In November 2017, I wrote the following for the newsletter:
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
~ Psalm 118:24
Just before I sat down to write this newsletter article, I attended an event entitled Critical Conversations: Gun Violence. There was a lot said that was important, but two things stood out for me:
We are afraid of many things, especially of each other.
The most important thing that our police officers are learning is that we need to help each other to re-learn respect for others and change the dialogue from instant animosity to respectful listening.
It seems to me that if we take our cue from the Psalmist and see each day as a gift from God, our outlook can be basically – fundamentally – positive. As we approach Thanksgiving, I urge each of us to check our attitudes, for this is the day that the Lord has made! Am I ready to rejoice?
Today I’d like to add to that note a bit of an update – a promising sign for the future in Reisterstown.
Back in mid-summer, the County Executive’s office reached out to us to see if we would be willing to participate in a conversation about replacing an after-school program that will shut down when the library closes for renovations. Basically, students from Franklin Middle who go to the library after school take part in a program called “Teen Time.” Twenty at a time, the youth go to the library’s meeting room to play video games, have a snack, do homework, do some arts and crafts, and hang out with friends – with the supervision of 2 library staff people.
Many of you know that Susan and I have been actively working to build relationships among people in Reisterstown. We’ve worked with other churches and community groups, our goal being not just activity but relationships because we see some disconnects among segments of our community and believe that there are ways to build community so that the community of Reisterstown can become stronger, especially as it grows in its diversity.
The event I referenced in my 2017 November newsletter was held by the Conference, and there were speakers from several diverse groups in Baltimore. The police officers who spoke were clearly talking about the same thing – building relationships for a healthy community.
As we have worked toward RUMC hosting Teen Time on Main Street, we are working with the Franklin Precinct of the police department, the school, Reisterstown Improvement Association, and the PTA. Every party involved in this work is committed to building those relationships and developing a model of collaboration where the community works together to model positive, healthy relationships and promote respect. Can you just imagine what it can be like for these teens to interact in positive ways with police officers and other community leaders?
We haven’t worked out all of the bugs yet, but we’re getting there. We ask your prayers! There are some administrative hurdles to overcome, but the commitment is there. Thank God for the gift of this opportunity to serve in the community as part of a team. Ask God to guide and direct our path and to make a way to complete this work. Then, perhaps most of all, ask God to fill all of our RUMC hearts with hospitality and rejoicing at the opportunity to offer grace and love to the teens of our community.
Blessings on you – and Happy Thanksgiving!