Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pine Brook Clean-up

Many thanks to the approximately 40 people who showed up this morning to help clean Pine Brook here in Malverne. We filled more garbage bags than we could count, removed about a quarter of a car from the woods and pulled about four shopping carts, a gas grill, an old type writer, a swing set and a desk chair from the brook. We found a deer path and fresh deer scat, learned to identify poison ivy and educated the youth of Malverne about almost every conceivable brand of beer.

Those with long memories reminded us of a time when locals fished for mackerel and went swimming in the brook's many lakes and pools. We all experienced the peace that comes from standing in the shade of dense woods as the world passes us by. "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it," we are reminded by the Psalmist. Today we got a glimpse of that grandeur and accepted our God given responsibility to be stewards of all God has given us, including natural space. The result, a few acres left a little better than when we found them.

Scroll down for pictures.

Special thanks to:
Malverne United Free School District
Mayor Patti McDonald and the Village of Malverne
Toni Sussman
Paul Jessup and the Malverne DPW
Malverne Police Reserve
Long Island American Water
Boy Scout Troop 24
Girl Scout Troop 1209
CPC Malverne Stewardship Team

Ocean Avenue Before

Pine Brook Before

Scout Troop 24

A Morning's Work

Ocean Avenue After

The Welcoming Crew

Don dumps his boots

Bowery Mission Trip - August 21

A huge thank you to everyone who went on the trip to serve lunch at The Bowery Mission. Some of us helped organize the pantry. Others made a huge salad. Michael showed his skill at cutting cake. Marianela was a pro at the frier. Lunch was a superb tuna salad on a bun with french fries, salad, cake and purple drink. The line stretched out the door but there was enough food for all.

Before lunch we went to the chapel service - done by some guy from Tennessee who either wants to be a rock musician or an evangelist, never quite figured out which. Mostly, though, he went way long - nothing like a room full of people who haven't eaten in a while and the preacher goes long.

Check out the pictures below!

Pantry organizing

Making Salad

Fry Cook

Serving Lunch

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pine Brook Clean-up

Saturday, August 23
8:00 - noon
Pine Brook between Whalen Field & Malverne High

Come when you can, stay as long as you can.

Wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, gloves, sturdy shoes.

In partnership with the Village of Malverne and Mayor Patti McDonald. Special thanks to Long Island Water, Malverne DPW, Malverne Police and Auxiliary Police.

Get a map to see where to go!

Why is a church sponsoring a clean-up?

Because “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it/the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1

We have been entrusted with the care of the Earth on behalf of God the Creator. Our labors will prevent trash from running into Long Island’s bays and the Atlantic Ocean.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Songs of Praise - Spirituals

All summer in worship we're focusing on church music. We're also singing our hearts out. Last Sunday we, a predominantly while congregation, tried to navigate our way through the spirituals. We didn't come close to singing them like they were sung by our sisters and brothers who suffered through slavery, but we found meaning any way.

Our hymn of the day was There is a Balm in Gilead. We also sang Amen, Amen; I've Got Peace Like a River; Every Time I Feel the Spirit and My Lord, What a Morning.

Mostly, however, Pastor Fritz discussed the role of the spiritual in helping African-Americans develop a theology of hope and perseverance in the face of suffering. In doing so, he quoted liberally from an interview between Crista Tippett, host of Speaking of Faith and actor, singer and missionary Joe Carter. LIsten or read the interview for yourself.

YouTube: Every Time I Feel the Spirit - a thousand variations, one song.

Songs of Praise - Dr. Watts & John Newton

All summer in worship we're focusing on church music. We're also singing our hearts out. On August 3 we focused on the greatest English language hymn writer - Isaac Watts and the greatest English language hymn - Amazing Grace. (Written not by Isaac Watts, but by John Newton.)

We mostly sang the classics by Watts: Joy to the World, I Sing the MIghty Power of God, I Love the Lord who Heard my Cry and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

But we focused on Amazing Grace.

What struck me most as I studied this hymn was how the last verse:
"When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun"

moves the hymn from earth to heaven. This verse is why we sing Amazing Grace at funerals. But John Newton didn't write the last verse. His verses are very much bound here on earth. Try singing Amazing Grace without the last verse. It's a different song. Just as beautiful. Just as meaningful. But different.

Amazing Grace sculpture by Gail Collins
Amazing Grace collage by Amy Rehnae
Amazing Grace the movie

Pray global, pray local

There weren't many of us at church on Sunday and I was debating whether to say anything about the conflict between Georgia and Russia during the prayer time when an elderly member of the congregation raised her hand and requested prayer for her aid, whose family lived in Georgia and whose 18 year-old son was at risk for being called up in the draft. Another person just had a close relative return from Baghdad. Yet another had a husband serving in Afghanistan.

In my sermon I played an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermon Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool. I played the end - where King quotes from the spiritual There Is a Balm In Gilead to make his point about the need to rely on God to make through difficult times. Earlier in the sermon, however, King speaks about how dependent and connected we are with others around the world. "You can't leave home in the morning," King says, "without being dependent on the rest of the world."

It seems easier to pray for the troubles that are in our face rather than those half way across the world. It seems easier to pray for seemingly manageable things - such as successful surgeries performed by top rated doctors - than unmanagable things such as war and peace. But I was reminded on Sunday that what is far is also near. I was also reminded that what seems impossible is possible.

So we should pray for peace - whether in Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq or anywhere else, knowing that not only are we praying for the world, but we're praying for our immediate neighbors as well.