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A Letter from the Interim Associate Pastor to Presbytery

November 23, 2011

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 150:6

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Tree Swallow, Hooded Merganser, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Barred Owl, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Green Heron, American Redstart, Brown Thrasher, Orchard Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Mockingbird, Greater Yellowlegs, Pittsburgh Penguin....

These are a mere sampler of the 400 kinds of birds that have graced our Commonwealth throughout the years. They are among the 800 species of North American birds. I plan to use a long list of the Feathered -- some of their names read aloud, some of their images projected on a screen, some recordings of their song, some printed in the Sunday bulletin as a Call for the Offering during worship.

As Reformed Christians our giving is thanks-giving. We give, not to curry favor from God, but to say thank you for what God has already done. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus, cites the birds of the air as recipients of God's care, although they do nothing to earn it. They do not sow or harvest; they do not put up crops for the winter. Even our great Bald Eagle cannot earn money to shop at the Giant Eagle. Yet God feeds them. Praise the Lord.

Every week we have the opportunity to rejoice in God's abundant gifts to us, to celebrate Thanksgiving in worship.  We can also cultivate a spirit of thanks-giving in our daily walk of faith.

What I am praying for deeply in this season is to be a gift to churches in helping them to recognize God's care and their many blessings in the midst of economic challenges. I also pray that we can all recognize the God-given gift that we are to one another, individuals and churches. I pray to see with the eyes of Christ.

In his novel, Child Wonder, Ray Jacobsen writes about nine-year-old Finn, a boy living in Norway on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Finn has seen a Mark II Jaguar at a car show. It costs $49,300 Norwegian kroner. At his tender age, Finn is somehow able to recognize that that the cost of the car is worth an entire block of housing where he lives. He thinks of the car being worth the homes of "76 alive and kicking human beings of all ages." He thinks of all the "faces and voices, the estate's discordant choir,...their bodies, clothes and movements as they sit there with their shirtsleeves rolled up, eating dinner and arguing or laughing or crying or keeping their mouths shut and chewing thirty-two times on each side." And he asks "What can a Jaguar have to compare with all of this?"

Finn has an ability to grasp value far beyond the price of a fancy car.  I pray that congregations can do the same with one another as they count the blessings they have, the ministry to which they are called and their partnership in the gospel.

Someday on my Thanksgiving countdown: wildflowers of Pennsylvania. Solomon in all his glory, who could have bought a Jaguar and a private jet was not arrayed as one of these.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!


The Rev. Carol Divens Roth, Interim Associate Pastor to Presbytery

Ray Jacobsen, Child Wonder, translation by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, (Minneapolis, Graywolf Press, 2011), p. 5

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