A Lament Collection

Church is a collection of people looking above to worship God in Jesus Christ. Thinking as I stared at a collection of different succulents, lament and sadness overwhelm. Dee Lowe; pandemic; masks; empty churches; marching; riots; unemployment; division. And then it hit me that a good thing to do would be to ask one of our poets in residence within Palo Duro Presbytery, Annette Reasoner from Grace Presbyterian church, to write a poem where she would share her reflections of the world in chaos over the past three months. I didn’t mention the word ‘collection’ or ‘collective’. Yes, of course the Presbyterian Church cherishes a collection of diverse people, talents and voices. We all adore beautiful words, especially as we contemplate the Living Word. Listen to Annette’s words. (Artist: Cate Edwards and “Bird on Blue Bowl)

Collective Grief

By Annette Reasoner, 2020

Collectively, the world grieves.

Behind masks, behind doors
Self-isolating, sheltering in place, quarantining,
We grieve collectively.
The world groans, shakes in fear, peering out
Through window blinds
Onto empty streets
And a future unknown.
Alone, yet all in this together.

Collectively the world grieves, groans, shakes,
Peering out window blinds
Onto streets filled with
Protesters and burning buildings
Onto streets clouded with tear gas
Onto streets that scream for justice
Onto streets where men scream,
I can’t breathe.

Collectively the world grieves
A loss of the manner
Of grief.
Collectively we grieve those who die in hospitals
Surrounded by strangers
Nurses and doctors not even visible
Beneath layers of protective gear
That say untouchable. Unclean.
Collectively we grieve with those who cannot embrace
Or hold the hand of their loved one
When death comes.
Or be comforted in their loss by a friend’s embrace.
Collectively we grieve those who never got to
Say goodbye.
Those buried in mass graves
Without a funeral
Without flowers.
And collectively we grieve those whose final breath,
Whose final pleas for mercy
And whose terror plays out before us
On our television screens,
Whose loved ones are not allowed to grieve privately.
The world grieves. I grieve.

Help us fill pulpits: To our Sessions, Churches and members, Palo Duro generally and three churches in particular Littlefield, Santa Anna and Seymour are looking for preaching regularly and/or ever once in a while. Please help us lift up Christ’s church and be a small part of the preaching requirement in these places. Members from the pews have the freedom to stand up and say what they believe about Jesus Christ, and we need you. Pray about it, and call Scott.

224th General Assembly 2020 will meet virtually because of the pandemic. Which is quite odd, and but it is also an opportunity to step forward like churches have done to explore theologically in ways we never have. One advantage is certainly that you can observe the GA on-line: https://ga-pcusa.org/ A shorter event is planned currently, June 19th, 26th and 27th. PDP’s Commoners are Rev. George Records from First Presbyterian Church in Vernon, Texas and Elder Karen Copple; YAD (Youth Adult Advisory Delegate) is Parker Adamson, First Presbyterian Church in Plainview.

A Special Lament Liturgy: With so much change and mourning this day in our presbytery, I was asked if I had a prayer or a liturgy. I share this liturgy I used when as a chaplain in downtown Austin I participated in a memorial for a beloved charge nurse. I think it fits as we mourn the loss of Dee Lowe and take-in the protests and riots.

Leader: We mourn but Jesus says, “Fear not.”
All: Jesus says, “Fear not.” O God, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
We Praise You! You fashioned the earth and all that lives there.
L: We mourn but YOU give breath to the people upon it, and the Spirit to those who walk on it. We praise YOU, O God!
A: That the eyes of the blind be opened, the broken-hearted be healed, the poor hear the good news, the captives be brought out of darkness. YOUR Kingdom Come, O Lord.
L: “On earth as it is in heaven” is a dangerous prayer; we pray it.
A: We mourn. YOU stretched out your arm and held out your hand to heal and to help me and us. So, we bless YOU.
L: As if it were not enough to do all this and return, triumphant to glory, you still hear our cries in the courts of high heaven, and promise your Spirit for the healing of the nations for me and for us.
A: So we bless YOU. God of all Power, Lord of our weakness, Spirit of our salvation. Amen.

Buffalo Gap Church Camp is Going Online!

In an abundance of caution in the Covid-19 pandemic and in lieu of an in-person event, the church camp of Palo Duro Presbytery has decided to offer an online camp experience for summer of 2020 in partnership with Buffalo Gap Presbyterian Encampment!

What does this mean? We will not have campers come out to Buffalo Gap this summer. Though we LOVE seeing your campers in person, we want to ensure the health and safety of our campers and camp staff during this pandemic. Because we don’t feel like it is really summer without seeing and being in community with your camper, we are bringing camp to your home! Each camper will receive a “camp in the box” in the mail and have access to online live bible studies, live small group games and conversations, craft tutorials, and worship services.

What’s in the box? Boxes will have all the supplies needed to make each day’s camp craft, a song book for worship, a camp t-shirt, and a bible study workbook.

What will each day look like? A bible study will help us kick off each day. This study will be followed up by a small group time with one of your camper’s favorite counselors. Both of these will be live Zoom events. Craft videos will be made available for campers to work on in the afternoon along with daily challenges to get campers moving and/or spending time with loved ones. The day will finish with an online worship service in the evening.

What do I need to participate? Each camper or family will need a computer or mobile device that is compatible with the Zoom app and that has a camera. If you do not have access to this technology, talk to us out here at the camp to troubleshoot solutions and/or talk to your local Presbyterian congregation for help.

What are the dates?
Mini and Elementary Camp (Completed 1st-5th grade) – June 14-19
Middle and High School Camp (Completed 6th-12 grade) – June 21-26

How do I sign-up?
Visit us online at https://www.buffalogapcamp.org/summer-camps to register. Because we need to mail boxes to camper’s homes, we cannot have last minute day-of registrations like we normally do. All campers must be registered by June 7th at 11:59 PM to participate.

How much does it cost? We are asking for $45 a camper. You can pay online for camp as a part of your registration or by mail via check or cash. As always, camper-ships are available for those that cannot pay full price through your local Presbyterian church, the Palo Duro Presbytery, and through the church camp. Email your church or reply to this email for more details.

Special request: This has been a tough year for everyone and Buffalo Gap Presbyterian Encampment has taken quite a hit. 2021 is supposed to be the 100th anniversary of the campgrounds. The recent closures and cancellations have produced many concerns about the future the encampment and in turn the church camps we host each summer. Church camp normally costs $275 for elementary, middle and high school students and $165 for mini students. Would you consider paying the usual amount for your camper this year with the additional funds going to the 2020 operating budget of the Buffalo Gap Presbyterian Encampment? Additional funds will help us make it to our 100th anniversary and to invest in the facilities to make church camp 2021 the best year yet!

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