REVerberations – October 2017

by Rev. Dr. Marty Kuchma, Senior Pastor

So I sit with many questions streaming through my brain.  And they’re all over the map.  Here are just a few of the things on my mind at the moment.

How can we make Sunday morning announcements more efficient and effective?  The Music Team and I have been bandying about various possibilities.  It would be a genuine loss if we were to eliminate time for people to speak up on Sunday mornings about various things that matter to them; that is part of who we are, warm, welcoming, informal, personal.  And I love that about us.  But we can’t – can we? – afford to have announcements go 17-18 minutes each week.  We can’t start announcements early because another one of our charms – really – is that many of us tend to get there right on time, often rushing from other commitments.

A related question has to do with ensuring that everyone has the best chance to actually hear what others say.  So a proposal now on the table is that we set up a microphone near the lectern and ask people making announcements to sit in the front pew to start, then come up in turn to speak.  Does that provide enough order to our weekly ritual without losing aspects of the process that are important?

Does saluting the flag trump honoring what the flag stands for?  Isn’t the flag ultimately supposed to symbolize every person’s right to protest injustice as they see it?  Perhaps more significantly, how can we ever – can we ever? – get past knee-jerk reactions to emotionally-charged issues and, with patience and shared purpose, have the courageous conversations we need to have about things that turn out to be remarkably complex?

Why do we sing the national anthem before sporting events anyway?  Think about it… There is no logical connection except that we have done it that way for a long time, not forever but for a while.  And why that particular song?  Notwithstanding that it is hard to sing, the third verse appears to glorify slavery.  We know that the song itself was written by a slaveholder who believed blacks to be “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that affects a community.”

Will we ever get past the distracting claims that the current NFL protests are an attack on national identity and address the problems of racism that have been at the heart of the protests from the start?

Can effective protest ever be anything like pleasant?

What does it mean to be a “patriot?”  Who arbitrates the definition and makes the final determination?

With all of the homeless shelters in Carroll County full and with harsher Winter weather coming fairly soon, what can be done to provide reasonable shelter for people in need who, for various reasons, do not have any other options?  I found out this week that the wait list for one of the shelters has 80 people on it, and that current applicants can expect to wait until after the new year for possible placement.  The St. Paul’s Grant Foundation gifts this year will make a difference, as will all of the work we do personally.  But what else is there to do?  Something’s gotta give.

What is it like to be on the island of Puerto Rico right now with shortages of nearly every resource needed for basic human survival?  How is this going to play out?  And what can we do to help?  What’s happening in Texas and Florida at this point?  Is it conceivable that there are any more survivors in the rubble in Mexico City?

Is it possible to curb the opioid epidemic?  What can be done before more people get sucked into it and more people who are in it die?  With more powerful and lethal drugs on the streets, people are at exponentially greater risk of trauma and death.  Overdose and fatality numbers are surging.

What could be more basic to a nation than providing adequate care so its citizens can all live healthy and productive lives?  And what would Jesus the Healer expect of us as his modern-day disciples relative to healthcare?

How much is money the root of all evil?

When will climate change be irreversible, assuming it isn’t already?  Is it really possible that nuclear annihilation will make the question moot?

Where is God in it all?

Why are elephants gray?  Why is a cow?

Of course I welcome your insights…

Many Blessings,


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