QUOTES OF THE DAY

PUMC youth led our worship service, including prayers, music, hymns, and liturgy, on Youth Sunday, April 18, 2021.  Ana Francisco-Cabus and Delaney McCarty shared their youth testimonies. The Scripture was from “Matthew 25:34-40.”

You, too, can experience God’s love and transformation. Come worship with us at Princeton United Methodist Church, and be a part of this beloved community. Click here to watch the PUMC worship service and listen to their testimonies.

WORSHIP HYMNS | YOUTH SUNDAY

To celebrate Youth Sunday on April 18, we will have special musical performances of hymns we love featuring the Youth Choir. Other performing musicians will include Leanne Griffiths (piano), Gillian and Reanna Bartels Quansah (vocals), Delaney McCarty (flute), and Andre Penn (piano). There will also be classical music from Bach, Faure, and Mendelssohn.

Our hymns include “When The Poor Ones” and “No Hands But Yours,” written by Tom Shelton, PUMC Director of Children’s and Youth Choirs. Shelton has written many hymns and served as guest conductor at many music festivals for children and youth. We will start the service with one of my favorite hymns, “In Christ, There is No East or West.”

William A. Dunkerley wrote the hymn “In Christ, There Is No East Or West” in 1908 under the pseudonym John Oxenham, and is sung to the tune  ST. PETER (Reinagle). While it is appropriate for the Easter Season, some people criticized it for emphasizing masculine qualities.

 VIDEO   “In Christ, There Is No East Or West”

PUMC youth will lead our worship service, including prayers, music, and liturgy, with Ana Francisco-Cabus and Delaney McCarty sharing their youth testimonies. The Scripture is from “Matthew 25:34-40.”

Click here to join us in this worship service as we come before the Lord with joyful songs.

[Videos credit: YouTube] [Photo credit: PUMC Library]

Daily Devotional | Sunday, February 28

Sunday, February 28

Ecclesiastes 9:11 – Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.

Photo by Keisha FinnieIn June 2020, Keisha Finne worked with artists Adam Serrano, Kaya Hobbs andKearasten Jordan to create a mural in memory of Black lives lost to police brutality, called “Say Their Names”. The mural is in Lancaster, PA.

“In a 2017 nationally representative study on prevalence of institutional discrimination in America, NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that 60% of Blacks (49% in urban areas and 67% in suburban areas) reported that they or a family member had been unfairly treated or stopped by a police officer due to race, compared to 27% of Hispanics, 13% of Asians, and 6% of Whites.” Excerpted from On the prevalence of racial discrimination in the United States, January 2019
Derived from a fictional 19th c Irish bartender, written originally in the form of a criticism of the press’ failure to do, is this charge that can be equally given to the church, “to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted”. Considering the self-reporting of our siblings of color the nation, the press, media, the police, nor the church is successfully comforting the afflicted and offering a level playing field. And our black siblings are dying for it.


Action step: today, with brutal honesty ask if it isn’t way past the time when we as United Methodist discard any reservations about antiracism relating to white fragility and our fears of losing members and support. Here the voice of Jesus as George Floyd cries out, “You’re going to kill me, man. Can’t believe this, man. Mom, love you. Love you. Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead.”


Prayer: On Reading “How to Be an Antiracist”

God of all things, help me now.

I want to be an ally to my black brothers and sisters.

I want to be an ally to my brown brothers and sisters.

I want to be an ally to all who are oppressed by racist systems and policies.

And so I fight for their right to get the same education that I had.

For the right to acquire the same wealth that I have.

For the right to live in a “good” neighborhood as I do.

For the right, in short, to be like me.

And as I pray this, O God, my words convict me of my sin.

Why do I privilege my reality as the one that everyone should desire?

God, help me fight for the right for everyone to be themselves –

to live and love and speak from their own hearts.

Give me the courage to admit my false sense of superiority.

Give me eyes to see others as you see them.

To celebrate their distinctive ways of being in the world.

To honor their culture; to honor their values.

Holy One, open my ears. Open my eyes. Open my heart.

Lead me into humility. Call me into love.

Amen.

 

Elizabeth Moore, OSL

Abbot, the Order of Saint Luke shared on August 6, 2020  by UMC Discipleship’s Praying for Change: Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism Email

Daily Devotional | Saturday, February 27

James Cone, Illustration: Uzo Njoku (UVA ’19)

Saturday, February 27

The Rev. James Cone, writing in the 1989 preface to his 1969 book, Black Theology & Black Power, offered this holy and human observation on his place in history, “Since theology is human speech and not God speaking, I recognize today, as I did then, that all attempts to speak about ultimate reality are limited by the social history of the speaker. Thus, I would not use exactly the same language today to speak about God that I used twenty years ago. Times have changed and the current situation demands a language appropriate for the problems we now face. But insofar as racism is still found in the churches and in society, theologians and preachers of the Christian gospel must make it unquestionably clear that the God of Moses and of Jesus makes an unqualified solidarity with the victims, empowering them to fight against injustice.”
Thirty years later we have, as a Conference answered the call to see that “insofar as racism is still found in the churches and in society, theologians and preachers of the Christian gospel must make it unquestionably clear that the God of Moses and of Jesus makes an unqualified solidarity with the victims, empowering them to fight against injustice.” We as a Conference committed ourselves, in holy conferencing, to antiracism. From 1969-1989 Rev. Cone saw movement, not completion of the task, but movement. We stand now at an historic moment of crisis in American Christianity. Future generations will be right to ask, “when hate arose yet again did they as leaders answer the call to antiracism?”


Action step: today, with brutal honesty ask simply, “can I, as a called church leader, ignore the call to antiracism?”


Prayer:

God of Unity, We come before you dismayed at our own divisions. We have struggled as your church to come to live in unity; but we are divided – along all the fault lines of our societies. The ruptures in our families, among friends, among denominations, among nations are wide and deep. When we attempt to get on the same page, we build taller walls and dig deeper trenches. God, help us! We know that Christ is not divided. We know that it is your baptism to which we have been called. It is your service to which we are compelled. You have called us to proclaim the gospel, but we even fight about what that is. Help us, God! Help us to give up our power and our privileges. Help us to yield for the sake and cause of the cross of Jesus. Help us to embrace and to live the foolishness of a life emptied of power and given to service, in the likeness of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Help us to walk in salvation – in the name of the Servant Christ, Amen.

Valerie Bridgeman Davis, The Africana Worship Book, Discipleship Resources, 2006, p.85

Daily Devotional | Friday, February 26

Friday, February 26

Matthew 10:36 – And a person’s enemies will be those of their own household.


The bronze statue (by Hank Willis Thomas) called "Raise Up" is part of the display at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice,  shown on April 23, 2018. Brynn Anderson / AP.  The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened to the public on April 26, 2018, is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved Black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence. It is located in Montgomery, AL.

War against another nation damages both nations, war against our own nation devastates us all. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writing in Stony the Road, offers this chilling observation about our racist history, “In the broadest terms, Reconstruction was a revolutionary time in American life—a time of national renewal extended out from four years of Civil War, death, and destruction that narrowed the gap between the country’s ideals and laws and advanced racial progress. Yet it was also a turbulent and brutally violent period, one marked by in the broadest terms, rapid economic change and new forms of white resistance that included everything from organized paramilitary assaults and political assassination to night rides and domestic terror.”
Watching last month as Americans attacked our Capital in violent insurrection Gates’ words rang out in challenge describing our own times as, “a turbulent and brutally violent period, one marked by in the broadest terms, rapid economic change and new forms of white resistance that included everything from organized paramilitary assaults and political assassination to night rides and domestic terror.”


Action step: today, with brutal honesty ask how you can lower the temperature, counter the rhetoric, and preach an antiracist message as we look forward to the Resurrection Sunday. We are called to solemn ministry as our nation wakes to a spring of either emergence from isolation into love or a summer of violence – our time is now to lead the church of Jesus Christ with holy compassion.


Prayer:

God whose name has been used to enslave those who bear your image,

God whose name has been used to steal this land and kill those who bear your image,

God whose name was called upon by Moses and Miriam and Martin Luther King Jr and Sojourner Truth, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

God who raised up prophets to speak truth to power, and poets to speak truth to stupid,

We call on your holy name to give us what we need to undo what has been done in your name.

We call on your name to bring your fierce mercy upon us and remove our complacency and our complicity.

We call on your name to heal the wounds of those whose daily reality we do not understand.

We call on your name to give us a holy curiosity about what being Black in America is really like, Lord.

We call on your name to free us from our cherished notions of being “good” that keep us from hearing this truth,

We call on your name to give us this day our daily truth, our daily humility, our daily rage, our daily hope.

This country is burning Lord…may is be a cleansing Holy Spirit fire.

Guide us to believe that the true name of God is stronger than what has been done in God’s name.

Come, Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Nadia Boltz-Weber, Sunday Prayers, https://nadiabolzweber.substack.com/p/sunday-prayers-may-31st-2020

Daily Devotional | Thursday, February 25

Thursday, February 25

In John 8 we read the familiar, perhaps too familiar: When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.


Christ of Maryknoll by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

A chilling call to the church’s own failure in justice seeking is painfully present if you replace “civil rights activists” with “Methodists” or “Christians” in this passage from the New Jim Crow, where Michelle Alexander writes, “Challenging mass incarceration requires something civil rights advocates have long been reluctant to do: advocacy on behalf of those labeled criminals. Even at the height of Jim Crow segregation—when black men were more likely to be lynched than to receive a fair trial in the South—NAACP lawyers were reluctant to advocate on behalf of blacks accused of crimes unless the lawyers were convinced of the men’s innocence.”
Are we, comfortably nestled in our churches, inured to the raw accusation present when Jesus says to us, “let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”? The men who wish to stone her to death are not asking Jesus a sin question, they ask him for a legal opinion. The writer of John captures perhaps the most powerful amicus curiae brief in history, God asks us to see our guilty and the criminal siblings not as foreign to us, not as one of us who is lost, but as us.


Action step: today, with brutal honesty question how you feel towards the murderer, the rapist, the abusive spouse, and the drunk driver among us. Is there someone in your life, your congregation, your family, or even in the mirror for whom you cannot find compassion as it is modeled by Jesus in John 8? Ask Jesus to help you lay down your stones. Antiracism is only real when extended into the most challenging corners of our own anger and fear.


Prayer:

God,

Grant me justice, so that I may treat others as they deserve.

Grant me mercy, so that I don’t treat others as they deserve.

Grant me a humble walk with you, so that I may understand the difference.

 

Patricia McCaughan and Keith Yamamoto, from Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester L. Talton (Morehouse Publishing, 2003, p.166).

Daily Devotional | Wednesday, February 24

Wednesday, February 24

Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.


Thurman. (Photo source unknown. Found on Google Images. He believed that personal spiritual renewal was important to the liberation process and that inward liberation was a prerequisite for social transformation. In his seminal 1949 book, Jesus and the Disinherited, Thurman provided an interpretation of the New Testament gospels that laid the foundation for a nonviolent civil rights movement.

These just may be the most challenging, and convicting words, Paul ever wrote. In Bring the War Home: the White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, historian Kathleen Belew writes: “In 1977, Louis Beam used a Texas Veterans Land Board grant—a program designed to provide economic benefits to returning veterans—to purchase fifty acres of swampland. On a landscape that recalled the rice paddies of Vietnam, Beam built Camp Puller, a Vietnam War–style training facility designed to turn Klansmen into soldiers.”
Clearly an overwhelming majority of Vietnam veterans did not return radicalized into the white power movement. Many returned to serve as pastors in our denomination as well as other Christian denominations, or to public service and the betterment of our nation. Still war’s role in the formation of the white power ideology present at the insurrection in our capital last month is undeniable. For the first time in history an entire generation of Americans grew up during wartime. These wars do not appear on the front page of newspapers or on the evening news. These wars challenge us as church leaders to ask during this Lent, “have we forgotten that our country is at war”? How do we answer our God if we are asked, “have you, so far as it depends on you, lived peaceably with all?”


Action step: today, with brutal honesty ask this question prayerfully of the Holy Spirit, “have I, so far as it depends on me, lived peaceably with all?” Do not be afraid of the answer but let God show you how to do so personally, corporately, and as a people.


Prayer:

“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace.” Teach me how to order my days that with sure touch I may say the right word at the right time and in the right way — lest I betray the spirit of peace. Let me not be deceived by my own insecurity and weakness which would make me hurt another as I try desperately to help myself. Keep watch with me, O my Father, over the days of my life, that with abiding enthusiasm I may be in such possession of myself that each day I may offer to Thee the full, unhampered use of me in all my parts as “an instrument of Thy Peace.” Amen.

Howard Thurman, The Inward Journey: Meditations on the Spiritual Quest (Harper Row, 1961, p.104), cited on Renovare website, https://renovare.org/articles/make-me-an-instrument-of-thy-peace

Daily Devotional | Tuesday, February 23

Tuesday, February 23

1 Peter 2 contains this call to citizenship – Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution… [f]or this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.


Area faith leaders condemn police brutality in 
Richmond, VA, in 2020. 
Image from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander a lawyer herself, draws a line between the traditional idea of community policing and a militarized police force. “The transformation from “community policing” to “military policing,” began in 1981, when President Reagan persuaded Congress to pass the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, which encouraged the military to give local, state, and federal police access to military bases, intelligence, research, weaponry, and other equipment for drug interdiction.”
By militarizing our police departments against our own citizens do we ignore when 1 Peter goes on to say, “live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil”? The murder of George Floyd is a direct result of 40 years of “military policing”, which disproportionately targets people of color. The Church too often stood by as the war on drugs was waged as a war on communities of color.


Action step: today, with brutal honesty examine your church’s place in the community asking, “do we speak prophetically to our local, state, and national governments about police integrity and violence?” A church that demands the liberation of all people is antiracist offering the prophetic voice of the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Prayer: Forgive us, Lord.

Forgive us when we wake each day hoping the nightmare has ended.

Forgive us when we cling to our opinions that it can’t be as bad as some say.

Forgive us when we shout for our rights when others can’t breathe.

Forgive us when we look for short-term fixes rather than substantive changes

in our society, in our institutions, in our neighborhoods, in our homes, in our hearts.

In our hearts, O Lord, of every part of me, every thought of mine, every reaction and response.

In our hearts.

Forgive me when I think this problem is about everyone else’s heart.

Forgive me when I won’t do the work I need to do to examine my own soul because

“I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”

Forgive me when I discover that I am a part of the problem and not somehow different or pure.

Forgive me when I want to give up because this is too big, too much, too frightening, too overwhelming.

Forgive me, Lord.

Forgive, please forgive.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. (Matt. 18:21-22)

Derek C. Weber, July 2020  by UMC Discipleship’s Praying for Change: Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism Email on July 24, 2020

Daily Devotional | Monday, February 22

Monday, February 22

Revelations 3:14-17 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write… “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”



Norman Rockwell’s desire to reach out to a global community and emphasize the commonality of humankind  found its forum on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post with his 
masterful work, Golden Rule, in 1961.

What would the letter to the church in Greater New Jersey read? Antiracist is not an easy position to take, the work ahead will be difficult. These days, amid the pandemic, our people are weary and we clergy often feel weighed down. Again it is Ibram X. Kendi, writing in How to be an Antiracist, who challenges us amid our weariness to learn from our past. “The racist champions of racist discrimination engineered to maintain racial inequities before the 1960s are now the racist opponents of antiracist discrimination engineered to dismantle those racial inequities. The most threatening racist movement is not the alt right’s unlikely drive for a White ethnostate but the regular American’s drive for a “race-neutral” one.”


Action step: today, with brutal honesty consider what the letter to your local church would contain. Would you receive a letter like that written to the church in Philadelphia, or has your ministry or church grown lukewarm? These are not question of shame, they are questions of renewal. We are at the end of the day the Easter people. Renewal is at the heart of Christianity, and powerfully present in the DNA of Methodism.


Prayer:

We thank you for your church, founded upon your Word, that challenges us to do more than sing and pray, but go out and work as though the very answer to our prayers depended on us and not upon you. Help us to realize that humanity was created to shine like the stars and live on through all eternity. Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace. Help us to walk together, pray together, sing together, and live together until that day when all God’s children — Black, White, Red, Brown and Yellow — will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from Thou, Dear God: Prayers that Open Hearts and Spirits(edited by Lewis V. Baldwin, Beacon Press, 2012).posted on https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/road-peace/prayers-martin-luther-king-jr.

Daily Devotional | Sunday, February 21

Sunday, February 21

In Luke Chapter 2 we read: So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.



Jesus’s face as created by artificial intelligence 
Artbreeder software and Bas Unterwijk.
(Image: Bas Unterwijk )

In Stoney the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. calls our attention to the use of imagery as a tool of racist oppression. “The difference between the circulation of racist images of black people before and after the war, especially after Reconstruction, is the jaw-dropping extent of its sheer numbers, its remarkable reproducibility. Repetition of a range of offensive character types—ostensibly of “Negroes”—was an attempt to fabricate and stabilize a single black image, “the Negro,” to reduce the complexity of actual black human beings and funnel it into fixed, unchangeable signifiers of blackness that even black people would see when they saw themselves reflected in America’s social mirror.”
The church has a history of cooperation in the oppression of non-white peoples demonstrated in the ubiquity of European imagery of Biblical people. The blonde Jesus of Warner Sallman’s Christ at Heart’s Door or his Christ’s Head hang in many of our churches. The paintings done in the 1940’s reinforce the dominant culture’s appropriation of biblical imagery and implicitly or explicitly are in accordance with the racial hierarchy established post-reconstruction and affirmed in the negative imagery of Gate’s passage, yet biblical people were persons of color.


Action step: today, with brutal honesty review the images present in your church, don’t overlook the most dangerous spaces: libraries, Sunday School rooms, and social halls. If you have stained glass, does it portray Jesus and other biblical figures as Europeans? The covers of your Sunday School materials, the books in the library, the three dimensional representations of the nativity that are put out at Christmas, how many of these reinforce a false narrative of white dominance?


Prayer:

Lord, help us to persist although we want to give up.

Lord, help us to keep trying although we can’t see what good it does.

Lord, help us to keep praying although we’re not sure you hear us.

Lord, help us to keep living in ways that seek to do you will.

Lord, help us to know when to lead and when to follow.

Lord, help us to know when to speak and when to remain silent.

Lord, help us to know when to act and when to wait.

 

Marian Wright Edelman shared by UMC Discipleship’s Praying for Change: Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism Email on Nov. 5, 2020