This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Betsey Newenhuyse,
FPCE worship council chairperson. 

Dear friends,

Are you old enough to remember the night of September 11, 2001? How it felt? 

The very sky was silent. The roads, nearly empty. Most people were huddled in their homes, twinkles of TV light in the darkness, as they held onto their dear ones and stared at the endless, “this-can’t-be-happening” replays of giant buildings burning up and collapsing within sight of the Statue of Liberty.

We, however—Fritz, Amanda, and I—were on our way to church, specifically Immanuel Presbyterian Church in the green and pleasant far western suburbs of Chicago. Our senior pastor and elders had called for the people to gather in prayer in response to the shock and horror of the day, against the fear of the terror yet to come. Mostly, we needed not to be alone on this night. 

It was not a large assembly. We all sat bunched together in the front rows of the Sanctuary. Periods of silence were broken by bursts of intercession, short “thank-you” verses from Scripture, cries for help. It felt like a wartime gathering; a small but hardy band defying the “terrors of the night…the disaster that strikes at midday” (Psalm 91: 5–6, New Living Translation).  

This is what we’re supposed to be doing, church. 

Today, thank God, we do not appear to be under imminent threat from distant enemies. But, as always in our world, in Jesus’ day and now, that encroaching darkness is never far away. It’s around the corner, in the streets, in gleaming buildings where people make big decisions. If we are truthful, the darkness is in us. 

Prayer illumines, whether we are wrestling in the dark or confronted with major decisions or seeking the path of faithfulness as a body. 

First Pres is on the cusp of an exciting season of change right now. New plans, new structures, new ways to be family, new ways to live out our mission statement. We will share more at our Congregational Meeting coming up on Sunday, February 19. But “unless the Lord builds the house…” (Psalm 127, English Standard Version) we, His church, labor fruitlessly, no matter how well-conceived and even necessary our plans may seem to be. That is the danger we face in this moment. 

So, please, dear church family, pray for this new season. Pray whether on your own, in a small group, or in council meetings. Pray wherever two or three are gathered. What should you pray for? The Holy Spirit will guide you. The point, really, is to give it all to Him—and He is listening. 

 —Betsey Newenhuyse 

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