Post date: Jul 30, 2021 3:3:30 PM
Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,
Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you!
We have a new critter who has made her home in Olivia’s Forest. Her name is Darwin and she is an adorable squirrel (We at first thought Darwin was a male, but have since discovered she is female. But no matter — her name is Darwin). We first noticed Darwin because she behaved differently from the other squirrels. She was friendly, and didn’t run away when we got close; in fact, she would sit on top of the fire pit, looking at us as we sat outside. After a while, we wondered if she would take peanuts from us. So, we sat quietly out back, and put some peanuts on the ground close by. Sure enough, up she came and tentatively took one, nibbling on it at first, and then running away to bury it. And then she returned, and returned again. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth she came. This to and fro went on for some time, and we were delighted, giggling at her burying antics. We did this for a couple of days in the early evening — Darwin would come down from her nest and sniff around our feet, waiting for her peanuts. Finally, I wondered if Darwin would take a peanut from my hand. So, I held one out for her. She cautiously came up, sniffed a bit, but declined my offer. I tried several times, dangling the peanut from my fingers, but she wouldn’t have it. Frustrated, I sat back in my chair and thought a bit. Hadn’t we proven to her we wouldn’t hurt her? Didn’t she see that we were caring for her? Why take the peanut that was on my shoe, but not in my hand?
It was then I turned to Jamie and said, “I wonder how many peanuts God has to give us before we fully trust God.”
Yes, indeed. It is the truth that our merciful, grace-filled, loving God, who only and always cares for us, is continually urging us to "take the peanut" so to speak, and trust that God only wants what is best for our lives. And to trust God not just in some aspects of our lives, but in all of our lives.
On Wednesday, we set up “peanut camp” out back and sure enough Darwin appeared, scooping up the peanuts placed on the ground. Determined, I held out a peanut, calling softly to her, waiting patiently. Slowly, she came up, and with her nose twitching, and a few nervous movements, she gingerly took the peanut from my fingers and scampered away.
Come on Sunday to worship with your church family at 10:30 AM this Tenth Sunday after Pentecost in person or via YouTube — MRC: A Fabulous Church of Love. Our featured soloist is one of our scholarship recipients, Callie Thorpe, and she will be singing “Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love” for our Anthem and “Taste and See” for our Offertory. I will be preaching an August Sermon series from the Book of James called “Bible Doing” and my sermon title is the same — Bible Doing. Also, we will celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper around God’s table of grace.
After worship, come up the hill to the Great Lawn where we will have our 16th Annual Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Youth Group Memorial Scholarship BBQ and Picnic (see flyer attached)! Hot dogs, hamburgers, peach salsa, peach crisp, and all manner of yummy food will be served as we give out five scholarships to our young adults who are beginning or continuing their college education, and remember the life of beloved member, Dennis Zilinski, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Finally, it is with a sighing heart that I must write the following. As you are aware, the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is rising in our state, and Monmouth County is now a high transmission zone for the variant. On Tuesday, the CDC issued new guidelines for mask wearing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. I consulted with Judy, the Church Re-Opening Ad Hoc Committee, and the Consistory, and in order to keep everyone safe and healthy, we are all in agreement that we should halt congregational singing for now. In addition, we strongly urge/request that everyone wear a mask for worship and indoor church events. Beloved, I know after living in a pandemic for 16 months we are exasperated; I surely am. But we are committed as people who love God and love our neighbor to do what is safe, responsible, and caring for our community. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor and keeping everyone safe and healthy.
In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,