Virtual Reflections

November 23rd, 2020 Reflection

As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured… I will feed them with justice.

Ezekiel 34

…he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.  Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come you that are blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’  

Matthew 25

This passage in Matthew is a favorite in the church.  The emphasis on service and walking one’s talk is rooted in this passage.  “…when you do it to the least of these, you do it to me…”  I try to live by these verses, and I know you do also.  But as many of you know, I get to the words associating goats with eternal damnation, and it always gives me pause.  It doesn’t seem quite fair, and yet today I will try not to be so hard on the Matthew passage just because it has a small section where the author doesn’t realize the benefit of goats, and I’m thinking maybe where I don’t realize the full benefit of sheep. 

Shepherding is one of the oldest human occupations, and sheep and goats were by far the dominant herd animals in the ancient near east.  Shepherds and sheep were so fundamentally part of those ancient cultures that kings were often referred to as ‘shepherds of the people.’  So no wonder we have references in both books of the bible to either God as a shepherd or to religious leaders as shepherds, and to God’s people as sheep.  But I’m still niggled by Matthew feeling the need to put goats on the left and sheep on the right.  Both of these animals had prominent places in antiquity.  For the ritual of blood sacrifice, first unblemished and undomesticated sheep were used, then later goats, and later still, rams, bulls, oxen, and heifers.  Both sheep and goats could be considered either clean or unclean, depending on how they were raised and killed.  Sheep may have been the Hebrews first sacrificial animal because Israel’s enemy at the time, Egypt, had as their astrological symbol Aries, the Ram, which Egypt worshipped.  Thus Egypt abstained from eating, killing and sacrificing sheep, their most precious symbol.  Scholars think perhaps this is why sheep were the original animals chosen for Hebrew sacrifice, simply because offering them was what would most repulse their enemy Egypt.  None of this information makes sheep more valuable than goats.  But there is a clue I think, if we consider who Matthew was writing to and what was at stake when he was writing.

Matthew was addressing Jewish Christians living in Palestine toward the end of the first century.  The Jewish community as a whole was encountering tremendous pressure and anxiety because they had set up this major revolt against Rome in Jerusalem, and Rome had found out about it and had squelched it.  So Rome was coming down harder than ever against the Jews.  In the midst of this, Jewish Christians were trying to figure out who they were both as Jews and as followers of Jesus.  The Pharisees were considered the Jewish religious authority of their day. That wasn’t yet true during the time of Jesus, but 40 or 50 years later when Matthew wrote his gospel, the Pharisees had risen as religious leaders among the Jewish community.  And here comes this small group of “Christ-following-Jews” who elevate Jesus to the place of religious authority to replace the pharisees, and so there are tensions between those in the Jewish community who want things to remain the way they are, and those in the Jewish community who now call themselves Christians but who are also very much still Jews.  The writer of Matthew is one of these Jewish Christians, and he is writing to comfort and especially to guide them through this perilous time.

            With goats being more leader-like, and sheep being more follow-like (those of you who live on ranches or farms, have you ever found a neighbor’s goat in your pasture? A neighbor’s sheep? Yes for the former; no for the latter?  Bingo!)  Goats are inquisitive, playful, and energetic, sometimes annoyingly so.  Sheep, on the other hand, are generally more content to stay where they are put without resisting.  They are not as inquisitive as goats, nor do they push the boundaries like goats do.

            In Matthew’s time, when not only Christian existence but Jewish existence was at stake, the community’s survival depended on towing the line without deviating.  So Matthew put together a kind of faith survival kit, teaching them how to be in this world in order for their new faith tradition to survive.  And that’s how it is when you’re in survival mode.  You walk on tip toes, making sure every i is dotted and every t crossed, because if you don’t, it’s not only you who might be affected, but your whole community.  And I’m imagining that’s why Matthew might have divided the sheep from the goats.  It was a time when being faithful followers of the Christ meant walking a very narrow path.  Sheep do that better than goats.  Matthew reminded the community of three things 1. There is a responsibility to care for each other, and  2.  There are those who have not cared for them (the Romans?  the Jewish authorities who were trying to crush the new Christian Jewish movement?) Therefore 3. Walk the narrow path for the survival of their faith.  So I can see why, in this case, they were encouraged to be sheep-like.  Sheep are more likely to follow orders and not rock the boat.

            However, is sheep the best descriptor of us as a body of faith?  In other words, should we always be sheep?  Think about Jesus’ life, when he met and spoke to not only a Samaritan, but a Samaritan woman at the well; when he pointed out a Samaritan, Israel’s enemy, as exemplifying a good neighbor; when he healed on the Sabbath, work that was against Jewish law.  In all these cases his point was more about love and compassion than it was about following a strict religious code.  So we can’t say that Jesus didn’t break the rules, that he didn’t live outside the box, that he was more sheep than goat. 

            I am grateful today for that which gives me pause and makes me consider that maybe there is more to discover than I am at first willing to see. When is it that Jesus calls us to be sheep, and when is it that he calls us to be goats?  We know he always calls us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit the sick and those in prison, and that whatever we do to the least of these is to do likewise to him.  In the midst of being loving and merciful followers, there are times when we are called to be content and submissive, and other times when we are to shake things up with creativity and boldness.  Our task is always to love our neighbor as ourselves, but to do so in the way we hear God calling me and you in each moment – perhaps sometimes as sheep and sometimes as goats.  If we always respond as sheep, then we might miss new opportunities for creative thinking and new vision.  If we always respond as goats, we might tend to destroy more than we mend.  When I think of the state of our world, when I think of some of things that are done in the name of religion, when I think of our inability or often refusal to find a civilized and compassionate response to the chaos around us, well we have such a long way to go to living out the love and compassion that Jesus taught us.  Let’s not get stuck in the rules, and let’s not live only for rebellion, always in the fast lane.  Let’s be grateful and discerning at the same time.  How is God calling you, in this moment?  How is God calling us to be disciples during this Thanksgiving season?

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

Our Finances

Our outside clean-up is done!  When you’re driving by the church sometime check out Curt’s work.  He cleaned out the hedges, trimmed, raked, and hauled debris.  If you are willing to donate $5, $10, $20 on behalf of this effort, please send your checks to the church or to Miriam Caddy with “outside cleanup” written on the memo line.  Thank you for your continued donations for our general fund as we continue to be the church without in-person worship!

In Person Worship postponed, again.

Due to the rapidly rising number of Covid 19 cases in our county and across the U.S., we will postpone resuming in-person worship in December.  We wanted to wait to see how the virus is faring in the colder month of November before making a final decision, and it’s not looking good at all.  The Leadership Team has made the decision to wait, probably until at least February.  This is not news we want to hear, but it is important to stay safe and to be a witness to others in our county that we are listening and heeding advise from science and health professionals.  Our own nursing home is a good example that as diligent as we try to be, this virus can sneak in.  So let’s be wise and continue to be safe.

Immigration Relief Fund

The WA Immigrant Solidarity Network has received a grant and will offer up to $3000 for immigrant families who have been affected by Covid 19 – illness, loss of work, hardship, etc.  Yuri Obeso began her work last week, signing up families in the Tonasket/Oroville area for this award.  If you know anyone who could benefit from this grant, Yuri will be in the narthex at the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren weekdays through Dec 6 to help with the application process.  Please pass this information on to those you know who could benefit from it.  It’s great to have our building used in this way, and there’s not much time to find the applicants who might benefit from this grant!

Church Council Meeting, by Zoom, set for Dec. 13.  Keep this date in mind and expect further information about it soon.

Zoom Worship in November/December

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.  So next Monday, November 30, there will not be a reflection/check-in sent out by email nor delivered.

December 6, 2nd Sunday of Advent, Daniel will lead worship and preach.

December 13, 3rd Sunday of Advent, Daniel will lead worship; Debbie and Daniel will share the message.

December 20, 4th Sunday of Advent, Daniel will lead worship and preach.

December 27, Christmas Sunday, Debbie will lead worship and preach.

In our Prayers

-Lucy and Ivan had their baby!  Immanuel Rodriguez, born Nov 4, 9lbs!  Mother and baby are doing well and we join mom, dad, sister, and extended family in celebrating this wonderful birth!
-Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with swelling and pain, 7+months and medical opinions after knee replacement surgery.
-Martha Meadowlark, as she continues to prepare for her court date, around Dec. 12.  Martha asks that we pray for all those who are part of the court system – judges, legal teams, juries, defendants, and all who work in this system or find themselves there.  This often overlooked and/or ignored essential system needs are gratitude and our prayers.
Cecile Klayton, Daniel’s mom and their family, as she waits for the results of a second biopsy on her thyroid.
-The Tonasket Food Bank, as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need.  We have gone from the usual 150 families served each week to well over 200.  Last week families numbered 269, and we expect close to 300 or more for the Thanksgiving pick up next week.
North Valley Extended Care Staff and Residents as many residents and staff have now tested positive for Covid 19.
Two Hispanic churches in Brewster that were arsoned last week, a Baptist church and a Catholic church. These arsons are being investigated as possible hate crimes.
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.


November 16th, 2020 Reflection

“Don’t even get me started” is a common phrase we hear and we use, mostly for issues that haven’t gone our way, thus which we feel we have plenty to complain about regarding their outcome.  I can’t tell you how many times I have used that phrase, and as recently as last evening I heard it used.  I was talking to one of my lane neighbors who had attended a Halloween party where her friends did not wear masks nor were conscious about distancing because “we’re all healthy and have strong immune systems,” she said.  I responded with some distress and mentioned that with a new president we might be getting more pressure to comply with health mandates in order to get this virus under control.  And that’s where her, “Don’t even get me started!” came from.  I fretted about her comment for the remainder of the evening, not just because we voted for different presidential candidates and her’s is a different perspective than mine, but because I don’t know how to talk to her, how to be safe in her company when we’re chatting, how to stop judging her because I feel that her perspective is not what will get us through this virus – that she is simply not willing to consider the research and the facts (“as I, of course, am willing to do,” I say to myself).

In the class I’m teaching through Bethany, many of the Nigerian students are struggling with the ideas of forgiveness and reconciliation when the harm that has been done to them is so extreme.  They often ask us in the class, “What comes first, reconciliation, forgiveness, or reparations for the wrongs done to us by our government?”  The rest of us in the class are at a loss, partly because we cannot imagine the suffering they have gone through, and partly because we ourselves struggle with forgiveness and reconciliation also with those who will never agree with us and whom we feel have attitudes that harm us and/or others.  At the same time we long for a breakthrough in our communication.  How do we try to hear each other when we disagree?  The stronger are our feelings and emotions, the more difficult it seems to be.

In Daniel’s preaching from James in yesterday’s Zoom service, he mentioned that wisdom can be seen by her fruits, that we can’t do harm to others, even in our hearts, and at the same time be turned toward God (my paraphrase of his words).  In Desmond Tutu’s book, No Future Without Forgiveness, he told a story about a woman whose young child was murdered.  She wrote to him later, “However justified, our unforgiveness undoes us.  Anger, hatred, resentment, bitterness, revenge – they are death-dealing spirits, and they will ‘take our lives’ on some level.  I believe the only way we can be whole, healthy persons is to learn to forgive… Though I would not have chosen it so, the first person to receive a gift of life from the death of my daughter…was me.”

            But even with her powerful words, forgiveness and reconciliation still cannot be rushed, and they can’t be decided by one person for another person. The person forgiving or willing to be reconciled must carefully consider and prepare in order for their action to be sincere, hopefully received, and sometimes even life changing.  Besides James’ New Testament instruction for wisdom to be seen by its outward signs like peacefulness, gentleness, mercy and humility, wisdom is also accompanied by inner preparation and patience, the willingness to wait as well as the well-honed intuition to know when it is time to act.  For me, I think I will begin by letting the phrase, “Don’t even get me started,” go.  Rather than reacting to my neighbor with frustration, judgement and distance, it might be more helpful to both of us to hear her out, to pray for openness for me as well as for her, to ask Wisdom to guide my thoughts as well as my words, and to ask her if we can talk about these issues that are dear to both of us but which lie on different ends of the spectrum.

            I wonder what issues and struggles come up for you in these days that have completely overturned our usual routines and comfort levels.                   

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

Our Finances

Our outside clean-up is done!  When you’re driving by the church sometime check out Curt’s work.  He cleaned out the hedges, trimmed, raked, and hauled debris.  If you are willing to donate $5, $10, $20 on behalf of this effort, please send your checks to the church or to Miriam Caddy with “outside cleanup” written on the memo line. 

Thank you for your continued donations for our general fund as we continue to be the church without in-person worship!

In Person Worship likely postponed, again.

Due to the rapidly rising number of Covid 19 cases in our county and across the U.S., we will likely postpone resuming in-person worship in December.  We wanted to wait to see how the virus is faring in the colder month of November before making a final decision, and it’s not looking good at all.  The Leadership Team has not made a final decision but I fully expect a consensus on waiting until at least February.  This is not news we want to hear, but it is important to stay safe and to be a witness to others in our county that we are listening and heeding advise from science and health professionals.  I continue to welcome your thoughts about this.

Immigration Relief Fund

The WA Immigrant Solidarity Network has received a grant and will offer up to $3000 for immigrant families who have been affected by Covid 19 – illness, loss of work, hardship, etc.  Yuri Obeso began her work last week, signing up families in the Tonasket/Oroville area for this award.  If you know anyone who could benefit from this grant, Yuri will be in the narthex at the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren weekdays through Dec 6 to help with the application process.  Please pass this information on to those you know who could benefit from it.  It’s great to have our building used in this way, and there’s not much time to find the applicants who might benefit from this grant!

Daniel has started a weekly Zoom room for one hour each Friday, from 6:30-7:30pm.  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!

Our Pacific Northwest District Church of the Brethren is celebrating the hiring of Daniel as our new part-time administrative assistant!  We are so pleased to have Daniel’s tech and writing skills formally used on behalf of our churches and our district, as well as his personable manner of relating to all of us.  Congratulations, Daniel!

Church Council Meeting, by Zoom, set for Dec. 13.  Keep this date in mind and expect further information about it soon.

Zoom Worship for the remainder of November

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.  So on Monday, November 30, there will not be a reflection/check-in sent out by email nor delivered.

In our Prayers

-Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with swelling and pain, 7+months and medical opinions after knee replacement surgery.
-Martha Meadowlark, as she continues to prepare for another court trial, beginning the first week of December.
Cecile Klayton, Daniel’s mom and their family, as she waits for the results of a second biopsy on her thyroid.
-The Tonasket Food Bank, as we continue to juggle volunteers during this pandemic, and as clients are in more need.
North Valley Extended Care Staff and Residents as several have now tested positive for Covid 19.
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.


November 9th, 2020 Reflection

Wisdom is radiant and unfading. She is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her…To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care…”                 

Wisdom of Solomon 6: 12, 15

The words in the above passage were written to a Hellenistic community in Alexandria two or three generations before the birth of Jesus, at a time when the political and religious worlds were rapidly changing.  The author, likely a Jew of Greek descent and influence, was reminding the Jews to open an avenue for reflective discernment, that to get through the changing and often worrisome times, they needed to make space for Wisdom, and that when they did, they would find they could breathe easier.  The translation of wisdom in Greek is ‘Sophia,’ a feminine rooted word, as is ‘Chokma,’ the word for wisdom in Hebrew.  Sophia/Chokma instructs us throughout the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament to make space for her, to wait before we jump in.  This is not necessarily a passive waiting – like simply bearing concern and misfortune along with the lack of clarity and chaos, patiently and without questions or conversations.  That’s not what Wisdom-waiting is about.  Wisdom-waiting includes perseverance, integrity, and listening for God’s spirit to guide us, to be willing to be instructed by praying with our every breath, by getting ourselves into a spirit where we can listen and take in the guidance of the divine.  We can’t listen deeply, we can’t focus on our breathing, we can’t open ourselves to the spirit within us if we are so bogged down with reacting to the chaos and sometimes the violence around us that we are simply paralyzed or critical of that which we don’t approve.  And of course there is plenty not to approve of – one of the worst examples of violence I read at the end of last week was a suggestion encouraging the top researcher for the Center for Disease Control, Dr. Anthony Fauci’s head to be severed and put on a pole outside the Whitehouse along with another federal official’s, similar to Roman displays of what could happen with dissent or criticism of Roman authority.  That’s a horrific example of inciting violence, and we are surrounded by worrying examples these days.

During Roman occupation with Hellenistic influence, it often felt like everything was in flux.  The people couldn’t find solid ground and when that happens in our lives we often lash out at whomever we feel is keeping us off balance.  But lashing out is not the way of Sophia.  Perhaps especially when we can’t find our feet, maybe that’s the most important time for us in the church to offer another way forward.  We must be examples on behalf of Sophia, on behalf of Wisdom.  We mustn’t react without reflection over what disturbs us.  This doesn’t mean we sit still and assume God is in charge and will take care of us without us lifting a finger, that our thoughts and our input and our energy aren’t important. Afterall, we are God’s hands and God’s feet and God’s heart in this world.  So as Sophia calls us to be reflective, and to wait for her wisdom to guide us, we wait with the strength of humility and of self control, and also of generosity and of compassionate love.  We read at the end of chapter 6 in Wisdom of Solomon, “the desire for wisdom leads to the kingdom.” In this spirit when we’re ready to act, we do so knowing our actions are filled with Sophia, and that they represent the Christ who is our prime example of New Testament wisdom.  Our waiting is more robust than it is passive; it’s more about the opportunity to grow in discernment than it is about giving in or giving up.  May we be filled with Sophia in the days ahead, as we anticipate a change in our political process and as we hope for a future that represents God’s call to righteous living, and which also represents God’s very breath in each of us.

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

Our Finances

Would you be willing to donate for outside cleanup?  Our outside clean-up person is ready to work and we are still hoping to raise most of the funds we need to hire him.  We have received some donations and are looking for a little more.  Are you willing to donate $5, $10, $20 on behalf of this effort?  If so, please send your checks to the church or to Miriam Caddy with “outside cleanup” written on the memo line.  Thank you also for your continued donations for our general fund as we continue to be the church without in-person worship!

In Person Worship being Considered

Please weigh in on whether we should resume in-person worship beginning the second Sunday in December.  We would like to see how the virus is faring in the colder month of November before making a final decision.  (So far it’s not looking good in the U.S.) 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.

Immigration Relief Fund

The WA Immigrant Solidarity Network has received a grant and will offer up to $3000 for immigrant families who have been affected by Covid 19 – illness, loss of work, hardship, etc.  This info was passed on to me and we have contacted a woman who worked on the Census in our county, Yuri Obeso, who has now been hired by the network to solicit applicants in the Tonasket/Oroville area.  If you know anyone who could benefit from this grant, Yuri will be at the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren weekdays through Dec 6 to help with the application process.  Please pass this information on to those you know who could benefit from it.  It’s great to have our building used in this way, and there’s not much time to find the applicants who might benefit from this grant!

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 Friday, from 6:30-7:30pm.  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!

Church Council Meeting, possibly by Zoom, set for Dec. 13.  Keep this date in mind and expect further information about it soon.

Zoom Worship for the remainder of November

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.  So on Monday, November 30, there will not be a reflection/check-in sent out by email nor delivered.

Our zoom link and phone number for Worship: 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 swelling and pain, 7+months and medical opinions after knee replacement surgery.
-Martha Meadowlark, as she continues to prepare for her court dates, which looks like it will now be the first week of December.
-Miriam Caddy, who had the procedure last week to implant a stimulator permanently.  This is proving to be a great relief for her pain, for which we are grateful.  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 inconclusive 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.


November 2nd, 2020 Reflection

Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob and chiefs of the house of Israel,
who abhor justice and pervert all equity, 10 who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong! 11 Its rulers give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, its prophets give oracles for money; yet they lean upon the Lord and say, “Surely the Lord is with us!  No harm shall come upon us.” 12 Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.         

Micah 3: 9-12

Tomorrow we await the presidential election result in the U.S., as well as myriad state election results.  It’s been a hard year in all kinds of ways, including a difficult political year.  So I thought I’d share this passage from Micah about leadership and the reminder to be mindful about the way we follow leaders, as well as the way we are leaders ourselves.  Micah was one of four 8th century prophets who was a member of the laboring class and came from a small village just south of Jerusalem.  Like Amos before him, Micah was concerned about socioeconomic injustice.  Following religious protocol – going to the temple, offering tithes, bowing before God – worship without social justice was meaningless, and he publicly defended shepherds and poor farmers whose lands were being expropriated by the rich.

Micah lists four characteristics that identify bad leaders:

1. They lie- they insist that all is well as long as they are well, even when the majority are not. 

2. They alter or modify equity, which means they are not ignorant of what they’re doing; they know that altering equity means they’re prospering at the expense of those who aren’t because in their view there isn’t enough for everyone.  

3. They build their cities and nations with the blood, sweat and tears of the people they claim to lead.

4. They declare, “the Lord is with us,” which has always been a tactic used to control and confuse religious people. 

These four characteristics are also how we today test whether our leaders are just or unjust.  Do they lie?  Do they manipulate equity?  Do they govern by the blood, sweat and tears of those they have power over?  Do they insist God is on their side? 

These four characteristics happen so often in our history of both political and even religious leadership that I often wonder how in the world we stop this pattern.  We ourselves make the same mistakes, with our own hubris, our putting ourselves before others, our need to make sure our ways are the ones that become everyone’s ways.  We often have this idea, sometimes a bit unconsciously, that, ‘well, this is the way we do things here,’ and that’s the end of it.  So Micah leaves us with some guidelines in not doing what is usually done, because the norm is often not helpful for everyone.  Micah’s God, and our God, calls us to look out for each other always.

A close colleague of mine reminded his church last week that tomorrow our nation will do something that no nation ever did in biblical times, that is, elect the leaders who govern us.  In Micah’s time, and before and after, Israel was ruled by those who often claimed the throne by violence or hereditary succession.  The people didn’t have an opportunity to choose their own kings, though they did evaluate their kings.  My friend gave examples of various passages where the king was evaluated with the same criteria Mycah evaluated leadership, namely doing good or evil “in the sight of the Lord” – good actions exemplified by acting on behalf of the people, being generous, resisting decrees which would benefit the elite at the expense of the people, ruling with wisdom.

In our time, as we choose the leaders who govern us, may we choose those whose qualities represent good leadership.  And then may we pray that they govern accordingly.

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

Special Financial Request

Would you be willing to donate $10-20 for outside cleanup? 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.  We have a promise of $120 so far!  We’re looking for another $60.

In Person Worship being Considered

Please weigh in on whether we should resume in-person worship beginning the second Sunday 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.

Immigration Relief Fund

The WA Immigrant Solidarity Network has received a grant and will offer up to $3000 for immigrant families who have been affected by Covid 19 – illness, loss of work, hardship, etc.  This info was passed on to me and we have contacted a woman who worked on the Census in our county, Yuri Obeso, who has now been hired by the network to solicit applicants in the Tonasket/Oroville area.  If you know anyone who could benefit from this grant, Yuri will be at the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren weekdays to help with the application process.  Please pass this information on to those you know who could benefit from it.  It’s great to have our building used in this way!

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 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

-Dale Swedberg, as he continues to deal with the pain accompanying his knee replacement surgery.
-Miriam Caddy, who will have the procedure this week to implant a stimulator 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 waited 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 inconclusive 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.