Old First uses our iron fence to “speak the word faithfully,” as is written in the book of Jeremiah that we’ll hear this week.
Recently, we put up a series of plastic signs that illustrate the UCC “Be the Church” sign that can be seen at the corner of 4th and Race. Many people have stopped to tell us that they came here because they saw the sign from the road or even the bridge. The signs said, “Protect the environment. Care for the poor. Embrace diversity. Reject racism. Forgive often. Love God. Fight for the powerless. Share earthly and spiritual resources. Enjoy this life. Give God a Hand.” The illustrations were designed for us by congregation member Roxanan Cruisemire. They were admired by many and several other churches have contacted her about duplicating them.
This past week, all the lovely new signs were vandalized. An older man with a cane broke every one. A passerby saw what was happening and came in to tell us about it. As you can see in the photos, he meant to destroy the signs. We don’t know what his reason was, though Jesus’ words this week remind us that he came, not for peace but, “rather division!” Sometimes we are a target for whatever is troubling other’s souls. Sometimes, words can be, as Jeremiah says, “Like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.”
The police were called, just to document the problem, and the man was identified as someone who had been seen earlier in the neighborhood, sleeping on the street.
We’re leaving the fence empty for now, keeping up the large “Be the Church” signs. The damaged signs cost about $250, too little for an insurance claim and too much to redo them right now with the decision to freeze unnecessary spending. Angel gifts to replace them are welcome.