Dear Friends, Family Members, Inquirers, Seekers, and Newcomers,
After a cold, icy, and snowy Christmas Eve--which stayed around for the next few days--I believe we are all grateful to be on the other end of that frosty reminder of Oregon winters. Thank you, everyone, for your support in our decision to cancel our gathering on Christmas Eve. As I drove pass Rose City Park Presbyterian Church at 5 mph at around 5:30 pm that night, sliding slightly along side a TriMet bus with chains on it, I was happy everyone stayed home, warm and safe.
We are now in the season of Christmastide, in which Christmas lasts for 12 days. During these days we remember, with grateful hearts, for the gift of the Christ-child born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. This season lasts until the day of Epiphany, which the Appalachian folk of NC and TN refer to as "old Christmas," while others remember that this is the day that the Three Wiseman, the Magi, made it to Bethlehem to visit the Christ-child. In that spirit, we will gather Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, as part of our Christmastide observance and celebration, with Chris preaching, and a potluck afterwards. Then on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, we will gather to celebrate Epiphany, concluding our time together that night with singing "Silent Night" and having our own candlelight vigil, with a potluck to follow.
As is habit among many of us, as one year comes to an end and a new year begins, we think back to all that has happened in the past year. Chris and I want to thank you all for joining us on this pilgrimage of faith in September, 2017, and your support for our gathering as a community of faith. For the last four months, we have faithfully gathered together at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church's Chapel, learning more about who and whose we are as we share stories of our lives, our work of service in the community, and pressing forward on our pilgrimage of faith as we follow Jesus, the Pilgrim God. For your support, love, and joy in gathering together, we are thankful. And with senses wide open, we look forward to seeing what all will happen as we press forward and grow in faith and size on this fascinating, unfolding pilgrimage.
We welcome Grace Totherow as our 4th new ASL interpreter this Sunday. Welcome, Grace!
On February 4th, March 25th, and May 6th, the Oregon Bach Cantata will need the Chapel space, so we will gather at Colonial Heights for those dates. Nina is going to be working with us in finding service projects that we can all do together, much like we did with the letter writing campaign and Oregon DEQ. If you have any ideas, please feel free to pass them along to me, Chris, or Nina.
In the coming months, let me know if there is any interest in going to a play, movie, art exhibit, musical event, cultural event, that we could gather together and discuss afterwards that fits within the vision statement of Community of Pilgrims.
While we usually use this space to share celebrations and concerns from a previous Sunday, let us continue to lift up the following:
1. Prayers of celebration for the existence and growth of the Community of Pilgrims;
2. Prayers of thanksgiving for safety and security of folks on Christmas Eve;
3. Prayers of concern for those who are without shelter, food, and adequate clothing in this winter season;
4. Prayers for peace in the world, especially for people who live in Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia;
5. Prayers for those who are still putting life together after massive fires, hurricanes, and other disasters spawned by new weather patterns;
6. For peace and company for those who are alone, confused, and feeling depressed when surrounded by seasonal advertisements that push heavy on seasonal cheer and family gatherings.
7. Prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of the Christ-child, who gives us hope, peace, joy, and love as we gather in Christ's holy name.
For this we pray... Amen
Again, thank you all for gathering together, Sunday after Sunday, as we learn what it means to be a community of Christian pilgrims in this modern age, in the city of Portland. Spirits' blessings upon all of us in the coming year, with a grateful heart for all the places God has been with us in the year that is drawing to a close.
Pastor Brett and Pastor Chris