A Lament for Advent 2020

Lord over time,
To you, a day is like a thousand years,
And a thousand years are but a day.

To us, 2020 has seemed a thousand years.
A thousand years of disappointment,
A thousand years of loss,
A thousand years of injustice,
A thousand years of insecurity.

We can only turn to you and say,
“O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom us like captive Israel.”

All:   We mourn in lonely exile here,
         until the Son of God appear.

Our disappointments dwell deeply within us.

Postponed proms and graduations…
Would-be weddings and friendless funerals…
Missing family at sacred feasts…
Sanctuaries unfilled, unlit, unused.

We can only turn to you and say,
“O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom us like captive Israel.”

All:   We mourn in lonely exile here,
         until the Son of God appear.

Our losses linger alongside us.

Nursing home neighbors losing inspiration and energy…
Tearful farewells shared only through screens…
Strangers, acquaintances, grandparents, beloveds…
Illness, complications, doubt, death.

We can only turn to you and say,
“O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom us like captive Israel.”

All:   We mourn in lonely exile here,
         until the Son of God appear.

Injustice surrounds, encircling the least of these.

Black lives loved in heaven but devalued on earth…
Knees on necks, quieting calls for a mama…
Peaceful sleep, then in seconds, slaughter…
A Georgia jog, stopped short by a shotgun.

We can only turn to you and say,
“O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom us like captive Israel.”

All:   We mourn in lonely exile here,
         until the Son of God appear.

Insecurity abounds, overwhelming our abundance.

Hours reduced and vocations lost…
Elections contested and divisions multiplied…
Wondering where is the Light of the World…
Pining away for the Prince of Peace.

We can only turn to you and say,
“O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom us like captive Israel.”

All:   We mourn in lonely exile here,
         until the Son of God appear.

Come Quickly, Lord Jesus,
So one day once more, we can sing,

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel has come to us and Israel!

Amen, and amen.


Interim Synod Executive Chip Hardwick wrote this lament for use in the Synod’s virtual worship for the third week of Advent, December 13th.  The service will be posted early next week here, along with services for each Sunday of Advent, Christmas Eve, and the Sunday after Christmas.


Congratulations to the Synod's Racial Ethnic and New Covenant Grant Recipients

The Synod of the Covenant is delighted to announce that it has awarded almost $45,000 in grants to thirteen congregations and ministries in six presbyteries.  These awards, ranging from $1800 to $5000, include winners of the Racial Ethnic and New Covenant Grants.

The Racial Ethnic Grants, to help congregations primarily composed of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color supplement their mission work, include five winners.  The New Covenant Grants program supports congregational vitality/renewal, multicultural and social justice ministries, and higher education ministries, and eight congregations and ministries received funding.  Between the two grants, 32 applications were received.

Here are the grant awardees for the 2020:

Cincinnati Presbytery

Bond Hill Presbyterian Church:  $2,500 Racial Ethnic Grant for the Annual Christmas Basket Program Outreach

Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church:  $5,000 New Covenant Grant for the TEAMWorks Afterschool Program

Third Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati:  $5,000 Racial Ethnic Grant for the Recreation Center and the Cincinnati United Youth Council Programs

Detroit Presbytery

Hope Presbyterian Church:  $2,500 Racial Ethnic Grant for Building Repairs to Enable Youth Outreach

Mount Clemens Presbyterian Church:  $2,000 New Covenant Grant for a Consultant from the Center for Healthy Churches

Westminster Church of Detroit:  $5,000 New Covenant Grant for Technology to Enhance Worship and Children’s Ministry

Eastminster Presbytery

First Presbyterian Church of Warren (OH):$1800 New Covenant Grant for the Voices of Micah 6:8 Ministry of Racial Justice

Lake Huron Presbytery

Alma College:  $5,000 New Covenant Grant for Pre-Ministry Leadership Program

Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church:  $2,000 New Covenant Grant for Elder-Accessible Garden Beds with Community Garden

First Presbyterian Church of Alma:  $2,000 New Covenant Grant for the Food Pantry to Table Project and Community Cafe

 The Korean Presbyterian Church of Saginaw:  $5,000 Racial Ethnic Grant for Signage Reflecting New Name for Two Merged Churches

Lake Michigan Presbytery

Greenwood Ministries Association:  $2,000 New Covenant Grant for Video Project Addressing Discrimination

The Presbytery of the Western Reserve

Saint Marks Presbyterian Church:  $5,000 Racial Ethnic Grant for Christian Jazz Vespers Outreach

 

These grants, as well as the Higher Education Scholarships previously announced, are funded in part by per capita payments from the almost 700 Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations and more than 100,000 members, mostly in the states of Ohio and Michigan, throughout the Synod of the Covenant.

The Grants Committee includes Lisa Allgood (Cincinnati Presbytery), Betty Angelini (Eastminster Presbytery), Chip Hardwick (Synod of the Covenant), and Brady Radford (Administrative Commission, Synod of the Covenant).  In this Thanksgiving season, the committee is grateful for all who applied for these grants:

“In this Thanksgiving season, we are thankful for you.  Peace and love with faith to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  God’s grace to all of you who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love that never ends” (Ephesians 6:23-24).


Worship for the First Sunday of Advent

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, and you can worship alongside with others from the Synod using this worship service provided by the Presbyteries of Miami Valley and Cincinnati.  Cincinnati’s Executive Presbyter, Teaching Elder Lisa Allgood, offers the sermon.  The Synod is providing worship services for individual or congregational use during Advent and the Sunday after Christmas, including Christmas Eve.

Below please find the link for the whole worship service, and for simply the scripture and the sermon.

God bless you this Advent!


Get to Know the Presbytery of Lake Michigan

In the latest of a series of videos to help you get to know the presbyteries of the Synod of the Covenant, Interim Executive Chip Hardwick sits down with several leaders from the Presbytery of Lake Michigan to learn about how God is at work among and through their churches.  Listen especially for how the pandemic has revealed great faithfulness–from their church leaders, and, of course, from God!


A Prayer for Election Day

Heavenly Father
source of all truth and wisdom,
who knows and loves the whole creation,
watch over our nation at election time:
that truth may prevail over distortion,
wisdom triumph over recklessness
and the concerns of every person be heard.
 
Lord Jesus,
who chose the way of the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane,
help us to turn our backs on self interest
and to support policies that sustain the poor, the vulnerable,
and the frightened people of this world.
 
Holy Spirit,
who brought understanding among myriad peoples and languages at Pentecost, give to all your people a passion for peace
and inspire us to work for unity and cooperation throughout the world
and in our political life together.
 
Lord, we give thanks for the privileges and responsibilities
of living in a democratic society.
Give us wisdom to play our part at election time
that, through the exercise of each vote,
your Kingdom may come closer.
Protect us from the sins of despair and cynicism,
guard us against the idols of false utopias
and strengthen us to make politics a noble calling
that serves the common good of all.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Amen.

Rev. Cathi King of First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh (MI) in Maumee Valley Presbytery brought our attention to this prayer, originally included in the Unboxed Worship Blog in “How Would Jesus Vote?”.


Meet Scholarship Winner Haylee Tolman

Meet Haylee Tolman, who recently received a Higher Education Scholarship from the Synod of the Covenant!  Pray with us that Haylie will live into the vocation that God has called her to.  We claim for all students these words from Colossians 1:9-10:

“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works.” 


Get to Know Scioto Valley Presbytery

In the latest of a series of videos to help you get to know the presbyteries of the Synod of the Covenant, Interim Executive Chip Hardwick sits down with several leaders from the Scioto Valley Presbytery to learn about how God is at work among and through their churches.  Listen especially for how the pandemic has impacted their preparations to host 2022’s General Assembly!


Get to Know the Muskingum Valley Presbytery

In the latest of a series of videos to help you get to know the presbyteries of the Synod of the Covenant, Interim Executive Chip Hardwick sits down with Muskingum Valley Presbytery’s Moderator-Elect Rick Hastings and General Presbyter Matt Skolnik to learn about how God is at work among and through their churches.  Listen especially for all of the presbytery’s work to equip their leaders–even teachers during their Study Hall period!


Get to Know the Presbytery of Lake Huron

In the latest of a series of videos to help you get to know the presbyteries of the Synod of the Covenant, Interim Executive Chip Hardwick sits down with the Presbytery of Lake Huron’s Moderator Philomena Ofori-Nipaah and Executive Presbyter Dan Saperstein to learn about how God is at work among and through their churches.  You’ll also hear about two congregations reconciling after a split forty years ago!


Get to Know the Presbytery of the Western Reserve

In the latest of a series of videos to help you get to know the presbyteries of the Synod of the Covenant, Interim Executive Chip Hardwick sits down with the Presbytery of the Western Reserve’s General Presbyter Sharon Core and Moderator Charlie Swartz to learn about how God is at work among their churches.  You’ll also learn the unexpected relationship between Connecticut and this presbytery!