Annual Meeting Sunday
Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.
13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 "Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned."
17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom
of heaven has come near."
18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen.
19 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
Our scripture texts today begins with three prophets. Prophets are very important characters in Hebrew scriptures. They are the mouth-piece of the Divine, the Almighty. They do not foretell the future. They speak God’s call to repentance, reminding the people who they are as God’s people and how God’s ways guide and shape their lives in the world. Prophets are oft quoted authorities in the new testament gospels and in Paul’s letters. Quoting them is a bit like our Congress people invoking the founders of our country and the framers of our laws and governance to remind us why are who we are. For the communities that hear the earliest Christian writings, quoting a prophet adds certification of facts regarding God’s working in the world and verification of God’s holy intent for human beings and creation. So, our scripture story today begins with three prophets.
One has been arrested for being subversive to the state. He preaches allegiance to God before allegiance to religious and political authority. John the Baptizer’s life is in danger. Soon he will quite literally lose his head. Another prophet, long dead but much revered, is quoted to give legitimacy to the prophetic ministry of the third prophet. Perhaps because he has recently been associated with John, he has moved from his hometown. Maybe to be less in the public eye of the religious and political authorities in Jerusalem. And according to our gospel writer, it is to fulfill what the ancient prophet, Isaiah, said about him as savior of God’s people. This One will come from the land near the Sea of Galilee. We know that eventually Jesus will also be arrested as a subversive, but that is three years down the line. His official ministry is just beginning.
If he wants to stay out of trouble, why does Jesus begin his ministry with the same line that got John the Baptizer in trouble? “Repent! The kingdom of heaven is near!” Perhaps Jesus delivered it in a kinder, gentler manner than John’s seeming fire and brimstone, but still....its subversive! It is code for turn from the ways of the Roman empire, the oppressor, the Roman ways of splendor and military force that have been adopted even by some Jewish authorities. Turn toward the ways of God, the ways of justice, peace and joy in God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy One, Yahweh, is the ultimate authority, not Caesar in Rome, not Herod the Jewish ruler in Jerusalem. “Repent! God’s realm is near! God is near!”
One might think that this prophetic proclamation would not be alarming or subversive to Jewish authorities. But it is. Familiar as it is, they seem to be putting the emphasis on “the kingdom.” (“The kingdom of God is near!”) They are looking for an earthly kingdom that would expel and defeat Romans, an earthly savior to replace Rome’ with a Jewish kingdom. Jesus, however, puts the emphasis on “of God,” God’s, justice and peace, that are larger and much more lasting than any earthly kingdom, larger than creation itself. (“The kingdom of God is near!”) God’s infinite and eternal realm of love, mercy, compassion and abundance that is not just out there, but also near, in fact right here, with us. In fact, within us. A realm where God’s will is done on earth as in heaven. 
This is the light that Jesus brings to the people, Jews and Gentiles, who are sitting in the darkness of oppression, poverty, persecution and death. Those who do not know or have forgotten the deliverance of God. Who have forgotten that God’s realm is always near! God’s ways are here to save the people from the darkness of hopelessness and despair! The writer of Matthew tells us in chapter 2 when Jesus is born that he is prophesied as the one named Emmanuel, God-with-us. It is no surprise to hear from the same writer that Jesus begins his ministry with the proclamation, “Repent, God’s realm is near!” Reading between the gospel lines, we can hear “God is with us!”
I’m guessing the fishermen, Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John with their father, Zebedee have heard this proclamation in the seaside towns around the Sea of Galilee. I’m guessing this is not their first encounter with the rabbi, Jesus. Or if it is, perhaps wonderfully intense conversation ensued on the beach before Jesus gave the call, “Follow me. I will make you fishers of people!” I imagine that the good news, God is with us, has already been working in some way on their hearts and minds and imaginations This is life-changing news! News that impels these rough fishermen to leave their nets to follow this man, to help spread this news of holy revolution so that others might be caught up in its nets of saving grace!
My imagination also asks me....what about the women? As good Jewish men, no doubt these fishermen had wives, children. Where are they? They can’t be simply quietly, subserviently cleaning the fish? What do the women say or do when their husbands are called away from their source of livelihood and into ministry? Have the women heard this rabbi and been changed by God’s good news? I can only hope this is the case. We have no way of knowing. I can only hope that the Jesus who goes out of his way to see and hear, acknowledge and respect, heal and uplift women in all four gospels would not be insensitive to the women, to families, in this first gathering of beloved community. I hope the women heard the call in their own way.
It's important to me that all are included as I echo the call to this beloved community – to you, men and women, youth and children. Whether your pronouns are she, her, hers or he, him, his or they, them theirs - Hear the call of the One proclaimed “God-with-us!” – “Repent, listen, turn back to God’s ways for the realm of God is near.” It begins with Jesus gathering community. He doesn’t go it alone as an outlaw prophet and healer. He gathers followers willing to learn with him, to work with him to spread God’s good news which is just as good today! And just as likely to be hidden by the those who emphasize “the kingdom” or “the realm” part of the proclamation over the “of God” part. Jesus’ proclamation, “Repent – God’s realm is near!” is still good news! And Jesus is still calling, “Follow me.”
Are we listening? Will we make manifest God’s realm in the coming year as God’s beloved community here at Plymouth? Will we spread the news like nets of saving grace and love for a very troubled world? And how will we do this? By praying for enemies so that our hearts are transformed with compassion. By turning our anger into curiosity to learn more about those who disagree with us or oppose us. By inviting others into community, sharing with others the gift of Plymouth, as we endeavor to follow and share God’s love, peace and justice. By remembering and acting on the trust that we live in God’s abundance, not in the lie of the world’s scarcity. By lovingly and firmly speaking truth to power. By courageously acting with more trust in God’s saving power and guidance than we ever thought we had, moving forward together as God’s people, the beloved community of Plymouth.
This is our call, our challenge, as we meet in our annual congregational meeting today to prayerfully do the business of the church, to be in community, to look toward the future together. May we answer by courageously following into deeper relationship with the Holy One, deeper relationship with the ways of the prophet and savior, Jesus the Christ, deeper relationship with one another as God’s beloved people. Will you, will we, follow? Amen.
©The Reverend Jane Anne Ferguson, 2020 and beyond. May not be reprinted without permission.
Associate Minister Jane Anne Ferguson is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. Learn more about Jane Anne here.
1 Corinthians 1.1-10
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning,
Plymouth Congregational UCC,
Fort Collins, Colorado
My friends, this is a hard time for our nation. We live in an era when our beliefs have been shaken…that we do hold one another accountable for just and moral actions…that we do judge one another by the content of our character…that our nation’s leaders do act from a sense of integrity…that our nation itself does stand together…that we will come together as one people to tackle seemingly intractable challenges like global warming.
That is one of the reasons I give thanks to God always for you, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ. Because when I read and hear and see the disgrace of impeachment, I remember that you are faithful, that God is faithful, and that you have gifts and graces have been strewn upon you in a truly extravagant manner…that you strive to be the Beloved Community. And that like a virus, Beloved Community is something you can catch if you’re not careful.
It’s a virus that lives not on the unwashed hands, but rather dwells in the swelling hearts of people like you. It’s not a virus you can catch with a handshake, but by opening your heart and your mind to something new. It’s not a virus that is transmitted by casual contact with other people, but rather is spread wherever love, beauty, awe, and grace are lived out. It is not a virus limited to one demographic sector: it spreads among Gen X and Boomers and Gen Y and the Greatest Generation whenever we break down walls and build bridges instead. It’s not a virus that is contained within any religious or ethnic group or gender: it is spread by reaching beyond oneself and beyond self-interest and radical individualism and beyond nationalism or chauvinism or racism.
None of us is fully inoculated against this virus that Dr. King called the Beloved Community, using the phrase of philosopher Josiah Royce. And I hate to tell you, but you have been exposed to that virus, which is sometimes a little hard to catch, and even harder to get rid of. You see, Jesus had the virus, and every time you come to the communion table, every time you are the recipient of God’s grace, when you received the gift of baptism as a new person, when you were given the gift of life itself – then my friends, you were exposed to the virus. And like any virus, the more you are exposed, the greater the chances that you will contract it and manifest the Beloved Community.
I am grateful for you, because you are not only living with that virus, you are a carrier, and I know that some of you are spreading that virus every time you lend a listening ear, act for justice, do a simple kindness, share something of yourself.
Beloved Community is the kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed. Beloved Community is where creation’s wealth is preserved and shared; where racism, bigotry, and prejudice are eradicated; where fear and intimidation are replaced by faith and love; where nations use nonviolent means to resolve their conflicts; where we see and live into the unity of humankind and creation. Beloved Community is grounded in nonviolence on a personal level, and group level, and on a societal level. In 1957, Dr. King wrote, “The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community. The aftermath of nonviolence is redemption. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation.” Those of us who remember the fall of Apartheid in South Africa and the profound witness and work of Archbishop Desmond Tutu know that truth and reconciliation are the only viable alternatives to falsity and further violence.
When you read about or watch the impeachment hearings this week, I would ask you to remember something: that you have been exposed to a virus. Carrying that virus determines how you spend your money, how you think and feel, how you spend your weekends, how you vote, how you raise your children and treat your elders, how you exist as a gifted soul in God’s world. I give thanks for you. And as you watch the rancorous debate, and as you hear truths and falsehoods unfold, remember that you have been exposed to a virus that has changed you into someone who is not susceptible to the cancer of hatred. Carrying that virus means that you will not hate anyone and that you will work for reconciliation.
In an article in The Christian Century in 1966, Dr. King wrote, “I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think that end of that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the beloved community.”
The kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed and the Beloved Community that Dr. King espoused are not fully realized…I don’t have to tell you that, you see the evidence every day. But a virus is not visible to the naked eye. It is within us and among us. It is passed to others by love and reconciliation. I give thanks for you, Plymouth, because I have witnessed your love and your faith, and you give me hope for the Beloved Community. Keep on keeping on!
I leave you with a short visual meditation on the March on Washington in 1963…may it spread the virus.
© 2020 Hal Chorpenning, all rights reserved. Please contact email@example.com for permission to reprint, which will typically be granted for non-profit uses.
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.
The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph
Plymouth Congregational UCC,
Fort Collins, Colorado
Will you join with me in prayer? May the words of my mouth and the meditations and transformations of each of our hearts be good and pleasing to you, O God, our peacemaker and creator. Amen.
Today is the Academy Awards, or the “Oscars” as we also know them. Gerhard, my husband, and I love the Academy Awards! We love watching the interviews on the red carpet, the live music, sometimes the jokes (that varies a lot depending on the host), and we love rooting for our favorite films. As a minister, though, it makes me reflect deeply on the power these movies and particular genres of film have over us and our ethics and national values.
Movies can be a force for good and social change, but often over time, through repetition of themes and motifs, they have formed some of our worst collective ways of dealing with love, with conflict, and how to “deal with” and “take care of” a perceived enemy. Thanks to Westerns, in particular, our collective American Conflict Resolution looks more like the John Wayne film True Grit than it does the ways of Jesus. True Grit and the ways of US Marshall Rooster Cogburn hold more weight than the ways of Jesus of Nazareth in our culture. Movies and television often drive values or ethics more than meditation, places of worship, friendships, or Spiritual teachings like today’s absolutely fabulous Scripture from the Gospel of Luke.
When we think about what forms our idea of an enemy, we think of the movies and classic American Westerns above all where there are clear lines between the good and the bad. These formulaic, overly simplistic films that Hollywood is still producing have generated a popular way of thinking about enemies and how to deal with them. Violence and division seem to be the resolution in most cases. Regardless of if you have ever even watched a Western, they are enculturated into our mores and values.
Love him or hate him, disregarding his politics, still one of the top ten most popular movie stars of all time, according to a recent poll, is still John Wayne and his Westerns. Huffington Post movie critic and film expert John Farr tried to get to the bottom of the question: “Why [does] John Wayne still rank among today’s most popular stars?”
Farr writes, “What accounts for this actor’s uncanny endurance? Other better actors played cowboys, like Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart. Other bigger stars like Clark Gable and Gregory Peck played soldiers. But around the world, whenever John Wayne played a cowboy or a soldier, he was America. Wayne’s persona—its bigness, roughness…literally came to define our heritage. And to a surprising degree, it still does.” This cultural identity power is still with us and our politics. We all are trying to live like John Wayne in a Western in how we respond to perceived enemies—as both progressives and conservatives.
Think about it: How does Conflict Resolution usually work in a Western? Does it end in transformation and wisdom seeking understanding? Is the community better off or transformed because of discourse and problem-solving out there on the range? Are different sides seeking common ground or shared space? Can one town tolerate two authorities? No, none of that mushy, highfalutin European stuff! Is there resolution? Is there resolution to the dispute? Yes! Always! There is always resolution—usually with a rifle, a duel, or a high plains shootout. My thesis this morning: American Conflict Resolution is not the same as the Conflict Transformation of Jesus.
Where does our Scripture today fit within this overwhelming cultural narrative of power to oppose enemies rather than transform community?
Today, in Luke Chapter Six, we find ourselves in the Wild West of the Ancient World, and we are on the side of the outlaw. We are with a wanted outlaw named Jesus or “Jesus the Kid” as he was probably referred to by local authorities. Chapter Six of The Gospel According to Luke is a somewhat lawless, Wild West chapter of the Bible for the Jesus of Nazareth story. In most of this chapter, the writer of Luke lets us know that Jesus and his small band of disciples were popularly viewed as the outlaws, the problem, and the enemy. Yes, what is often missed about Jesus’ discourse on “Love Your Enemies” is that it appears in the middle of a chapter where he and his band are the Wild West Outlaws.
In the first verse of this chapter, Jesus and his disciples take some grain from a field and work it and eat it on their way. The Pharisee Sheriff stops him, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath around these parts?” Jesus replies, “The son of man is lord of the Sabbath.” There is a new sheriff in town!
A couple of verses later, in verses 6-11, we read that Jesus got in a fight with the local authorities in another small town while healing a man’s hand on the sabbath. He says to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save a life or destroy it?” Jesus is a theological and legal outlaw on the high plains of Ancient Israel. Truly, I tell you this is Wild West sort of material, and with Jesus there is a new Sheriff in town.
In my reading of Chapter Six, by the time we get to the Enemies Discourse from today’s lectionary, Jesus is breaking down and going on a verbal rampage. He is tired of being called an enemy everywhere he goes. I view this as a sort of exasperated Jesus who is tired of being chased down, on the run, and accused of breaking the law and being the enemy all the time. He is ready to set the record straight.
Jesus responds to his reputation as an outlaw of the powers that be by proving it to be true. In a world or tribalism, divisions, and enemies at every turn, Jesus announces that there is a new sheriff in town with a new set of rules. Jesus posts these new rules on the swinging door of the saloon:
“But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.[a] Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
There are at least three overlooked points about this passage that will help us better understand it and how to live under by the rules of Sheriff Jesus rather than Sheriff John Wayne.
First, as I have already alluded to, if read correctly within the context of Luke, Chapter 6, Jesus is the one who is constantly being accused of being the enemy. They were the outlaws of the Empire, the sheriff, and the religious powers of the time. Love your enemies, friends, is about how we hope people might even treat us. It is a reversal of perspective.
Here is the resulting, useful spiritual practice for the Progressive Church in the time of divisive politics: In moments of local, personal, or national disagreement give yourself the label of enemy. We love to be the Wild West heroes. We love the be the saviors of the town on the side of the good, but it is powerful to try to see how we are challenging for others or even threatening.
This doesn’t mean that we as progressives give up or weaken in our resolve, especially in the face of so much injustice, but it does mean that we find the humanity, the love, the need for our enemies again. We need to disengage from the script of a Wild West Western we are all living through politically. It is an enculturated script we all follow. For every enemy you make, you make of yourself an enemy.
This does not mean that we are wrong or let go of our work and justice advocacy, but it is a practice of self-evaluation and self-awareness that opens conversation.
In Western movies, good guys vs. bad guys is always dualistic. We must reject these dualistic world views—even the one we so often live into by calling ourselves “Progressive Christian” rather than just “Christian.” We pick the camp of politics rather than a camp of Christ.
The word enemy used in this passage comes from a Greek word meaning either someone who is actively hostile or passively odious. All of us are enemies of someone either actively or unconscious passively.
An example in my work: I know that when I go into a room where I am meeting with Evangelical or Fundamentalist Christians for Habitat for other reasons (there are a lot of these opportunities in affordable housing), they know that I am a gay minister. Therefore, in some way, I know that I am perceived as enemy even if we have common cause in other areas.
The only way I am able to speak with them and show compassion is to remember how challenging I am to their world view, their systems, their entire theological framework. I own who I am in the space, and I find compassion for the anxiety or change I must represent. All of us understand what fear of change or anxiety can feel like and can find compassion for that human quality rather than the cause itself.
If, for an instant, I look for how I might be seen as the enemy, it can change how I enter the room or engage conflict. I know that I represent pain, change, and fear of the unknown as the world and culture changes. That must be hard. While I will never agree with them or change who I am, I can find compassion for their experience. Rather than blaming them for their theology and context and cutting them off and refusing community or connection, isn’t it more powerful to come in with compassion for their fear while also owning who I am? Who knows where those relationships might lead?
In American Conflict Resolution, we always view ourselves as the hero cowboy or cowgirl on a high horse with a penultimate right to win and to resolve that conflict once and for all for the benefit of our understanding of good.
Where in your life do you know you are perceived as the enemy? Can you take the time to think of how you or what you represent might make that other person feel—even if you totally know that it is ridiculous or unfounded? Can you for even a second imagine their vantage point? Remembering always that Jesus was the perceived enemy rather than hero.
Now you are doing transformative work!
Secondly, we see Jesus in verses 32-35 making sure that the enemy is humanized. It is like a mirror. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.” Jesus is calling their and our bluff. He is really asking: Are you sure you are always the hero of this story? He points out that love for primary community and for family is a common value we all can relate to—so what makes a true hero?
Thirdly, and I love this, notice in this passage God hath not promise a life without enemies. A world without those who disagree with us is not promised. We like to pray for peace on earth, but it would appear God does not see uniformity of perspective or a lack of enemies as the way to achieve peace. “If only everyone saw the world exactly the way we see it here at Plymouth, then the Realm of God would be realized” … is theological fallacy. In fact, it appears that God’s will might be a world where we have to find compromise—maybe that is where the Sacred is found. The Peace of Christ lies in learning somewhere in living well with difference.
This brings me back to the problem with the True Grit and the American idea of Conflict Resolution. Resolution implies that there is one right outcome. It implies that conflict can be resolved once and for all. Resolutions result in violence, in arbitrary end, and in pain. At the end of the movie True Grit pretty much everything is resolved, but everyone except Wayne’s character and one other are pretty much dead. Is that really the model we want to follow even as progressives who are sure we are right?
I believe what Jesus is talking today about is akin to Conflict Transformation. One scholar writes, “[Conflict transformation] is something more than conflict management or conflict resolution. The goal of conflict transformation…is not only to end or prevent something bad but also to begin something new and good. Transformation asserts the belief that conflict can be a catalyst for deep-rooted, enduring, positive change in individuals, relationships, and the structure of human community.”
A couple of weeks ago, I received a text that I thought was a joke at first asking me to serve on Governor Polis’ Clergy Council. It is a small group of 11 interfaith clergy from across the state who meet with the governor several times a year to offer support, ideas, and perspective. I spent an hour with the governor and the group last week. During that meeting, a fellow clergyperson from Denver asked, “What can we do most to make a difference for good?” The governor thought for a minute and then asked us to do everything we can to help change this adversarial culture in our society of partisanship, artificial divisions, and the rampant creation of enemies. I agree with the new governor on this and am willing to work for a new civil discourse in our state and country. I see our Scripture today as God and Outlaw Jesus calling us to do better in trying to have compassion for and get to know our enemies in both personal and political settings.
In Colorado, the Wild West history is at our core. This True Grit Conflict Resolution is embedded in the DNA of our state history. It is every rancher for her or himself mentality. In some ways that means we have less open conflict than other states, but we are great good at putting up emotional barriers, riding people off and riding into the sunset. “You stay on your ranch and I’ll stay on mine and we be just fine so long as we don’t speak.”
In reality we need each other, we need transformation that comes from authenticity in conflict, and we need our enemies to start talking to us again more than ever. We can’t just stay on our separate Fox News or MSNBC ranches and stop engaging in real community. We can’t do that and just hope we will wake-up to a different world in the morning.
At the end of the movie True Grit… almost everyone is dead. That is not the outcome of Christ. Conflict Transformation calls us to not resolve things with violence and reinforcing divisions but to engage, forgive, and truly love our enemies. The proliferation of enemies and the “enemyification” of society will only slow down when we are willing to see our own role in being the enemy as Outlaw Jesus is in our story today. For it is only in learning to see ourselves both as hero and outlaw that we truly can come into conversation ready to be transformed.
Happy Trails to you—until we meet again! Amen.
3. Thomas Porter, The Spirit and Art of Conflict Transformation: Creating a Culture of JustPeace (Nashville: Upper Room, 2010), 5.
Related Original Liturgies
* Call to Worship
Leader: But I say to you that listen, love your enemies!
People: Do good to those who hate you.
Leader: Bless those who curse you.
People: Do to others as you would have them do unto you.
Leader: The word of God for the people of God is not always easy to hear. It is often against the grain of our popular culture and learned behavior.
All: May we rediscover the truly counter-cultural meaning of Christian love and learn to find goodness and God even in our worst enemies.
* Unison Prayer
Sometimes, God, we think we are Wild West heroes—take no prisoners, leave no question, lasso ambiguity, get things done, demonstrate true grit. Here on the Ranch of Life we confuse the values in movies for the ethics of Jesus. We know that is not your way. Today, we commit to a new way that seeks reconciliation where there is pain, self-reflection where there is pride, and an end to the building wave of enmity in our time. Amen.
* Unison Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication
May this table be a corral of forgiveness, a chuckwagon feast of grace, a pasture of plenty, and a reminder of your presence in and among our lives no matter what trails we may wander or paths we may trace. Help us to give with a sense of common good and remember always that we give not for ourselves but for your realm where enmity is no longer, and where love endures forever. Amen.
The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph ("just Jake"), Associate Minister, came to Plymouth in 2014 having served in the national setting of the UCC on the board of Justice & Witness Ministries, the Coalition for LGBT Concerns, and the Chairperson of the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM). Jake has a passion for ecumenical work and has worked in a wide variety of churches and traditions. Read more about him on our staff page.
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