is the season uniquely applicable to us who are Gentiles, the grafted-on
branches to the tree of salvation, those who do well to marvel at the magnitude
of the grace of God Christ that includes us. This is not common in our religiously
pluralist setting, especially in our part of the world where the common
assumption is that we're not grafted on at all--we're mainstream.
The community meal our church hosts--a modest operation that
serves four free meals a week to about 50 guests--has recently lost its main
source of donations. For several years, we've received big boxes of discarded
produce--lettuce, peppers, asparagus, chiles, tomatoes, potatoes, whatever was
being gleaned from the store shelves--from our local chain grocery.
William Robeson, a former slave and father of civil rights leader and singer Paul Robeson, became pastor of the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1879. After 21 years of service, white members of the presbytery forced him out because of his outspoken efforts to end racism and repeal Jim Crow laws in Princeton. The congregation had to sell the manse due to loss of funding. The church repurchased the manse in 2005 and turned it into the Paul Robeson House, a meeting place to advance human rights. In an act of racial reconciliation, the Synod of the Northeast is clearing the debt of $175,000 that remains on the mortgage held by the congregation (PCUSA, November 13).