FORGING OUR FUTURE
A Letter from Pastor Andy
September 9, 2020
Dear U Park Family,
One of the many things I loved about growing up in Alaska was that my surroundings provided constant reminders of our place in the order of creation. Near my house was a hillside that afforded a view of Anchorage, 15 miles away. Anchorage is the biggest city in Alaska, with nearly half of the state’s population. It sprawls for miles, as earthquakes and a basic desire for space have inspired Alaskans to build out rather than up. But sitting on the hillside, the city looked like a little collection of streets and buildings engulfed in forest, mountains, and ocean. That view reminded me of how small we ultimately are.
That’s not to say that our actions can’t change things, for better or worse. For the past 70 years or so, human beings have had the power to end all life on earth. We also have the power to nurture and love life here on our beautiful planet. But despite that awesome power and responsibility, none of us is in control of our individual lives or surroundings. We’ve had ample reminders of that lately: the coronavirus, the wildfires, and over the past few days a temperature drop that may have broken a 148 year record. We try to reassure ourselves that we are masters of our destiny, that our will can triumph in the end. But there’s so much in our lives over which we have no control.
That lack, and the fear and wonder to which it leads us, is a prominent theme in the Bible. This week, we’ll start a three-week sermon series focusing on Psalms, entitled “Opening the Prayer Book.” The Psalms were the hymnal of the ancient Jewish Temple, and for the early church they served as both hymnal and prayer book. In worship this week, we’ll be looking at Psalm 6, which is a plea to God for help and healing. I hope you’ll join us in worship as we encounter the Prayers and the attitudes to which Psalms can lead us in a time that so often feels dangerously out of control.
This week, we’ll also be offering our two evening in-person worship services. The first will be Thursday evening at 6:00 P.M., and the second will be Saturday at 5:00 P.M. Both will be held in the church courtyard unless weather drives us indoors, in which case we’ll be sitting apart from one another indoors. These services are capped at 15 people to minimize the risk of contagion, and all present will be wearing masks and maintain distance from one another. You can sign up on SignUpGenius to attend.
As the school year begins across the country, let’s keep our nation’s children and college students, and all educators and education staff in our prayers. Already, we’re seeing news of climbing COVID-19 rates in some universities and school districts across the nation; my prayer is that the infection rate will be kept under control.
I’m sure that we’re all aware also of the tidal wave of evictions and homelessness that have resulted from the economic damage wreaked by the pandemic. Habitat for Humanity has asked us to provide four volunteers on October 17 for their ongoing build in Denver’s Swansea neighborhood, as they gather communities to build decent housing for people in need. If you’d like to volunteer, sign up at uparkumc.denver.volunteerhub.com. All participants must register online at least two weeks in advance, by October 2nd. COVID-19 precautions will be strictly followed on all Habitat builds. If we have more than four people interested, Habitat will schedule an additional time for us in late October or early November. For more information or to make donations to the build, please contact Barb Philipp or get in touch with Kevin Flomberg-Rollins at the church office.
Finally, a number of us have asked about a University Park Memorial for Reda Walsh, who passed away a little more than two weeks ago. Her funeral was held last Friday at Olinger Chapel Hill. We will be hosting a memorial gathering as well, also available online. It will be a time of honoring and remembering Reda, and I’ll keep you posted as to the details.
Thanks for being the kind and compassionate community you are – honoring the saints and continuing the work they inspired.
Grace and Peace,