Through the Looking Glass
Earlier this month we had a big snow day. Rather than risking a drive on complicated roads, I opted to work from home, where I could gaze through the living room window at the snow-covered ground. That way, the snow was beautiful, not dangerous.
Looking through the window on a snow day brings me a sense of calm and peace. All I want to do is soak it in and enjoy the scene for as long as possible. The mood is altogether different when I look out the window on a sunny day in spring or summer. On these days the world is beckoning me to go outside. And when I look out on a rainy day I like to remember my baptism.
Early in the PRLC discernment process, your parish council decided it would be a good spiritual exercise to look out into the world through different lenses. We created four windows through which we looked at God’s activity in the world and this shaped our prayer, discussion and resolve. Looking through each window gave us a way to see and discover God’s work and our response in several ways. The Four Windows were justice, neighborhood, ministry in daily life, and ecumenism. What did peering through these various windows stir up in us?
Looking through this window recalls the longing of God’s heart once spoken through the prophet Amos: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everlasting stream.” Just so, we partnered with Lutheran Community Services Northwest to become a “Circle of Welcome” congregation to assist refugee families seeking a home in the Seattle area. Several PRLC folks have been trained, and we are now ready to accompany refugees coming to our country. The Race/Equity Team has stirred up our hearts and minds with education on Race and Privilege. And they’ve only just begun. Stay tuned for Adult Forums in Lent. We now have a Green Team dedicated to issues around environmental justice and we are now a Rain Wise community! And being a Reconciling in Christ congregation has increased our awareness and involvement in advocacy for the LGBTQ community.
One of the reasons PRLC is a vibrant community is that we’ve been an active part of the Phinney/Greenwood neighborhood for many years. We’ve reaffirmed our outreach efforts and are strengthening the link between the CDC (Child Development Center) and the congregation, and have enhanced the PRLC Food Bank. Last fall we held a block party for all the neighborhood and it was great fun.
Ministry in Daily Life
When we look onto the world through this lens, we see our work in the world as a call from God. Vocation includes your job, your family, your friends, and so much more. The strong emphasis on Baptism at PRLC helps shape our notion of being in the world as those called to minister wherever we are. The work of formation for children, teens, and adults continues and grows strong. Eighth-grade confirmation students are now meeting with the WAY folks on Sunday nights with a view toward renewing baptism at the Easter Vigil and discerning what it means to “walk wet” during the great 50 days of Easter. The staff is also dedicated to developing small groups and resources for faith formation in the home.
Looking through this window is to pray along with Jesus that the church be one, just as he and the Father are one. People at PRLC took it a step further to include life together with people of faith even beyond the Christian family. A seven-week Forum series on Islam and a visit to a local Mosque was just the first step. We are committed to continue exploring the world’s religions in more depth. Locally, your pastoral staff is seeking to forge relationships with the churches in our neighborhood.
The Council used these four windows as a template on our monthly agenda for well over a year. It has served us well. Now, we will be using other tools to continue to spark our imagination as we seek to discover God in all things and respond to Christ’s call to make disciples, but the work of discernment has not ended. Discernment never ends. My friend Jack Kennedy is a spiritual director, and he met with the PRLC Council for this process. He is fond of saying that the aim of discernment is to prayerfully discover where God is calling us to “take the next loving step.” Where and how is the Spirit nudging us to do another new and loving thing? We continue to listen and take notice of Christ among us so that we may discern the next loving step.