FORGING OUR FUTURE
A Letter from Pastor Andy
November 4, 2020
Dear U Park Family,
It’s Wednesday morning as I write this, and many of yesterday’s election results are still being tabulated. The sense of impending doom that pervades most of 2020 continues to hang over much of the nation; the specter of a disputed election that may take weeks to resolve is still very much with us. And of course, our pandemic numbers and the associated economic damage continue to rise in Colorado and across the nation. We continue to wrestle with poverty, racial inequity, and environmental disaster, and those issues are profoundly connected. Whoever wins our political contests in the end, we’ve seen once more how sharply our country is divided: neither presidential candidate is likely to carry a strong majority of voters, and substantial numbers of people will suspect the legitimacy of the result. In this morning’s New York Times, columnist Ross Douthat put his finger on this deeper issue: “our system’s method of uniting power with legitimacy is slowly losing both.”
Call me an irrational optimist, but I am convinced that the Church can have an important role in finding a new way forward. For the remainder of this month, we’ll be focusing in worship on an aspect of the All Saints’ Celebration we observed this past Sunday: what the apostle Paul calls “the great cloud of witnesses.” Each week, we’ll be lifting up an example of a Christian person or group who brought clarity, wisdom, and compassion to painful and chaotic times. We do this not just to contemplate the inspiriting examples of people from times past. It’s worth doing because, as Vincent Harding once said, “if we dive deeply enough into the lives of others we will surface in our own.” The Christians of times past, even those we admire most, were not superhuman. They were people like us who, confronted with grave challenges, found themselves led by God to respond in extraordinary ways.
This weekend, we’ll reflect on the legacy of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, who created one of Christianity’s very first monastic traditions. Often, our society regards monasticism as a kind of escape or retreat from the world. But that was not at all what those desert monks were doing. They understood themselves to be going to the desert to take on their society’s gravest problems – and even though today we live very much “in the world,” those 4th and 5th century people of prayer have a lot to teach us. I hope you’ll join us for one or both of our two worship opportunities this weekend. Saturday at 5:00, we’ll meet in our church courtyard for a relaxed, conversational time of worship, and Sunday at 10:00 we’ll offer our online service on our YouTube channel.
Pledges in our fall stewardship campaign continue to come in strongly – as of yesterday, we had 60 pledges for almost $212,000. Last year, our total was 62 pledges for $212,432. That means that we are less than a thousand dollars away from topping last year’s pledge total. Not only that, but 24 of this year’s pledges are “new” – that is, they’re from households who did not pledge last year. Thanks to all of you who’ve supported this campaign, and if you haven’t yet made a pledge of financial support for 2021, please consider doing so. Our goal this year is 100 pledges for a total of $300,000. It’s ambitious, but given what we’re seeing so far, it feels to me like we can get there.
Even in chaotic times, we have important opportunities to serve God and others. We are taking part in this year’s Food for All Thanksgiving Dinner drive, contributing Thanksgiving meals to families in our city who are in need. Our church has been asked to provide stuffing and $10 grocery gift cards. You can bring those by the church on Friday between 10 and 3, or contact Rahdearra Paris Woods, our children, youth, and family director at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Also, the St. Francis Center is in urgent need of volunteer help. We’ve supported St. Francis for a number of years, and they do wonderful work caring for our neighbors without homes. For more information, go to http://www.sfcdenver.org/volunteer/.
Thanks for all you do to build community and support our ministry. University Park UMC gives me hope, and we can provide that hope to others.
Grace and Peace,