Dear St. John’s,
We awake this morning to news of another mass shooting, this time in Maine. Yesterday, an incredibly fast-developing Category 5 hurricane hit Acapulco. Images of devastation in Israel and Gaza fill our television screens. War continues in Ukraine.
Sometimes the bad news seems overwhelming. And yet, as I write this, I look out the window and see the beauty of God’s creation as geese fly across a cloudless blue sky above the colorful trees of autumn. I remember that God is with us and will not abandon us, no matter what happens. God is Love, and Love has the final say. In the end, Love will win.
Let us continue to pray for peace and an end to violence and war and for a solution to the climate crisis. And let us hold fast to Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Dear St. John’s,
Today, one of our members received a text message supposedly from me, requesting them to purchase gift cards for me. THIS WAS A COMPLETE SCAM. Fortunately, she contacted me before making the purchase.
Telephone and online scams are prevalent and sophisticated these days, aided by computer technologies. Please be cautious in responding to emails or texts that don’t sound right, ask for a favor, or ask you to “email me back when you get this,” especially without reason or context. If it doesn’t sound like me, it may not be! If it’s not coming from my phone number or from my pastor or personal email, it may be a “phishing” expedition.
WHEN IN DOUBT, PLEASE CONTACT ME DIRECTLY, using my email or cell number. Below is a notice the diocese sent out after I alerted them to this incident. The link provides helpful guidelines.
From the diocese:
One of our parishes has reported that a member received the classic gift card scam via a text message purporting to be from their clergy.
Please continue to treat ALL requests to buy gift cards - or make any other type of financial transaction - with suspicion, and block the phone number or email of any identified scam.
These guidelines for email scams also hold for text scams: https://dioceseofnewark.org/geeks/whaling-email-attacks-how-foil-them
Dear St. John’s,
The news from the Middle East this past week has been heartrending. Families slaughtered, homes bombed, hostages taken. Between Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel and Israel’s retaliatory response in Gaza, more than 3,000 people reportedly have been killed. The United Nations reports that ten times that many have been displaced.
The atrocities and ongoing conflict and growing humanitarian crisis spark tears and anger. How should we respond? How can we make a difference?
Today, I called a local rabbi and asked how we could offer support. He spoke of the importance of recognizing each other’s humanity. Of teaching love not hate.
His message was exactly the kind of words that the Rabbi we follow spoke 2,000 years ago, when he told us to love our neighbors.
He also urged us to contact any Jewish friends we have to ask how they are doing and let them know we support them.
I encourage you to follow his advice and to continue to pray for peace to the one who created and loves us all.
I conclude with a prayer from another rabbi that a friend posted on Facebook, along with a beautiful photograph of three young boys representing the three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – standing shoulder to shoulder on a balcony in Jerusalem. May such images of peace soon replace those of war now filling our screens.
Two peoples, one land,
Three faiths, one root,
One earth, one mother,
One sky, one beginning, one future, one destiny,
One broken heart,
We pray to You:
Grant us a vision of unity.
May we see the many in the one and the one in the many.
May you, Life of All the Worlds,
Source of All Amazing Differences
Help us to see clearly.
Guide us gently and firmly toward each other,
Toward peace. Amen.
Rabbi Sheila Weinberg
Jewish Community of Amherst, Amherst, MA
P.S. -- Don't forget to bring food this Sunday to donate to the local food pantry. This Sunday also is the last day to donate scratch-off lottery tickets for the Oct. 22 tricky tray.
Dear St. John’s,
I hope you all will be able to come on Sunday to hear Peeka Trenkle preach at the Morning Prayer service at 10:30 a.m. as we complete our observance of Creation Season.
Some of you may know Peeka as a member of Church of the Saviour in Denville and a participant in the Got Faith! program. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is a licensed preacher in the Diocese of Newark, and her preaching centers around Creation Care.
I am taking some time off through next Tuesday. I am, however, still available to respond to pastoral emergencies during this time.
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