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.

 

 

PRLC Pilgrims

Moving Forward Together

Many of us wrestle with how to best live as both Christians and citizens while partisan politics divide our country. At PRLC, we take great care in how we approach public advocacy on potentially divisive issues. Some may wish to keep political opinions private, while some may feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak and act publicly. We respect the convictions of every member of our community, even if we disagree.

Recently, a large group of PRLC members participated in the Womxn’s March on Seattle and found tremendous hope in the practice of walking together toward a common goal. Continuing in this vein, a new group is forming: PRLC Pilgrims.

2017-02-01 Holding CandlesAs individuals on a long journey, we may tire. As a community on a pilgrimage, we support each other and draw from our strong faith tradition to move forward in the face of oppression. Together, we march toward the light. Our first need is to gather before God and find rest for our souls. Drawing on the rich emotional landscape of the Psalms, Pastor Hansen and Minister of Outreach Patrick Meagher are planning a special service to care for heavy hearts and find rebirth for the days ahead.

Service of Lament and Thanksgiving

Thursday, February 9, 2017, 7pm

If you’d like to attend, please contact Minister of Outreach Patrick Meagher.

 

Worship in January

baptism-of-our-lordThe Baptism of our Lord is celebrated this year on January 8. This day becomes an occasion to celebrate our baptism into Christ. Just so, we will renew our baptismal covenant and take an official “next step” into our discernment process. While only two Gospels tell the story of Jesus’ birth, each one says something about Jesus’ baptism. It is a great epiphany or manifestation of God’s life among us. At the river God declares Jesus to be God’s chosen and beloved one and there the Spirit anoints him for ministry.

Beginning January 15 we enter into a phase of “ordinary time.” In this season after Epiphany, we will hear from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount something of what it means to live as those who bear the light of Christ. The theme of Epiphany light is not lost in this time. We will greet the Gospel by singing the biblical refrain, “The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light” and the Song of Simeon will function as a kind of sending song – “My own eyes have seen the salvation … a light to reveal you to the nations.”

 

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn …

Grief doesn’t pause for Advent, does it? Often people who are grieving find this time of year to be especially difficult. You may experience a disconnect between the cheerfulness around you and the sadness you feel inside. After all, the holidays are a time for people to be together! A time for family gatherings, shopping trips, happy music, lights, joy and fullness! But for many people, all that joy feels out of place.

Those who have experienced the death of a loved one (recent, or years-old) may feel the weight of that loss as they remember the ones who are not at the table this year.

Those who are without meaningful work or are struggling financially may feel guilt over not being able to spend more money on gifts. They may feel pressured to go into debt or make hard choices about money.

Those who are single, those without children, those going through a divorce, and those who have strained family relationships may feel resentful of a society that constantly tells us that family is the most valuable thing to have.

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many people during these cloudy, dark months. The impact of depression can be hard to talk about, but is a very real thing.

This “most wonderful time of the year” can be the most painful time. It’s OK to feel this disconnect in your life. You are not a failure if you’re not feeling holly jolly today. In fact, the gift of Advent is about Christ’s promise to enter especially into dark places. It’s about the promised gift of Jesus; the still, small light of hope who came to save a troubled world. Advent may be the very best time to consider our hurts and our immense need for Emmanuel, God With Us.

If you find yourself feeling particularly depressed, lonely, or grieving, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of your pastors. You are not alone.

It has been a tradition at Phinney to hold an Advent Memorial service in December; a quiet worship service when we allow space for lament and grief, we pray, we sing, and we remember the light of Christ. This year, the service has been moved to January 8. Licensed Therapist Rosemary Raynaud from Lutheran Counseling Network will join us for a presentation about grief. As we gather around a comforting soup lunch, Rosemary will help us think about all kinds of grief through emotional, practical, and spiritual lenses. Worship will follow the presentation.  Please watch for more details coming soon.

Peace,
Pastor Van Kley

Worship in Advent

advent-2016-peaceablekingdom

PEACEABLE KINGDOM, (c) 1994 by John August Swanson

There’s a great old story about a preacher who ran through the streets of a city shouting, “We must put God in our lives.  We must put God in our lives.”  Having heard this, a wise old person of prayer approached the preacher in the city plaza and said, “You are wrong, sir.  God is already in our lives.  Our task is to recognize it.”

I think this is a pretty good way to describe the gift of Advent.  In this season we are invited to look for the Holy One who is already present.  Best of all, with Advent, we get to look for the light of God in the dark!

Our ancestors in faith were on to something when they established this four-week period of yearning and longing for the light.  In ancient times, people would literally put the brakes on their work and usual activities in winter when little light filled the day.  Since the wheels on the wagons weren’t being used, they would take a wheel, festoon it with greens and torches, and suspend it in the air as a reminder that the darkness would not prevail.   It became a little sun to replace the missing sunlight and way of wooing back the sun of the earth.   Christians were wise to adapt this practice as a way to wait upon and welcome the “new sun” in Jesus Christ.

So, we pray by the light of our common Advent wreath at church and our Advent wreaths at home, waiting and watching for the light to gradually come full circle.  Yes, we trust the light that will come.  And, yes, the light is already here.  While God’s saving future will one day fill all of heaven and earth, God invites us to see where God’s future light is cast into the present.

This year, the lessons for the first reading during the Sundays in Advent, come from the great visionary Isaiah, offering up beautiful pictures of God’s promised future reign:  swords beat into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, a peaceable kingdom where wolf and lamb coexist, waters breaking forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert, and the sign of a child who shall be called Immanuel.

Where is this light cast in the present?   Where, in the midst of a world filled with war, do you find peace?  Where, in the midst of great need and want, do you find community and wholeness?  Where do you discover the light of Christ?  Where do we discover the shimmering light of God among us?

These readings from Isaiah will be highlighted in the sermons.  In addition, we begin our worship each week in Advent surrounded by semi-darkness.  When the flame reaches the Advent candles on the wreath, the lights go up.  The signs and symbols of the season shine with the promise of Christ’s coming again, Christ’s coming among us once, and Christs’ abiding presence with us now.

Come, live in the light!

Worship in November

Sundays in November culminate our long season of Ordinary time and serve as a segue into the season of Advent.

All Saints Sunday, celebrated this year on November 6, is a time to commemorate all the faithful departed, both the famous and the forgotten. You are invited to bring photos and remembrances of departed loved ones to place on tables in the transept or chancel area. There will be opportunity to light candles in their memory. We will also publically name the beloved saints from Phinney who died this past year.

Christ the King Sunday, this year on November 20, is another festival Sunday culminating the year of Luke, before we step into a year with the Gospel of Matthew on the first Sunday in Advent. Christ the King is a beautiful paradox for we celebrate the reign of one who rules from cross.  We name as King one who is no king!

The First Sunday in Advent is November 27. On this first Sunday we focus not on the first coming of Christ but upon “Christ will come again.” We begin our season of waiting, watching and wondering for the light to appear in our midwinter darkness.

 

Bring Communion to Those Who Can’t Come to Church

Pastor Van Kley is gathering a team of people who are passionate about care-giving, hospitality, and conversation. Eucharistic Visitors will visit our members who find themselves unable to come to worship. In this role you will have conversation, read scripture, pray, and share the sacrament of Holy Communion. Members of our team will visit church members on a rotating basis, and your level of time commitment will be up to you. We will meet twice to learn about this valuable ministry and get comfortable fulfilling it. Contact Pastor Van Kley if you are interested, or come to our meetings on these two Thursdays: October 27 and November 3, 6:30-8:00 PM in the Tree of Life Room.

 

Special Sundays in October

October includes some very special festivals …

The Feast of St. Francis, October 2 –   Francis, a renewer of the church and founder of the Franciscan order, is quite popular and much admired.  His association with lepers and beggars moved him to a life of serving the poor.  His regard for “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon” is indicative of his reverence for the earth and all its creatures and comes through powerfully in his “Canticle of the Sun.”  In that spirit Christians have taken this day to bless animals.  You are invited to bring your pets to the 8:30 service for a special blessing.  All pets are welcome.

The Feast of St. Luke, October 16 –  Identified as the writer of the third Gospel and its sequence, the Acts of the Apostles, Luke was a physician and one who emphasized the ministry of healing through Jesus and his earliest followers.  This festival has become a time to focus upon the church’s ministries of healing and to hold healing services. Healing prayers and the opportunity for anyone to receive laying on of hands and anointing will take place at both the 8:30 and 11:00 liturgies.  Some words of introduction in the ELW Healing Rite are worthy of note: “In its ministry of healing, the church does not replace the gifts of God that come through the scientific community nor does it promise a cure.  Rather, the church offers and celebrates gifts such as these: God’s presence with strength and comfort in time of suffering, God’s promise of wholeness and peace, and God’s love embodied in the community of faith.”

Reformation Sunday, October 30   This is the date closest to the posting of Luther’s 95 theses, the symbolic beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  This year we join Lutherans all over the world to take this occasion to launch the 500th Anniversary Celebration of the Reformation that will conclude on Reformation Day in 2017.  At PRLC we will join the practice of many who regard this day to be a kind of Reconciliation Sunday, where we pray for the unity of all Christians and celebrate the Spirit’s on-going reform and renewal of Christ’s church.  Festival worship will take place at both morning services.  The Affirmation of Baptism service will take place later in the day at 3:00 p.m.

 

Consecration Sunday Is Coming

Congregations that approach financial stewardship from a biblical perspective do not view the money Christians give to their church merely as a way to pay its bills. Rather, such congregations see financial contributions as a way to help people grow spiritually in their relationship with God by supporting their church’s mission and ministry with a percentage of their incomes.

The PRLC stewardship committee has selected the New Consecration Sunday Stewardship Program as a way to teach the biblical and spiritual principles of generous giving in our stewardship education emphasis this year.

New Consecration Sunday is based on the biblical philosophy of the need of the giver to give for his or her own spiritual development, rather than on the need of the church to receive. Instead of treating people like members of a social club who should pay dues, we will treat people like followers of Jesus Christ who want to give unselfishly as an act of discipleship. New Consecration Sunday encourages people toward proportionate and systematic giving in response to the question, “What percentage of my income is God calling me to give?”

During morning worship on Consecration Sunday, May 15, we are asking our attendees and members to make their financial commitments to our church’s missionary, benevolent, and educational ministries in this community and around the world.

Every attendee and member who completes an Estimate of Giving Card does so voluntarily by attending morning worship on Consecration Sunday. We urge people to attend who feel strongly opposed to completing a card. The procedure is done in such a way that no one feels personal embarrassment if he or she chooses not to fill out a card.

We will do no home solicitation to ask people to complete cards. During morning worship our guest leader will conduct a brief period of instruction and inspiration, climaxed by members making their commitments as a confidential act of worship.

We will encourage participation in Consecration Sunday events through the Consecration Sunday team and governing board members. Since we will make no follow-up visits to ask people to complete their cards, we will make every effort to inform, inspire, and commit everyone to attend Consecration Sunday worship.

Thanks in advance for your enthusiastic participation in Consecration Sunday events.

Barbara Mockett
Council President

 

Chrism Mass

Each year the pastors, priests and deacons of the ELCA Northwest Washington Synod and the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia gather for the annual “Chrism Mass.” At this service, all the ordained renew their vows, and the Bishops Gregg and Unti bless the holy oils to be used for anointing the sick, the newly baptized, and those confirmed. This year the Chrism Mass will be held at Phinney at 11:00 am on Tuesday of Holy Week, March 22.