Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Matthew 13:44-52

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." 52 And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."
I find myself registering for a lot of webinars these days, usually listening to them in the background while I answer emails, like they are some bizarre work-from-home playlist. One webinar I caught last week was for faith leaders and gave leadership tips for crisis moments. The two panelists on the call had led their congregations through natural disasters. One pastor and his congregation had weathered five hurricanes!

At the end of the call one of the panelists said, “Never waste a crisis.” He went on to explain that moments of crisis are when things are intensified and we can see more clearly if our values are the things central to our identity, or if they are just fine ideas that we wish were central to our identity. 

Finding the pearl of great value is a discovery that disrupts the flow of normal life, and crystallizes exactly what is important, what is real, and what matters. It is worth giving up everything else to have this one thing. It promises a new way of living.

In the vastness of a global pandemic, amid riots across the country, which of our values has been our guiding star? How have our actions pointed to our values? And do those values support our identity as people? Which of these is a “pearl”?

I can’t answer those questions for you as an individual. I know that as a people of faith, I am proud that our Agape and mission teams have sprung to action to give whatever they had - whether it was food, money, or supplies on hand - to help make this time of uncertainty less painful for our neighbors. That drive to spring to action when others are suffering is a pearl.

What would it mean to dive headfirst toward the impulse to end suffering? 

The last thing one of the panelists said was that to decide when it is safe to do things more normally, we should ask “Am I making a decision because I am tired of how things are, or because things have changed?” When I apply this question to the protests and riots in major cities across our country, the answer is “both.” Some things have changed to expose the ugly side of how our society functions to ensure the suffering, even suffering unto death, of others. I am also tired of how things are. I am tired of living with inequalities. I am tired of poverty. I am tired of segregation. I am tired of unequal pay. I am just so tired.

We have found some pearls. We know what we value. Will we give up everything we have known in order to pursue a new way of living?
God, give us the courage of our convictions to recognize the great pearl when we find it. Energize us for the future, no matter how tiring the present makes us. May we never look back on the promise for a new, better way of living. Amen
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at:
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
Please watch your email, our church website and Facebook page
for updates on the ways in which you can worship at home!

We are so excited for worship using Facebook Live Sunday morning at 10am, as well,
and we hope you can tune in!
Be sure to LIKE us on Facebook and stay up to date on social media!