Father’s Day, Fires, Juneteenth & a Prayer

Right now I stop for a moment to give thanks for the men I know who serve, lead and love with kind and generous spirits and offer them a “Happy Father’s Day.” Those include the men in my family – Art, Christian, David, my brothers and brothers-in-law, as well as you men in our church who show your love for Christ by serving so faithfully. I thank God for you!

Smoke covers Tucson and fires roar over the mountains, bringing “ready-set-go” orders, along with anxiety and uncertainty. I hear that fires are burning in various parts of Arizona. Although we know that fire can eventually bring new growth and health to the land, I pray today for the safety of people, animals and property, with a special prayer and word of thanks for those fighting these fires.

Today we celebrate Juneteenth, a day to remember the proclamation of freedom for the last of the slaves in our country, when those in Texas were finally announced as free on June 19, 1865. But slavery in the United States did not officially end until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States on December 6, 1865, which abolished slavery entirely in all of the U.S. states and territories. It still took a long time for enslaved people to be truly free. This memory is particularly poignant in these days, as I along with many others renew our commitment to work toward true freedom and justice for all God’s people, resisting evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Those last words are taken from our baptismal vows, which we renew every time someone is baptized in or joins our church.

This Sunday, June 21, we begin a short, three-week sermon series on “Deadly Sins” and talk about “Greed.” How does greed close off our hearts to what God wants for us? What is it like when people decide to live with generosity rather than greed? Join our worship service at 9:45 a.m. on umcstmarks.org/live-worship; YouTube (St. Mark’s Oro Valley) or St. Mark’s Facebook. While our buildings remain closed, St. Mark’s UMC is still open and active, as you can see from the many announcements at the end of this email.

Now, a prayer: Bring rain, O God, to our dry desert and pour water upon the fires. Calm our anxious spirits, as we long for an end to the pandemic, fires, violent acts toward people. Cover us over with your love and guide us in bringing hope and healing to our community, our country and our world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings, Sharon