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On Being Church - a blog

This is the third of seven Monday meditations during Commitment (pledging) Season on Building the Beloved Community. This week Renee Elder offers a reflection on the Beeloved Community Garden & the Courtyard.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Psalms 133:1

The Psalm quoted above as our theme for the season at first struck me as merely wishful thinking, considering the state of the world we live in. Far from showing unity, God’s people seem to inhabit a place where criticism and conflict are our daily bread. From individual acts of violence, to displays of aggression and harsh words between leaders of nations, our people seem bent on stirring up strife instead of pursuing peace.

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Some thoughts as we mark the beginning of the Reformation 500 years later.

This week marks the beginning of our month-long celebration of Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses. The story goes that he nailed this list of theological grievances to the castle chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany. There is some discussion about whether or not he actually nailed the document to the church doors (which did, in fact, act as a community notice board) or circulated his Theses to church leaders, but there is no discussion about the centrality of this moment in the life of the church. Martin Luther’s challenge to the church began a Reformation that spawned denominations and reformed the Catholic Church from the inside out. But, how does it inform who we are today – 500 years later in 2017?

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Written by Emily Beaver, PCM Leadership Team, Sophomore at NC State

It is Shackathon time! Every year NC State hosts a week long benefit for Habitat for Humanity, where college students come together and build shacks that they stay in 24/7 ALL WEEK! Presbyterian Campus Ministry joins forces to help build, man, and fundraise for the Unity Shack. The Unity Shack is an interfaith shack that is a joint effort between Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Better Together. Better Together is an interfaith group at NC State that brings together students of all faith, and works to promote equality and understanding of all different religions.

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Written by Amy Veatch

I’ve been working on this essay for months, ask Marietta Wynands or any of the other Youth Design Team members, Elizabeth Battle, Lauren Cochran, or Drew Rick-Miller. At each one of our meetings, and in occasional in-between emails, Marietta asks me if I’ve finished it or not. I reply that I’ve almost got it. She is patient and faithful in her reply and encouragement. After six starts and many months, this one is it, yes, this is it! What has kept me from getting it finished is sort of a mystery to me. I would faithfully start and, then yuck, it wasn’t what I wanted to say, or I couldn’t finish it. My reasons for failure, I think, involve the importance of the topic, how many things I have to say about it, and how hard it is to evaluate. What is the topic of this essay that Marietta has so faithfully waited read? The topic is faith; how we get it, how do we keep it going, and what we do to instill it in our children. The Youth Design Team has been studying how to support faith development and continuity for the youth of our church. We’ve looked at studies, read books, told our own stories, asked others to tell their stories, talked with young children, school aged children, and teenagers, and their parents. We meet most months to look at what we are doing well at WRPC, and what we want to be doing better. We make plans and go over strategies for building faith in our kids, with the hope that it has an impact.

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This time last week, we were marveling at God’s glory revealed in creation as we shared our stories of the eclipse. This week we are watching in horror at the destructive power of creation as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall for a second time in four days and the rains continue to fall from Texas to Louisiana. Almost everyone knows someone who lives in affected areas. On Sunday Terry Apter led the Installation of Officers for the Presbyterian Women; on Monday she asked for prayers for her sister, Jennifer, who lost everything to the flood.

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For a few minutes, maybe an hour on Monday, the world slowed down in order to look up into the heavens. Some folks left home over the weekend; or set out early on Monday to be in the Path of Totality. Others went to the roof top, the backyard, the Brickyard or the courtyard to catch a glimpse of the Great American Eclipse of 2017. There was so much that was beautiful about Monday – the heavens declared the glory of God and the firmament proclaimed God’s handiwork! But, something of heaven happened on the ground too. America divided, looked up and, for at least one important moment, saw herself (ourselves) as one Nation under God.

Below is a devotion written by Mary Ellen Taylor for the Presbyterian Women Coordinating Team on Tuesday, then adapted for West Raleigh’s blog, On Being Church. It is a beautiful reflection on her eclipse experience. There are many other experiences that bear witness to what happens on the ground when we take the time to look up. Please, please share those experiences by adding a comment so that we can re-member that eclipse moment and let it shape our common future.

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