Dear friends in Christ:

When I was in 2nd grade, my teacher read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods to us. I was captivated. Wilder's books -- I read every single book in the series more than once -- are in many ways more mythology than history but they lit a spark, creating a student of history for a lifetime.

Through my love of history I have developed a deep gratitude for being a citizen of the United States. Reading the history both of our country and of others is a reminder that the United States was founded on principles and values unlike those of many other nations. True, we have often failed to live by those principles and values. Yet at our best we have lived with --  and sometimes died for -- an understanding of shared liberty and democratic authority that has been an example for much of the world.

Many times I have been proud of our nation. Watching Neil Armstrong step on the moon. Experiencing the initial response of good will following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Electing the first African-American to be President of the United States. The day the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality.

Other times I have been outraged by our failures. Witnessing the disrespect shown Anita Hill when she testified at the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas. Watching the video of George Floyd's death. Buying adult diapers for a Black man to take to his wife because he couldn't find a job and had no societal support to care for her most basic needs.

Today I feel something else: sadness. The U.S. Capitol was stormed yesterday by an angry mob fueled by narcissistic and demagogic leaders who care only for their own power. It doesn't matter with which political party you affiliate or for whom you voted. At least it shouldn't. We should all be appalled. We have fallen so far from the values expressed by Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address. "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

What do we do now? A good place to start would be to heed the wisdom of Howard Thurman, the great civil rights leader and theologian, articulated so eloquently in his poem, "The Work of Christmas."

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Your friend in Christ,
Sunday worship service live streams at 9 a.m. Please worship together with us!
Sunday, January 10, 9:45-10:45 a.m., via Zoom
Join for a conversation with the Rev. John Denson, D.Min.
Wednesdays, January 27-April 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m., via Zoom
The Diocese of Indianapolis invites all parishes to participate in a film and readings-based dialogue series about racial healing, reconcilation and justice. This 11-part series invites participants to peel away the layers that have contributed to the challenges and divides of the present day -- grounded in our call to faith, hope and love. Click here for more info. Register here.

St. Paul's Faith, Justice & the Arts (FJA) recently gifted a painting by artist Kyle Ragsdale to Coburn Place, a local shelter supporting survivors of domestic violence. The painting was from the artist's recent show "Zephyr," which was made possible by an FJA artist grant. Ragsdale was one of the two Fall 2019 Artist Grant recipients and his works were recently exhibited at the Harrison Center for the Arts. Learn more about this show and the meaning behind "Zephyr" when Ragsdale hosts a Faith Forum on Sunday, January 17 at 9:45 a.m.
Devotionals are available for February-March-April and will be mailed soon. If you would like to receive a copy, please contact Tana Hunnicutt.
Those over the age of 80 are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and are selected to be among the first to receive the vaccination. Click here to learn more or visit here to find a vaccination site near you.

St. Paul's Indy invites all people into a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ so that together we can share God's joy and love in the world.