Dear Friends, Family members, Inquirers, Newcomers, and Sojourners,
Greetings on a windy Friday afternoon in Portland, OR! While the sky is the color of ash, and the trees are by and large leafless, we are also reminded that, slowly but surely, the light of our days grows longer, and before too long, new life will be pushing up through frozen earth. For all good gifts of life and love, even in winter's embrace, we give God thanks.
The focus Scripture this Sunday is Mark 1:14-20. In Mark, Jesus doesn't begin his ministry by walking into the temple in Jerusalem, announcing who he is and what he is about to do. He starts out on the edge, in the wilderness, reaching out not to religious leaders, but to those who fish, on the seashore, like James and John, and Simon and Andrew, who he invites to leave their nets and follow him. And these men who fish for a living say "yes," and leave and follow Jesus. Just like that! These are either incredibly faithful and courageous people, or fools for Christ.
This week we were reminded of Martin Luther King, Jr., who also said, "yes" to Jesus, as did Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and John Lewis. They said yes to Jesus, and through them, God has done and continues to do and promises to do "kingdom" wonders--freedom and justice--as they draw on the promises of God for that courage and that faithfulness. What is wonderful about being part of the Community of Pilgrims Presbyterian Fellowship is that each of us, in our own way, said, "yes" to the Holy Spirit who has called us to begin a new community of faith in the Portland metro area. To do so, in a culture in which being religious or spiritual is on the downturn, is also an act of courage and faithfulness. We are all following in the footsteps of not only these four early disciples, but also of Priscilla and Aquila, Paul and Timothy, Hildegard of Bingen and Meister Eckhart, Dorothy Day and William Sloane Coffin...to name a few. Like these people before us who said "yes", we have said "yes" to God in Christ in starting this new community of faith, and to work as volunteers in the community in the name of Christ. Thank you for your faithfulness, patience, and love.
On Martin Luther King, Jr's, birthday, many people in and around the country participated in volunteer/service projects for a day. As part of our becoming a Community of Pilgrims, we, too, have expressed a desire and commitment to voluntary service in the community. Let us know if you are still looking for a place and people to serve.
In that spirit of justice, freedom, and courage, here are some calendar items:
* Legislative Forum, Sunday, Jan. 21, at Westminster Presbyterian Church on NE Hancock in Portland, OR, 2-4 pm, sponsored by Westminster Presbyterian Church. This is a chance to learn what the legislative issues are for the upcoming short session;
* There is the chance to know our city better on Saturday, Feb. 3, 10:30-12:30: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hidden-history-of-albina-portlands-black-history-tickets-41887371255. We can work out carpools, etc.
* In that same theme of service, we will be gathering at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Feb. 4 for a Sunday service project! Nina will be giving us more information in the very near future.
* Also: there is the 16th Annual Faith Labor Breakfast at St. Andrew's Catholic Church, 806 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR, sponsored by Portland Jobs with Justice. RSVP to email@example.com.
* We have a Steering Committee: Jo Ann Tower, Bill Kinsey, Kathy Fukuyama, and Tom Galey. We thank you, folks, for volunteering your time, energy, love, talents, and good efforts in steering this new community of faith as we grow.
Our prayers of celebrations and concerns this week include the following:
1. For the Creighton family and mother Kathy. This was the family's first Christmas season after their son committed suicide.
2. For Nina who will have eye surgery this week.
3. For Connie Humphries who will have minor thyroid surgery.
4. For Cindy Frazier and her family. Cindy fell and broke her collar bone five weeks ago. The injury was misdiagnosed and the collar bone actually crushed and three broken ribs. She faces surgery and six to eight weeks recovery. Cindy suffers from Parkinson's.
5. Gratitude for Sue Malter's improved health. Sue feels better and welcomes calls, emails, and visitors.
6 For Sue Sause whose husband died unexpectedly.
7. For our country.
8. For peace.
9. For easing of tensions in the Korean Peninsula now that North Korea and South Korea have talked and North Korea has agreed to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics.
10.For people in Southern California who have lost their homes and loved ones.
11. For those who have been abused around the world.
12. For those suffering under extreme weather conditions in the Northeast and elsewhere.
13. Prayer for Nina as she heals from eye surgery;
14. General prayers of thanks for the creation of and continuation of the Community of Pilgrims...
15. Happy Birthday prayers for Chuck Stilson.
16. Thankful for a Steering Committee, and those who volunteered to serve this new community of faith.
Finally, a prayer and poem by Mary Oliver, "White Eyes"
all the singing is in
the top of the trees
where the wind-bird
With its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us
He wants to go to sleep,
but he's restless--
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.
So, it's over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he's done all he can.
I don't know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds--
which he has summoned
from the north--
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent--
thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent--
that has turned itself
Pastors Brett & Chris