Recent reports regarding the disappearance of 5-year old Jeremiah Oliver, who was under the care of the Department of Children and Families, have been alarming. Upon his disappearance, the number of children, removed from family settings around the commonwealth of Massachusetts (for fear of them suffering abuse), has escalated. There is a part of us that cannot believe, there is a part of us that wishes not to believe, that abuse can take place in the very structure that should offer loving stability, the family.
As Christians we are enraged that such an evil exists. Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Roman church, makes an important statement of what should be the “mark” of a true Christian. Paul asks the Church to “hate what is evil while holding fast to what is good. . be patient in affliction.”
“In affliction” means that “in the midst of suffering” or “because of suffering” we need to persevere and be patient; we need to extend hospitality to those who are strangers.
This Lent we will be asking the community of Manchester-by-the-Sea, as well as First Parish Church, to help strangers we cannot know and we will never meet. We are asking people to help make an impact on the abused children and families of Massachusetts by supporting a local program called the Star House.
On Sunday, March 9th (remember it is Daylight Savings Time!) Linda Carden, founder of Star House, will come to our congregation and allow our Sunday School children to experience “expressive therapy” which she uses to help restore abused families and children. Then, for the 3-following Sundays, March 16, 23, & 30, we will ask our membership to donate art supplies so that “Art Kits” will be available to needy children and families. Our youth, on the weekend of Palm Sunday, will then pack these art kits for the Star House.
On Wednesday April 9th, there will be a “Celebrity Night” at The Landing at 7 Central Restaurant; directly across from our Church Building from 6:00 -8:00 PM. People who attend will financially support the Star House. The following Tuesday April 15 20% of all food and drink ordered that evening at The Landing at 7 Central will be donated to the Star House.
On the weekend of April 26 & 27, young couples who have recently married or had baptisms at First Parish Church will be asked to offer “sweat equity” by painting of the Star House and rebuilding a deck at the back door; they will be asked to “share with God’s people who are in need”.
It is easy to be enraged about evil but the Apostle Paul asks us to ‘hate what is evil as you cling to what is good; Paul asks us to restore God’s blessings to strangers.
This Lent we pray that people will find it in their hearts to offer hospitality to people they will not meet and cannot know. We pray for a service to God that will allow young couples to be “Joyful in hope, patient in the midst of terrible suffering, prayerfully faithful”.
In advance of your generosity and prayers, Thank you.