The Pastor’s Page

Christ Has Broken Down All Barriers

A Welcoming Statement for PRLC was announced at the Spring Annual Meeting. The statement is the result of our discernment around becoming an RIC (Reconciling in Christ) congregation. The statement reads as follows:

As people made one in the waters of baptism, we believe our lives and faith are strengthened by diversity. We strive to be a community that welcomes people of every ability, age, citizenship status, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, language, life circumstance, marital status, political perspective, race, and sexual orientation. Whether you are a believer, doubter, or seeker, we openly welcome and value you. We celebrate God’s unconditional love and respond joyfully to your presence here. All are welcome. You are welcome.

New member Catherine Davies, baptized at this year’s Easter Vigil

This statement was received with great enthusiasm. It is an important step to take, especially during a time of deep polarization within our nation. The witness of the Gospel counters all forms of racism, sexism, and classism.

I am not surprised that the statement begins with the acknowledgment of God’s gift of Baptism. There is a baptismal spirituality or ethos at PRLC, thanks in large measure to the WAY process and the centrality of baptism in our common life and
liturgy.

Maxwell Johnson, an ELCA Pastor who teaches at the University of Notre Dame, is fond of describing baptism as the “Great Equalizer.” He points to St. Paul’s words in Galatians, chapter 3, that in Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all baptized in Christ have clothed themselves with Christ.

Building off Paul’s ancient welcoming statement, Johnson asks, “Who are the displaced in our world today if not those separated by race, by social and economic status, or by gender? Who are the displaced even, at times, in the Church if not those separated by race, by social and economic status, or by gender?” (The Rites of Christian Initiation)

Becoming an RIC congregation is an important way of saying that this parish is a safe place and a sign pointing to God’s redeeming work in the church and in the world.

The next time you see the water poured into the font or dip your hand in the waters and make the sign of the Cross, remember that Christ has broken down all human barriers. You are part of a community of love made possible by God. Tell others they are welcome. Invite others to make the journey to the font.

Christ is making all things new!

Peace,
Pastor Hansen

 

The Pastor’s Page – April 2017

Easter Overflows with the Grace of God

It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and merciful God, for the glorious resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, the true Paschal Lamb who gave himself to take away our sin, who in dying has destroyed death, and in rising has brought us to eternal life. And so, with Mary Magdalene and Peter and all the witnesses of the resurrection, with earth and sea and all their creatures, and with angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, we praise your name and join their unending hymn …

– The Eucharistic Preface for Easter, Evangelical Lutheran Worship

The Easter preface is instructive. We are reminded that the chorus of praise to God extends well beyond the gathered church assembly. We add our songs of praise to the eternal hymn of the cosmos.

This reality sets in for me in a big way every year during the great Three Days when I get the sense that I’m caught up in something bigger than myself.

I find that to be especially true at the Easter Vigil. We ask God to bless fire, water, oil, bread, wine and God uses this stuff of creation to touch us and renew our lives. In the Easter Proclamation, we bid heaven and earth and all creation to rejoice with us. In fact, this ancient hymn of praise acknowledges the bees as God’s servants for they played a big role in producing the wax of the Paschal Candle!

The wonderful stories from the Hebrew Scriptures are more than a retelling of events in the past. They proclaim God’s saving work in the present. When we join the procession to the baptismal pool, pouring water from a special vessel, we join our stories to the great story of God’s redeeming love.

On this night when new Christians emerge from the baptismal waters, we welcome them not only to this faith community but to the Christian church that spans the world and transcends time and space.  And a redeemed earth and the choirs of heaven joins us in giving thanks at the table.

Easter overflows with the grace of God. The church, Christ’s very own body, made new again at font, word, and table is renewed and so joins God in God’s work of renewing the world. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Peace,
Pastor Hansen

 

 

Eucharistic Visitors Hit the Road!

Recently I visited one of our wise elders – someone who hasn’t been mobile for a long time. And while we were talking she said to me, “I haven’t been to church in a long time, but I’m so glad that church still comes to me.” This sentiment is exactly what lay Eucharistic Visitation is all about.

Beginning in April, you’ll see something new in worship about once a month. Members of our lay Eucharistic Visitor team will come forward after communion, and together we will bless and pray for them, sending them out of our assembly and into the homes of those who cannot be with us physically on Sundays. The Eucharistic Visitors will then make home visits, bringing with them conversation, prayer, scripture, and communion.

The concept of lay Eucharistic visitation is not new, and it’s not even new to PRLC. This ministry has existed on-and-off here for decades. What’s important to remember about this is that it is not done purely for practical purposes. The pastors will, in fact, continue to visit homebound members just as regularly as always. But visits by fellow congregation members serve to remind us all of the communion of saints! They remind us that we are one in Christ. By bringing communion straight off of our table and putting it into the hands of those who can’t get here, we simply extend our worship. Isn’t that a beautiful thing??

I invite you to be a part of it. If you or someone you know would like a visit from a lay Eucharistic Visitor, or if you’d like to be trained to participate in this ministry, please let me know.

Pastor Van Kley

 

The Pastor’s Page

O Blessed Spring

I recently read a little book called Light Boxes, a fantastical story about a small town experiencing a perpetual February. Tired of the winter that never ends, the townspeople conspire against February. A group known as the “Solution” tries all kinds of remedies to push back winter and all its devastating effects on the community and its way of life.

It occurred to me that the winter ethos is such that it often feels as though it will never end. Massive snowing occurred this February, and that’s something of an anomaly for Seattle. Winter always comes to an end, but we certainly may feel it is perpetual. I wonder if the little book I read was trying to say that in spite of all our resistance to winter, it’s beyond our control. The best thing to do is let it run its course.

I enjoy winter, but at some point I find myself longing for spring. Hints of springtime pop up this time of the year, when the days begin to lengthen and the flower bulbs begin to bud. Winter yields to spring and the promise that new life will emerge from death.

It is no mistake that the Christian year corresponds to the cycles, seasons and rhythms of the natural world. In the darkest part of winter, we light Advent candles and plead for the light of Christ to come. At Christmas and Epiphany, we say the darkness will not dispel the light, and now we look forward to Lent. The word for Lent comes from “the lengthening of days.” Lent is springtime.

The great thing about springtime is seeing new life burst out from all corners of creation. And it happens, too, in the Christian community. Lent is a time to experience and witness new birth and new growth. Adults and children find themselves preparing for Baptism at Easter. Many others are preparing to affirm their baptism, and all of us are called to return to the bath of baptism and the great promise that the God who provides perpetual welcome is also at work changing our lives. The way of life begun at the bath continues a lifelong pattern of dying and rising again.

Springtime carries such great promise. You can be assured of my prayers for you this Lent. May Christ shower us again with light and life.

Peace,
Pastor Hansen

 

PRLC Going RIC

RIC LogoAt the February meeting, the PRLC parish council came to consensus that our community become a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation. As an RIC congregation we are officially welcoming to sisters and brothers from the LGBTQ community. This decision is the result of much discernment. The conversation and prayer around this issue has taken place for many years. In the last year alone we’ve held adult forums and hosted other venues for conversation. At our January annual meeting we took a straw poll to gage the support of the congregation. The results of the poll were overwhelmingly in support of PRLC becoming an RIC church.

What’s next? The RIC committee will be at work fashioning a “Welcoming Statement.” How might such a statement, inclusive of the LGBTQ community, welcome all people and what does it mean for us to welcome all? Please feel free to pray these questions and to offer input by contacting Tiffany Megargee, chair of the group. And know that you are always welcome to speak to Pastor Van Kley or myself with any concerns or questions you may have.

As the Body of Christ we are Jesus’ welcoming arms. May the Spirit continue to lead the way.

God’s Peace,

Pastor Hansen

A Journey Toward Easter and Baptism

BaptismThe journey of Lent is a journey toward baptism. That is made abundantly clear in the Gospel lessons this year. Taken from the Gospel of John, these stories were used to instruct catechumens in the earliest church. Still, they are used in our WAY gatherings during Lent to prepare adults for baptism and renewal of baptism at the Easter Vigil. These stories from John are descriptions of life-giving encounters with Jesus: Nicodemus, the Woman at the Well, the Healing of the Blind Man, and the Raising of Lazarus.

You can expect your pastors and vicar to focus on these texts and on some aspect of Baptism throughout Lent. The font will be front and center. The liturgy will be trimmed down to reflect the fast that precedes the Easter feast. Such a “trimming down” draws our attention to the primary symbols of bath, word and meal.

We will accompany our WAY candidates through various rites during Lent. The Rite of Enrollment occurs on the First Sunday as those preparing for baptism endorse their desire to be baptized with their signature. In addition, all of our WAY candidates will be presented with the gift of the Creed and worship book on the third and fourth Sundays in Lent.

Ash Wednesday

The Lenten journey begins on Ash Wednesday, a solemn call to fast as we begin our journey to the baptismal waters at Easter. The liturgy includes confession of sin and the imposition of ashes. With the cross of ashes on our brow, we long for the spiritual renewal that flows from the Easter feast to come. This year Ash Wednesday falls on March 1st. We will have three worship opportunities:

  • 11:15 am and 7:30 pm: Liturgies are held in the sanctuary.
  • 6:30 pm: A shorter service in the Tree of Life room, intended for families with children.

All three services include imposition of ashes.

More Worship Opportunities in Lent

We have so many excellent opportunities to worship and learn together this season. As we simplify other aspects of our life and seek spiritual depth, we can center around a practice of prayer, either alone or together.

In addition to the services offered on Ash Wednesday, we will also be having Lent Midweek services every Wednesday during Lent:

  • March 8, 15, 22, 29, and April 5. Please mark your calendar for service at 11:15 and soup lunch at 12.

These midweek services will be a chance for quiet reflection, singing the simple music of Taizé, and praying with the Psalms.

We are also expanding our adult education during Bread for the Journey in the season of Lent. There will be an adult education class at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings in the Fireside Room, and we will be praying with the Psalms in a new way. It will be a time to touch our hearts and spirits rather than living in our minds.

Please come join us, and enjoy a holy Lent.

 

 

The Pastor’s Page

Sacred Listening

I stopped looking at Facebook during Advent. It’s not because Facebook is so bad. The issue is that I know myself all too well and am keenly aware that such things cause me to be distracted. When distracted, I don’t listen so well.

None of us can ever be completely free from distractions. Still, God invites us to pay attention to our lives. Listening is foundational to all our living. For Christians, such listening includes an engagement with scripture, prayer and the relationships we cultivate in the community of faith and among our family and friends. It includes listening to our deepest yearnings and paying attention to our experiences. In all of these ways God speaks to us. It is no wonder that Jesus, more than once in the Gospels, invites us to listen.

Over the past couple of years we’ve been in a discernment process here at Phinney. What began with a small group has now expanded to the parish council. Discernment is all about listening. Purposeful listening leads to making choices that are life-giving and consistent with God’s loving intentions. We want to endeavor to be such a community of faith in the very fabric of our common life and in the way we lead and move into the future.

The next step in this discernment journey is to invite all the members of PRLC into sacred listening.

During January, some items will be posted on the long wall in the fellowship hall. These are “four windows” or directions for the future of Phinney, the fruit of the parish council’s discernment. There you will be given opportunity to share your ideas, the fruit of your own listening.

You will hear more details during worship. Basically, you will be given several weeks to listen and respond. The council has listened and identified four areas for the future of PRLC – ministry in daily life, ministry to our neighborhood, ministries of justice, and ministry with other faith communities.

Where will God take us in these directions?

You are invited to explore this question with your sisters and brothers in Christ. Not a bad way to begin the new year.

Peace,
Pastor Hansen

 

The Pastor’s Page: Troubling the Waters

“Our profound human duty is not to interpret or cast light on the rhythm of God’s march, it is to adjust as much as we can the rhythm of our small fleeting life to God.”

– Nikos Kazantzakis

The Christian journey is precisely a journey.  Christ is always coming.  Lives bathed in prayer seek Christ’s presence, and to situate our lives in those places where the light of Christ beckons us.  One of the reasons I love the season of Advent is that it is a time when God calls the church to recapture lost visions and so be open to the new possibilities for life offered up by God.

Several leaders in our congregation have been responding to such a call.  It is a call to seek to enter into a journey of both reflecting upon the hard truths of injustice, and so enter into a new and renewed sense of justice reflecting God’s vision for a reconciled and diverse human community.  This has led them to embark upon a journey that begins in January and will last for several weeks.   Troubling the Waters for the Healing of the Church is a resource developed by our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for use in predominately white congregations to examine and reflect upon white privilege and so journey toward a more intentional partnership with people of color.

The preface to the resource reads:  Despite good intentions and past hopes, the journey to be a multicultural church is unfinished.  Simply opening the doors and saying, “All are welcome,” is clearly not enough.  This process is an intentional journey to enter into addressing hard question of what needs to die in order for new life to rise.

Having reviewed the resource and spoken with those who will lead the process, I’m very hopeful and encouraged by this process.  It is steeped in the promises of Baptism.  First, it is centered in God’s promise to be faithful to us.  Secondly, it seeks to address the promises we make in baptism to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.  These promises are not made in a vacuum but within our dynamic relationship with Christ of dying each day to that which is broken and sinful and rising each day to God’s newness.

The name for the journey is based on the great African American spiritual, “Wade in the Water.”  The repeated line, “God’s a-goin’ a trouble the water” was sung by slaves just prior the Civil War.  The song was coded with escape instructions.  Over the years the song has pointed to God’s help in leading people to freedom.

Troubling the Waters is based in a deep and rich use of scripture, prayer and reflection.   It is a journey that honors listening – listening to God, listening to one another, and listening to our neighbors to seek deeper understanding.  When God troubles the waters, you can be sure that healing and new life will prevail.

Peace,
Pastor Hansen

 

Christmas Greetings from Your Staff

Dear members and friends of PRLC,

This time of year gives us an opportunity to reflect on all we have and all we hope to be. As your staff, we are looking back at 2016 with immense gratitude. We have seen a lot of change, and a ton of growth! God has certainly smiled upon us, and has strengthened our relationships and ability to do ministry together as a team.

Phinney is a uniquely vibrant place. It is diverse, thoughtful, worshipful, faithful, and joy-filled! It could not be such a wonderful community without your presence. Each one of you – of every age and background – is essential to this ministry. We thank you for trusting us with the care of PRLC. We thank you for sharing your stories and prayers with us. We thank you for your hard work serving our neighborhood and world. We thank you for your time and your financial support. We thank you for your vision that keeps us always changing and growing and looking ahead. We, your staff, are grateful for the call to serve alongside you at PRLC. May God richly bless you, and our community, in the coming year.

In Christ,

Pastor Anne Van Kley
Pastor Bryon Hansen
Minister of Outreach Patrick Meagher
Minister of Children and Families Nancy Monelli
Parish Administrator Kirsten Olshausen
Parish Communications and Office Manager Christina Bogar
CDC Director Tim Sullivan
Lead Custodian Dallas Cooper