Dry Desert
He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna... in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:3

Do you remember when Regan and Hannah presented this fall about our amazing pilgrimage trip to Wyoming? They told the story of our trip, day by day.


I frequently think about one of the moments Regan described, when we saw a herd of buffalo by the side of the road. On this particular day, we saw a baby buffalo eating a blue surgical mask. There, in the midst of vast plains and enormous mountains, we were confronted with another layer of cost of the pandemic.


Where will the billions of masks we're producing go??


Landfills.


Oceans.


The mouths of baby wild animals.


So, I found a way for us to recycle some of those masks.


If you have used surgical, KN95, N95, or dust masks, bring them to St. Paul's! We're returning to in-person worship on Sunday, February 6th. Starting that day, please bring in your disposable masks and deposit them in this recycling box. It's right by the main door to the sanctuary.


We need to fill up this whole big box, so collect used masks from your family and neighbors, too!


(And please don't put any other PPE in this box; it's disposable masks only.)


We wear our masks because it's our responsibility to care for our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31). But it's also our responsibility to be good stewards of God's creation (Genesis 1:15). This is the best option I've found for doing both in this circumstance.


To read more about how the mask recycling process works, check out Terracycle's Zero Waste Boxes website.


A colorful mural stretched across a large exterior wall, full of pictures of Black children doing activities: reading, soccer, karate, lacrosse
Southington's "MLK39: Racial Equity" Mural

In the church, we love to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a civil rights activist, of course, but he was a minister, too. Active in the movement for civil rights from 1955 until his assassination in 1968, Dr. King is known for many things. Many of us can probably bring one of his famous quotes to mind.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Especially for that last one, I can hear his voice ringing out that refrain: “I have a dream, I have a dream...”


But Dr. King wasn’t just a person who said a lot of beautiful words about unity. He spent his life afflicting the comfortable, demanding justice, and organizing people to take direct action.


In 1963, eight white clergymen in Birmingham, Alabama wrote an open letter called “A Call for Unity.” The signatories included two Episcopal bishops. The men critiqued the civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, urging the people to negotiate and use the courts, not protest.


In response, from his cell in a Birmingham city jail, Dr. King wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (download and read it by clicking here).


It’s a little long, but I encourage you to read the whole thing. Pray with this letter this week. While you do, I encourage you to consider these questions:

  • What parts of the letter make sense to you, and where does it make you feel uncomfortable?

  • How (if at all) are these words applicable to today’s world?

  • Where are you in this letter?

And, for fun, here is a video documenting the process of making our own mural in town that's inspired by Dr. King's legacy: Southington's "MLK39: Racial Equity" mural.


Did you know that the Episcopal Church has an online dictionary?


It’s a great guide to the many terms and concepts that mark our tradition. And a good way to find something out when you’re too embarrassed to ask (not that I’ve ever used it for this purpose)!


A screenshot of a website that says An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, with a Mac laptop and iPad in the corners.

Here’s the entry for the Epiphany Season, which is the church season we just entered:


A season of four to nine weeks, from the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6) through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The length of the season varies according to the date of Easter. The gospel stories of this season describe various events that manifest the divinity of Jesus. The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Epiphany. The Baptism of our Lord is observed on the Sunday after Epiphany. The gospels for the other Sundays of the Epiphany season describe the wedding at Cana, the calling of the disciples, and various miracles and teachings of Jesus. The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is always devoted to the Transfiguration. Jesus' identity as the Son of God is dramatically revealed in the Transfiguration gospel, as well as the gospel of the baptism of Christ. We are called to respond to Christ in faith through the showings of his divinity recorded in the gospels of the Epiphany season.

I highly recommend clicking through the dictionary, or use the search feature on the Episcopal Church website to search the dictionary.


You can learn little facts about cool saints, like Macrina the Younger (c. 327 – c. 379), or find out what we think is happening during the Eucharist—and everything in between.