Dear Friends, Family members, Inquirers, Newcomers, and Seekers,
Greetings on a winter's day in Oregon. I hope this email finds everyone doing well as we engage in the work, play, study, homework, and rest, which we are called to participate in, wherever we may be.
This coming Sunday we will continue to play "catch-up" with the Church calendar as we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus Sunday. Last Sunday, we caught up on a celebration of Epiphany and "old" Christmas, singing "We Three Kings" at the beginning of our time together, and concluding with "Silent Night." Again, many thanks for all who came, and thank you, Olivia, for a beautiful solo in "Silent Night." The theme of pilgrimage is all over these texts that unveil important moments of Jesus' life. For example, in the story of the visit of the three magi, we read that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are on a pilgrimage right after the visit, for Herod was about to search for the Christ-child to destroy him (Matt. 2:13). Mary, Joseph, and Jesus went on a pilgrimage, as refugees in a foreign land, to Egypt. In the focus verse for this coming Sunday (Mark 1:4-11), the baptism of Jesus, we witness the public beginning of Jesus' pilgrimage of faith, in which the heavens open up, and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove on Jesus, and a voice comes from the heavens, "You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased" (Mark 1:10, 11). And with this extraordinary blessing, the Holy Spirit immediately drove Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, and off he goes, our Pilgrim God, to show us the way (Mark 1:12) as people of The Way. So, where is the Spirit sending us out, as baptized followers of Jesus in this new community of faith that God is creating? May our prayer be this week, "Show us The Way."
This coming Sunday, Matt Huerta will join us again as our ASL interpreter.
Last Sunday, we began talk about creating a Steering Committee, who would work with Chris and I as we move forward in growing as a fellowship. We are creating this Steering Committee of 3-4 people, because we are not a church and have no Session, but we need other voices in our growing fellowship. Let's continue to pray about this, and this Sunday or next, actually form a Steering Committee that will meet on a monthly basis with Chris and I. Thank you!
On another high note, the 1001 Worshiping Communities offers a Health Care Grant of $1,500, and the New Ministries Team of Presbytery of the Cascades has agreed to match those funds. As a result, I (Brett), will have health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act in 2018...and for that gift/grant, I am truly thankful.
We discussed last week the opportunity to take a walking tour of Portland's Albina Historic Area as a faith community. It is on Saturday, Feb. 3, beginning at 10:30-12:30 pm. I'll let individuals purchase their own ticket for $10. Here is a link to the event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hidden-history-of-albina-portlands-black-history-tickets-41887371255?aff=erelexpmlt. This is part of Black History Month in Portland.
On Sunday, Feb. 4, we will be meeting at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church, packing school bags as our service project-of-the-month, with Nina Clippard leading this activity. Stay tune for more events.
Finally: on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7:15 am, there will be the 16th Faith Labor Breakfast at St. Andrew's Catholic Church, 806 NE Alberta St., sponsored by "Portland Jobs with Justice". RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathy--our marvelous potluck setter-upper--is going to be gone from Jan. 28-Feb. 11. Who would like to volunteer to set up our table for all the potluck goodies?
Our prayer concerns this week included the following:
1. For Sue Malter as she recuperates from pneumonia.
2. For the families of Hazel Torgerson and Mark McClanahan as they heal from their losses.
3. For Larry Kelley's family after Larry's mother died.
4. For the Beldin family, Luke's friends, for their loss and with in vitro fertilization so their child can live.
5. For Olivia's grandparents who come to visit on Wednesday, may they be well so they can enjoy their travel and visit.
6. Gratitude for Brett's return and Chris filling in during his absence.
7. For those who are sick this winter.
8. For safety for those caught in the winter storms on the east coast and for the fish and animals suffering in the extreme cold.
9. Celebration that certain things have improved and for 2017 being the best year ever in reduced poverty and child mortality rates worldwide (Nicholas Kristof's NYT's article).
10. Prayers for Sue Sauce in the wake of her husband's passing.
Finally, a baptism of Jesus prayer, by Jan Richardson:
Blessing the Baptism
As if we could call you
anything other than
drenched as we are
in our love for you
washed as we are
by our delight in you
born anew as we are
by the grace that flows
from the heart of the one
who bore you to us.
Pastors Brett and Chris