August 16 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey Friends --

Last Sunday was like international day at FPCS – we had an airline pilot from Dublin Ireland, a veterinarian immunologist from Edinburgh, Scotland, and a couple from Toronto, Canada, all visiting, and Nduta from Kenya was back.  They loved being with us.  Some weeks it’s more locals – guests from the Shelter downstairs, or the neighborhood.  What a privilege to share a bit of life and faith with such a diversity of folks!

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We’ve got a zinger of a text for this Sunday from Luke 12:49-56! For example, you’ve got Jesus saying in verse 51, “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell, but rather division!”  Hmmm.  This, from the Prince of Peace?  No wonder one commentary calls these eight verses some of the toughest in Luke! 

I hope you’ll get  chance to read through them a couple times – and bring your insights and questions, and let’s see if we can wrestle some good news from even this passage!

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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August 9 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey Everyone!

Just a quick email to let you know I’m back from a bit of vacation, and am looking forward to being with you in worship and leading the preaching discussion the next couple of weeks!

Check out the text for this Sunday from Luke 12:32-40, which includes quite a few challenging words from Jesus – but also one of my favorite lines from the New Testament, one of the most assuring things Jesus ever said: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

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Also, if you haven’t replied to Jordan’s potluck poll yet, it’s not too late.  Possible dates include Saturday August 24, and Sunday  August 25.  You can reply to this Poll - or simply reply to Jordan.

Hope to see you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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August 2 Update from Lay Pastor Kathy

Hey Friends,

As we continue to learn how we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in our neighborhood, a simple way to help our neighbors on the street is to carry cold bottles of water to hand out. They are appreciated as the weather warms up and who knows, you may just hear an amazing story, meet a new friend, or simply put a smile on someone’s face for the day.  Random acts of kindness wasn’t some slick feel good campaign that was dreamt up to help calm chaos in the world, Jesus was doing it long before it became a “thing”.   Let’s continue his work.                                           

If you haven’t replied to Jordan’s poll yet about possible dates for a potluck, it’s not too late.  
So please reply to this Poll (or simply reply to this email if that’s easier for you).
Some possible dates:
Thurs, August 7
Sat, August 24
Sun August 25 

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is Luke 12:13-21 Treasurers, greed, and death. Take a look at the reading for Sunday and bring your thoughts to discuss.

Peace,

Lay Pastor Kathy

July 27 Update from Pastor Jordan

Hey Family -  

It’s time for a BIG change!  Ready for it?  Potluck.  Alright, so not a big change, but the small yet powerful act of eating together and having the time for prayer, discussion, and discernment.  We have a meal every Sunday after worship, but I’d love to get together in a home and have a time that is more focused, as well as open to being unfocused or redirected by the Spirit.  I’m willing to host, and am open to others hosting if anyone is interested in the future.

I’m aware that August can be a busy month but we’ll try to find a time that works for most people.  We’ll gather and eat between 6-7pm, people coming as they are able, and then we’ll have more directed time between 7-830pm.  I’ll provide the main dish, feel free to bring a side or just yourself.  I’d like to start doing this monthly. 

So please reply to this Poll (or simply reply to this email if that’s easier for you).

Some possible dates:

Thurs, August 7

Sat, August 24

Sun, August 25

 

Peace

Pastor Jordan 

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This Sunday’s Gospel reading is Luke 11:1-13, Jesus teaches on prayer.

July 19 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey Friends --

These are such contentious, divisive times.  The inhumanity I see to human beings, the demonizing of the different other truly grieves my soul, and is so contrary to the way of Jesus.  Seeing Americans at a political rally chant “Send her back!” seems a political stunt at “best”, patently un-American, and racist and sinful at worst.  It is lightyears from the upside-down kin-dom of God.

I came across a line in a book I’ve been reading (People of the Way, by Dwight Zscheile) and I find myself turning it into a prayer, and praying it over and over again these days. Maybe you might want to join in, too:

Lord, help us to more deeply “inhabit the imagination of God’s reign,
where the status quo is inverted,
where God comes to dwell in the womb of a pregnant teenager in a poor family in a lost
corner of the empire,
where what seemed least significant bears the greatest fruit…”
Amen.

*****

Check out the text for this Sunday from Luke 10:38-42…another pretty familiar one featuring multitasking (“many things”) Martha getting ready for a dinner party, and single-minded (“one thing”) Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet.   I don’t know about you, but I think I see a little bit of both of  them in me…     What “many things” do you find most diverting your focus? How do you spend time sitting at Jesus feet?  (One hint: hope to see you in worship!)

Grace and peace!

Pastor Heidi

July 12 Update from Pastor Jordan

Hey Family -

What is God up to?  What is the Spirit stirring in our community and in our neighborhoods?  These are some of the questions that I’ve been asking.  As much as I want to jump in and “do something” as a leader, I need to be taking the time to listen for what that something is first.  So let’s be praying and seeking God’s will for us and our city as we journey together.  We don’t have anything scheduled at the moment, but at some point I’m going to arrange for a time all of us to meet together.  My hope is that we read scripture together, listen, pray, and try some experiments we’ll find that like our Gospel reading for this Sunday that we are on a road with God and many others who we can call our neighbors.

Peace,

Pastor Jordan 

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This Sunday our Gospel reading comes from Luke 10:25-37, in which a lawyer talks with Jesus about eternal life, loving God and neighbor, and a Samaritan traveler.

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July 5 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey everyone!

We’ve got another house full of family for the holiday, so I’ll keep this this eNews short…but I wanted to let you know I’m preaching this Sunday.

Check out the text from Luke 10:1-12…it’s pretty familiar, but also one that is at the heart of the missional church vision that has been reshaping the understanding for many congregations for what it even means to be church today.  Not a bad place for us to listen to closely to what God might be saying to us at FPCS!  I’m curious what you see going on here…

Hope to see you in worship!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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June 28 Update from Pastor Jordan

Hey Family -

I’m excited to join you on the journey you’re already on!  I’m not new to the Way of Jesus, but I am new to this community and how you all practice and live out your faith.  So as I’m getting my feet under me, learning the terrain, I’d love to go on a walk with you.  And as we walk as a community I’m hoping some of the way the Spirit is leading will be made clear.  I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Heidi quote that phrase “salvitur ambulando,” “it is solved by walking,” and I think there’s a lot of truth in that.  Let’s keep walking, keeping inquiring, keep seeking where Jesus is meeting and leading us, and I hope that in midst of all that we’ll find that we’re exactly where the Spirit wants us to be. 

So nuts and bolts, within the next month I’d like to meet with anyone who is active in our community and would like to be a part of where God is leading us.  First I’d like to get to know you better, and second, I’ll be asking you how you understand this community and its calling, and your inklings on how you’d like to participate in that calling.  I’d love it if after reading this you emailed, called, or texted some times that you’re available and a place to meet.  I’m up for coming to your work for lunch, walking your neighborhood, having you over to my place, or something else, I’m currently pretty flexible.  You can reach me at ju@spu.edu or 425-272-5441.

Peace

Pastor Jordan 

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This Sunday our Gospel reading is from Luke 9:51-62, in which Jesus begins his journey towards Jerusalem and the cross and he makes it clear to those wanting to follow that the way won’t be a cake walk.

path by Eddi (CC BY 2.0)

path by Eddi (CC BY 2.0)

June 21 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey Friends -

In my most recent class at Pittsburgh Seminary in the Church Planting and Revitalization certificate program we’ve been reading a book on Acts written by the professor, Mark Love, titled, It Seemed Good to Us and the Holy Spirit. It’s spurred me on to go back and read through Acts on my own, and just pay attention.  I feel like I’m seeing some things for the first time all over again…

I’m seeing a church filled with conflicts and struggles.  Imagine that: church people disagreeing, and sometimes having no clue what to do! But the Holy Spirit guides them through.

I’m seeing so much boundary crossing and social barriers being obliterated it’s a little head spinning!  You get the sense that there is no one beyond the embrace of the Triune God, and this is pretty much Assignment #1 for the church, too.  The power of the Holy Spirit pushes and prods.

Perhaps most of all I’m seeing how much the Holy Spirit is at the center of it all – disrupting the religious status quo, bringing a new social order to God’s people – making the kingdom of God about kindom, empowering disciples to love their neighbors and the stranger (the last, the least, the lost), and comforting and strengthening the people of God who get in trouble for following the Jesus Way.

It sure is making me think a lot about what it means to be the church today!

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This Sunday our new Transitional Associate Pastor Jordan Uomoto will be preaching from Luke 8:26-39, the story about the Gerasene demoniac. You might be wondering, what in the world does demon possession and healing have to do with us today? Perhaps more than we think.  Jordan is a gifted communicator who will guide the preaching conversation to help give us eyes to see.

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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June 14 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Everyone -

In our Congregational Conversations after worship recently we’ve been talking a lot about upcoming transitions at First Presbyterian Church of Seattle – including the sale of the church property, discerning a fresh expression of church, adjusting my job description this Fall (to do research on ministry best practices of thriving Presbyterian churches), hiring a Transitional Associate Pastor this summer, and my eventual retirement a year from now.  Whew!

So I am happy to share with you that we’ve found the Transitional Associate Pastor we’ve been searching for – just around the corner…  Jordan Uomoto, a recently ordained Presbyterian pastor, lives just over a mile from the church! (You may recall Jordan preached with us on March 10 this year).

I want you to hear how Jordan describes himself: 

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“I’m ten-toes deep in Seattle, fourth generation in the Central District on my father’s side.  I went to Garfield High School, where I met my wife during a spring musical.  I studied theology at Seattle Pacific University and received my MDiv from Seattle Pacific Seminary.  After graduating I served as the Interim Pastor at Japanese Baptist Church, and then at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church doing Faith Formation.  My wife, Grace, and I have a 6-year-old son and baby girl.  I love poetry and words, whether that’s reading, writing, or rhyming.  If my health allowed it, I would bboy (breakdance) the rest of my life.  Dancing and movement are such a joy!  I’m passionate about preaching, and love it when the Gospel is really understood as good news!  And I want each member of the Church to experience that they have a purpose and place in Christ’s body, that each one brings something to Jesus’ table.”

One of the things I love most about Jordan is that during his growing up years his parents ministered to refugees – which gave him a heart for the outsider and the other. What came through our interviews with him was his desire to make his life be all about the question, “What would make the Gospel truly good news to my neighbors and peers?” and his deep desire to participate in what God is doing here to bring God’s kin-dom.

So, Jordan will be with us in worship beginning this Sunday, and I hope you can be here to meet him!Plan on sticking around a little longer after worship – for lunch, and then we’ll take a few extra minutes to do a shorter Congregational Conversation when we’ll ask Jordan a few questions and begin to get to know him better.

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The lectionary designates this Sunday as Trinity Sunday. For a lot of folks the Trinity is just too difficult to swallow, prompting one Presbyterian to claim, “The Trinity has got to go! It’s outdated and patriarchal and I have no use for it!”  We’ll dive into John 14:12-15 this Sunday (the whole Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is there) – and I think you’ll see that this text is helpful!  I hope you’ll get a chance to read it through a few times before Sunday and pay attention to see if anything kind of taps you on the shoulder…

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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June 7 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends -

I’ve got to say - my favorite Sunday of the year is this Sunday – and dang, I will be away – although I’m delighted I’ll be attending my eldest granddaughter’s high school graduation in Portland, OR! (Yay Lily!)

But I hope you’ll make every effort to be in worship – because it’s PENTECOST!

I used to think of Pentecost as the birthday of the church.  (I kind of imagine those “tongues of fire” that day looked like a bunch of life-sized human candles.) But I wonder if the idea of celebrating the church’s birthday is a bit too backwards-looking, like Pentecost is only in the past.  Which totally misses the point – because Pentecost is all about the church’s life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit now!

I’ve been reading through the Book of Acts again lately, and have been struck again by how the early church had no strategic plan. Actually Jesus told them to wait for the promised Holy Spirit who would give them  power and show them the Way.  And it ended up being a pretty radical way – the Spirit was all about breaking down barriers between people and crossing boundaries. (For example, discovering that God’s promise included the Gentiles as Gentiles kind of rocked their world!) The Spirit kept taking them to people and places they did not necessarily naturally gravitate towards.  In fact, as one of my favorite Acts commentators, the brilliant Willie James Jennings, reminds us: “The church was born in the tight space between faith and fear and forever lives in that space.  Only the Holy Spirit keeps that space from collapsing in on us.”

So here we are, FPCS – more often than not in that tight space between faith and fear.  But the Holy Spirit is still right there with us, still taking us where we might not exactly want to go.  Still showing us the Way.  Still giving us power to be the church.

And that’s why I love Pentecost so much!

Take a few minutes before Sunday to check out the Pentecost text in Acts 2:1-21.  Our friend, Charlie Scoma, Chaplain with the Seattle Police Department, who has preached at FPCS several times, will help everyone preach…and the Spirit will show the Way!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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May 31 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey Everyone -

Just a quick reminder that we’ll have another Congregational Conversation this Sunday after worship-lunch (we’ll be done by 1pm). This week we’ll have a conversation about church property and buildings – including an update on the sale of First Pres., as well as a quick history of FPCS (this is not the first time the church has sold/moved). We’ll also explore what the Bible has to say about sacred land/property/buildings, and share about our own personal experience of church buildings, too.

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This Sunday is the 7th (and last) Sunday of Easter – and the sermon text is John 17:20-26. It’s still the last night of Jesus’ life, and we’re still in that long section scholars call the Final Discourse; but notice that Jesus switches from talking to praying.  If you get a chance to read through it a few times before Sunday, notice what Jesus prays for... 

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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May 24 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Friends! –

We had another great Congregational Conversation last Sunday at First Pres. Seattle.  We actually considered: What if this “great unraveling” (the massive social change that started back in the 1960s, resulting in the church no longer being at the center of society) might actually be good news for God’s people, including us?   

I can hear someone saying, Wait a minute!  Are you serious Heidi? The Presbyterian Church (USA) alone has lost 3 million members (down from 4.3 million members in our heyday, to 1.3 million members today). You’re not suggesting that the malaise in our churches today has been the work of God, are you?

Well, at the very least, as one theologian put it: “In Scripture places of unraveling were preludes to God shaping a new future for God’s people.” 

I think when congregations like ours get stuck, we look at the state of the church and get panicky, thinking: Holy cow, what are we going to do? How are we going to get more members?

But last Sunday we considered what I think is a better question, namely: What is God up to? Where is the Holy Spirit at work in our neighborhood - and inviting us to participate in the mission of God?  Do we have some Holy Spirit nudges? Can we take some risks, try some experiments, maybe even fail but keep learning?  I think God’s in all of that!

Sometimes we think all we need is an amazing leader, an expert, a genius, to.just.fix.it.  Actually, I am becoming more convinced that the extent to which leaders do the primary work of change and innovation in congregations, there will be no lasting change.  If the leader alone owns what the Holy Spirit is up to, and everybody else just watches, things will fizzle.  Because discerning God’s future is more like a way of life together.  The best leaders cultivate a learning environment so that all the people – yep, ordinary people – are sharing, praying, and discerning together

We’ll take a break from Congregational Conversations this Sunday, but come back it on June 2, when we’ll talk about selling the church property, explore some of what the Bible has to say about church buildings, and consider how we are responding to this big change.

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On the 6th Sunday of Easter this week the sermon text is John 14:23-29. It’s still the last night of Jesus’ life, and Jesus is still talking (in that loooong section of several chapters scholars call Jesus’ final discourse).  I hope you get a chance to read it through a few times before worship. Why do you think Jesus talked about the things he did? What touches upon your life circumstance? 

Look forward to seeing you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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May 17 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Friends! –

We’ve been taking some time after worship/lunch these days for some Congregational Conversations about some of the transitions we are facing at First Pres. Seattle.  Last Sunday we had a great conversation about what has happened at FPCS in light of what has been happening in the larger Church in North America, what some call “the great unravelling.” It refers to the massive social change in the last 50 or 60 years, and the fact that the church no longer at the center of culture.  We had a great conversation about change, and why change is soooooo darn difficult for us to embrace.  (For starters: Change is loss. People don’t resist change. People resist loss.)

This week our Congregational Conversation will focus in on the kinda crazy idea that the great unraveling might actually be good news for the church! And we’ll explore some ways we might begin to live into God’s future for the church.

So plan on sticking around after worship/lunch this Sunday (from about 12:15 or so, for about 45 minutes). I’ll have some things to say – but your voice will matter, too!

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As we continue in the season of Eastertide, on the 5th Sunday of Easter the sermon text is John 13:31-35 – which brings us to one of the simplest, but most challenging things Jesus ever said. I hope you get a chance to read it through a few times before worship, and we’ll explore the text on Sunday as we preach together.

Look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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May 10 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey Everybody! –

It was good to take some time after worship last week to talk about some of the transitions we are facing as a congregation. And, in fact, as I mentioned, I’d like to carve out some more time in the coming weeks to have a bit more conversation together.  So mark your calendars and plan on staying after worship/lunch (from about 12:15 or so, for 45 minutes) for a few more Congregational Conversations in the coming weeks. I’ll have some things to share, but your voice will matter, too:

May 12     What happened to the Church? (The Great Unraveling); and, why is change sooooo hard?

May 19     Can we really sell – and even (gulp) demolish? – a church building??? (Aren’t they sacred space?)

[May 26     We’ll have worship and lunch, but no Congregational Conversation today]

June 2      How to do church in the 21st century? Start with “the God question”

June 9      Developing a litany for letting go, and leaning into God’s future…       

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As we continue in the season of Eastertide, the sermon text for Sunday is John 10:22-30 – which, um, doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the resurrected Jesus!  Still there’s a lot here to chew on, so I hope you get a chance to read it through a few times before worship.

Look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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May 4 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Everyone –

Ooops – this eNews is late – Rick and I have been busy with a massive yard project late this week – thatching, aerating, overseeding and adding a layer of compost to our lawn (about 8,000 square feet!). I can barely walk today! But I’m grateful to be outside in this glorious weather!

Two things real quick –

We are starting to think about some transitions at First Pres. and I want to bring you up to speed this Sunday – so plan on sticking around for a few minutes after worship if you can. 

Then take a minute to check out the sermon text for tomorrow – from John 21:1-19 – once again the resurrected  Jesus is showing up and meeting people where they are. There is so much to talk about here to encourage us in our journey of faith.  I look forward to talking with you tomorrow!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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April 18 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Friends –

Today is Maundy Thursday – and while we do not have a service tonight at the church, I found it helpful to reflect on what one pastor just reminded me:

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Also – for those who can make it – we’re joining Plymouth Church for a Good Friday worship service at noon tomorrow.  The address is 1217 6th Ave, Seattle (just a couple blocks from FPCS).

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And then we’ll gather on Easter on April 21, 10:30 am in the Chapel to celebrate the good news of the resurrection.  Think about someone you could invite - somebody from your family, or a friend or neighbor...someone who’s searching, who needs to know God’s not dead.  After all, we’re not just gathering to remember what happened 2,000 years ago, but to be invited to consider again the crazy good news that Jesus is alive – NOW!  Indeed, Jesus keeps showing up among us – not only in church, but in our everyday lives, with abundant love and life transforming power. 

We’ll have a simple lunch after worship, too, so plan on sticking around if you are able.

Grace and peace to you this Holy Week,

Pastor Heidi

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April 12 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Friends –

This Sunday is Palm Sunday – the beginning of Holy Week.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to read through the text in Luke 19:28-40. What do you notice?  What does it stir up in you?  What are your questions? Where do you see yourself in the text?

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At the end of Palm Sunday service we’ll begin to transition into the Passion of Jesus…

I also want to invite you to be participate in a Good Friday worship service that I am going to be part of this year – over at Plymouth Church, 1217 6th Avenue (just a couple blocks away from First Pres.), at noon:

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And then we’ll gather in the Chapel to celebrate Easter on April 21, 10:30 am.  Maybe give some thought to inviting somebody from your family, or a friend or neighbor...someone who’s searching, who needs to know God’s not dead, and abundant love and life transforming power exists.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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April 5 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Scripture is messing with me again. More specifically, Jesus is messing with me.

Last week we had the so called prodigal son spend his entire inheritance in loose living, only to be upstaged by an even more Prodigal ( = extravagant, lavish, excessive) Father. I think it was Ann Lamott who said, “Grace always bats last.”  Yup. With the bases loaded. And hits a home run. Every time.  In Jesus Christ God holds nothing back. 

Apparently the lectionary wants us to grapple with extravagant giving again this week as we meet another spendthrift (I always thought the word meant stingy or miserly, but it too means generous, extravagant) – this time in the form of Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, who takes a vial of super expensive perfume and pours the whole thing on Jesus feet and wipes them with her hair.  A little over the top, don’t you think? His disciples thought so. Well, actually only one of them did.  Um, it was Judas.  Judas hated the waste.  But Jesus made it clear Mary was doing the right thing.

In response to this text a friend of my confessed: “My tendency is to idolize restraint.”  Me too.  I’m pretty frugal.  I opt for moderation.  Do the prudent thing.  Hold back a little in reserve.  If I really sang that old timey hymn, I Surrender All, it might sound more like--

I surrender…some

I surrender…some

Some to Jesus I surrender

I surrender…some

See what I mean: Jesus is messing with me.

*****

Read through the text in John 12:1-8 + 9-11 a couple times and see how if it might be messing with you, too: notice what it stirs up in you; notice your reactions, your questions.  And let’s talk about it together on Sunday.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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March 29 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Oh boy – I’ve read the sermon text for this week a gazillion times before.  It. is. so. familiar.  At first I thought I would just go on automatic pilot.  But it’s rocking my world again!  It’s making me think!

     How can I have been a follower of Jesus this long and still wonder if it’s true that no matter how far we have strayed or screwed up, God runs out to meet us with open arms and a feast of welcome? 

     How can I have been a follower of Jesus this long and still be trying so hard to remember every day that I’m not better than anyone else, that God has no favorites, that no one is more deserving of God’s love than another?

     How can I have been a follower of Jesus this long and so often forget that we are created to care for something beyond ourselves, to joyfully give our lives away in love?

*****

I suspect Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 is super familiar to you, too, but I hope you’ll get a chance to read it through a couple times and notice what it stirs up in you, your reactions, your questions.  I look forward to sharing in another rich sermon conversation together on Sunday.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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