly what experience the psalmist is writing about.  Not mentioning specifics is common to the Psalms, where the writer expresses fear, anger, guilt, joy, relief, doubt, without mentioning the historical details of whatever emotion is present.  And maybe this is why the Psalms resonate with us – we can put our experiences, whatever they are into these psalms and be comforted by them, because the psalmist has probably felt at some time or another whatever it is that we’re feeling.  And that’s how it’s been throughout the history of reading them.  The Psalms speak to us because the writer has been in our shoes. 

In the victory of the vote for women, I was reading about Fanny Lou Hamer this week.  She was born in the Mississippi Delta just 3 years before women in the US became eligible to vote.  However, the vote was given to white women, not to women of color.  Fanny Lou Hamer, an African American woman, became one of the most important voices of the civil rights and voting rights movements for black women.  Like the cries from many of the psalmists, everything seemed to be against her – she was born black, she grew up in poverty, she received a hysterectomy without her consent while undergoing another kind of surgery – which was a common way to control the black population in the south at that time, she wasn’t allowed to vote and when she tried to anyway she was fired from her job.  But she journeyed on, not willing to give up on her dreams of equality and black leadership.  She was a woman who believed in El Shekinah, She-who-dwells-among-us (a common name for God for Jews during the time of Jesus), through the hard times as well as through the victories.  Black women didn’t win the right to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 45 years after women in my family were able to vote, largely due to Hamer’s efforts.  She was a woman of faith and believed with all her heart that God was present in the struggle.  But she also used to say, “We can pray until we faint, but unless we get up and do something, God is not going to put it in our lap.”  Beaten up, jailed, slammed by people who would always have more rights than she had, she knew the fight for equality was never ending and that the roadblocks were never ending also.  All the more reason to invoke God’s presence, keep getting into “good trouble” as John Lewis used to say, and invite others to do the same.

So as we consider Isaiah’s reminder and the psalmists’ rejoicing after a long sought after victory and before the next crisis, may we continue to believe that God is our Rock at the same time we pray with our hearts and with our feet, because “unless we do God is not going to put it in our laps.” 

In community with you Peacefully, Simply, Together,
Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

As we know, finances were difficult at Ellisforde during our time apart from March-June, as we are more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. So this is a reminder to continue to support our ministry in whatever creative way you can during these challenging times! Please prayerfully consider what you can give financially. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

New Book Study

Any who are interested in our book study beginning toward the end of September, please let Debbie know.  We will be reading Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, by Isabelle Wilkerson.

In Our Prayers

-Victims of the Palmer fire and fires in BC, those who have been evacuated, firefighters, command center personnel, and all affected by the fires – Daniel’s in-laws, those around Wannacut Lake and elsewhere.
-Dale Swedberg as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy as she waits procedures to help with her back pain.
-Cara Johnson and her mother, Eleanor as Eleanor’s health declines and as the pandemic prohibits Cara’s regular contact with her at North Valley Extended Care.
-Marlene C from Whitestone as her cancer is progressing rapidly and she and her family are preparing for her passing.
-The Tonasket Food Bank as younger volunteers are needing to juggle school responsibilities and are working with the Board to create the best volunteer plan for the next few months.
All of us as we continue to grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.

Others? Please let Debbie know.


August 17th, 2020 Reflection

“God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” 
Micah 6:8

“All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”                                                                                     
Luke 14:18

About 10 years ago I remember hearing a story at worship one morning about the following exchange. It’s based on an alleged radio conversation between the U.S. Navy and Canada, and was a conversation authorized and released to the public by the Chief of Naval Operations through the Freedom of Information Act in 1995.  Our navy denies that this exchange ever took place which is why it’s an alleged conversation. 

First came this directive from Canadian authorities to those on board the ship, the USS Abraham Lincoln: 

“Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid collision.”
And then the American response: “ Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.”
Canadians: “Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.”
Americans: “This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.”
Canadians: “No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.”
Americans: “THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND
LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES’ ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE
ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS
SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES
NORTH–I SAY AGAIN, THAT’S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH–OR
COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.”
Canadians: “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

As humorous as this story is years afterward, there is also a lesson in it for us.  If we put ourselves in the shoes of the American Naval ship, the gist of their responses are, “We are important enough that we don’t have to move if we don’t want to.  So you change your course because we aren’t going to change ours, no matter what.”   As we know, that kind of attitude and behavior will eventually lead to some kind of destruction, in this case, running into a lighthouse!  Every Old Testament prophet knew that stubborn arrogance bred destruction, and their prophetic ministries grew out of this concern.  So did Paul’s ministry, and so did Jesus’s. 

When we want something and take ownership of that something in such a way that it becomes our explanation of God’s will, then we feel we have a legitimate right to tell anyone in the way of our truth to stand aside.  That is what could lead to the US response to the above conversation, and that is what the Micah quote calls us to consider.  In our unwillingness to move, in our judgments, in the ways we act on our judgments, what about our attitude might be harmful to someone else?  We are always in need of confession and repentance because each of us, at some time or another, is that U.S. naval ship captain.  We might respond, “Not us!”  “We’re the Church of the Brethren, the only church in this valley that truly understands the peace tradition!” Still, sometimes we refuse to get out of the way.  It’s one of those again and again things – we don’t read this passage in Micah one time and get it.  We might have an epiphany when we’re reading it today, but then we forget and we go back to the same old same old.  That’s why Micah is here to remind us again and again to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly.  Especially right now in this election season, where emotions and fear are high, we would do well to take Micah’s challenge to heart, along with the words from Luke, “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

With you, Peacefully, Simply, Together,              
Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

As we know, finances were difficult at Ellisforde during our last time apart, as we are more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. Last week we received very few donations, so this is a reminder to continue to support our ministry in whatever creative way you can during these challenging times! Please prayerfully consider what you can give. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

New Book Study on Racism beginning in September

A group of us met for 6 weeks to study the book, White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, by Robin Di Angelo.  Our conversations were rich and participants included Church of the Brethren friends and others outside our tradition. We have decided to continue our conversations about race with a new book by Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: the Origins of our Discontents.  You can order the book through Amazon and other outlets.  It’s also available as an ebook and on kindle.  We will begin our new study in mid September and I will send out the zoom and phone links as we get closer to our start date.  Please let me know if you are interested in joining us and what days of the week might work best for you.

Here is a brief blurb about her book:

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson says racism is an insufficient term for the systemic oppression of Black people in America. Instead, she prefers to refer to America as having a “caste” system. She describes caste an artificial hierarchy that helps determine standing and respect, assumptions of beauty and competence, and even who gets benefit of the doubt and access to resources. She states, “Caste is the term that is more precise [than race]; it is more comprehensive, and it gets at the underlying infrastructure that often we cannot see, but that is there undergirding much of the inequality and injustices and disparities that we live with in this country.”

Zoom Service this Sunday

Whitestone and Ellisforde will join in a zoom service this Sunday at 9:30 am.  I will bring the message and the House Band will lead us in our hymns.  I will send out a bulletin on Saturday, with a reminder of the links, which are below. 

https://zoom.us/j/236009838

by phone:  call 1-301-715-8592, then enter 236 009 838# when prompted, then # again

In our Prayers

-Dale Swedberg as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy as she waits for more testing and procedures to help with her back pain.
-Cara Johnson and her mother, Eleanor as Eleanor’s health continues to decline and as the pandemic prohibits Cara’s regular contact with her at North Valley Extended Care.
-Ralph and Leona Longenecker as they are grappling with some life changes.
-A reminder to keep Daniel Klayton after he was asked to resign his library position due to not being able to travel back and forth between the US and Canada because of the pandemic. Alongside his work with Whitestone, we pray he will find additional meaningful employment that will benefit from his library and technology expertise.
-All of us as we continue to grapple with the need for distancing and the discouragement it sometimes brings.
Others?  Please let Debbie know.


August 10th, 2020 Reflection

For the month of August, we have decided to suspend our worship and move back into these weekly reflections/check-ins again.  We will revisit this decision the first week of September, to see whether it is safe to begin in-person worship again.  The way the virus is exploding across the U.S., including in Okanogan County, it may be a stretch to imagine we can meet for worship next month.  Even though we have been taking precautions, we also want to be a witness of safety to our community neighbors and feel the best route to do this is to refrain from in-person gatherings.  So we’ll continue to hold one another in prayer from a distance, and connect by phone and by porch visits (with masks).  Each Monday I will deliver these reflections to those who don’t use email.  Please let me know if you think of persons who would like a delivery, and if you have news to share about people to keep in our prayers.

 Reflection  

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of God in heaven; for God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”   from Matthew 5

This text is part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount, and in these verses we read that God is particularly concerned about the well-being of those who are often cast aside, and I mean cast aside to the extent that we consider them our enemies.  This month marks the 75th anniversary of the United States dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ended WWII. Three years earlier and within 2 months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the use of relocation camps for any person of Japanese descent from the West coast.  Roosevelt’s order is now considered one of the most flagrant violations of civil liberties in American history; it was a racist order that affected about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry , those who were as little as 1/16 Japanese, even orphaned infants with perhaps “one drop of Japanese blood.”

As we remember with remorse our fear that led to internment camps, as well as the dropping of the atomic bombs and their aftermath of devastation, let us also recall a man of Japanese descent named Wally Bordeaux, who made his home in Tonasket during WWII.  Wally Bordeaux was not his real name but the name he took.  The story is that when he heard rumors about the possibility of the government rounding up Japanese Americans on the West coast, he abruptly left his life in Seattle and moved his family east of the mountains, all the way up the valley to Tonasket, because on the east side of the Cascades any place west of the Columbia River was unsafe. So if you were of Japanese descent and you lived in Wenatchee, you could be sent to an Internment Camp as Wenatchee is on the west side of the Columbia, but if you lived in East Wenatchee you didn’t have to worry because it’s on the east side of the Columbia.  Wally changed his name so there would be no suspicion, and because he looked very Mediterranean he got away with it. I’m glad he did.  He owned a very successful machine shop in Tonasket and he was a favorite business man here until he died in the 1980s.  No one I have spoken with in our town seemed to have known at the time that Wally was Japanese American, though in the present many have heard his story.  I like to think that if our parents and friends at Ellisforde and Whitestone in the 1940s had known what Wally was facing, that they would have come to his aid somehow. 

What gives me hope is for us to take this Matthew 5 passage to heart, and no matter how scared we are, no matter how worried one person or a group of persons makes us, no matter how pious we feel and no matter how diligently, how absolutely we know that our position is the right one, still, we take our concerns to God in prayer.  If someone needs a friend, we be their friend.  If they need a kind word, we offer a kind word.  If they need shelter, we give them shelter.  That our prayers bring out our true selves, our God-created selves.  It doesn’t mean we don’t stand up to hatred and violence.  It means we prepare ourselves before we respond and we keep within us Jesus’ spirit of generosity and compassion as we’re confronting the opposite around us.

May our small community always respond to fear by taking heart, praying together, and allowing our breathing to slow as we’re guided to make room for more conversation, compassion, and gratitude.

With you peacefully, simply, together,           
Debbie

Finances at Ellisforde

As we know, finances were difficult at Ellisforde during our last time apart, as we are more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. So we are grateful for your donations as you continue to support our ministry in whatever creative way you can during these challenging times! Please prayerfully consider what you can give. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

New Book Study on Racism beginning in September

A group of us met for 6 weeks to study the book, White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, by Robin Di Angelo.  Our conversations were rich and participants included Church of the Brethren friends and others outside our tradition. We have decided to continue our conversations about race with a new book by Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: the Origins of our Discontents.We will begin in mid September. You can order the book through Amazon and other outlets.  It’s also available as an ebook and on kindle.  Please let me know if you’re interested. I will send out the zoom link as our meeting date gets closer.

Here is a brief blurb about her book:
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson says racism is an insufficient term for the systemic oppression of Black people in America. Instead, she prefers to refer to America as having a “caste” system. She describes caste an artificial hierarchy that helps determine standing and respect, assumptions of beauty and competence, and even who gets benefit of the doubt and access to resources. She states, “Caste is the term that is more precise [than race]; it is more comprehensive, and it gets at the underlying infrastructure that often we cannot see, but that is there undergirding much of the inequality and injustices and disparities that we live with in this country.”

In our Prayers
Dale Swedberg as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
Miriam Caddy as she waits for more testing and procedures to help with her back pain.
Cara Johnson and her mother, Eleanor as Eleanor’s continues to decline.
Kay Sibley as she and Mike rejoice in a successful cardioversion for her last week.
Ralph and Leona Longenecker as they are grappling with some life changes.
Others?  Please let Debbie know.


Week 16 Reflection

One of the lectionary readings for yesterday was from the Hebrew book of Jeremiah, and Jeremiah’s response to one of the court prophets, named Hananiah, who assured the king that all was well when Babylonia had conquered the kingdom of Judah and those in Jerusalem were safe for the time being, but before long would be exiled from Judah and moved to Babylonia.  So really things were far from well.  Hananiah was a prophet paid by the king and so prophesied according to what the king expected.  Jeremiah, on the other hand, was not a paid prophet and his words came from what Yahweh instructed him to tell his people.    

But whom do we believe when prophets tell us different things?  That is the question that comes up for me in this reading: how do we know truth from falsehood?  We have Hananiah’s words on the one hand, and Jeremiah’s on the other. History will eventually show us what’s true and what’s false, but as we’re living in the midst of different accounts and directives, how do we know whom we should believe?  In the case of the people of Judah living in Jerusalem shortly before the fall of their city, how would they know which prophet was really speaking the truth?

Jeremiah encouraged the people to discern truth from falsehood in all that surrounded them – in the unfair labor practices of the king while the king’s prophets were assuring them everything was fine; in Judah’s national overthrow by Babylonia, even though Babylonia allowed the court system in the city of Jerusalem to continue (for the time being), while the king’s prophets were assuring them everything was fine; in the royal court’s turning a blind eye to what it took to lead with righteousness and mercy as the court’s prophets were assuring them everything was fine.

In hindsight, one of the problems we see with Judah is that they had lost their way when it came to living out discernment.  We have a similar problem presently.  We react quickly to what we hear on either side of issues that are in front of us.  We decide whose side we’re on, and then we accuse the other side of being out of sync with reality, and we also often assume God is on our side.  The same was true with the leadership of Judah.  Hananiah used the common prophetic formula, “Thus says the Lord,” as if God was speaking through him.  So when Hananiah would say, “Thus says the Lord,” and then talk about everything being fine, the people would be confused as they recognized the prophetic formula but also didn’t trust that everything was actually fine.  Jeremiah’s response to Hananiah regarding everything being fine was basically, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Two questions the people of Judah might have asked regarding whether a prophet was false or truly prophetic was: 1) Were they paid or not, by the king? and 2) Did their words mirror the policies of the ruling body?  

In our time, Jeremiah’s overall message still holds, be discerning, practice justice, see if the results of the promise pan out.  If leaders say, “Things are fine, don’t worry!” we ask ourselves, well, are they fine?  And we also ask, how is the one promising that things are fine, benefitting in saying that things are fine?  Then we take time to discern whether or not everything’s fine like they say, by doing our homework – are the least of these, that is, the ones who are suffering the most, saying everything’s fine?  We also take time to sit in the presence of the holy and listen to what God’s spirit is saying to us.  Neither of these are easy actions, but they are important actions.  They take time because to find out the perspective of the most vulnerable we have to talk to the most vulnerable and then those who are most vulnerable have to trust that we’re listening to them.  The last kings of Judah and their prophets certainly didn’t do that.  It takes time to do that, to be in someone’s presence and convince them that you are truly concerned, that their concerns have now become your concerns.  Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet; he suffered as his people suffered.  The court prophets didn’t. It also takes time to sit in God’s presence, a commitment to free ourselves of the pressures around us so we can truly hear God’s voice.  We are not very good at either of those actions – listening, nor sitting in God’s presence. Jeremiah is a good prophet to remind us to get our priorities straight, especially in our time when we often don’t know what or whom to believe.  If we follow his directives and his example, we won’t accept news that isn’t well researched, even if it is good news.  We’ll ask who’s profiting from the good news. We’ll listen to those who are most vulnerable.  And we’ll make space in our lives to listen to the voice of the Spirit within us.  These things take time, so we mustn’t just jump in, which we’re prone to do.  In these ways we’ll be walking with Jeremiah, which isn’t always the most popular path, but it is the more discerning path.  And we certainly need discernment, in our time and in every time.

In community with you peacefully, simply, together,

Debbie

Weekly Check In and news about Worship at Church

We are planning to meet for worship in person in July!  Beginning July 12, we will have our first outdoor worship on the lawn behind the church.  In order for us to be successful in containing the virus (which could well be with us for the next year!) we will all wear face masks and practice distancing from each other. There will be extra masks available for those who don’t have their own, and there will also be hand sanitizer present. The chairs will be arranged to help us, and we will not shake hands nor hug.  But we will be so happy to be together again and work to normalize what doesn’t seem normal so we can be safe while being together.  The virus is surging in our county so we must meet with the above guidelines in place, in order to keep each other safe and well.  If you can help set up and monitor safety guidelines, please let Debbie know.

In the meantime, we will continue to check in with each other weekly, some twice a week and others once a week.  Be sure and let your caller know what you would prefer. If there are immediate needs you learn about or you would like a porch visit, please call me (509-486-2192) and I’ll stop by.

Our last Reflection/Check-In on a Weekly Basis

This will be the last time I write a weekly reflection for the time being, as we will meet together for worship on July 12.  I plan to take a vacation week next week so will not offer another Reflection/Check-In before our worship outside at the church.  I will, however, offer reflections and check-ins every other month to keep the momentum of this idea going.  Each reflection will also feature someone’s story about how they are handling this time of staying apart.  If you would like to be added to my list, let me know!  The next reflection will be in August.

Finances at Ellisforde

As we know, finances have been difficult at Ellisforde during our time apart, as we are more prone to offer financial gifts when we meet together and collect the offering, than when we are apart and have to depend on offerings coming through the mail or being left under the church office door. So we are grateful for your donations as you continue to support our ministry in whatever creative way you can during these challenging times! Please prayerfully consider what you can give. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

New Book Study on Racism beginning July 2

For those who are interested, join a zoom conversation each Thursday in July, from 7-8pm, about the book White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism.  You can order the book through Amazon and other outlets.  It’s also available as an ebook and on kindle.  Our first session is this Thursday, July 2, at 7pm. Please let me know if you’re interested.The zoom link is https://zoom.us/j/236009838       By phone, call 1-301-715-8592, then enter 236 009 838# when prompted, then # again.

In our Prayers
Bill Peterson as he continues to live at home alone and is vulnerable to falls, etc.
Dale Swedberg as he recuperates from knee replacement surgery and deals with the pain accompanying recovery .
Wayne Verbeck as he prepares for knee replacement surgery and continues to be grateful for help in his garden.
Mike Sibley as he recovers from the loss of fingers in a table saw accident
Miriam Caddy as she waits for much needed back surgery.
Ben Hylton’s family at his passing.
Jeffrey Ward (Jennifer Ward’s brother), who continues to recover from a serious head and neck injury.  His family is working to get him into a brain injury center in Toronto when there is an opening, and they feel both emotional and hopeful.
Linda Black and siblings, as they continue to process and heal from the death of their mother, Erma.
David Silvercrow, who continues to gain strength after his hospitalization and who appreciates our prayers.
Pat Hiaght, the mother of Effie Lea’s housekeeper, suffering with multiple issues and hospitalized last week.
Others?  Let Debbie know.


Week 15 Reflection

We have arrived at our 15th week of being church away from church, and in the midst of the tensions of the virus itself, as well as living among protests and counter protests regarding whose lives matter and how much (we just passed gay pride week – honoring LGBTQ folks – as well as Juneteenth – commemorating Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery), this is a good time to remind ourselves that we are an historic peace church.  Along with the Quakers and Mennonites, the Church of the Brethren has historically disagreed with the idea that the mightier we are, the safer we will be, that the bigger and tougher we look, the less anyone will want to mess with us.  When I was 18, I first learned of the Church of the Brethren as I heard the words ‘peace’ and ‘Jesus’ together in the same sentence.  I remember feeling like I had come home.

            Remember the story of God calling Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in the Hebrew book of Genesis?  The story goes that Abraham was called to kill Isaac as a sacrifice to God, and Abraham was willing to do so.  But at the last minute a ram appeared on the scene and God told Abraham to kill the ram and use that for his sacrifice instead of offering Isaac.  The most disturbing part of the story is not that it looks like Isaac was about to die, but that it is Isaac’s own father, Abraham, who was willing to kill him.  I think many of us who read that story struggle with God’s command, and we especially struggle with Abraham’s obedience.  Why would he be willing to kill his own son?

            But there are other questions this Genesis story raises as we read it in the present.  In the history of our nation, we have often sent our young men into war, and parents have expected that their sons be willing to give their lives if necessary, in service to their country.  Why is it we are appalled that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, yet many feel it’s normal for their own children to be sacrificed for our nation in the name of war?  Is it the same strain of acquiescence whereby we didn’t rise up when, in 2014, like George Floyd, Eric Garner also said, “I can’t breathe” until he died, when he was arrested and put in a choke hold for allegedly selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps? Over the years and decades, and of course much longer, when violence has been normalized both in the way we prepare for war, as well as in the way we treat various groups of people, the response has often been sadness and acceptance at the same time.  “This is just the way things are,” goes the explanation.

Well no matter how much violence and eye-for-an-eye behavior is usual in our world, the Church of the Brethren has a long history of being unusual.  Historically we have been abnormal when it comes to our response to war, and hopefully as present events unfold and we continue learning the things that make for peace, we will be as bold when we see violence done to another (be it physical or psychological).  Historically we have not been willing to believe we can end violence by going to war against our enemies.  May we continue this belief in the present, and then add to it – by continuing to learn what it means to stand up for everyone’s worth and dignity; by being courageous when we hear or witness those around us offering judgment and derision; by being creative and compassionate as was Jesus throughout his ministry when he named evil for what it was and demanded good instead; and finally, by being clear witnesses that our denominational logo, “peacefully, simply, together,” is a lifestyle as well as a description.

In community with you in the journey of that lifestyle – peacefully, simply, together,

Debbie

Weekly Check In and news about Worship at Church

We are planning to meet for worship in person in July!  Beginning July 12, we will have our first outdoor worship on the lawn behind the church.  In order for us to be successful in containing the virus (which could well be with us for the next year!) we will all wear face masks and practice distancing from each other. There will be extra masks available for those who don’t have their own, and there will also be hand sanitizer present. The chairs will be arranged to help us, and we will not shake hands nor hug.  But we will be so happy to be together again and work to normalize what doesn’t seem normal so we can be safe while being together.  The virus is surging in our county so we must meet with the above guidelines in place, in order to keep each other safe and well.

In the meantime, we will continue to check in with each other weekly, some twice a week and others once a week.  Be sure and let your caller know what you would prefer. If there are immediate needs you learn about or you would like a porch visit, please call me (509-486-2192) and I’ll stop by.

Worship by Zoom

Our last worship service by zoom will be this coming Sunday, June 28th.  I will be leading us and offering the message.  I have passed out cards of instructions for a telephone connection to the service, for those of you who can’t access the computer link.  Let me know if you would like help with that (by responding to this this email or calling me at 509-486-2192); it’s easy to practice before the service next Sunday if you would like.  We will meet for worship by zoom at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 12.  Daniel will continue to offer zoom services for Whitestone if you would like to connect to those in the following weeks.

I will send you the zoom link and phone call-in number toward the end of this week.

Finances at Ellisforde

We are grateful for your donations as you continue to support our ministry in whatever creative way you can during these challenging times! Please prayerfully consider what you can give as we grapple with getting our donations to our treasurer during a time when we are not meeting together to worship at the church. Remember that you can keep up with your giving by: 1) sending a check or money order to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S., Tonasket, WA 98855; 2) sending a check or money order to Ellisforde Church of the Brethren, 32116 Highway 97, Tonasket, WA 98855; 3) for anonymous donations, putting cash in a sealed envelope and take it to the church to slide under the office door where it will be picked up and delivered to Miriam. Thank you again for your financial support!

New Book Study on Racism beginning July 2

For those who are interested, join a zoom conversation each Thursday in July, from 7-8pm, about the book White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism.  You can order the book through Amazon and other outlets.  It’s also available as an ebook and on kindle.  Please let me know if you’re interestedI will send the zoom link later.

In our Prayers

Bill Peterson as he continues to live at home alone and is vulnerable to falls, etc.
Dale Swedberg as he recuperates from knee replacement surgery and deals with the pain accompanying recovery .
Wayne Verbeck as he prepares for knee replacement surgery and continues to be grateful for help in his garden.
Mike Sibley as he recovers from the loss of fingers in a table saw accident Miriam Caddy as she waits for much needed back surgery.
Ben Hylton’s family at his passing.
Jeffrey Ward (Jennifer Ward’s brother), who continues to recover from a serious head and neck injury.  His family is working to get him into a brain injury center in Toronto when there is an opening, and they feel both emotional and hopeful about that.
Linda Black and siblings, as they continue to process and heal from the death of their mother, Erma.
David Silvercrow, who continues to gain strength after his hospitalization and who appreciates our prayers.
Others?  Let Debbie know.