October 13 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Sisters and Brothers  -

I wrote last week about the seeming bumper to bumper pile-up of concerns and disasters affecting people close to home and around the globe. It got a little closer to home for me last week as the Santa Ana winds whipped through Napa, CA, the town where I was born and raised, and where two of my brothers still love, and many aunts, uncles, countless cousins and friends still live. All of a sudden the words I wrote last week became very personal as the firestorm  began to rage (surrounding Napa, and devastating nearby Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Calistoga, too). Although some of my family members and friends did evacuate, so far all are safe and their homes have been spared. But it’s hard to celebrate dodging a bullet when your neighbor burned to the ground, and so many others have lost everything they owned, and the sheer beauty of the Napa Valley is marred.  My sister in law who works as Base/Emergency Management Coordinator at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa says today the winds have calmed, but, “We’re not out of the woods yet.” Hard to imagine. Thank you for your continued prayers for the many who have experienced total loss in the inferno, and remain under continued threat and very frightened.

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Just a quick heads up that a few folks from the Listening Team will stick around after worship/lunch on October 22 (not this Sunday, but the following Sunday) for a very informal time of hearing from any in the congregation who have thoughts to share as we discern FPCS’s future.  If you would like to share briefly about – What do you see happening in the neighborhood?  How do you see FPCS investing here in the future? Do you sense any possible partnerships with others? – this is the time for the Listening Team to listen to you!

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The sermon text this week is Matthew 22:1-14 – the third, and (I must admit I am happy to say) last parable that Jesus told to help straighten out the temple leadership (and, I think, Matthew used to straighten out the church in his day, as well.)  It’s a parable about a wedding banquet, which sounds cheery enough, but if you thought the earlier two parables were a little cranky – holy cow – this one seems like we are catching Jesus/Matthew on a really bad day!  Lots of violence, gnashing of teeth and outer darkness, o my!  Check it out, read it through several times, bring your questions and insights, and let’s trust the Holy Spirit will guide us, and see if we can proclaim some good news this Sunday!

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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October 7 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends in Christ -

The litany of pain and destruction affecting our country and the world grows: Massive fires and earthquakes and hurricanes and flooding. Persistent wars, and talk of nuclear war. Systemic white supremacy.  Political polarization.  Famines.  And now another mass shooting. The brokenness of creation, the fragility of existence and the depth of human sorrow are a fresh oozing wound.  

What are we followers of Jesus to do?  Of course we feel it.  We grieve. And we pray.  Half the Psalms in Scripture are prayers of lament “for crying out loud.” We let God have it.  And we respond, we help.  Historian Rodney Stark reports that during the dark times of the Roman Empire when the Plague raged, when attempts were made to quarantine whole populations of infected cities, leaving people to suffer and die, the only people willing to care for them were Christians, even at the risk of their own lives. Stark notes, “This heroic example was one reason the empire took a second look at this outlandish sect.”

But when “stuff” happens do we Christians really face it? 

Sometimes our tendency is to assure people, especially our kids. We boldy claim, “Well, honey, it won’t happen to you”, or “I won’t let it happen to you”.  What? Like Jesus-people are exempt?

But how about if we were to claim that God is our refuge?  That Jesus Christ is the Sovereign Lord and Ruler of the universe, that he is our security?  What if we tried to say that sometimes it is not until we get to the place where God is all we have that we come to know that God is all we need?  That’s not glossing over it.  It’s the truth.  It’s a call to trust. 

The person who has helped me find the words I most want to learn to say in the face of tragedy is a theologian named Gilbert Meilaender; they are words he offered in the wake of September 11, 2001:

“My child, the world is always a dangerous and threatening place where death surrounds us.  [But] When I brought you for baptism I acknowledged that I could not possibly guarantee your [earthly] future.  I handed you over to the God who loves you and with whom you are safe in both life and death.  There is no security to be found elsewhere, certainly not from me or those like me.  Live with courage, therefore, and, if it must be, do not be afraid to die in the service of what is good and just.” 

Ultimately that’s what the church says, and what the church does: With God’s help, we continue to live with courage.  We refuse to limit the loving-kindness of God only to people who look and think like us.  We continue to pray and work joyfully and relentlessly for the coming of God’s kin-dom – the kin-dom of the poor, the marginalized, the discouraged and devastated.  Following Jesus we continue to make our lives a protest against all that is evil and trivial and tyrannical in our world and in ourselves. 

Worshipping God together in community helps us stay on track, to keep God at the center of it all. 

The sermon text this week is Matthew 21:33-46. I admit, at first read it’s more than a little unsettling, but ultimately I think it’s full of hope as well.  Hope you can come be a part of it this week!

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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September 28 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Friends in Christ -

There’s a small pile of things I want to communicate in this eNews, so hang on…

NEIGHBORHOOD WALK THIS SUNDAY after worship

This Sunday after worship, Alex Hudson, Executive Director for the First Hill Improvement Association (that’s our neighborhood!) will lead us on a walk through the neighborhood.  Alex is a young, vivacious, energetic enthusiast of all things First Hill.  You will love her!  So, wear sensible shoes, and maybe bring an umbrella! And let’s be a part of listening to the neighborhood… (should take about 45-60 minutes).

TAKE A KNEE…OR TWO…

Rev. Eyde Mbanglo has filled in for me several times this summer while I’ve been on vacation and study leave, and I really love what she posted on her Facebook page in response to the “take a knee” controversy:

   “Beloved,
   You are my friend.
   I love you.

   I respect your desire to change your weekend plans and 'fast' from (boycott) football. I do.

   As you discern what to do with an extra hour or two on The Lord's Day, please consider exploring the       reality of systemic oppression and racism in our beautiful country for many of our brothers and sisters.

   On Sunday, as many of us kneel for a moment (some on the field, some in church, and some in our hearts) to rest in God's protective embrace and humbly invite God's perfect wisdom in how to eradicate any supremacy other than God's, I invite you to just consider the intention behind many athletes kneeling is not about disrespecting anything or anyone, but on the contrary is 100% about honoring God's love and care for everyone.

   Respectfully, our brothers and sisters simply don't know what else they can do, but to kneel.”

IN WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY…

We’ll begin worship with a new Gathering SongLord Jesus, Think on Me, #301 in the blue hymnal –  so try to give it a listen a few times this week if you get a chance.  You can access it here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=NqQ1IPOIZwA

This week’s sermon text, Matthew 21:23-32, follows Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where he turns the tables (literally).  Not everyone thought that was such a neat idea.  I often wonder, How would I have responded to this real, in-the-flesh Jesus guy?  And really, how do I now?  Also, one of the things I love about this lectionary passage is how Jesus engages others with questions.  He asks, What do you think?  Kind of like we do with our “partners in preaching” participative style of engaging the text together. (I got the idea from Jesus J)

And it’s World Communion Sunday – so all across the globe Christians will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper, anticipating that great heavenly banquet when people will come from north and south and east and west and sit at table together in the Kin-dom of God! There’s a place at the table for you!

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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September 22 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Chuuuurch!

I just returned from a week of study leave, holed up in a cabin off the grid in northern California, where I devoured 5 mostly recently published books about churches facing decline and the hope of congregational renewal.

I will say I was encouraged in my fundamental conviction that God is always up to something new, even something great!  As one author put it, even for congregations for whom slow death is the only possibility – God is still present and at work!

Of course, in the face of decline there is no simple, easy path to discovering the way forward (and, furthermore, there is no guarantee that what is to come will be continuous with what used to be – meaning things will likely look very different in the future.) 

As one author reminded me, the predicament of the unclear and convoluted path forward that we and many other churches “find ourselves in is ultimately the fault of the Holy Spirit.” Sounds kind of shocking, but I kind of like that – blaming the Holy Spirit! – because let’s face it, perhaps much to the chagrin of us Presbyterians, “the Holy Spirit never does anything decently and in order.” 

Of course, it’s also true that the “the Holy Spirit is our only true guide.”  But on the road to discernment and the discovery of the new thing God is up to, the author concludes, “If we are attentive to the Holy Spirit, we need to be comfortable with chaos and willing to embrace disorder…”  

Yep that’s what we’ve got going – if not chaos, then a little confusion, a little disorder, a little not knowing.  The Holy Spirit in charge.  Let’s keep helping each other be ok with that!

~~~~~~~

Just a heads up that this week’s sermon text, Matthew 20:1-16, is another parable of Jesus, one of those little ticking time-bombs that sort of explodes with meaning.  This one we might struggle with a bit: is it bad news…or good news…  What do you think?

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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September 8 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends in Christ –

People from the church – and the larger neighborhood - keep asking me, “How can we help with the new 24/7 “Compass at First Presbyterian” Shelter?”  At this point, as the Shelter ramps up with new guests arriving every day, they have several immediate needs that we can all help with, including:

     --Twin bed sheets, both flat and fitted, any color

     --Blankets and quilts

     --Bath Towels

     --Socks

So spread the word!  Any of the Compass at First Presbyterian staff can provide a donor receipt to donors. Just stop by the entrance to the Shelter on Spring Street (below the Chapel entrance, down the ramp). Thank you!

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This week’s sermon text, Matthew 18:15-20, includes instructions for dealing with church conflict.  Jesus is aware of a few things from the get-go: that life together wouldn’t be easy; and that while reconciliation is to be pursued, apparently it isn’t always possible. The passage actually culminates in one of my favorite verses of all time, when Jesus says, 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  It’s a promise, you can count on it, and I think it’s important not to forget the context in which these words are spoken…

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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September 1 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends in Christ –

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Rick and I returned this week from two weeks of vacation touring the South Sound on the “Willie C.” (our 44 year old 25’ troller camper boat) and boy did we have fun!  We were probably never more than 50 miles away from our home as the crow flies, but out on the water we were in another world, and I felt as removed from my regular routine – and upon return, as rested and renewed – as I have ever been. 

I jumped back into pastor mode on Wednesday at the Grand Opening of the “Compass at First Presbyterian” 24/7 shelter.  And what a way to re-enter! I was blown away by how the remodeled basement looks.  (For those of you who were not able to attend, I think we might be able to do a quick tour with Program Manager Rev. Mark Smutny this Sunday).  In addition, the folks from the City said they have never had a more well attended and celebratory shelter opening ever.  Our First Hill neighbors are welcoming this shelter with open hearts and arms. So many people expressed their extreme gratefulness to First Presbyterian for opening our doors in this way.  My response is, To God be the glory!, My prayer is, Thy Kingdom come!

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So, I really missed preaching together, and can’t wait to dive into this week’s text: Matthew 16:21-28.

In last week’s passage Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?”, and Simon Peter nailed it: “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” Bingo! Even Jesus seemed impressed!

But in this week’s text, Peter goes from solid Rock to stumbling block (yikes: Jesus even calls Peter Satan!). And Jesus begins defining his own terms. How Jesus will be Messiah begins to come into focus, and it’s not what Peter or other people think. What’s more, Jesus’ Messianic job description has got some pretty profound implications for how his followers are to live, as well. And hang on – because I wouldn’t exactly call it the promise of smooth sailing! 

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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Compass at First Presbyterian Grand Opening

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Please join City of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Compass Housing Alliance, and First Presbyterian Church on August 30th as we open the doors to a new approach for helping people living outdoors to come inside. The grand opening of Compass at First Presbyterian celebrates an innovative program model in support of Seattle’s most vulnerable community members.

Compass at First Presbyterian is an enhanced 24/7 homeless shelter with 100 beds, funded by the City of Seattle in partnership of Compass Housing Alliance and Seattle First Presbyterian Church. The program combines safe shelter, wrap-around services, and intensive case management to bring stability, growth, and community to King County. Learn more here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Seattle First Presbyterian Church
1013 8th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Opening Begins: 11:00 a.m.
Opening Concludes: 12:30 p.m.

Coffee and light refreshments will be provided.

Aug. 10 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Brothers and Sisters –

In our text for Sunday – Matthew 14:22-33 – Jesus needs a break, so he sends the disciples along by themselves to cross Lake Galilee, which sometimes acts more like a sea when a storm kicks up, which is precisely what happens. No problem – there are seasoned fishermen on board.

In the early dawn Jesus comes to them, walking on the water.  And it’s kind of funny, because THAT’S when the disciples have a heart attack! Not in the 10’ seas.  No, Jesus scares the living daylights out of them.  They think: “It’s a ghost!”  Yeh, the guy who just fed 5000+ people.

Only Matthew’s version includes Peter’s request to join Jesus on water.  Apparently with the storm still raging.

I was in a boat on some very rough water recently.  I have one question.  Is Peter nuts?  WHY GET OUT OF THE BOAT?????  That’s the LAST thing I would want to do.

I have been thinking a lot about this.

To my mind, there’s one good thing about getting out of the boat.  It has to do with sinking. 

And there’s one good thing about sinking.

Let’s talk about it on Sunday…

Grace and peace!

Pastor Heidi 

PS Don’t forget - it’s time to register for this Seattle Presbytery sponsored event! 

Saturday, September 23, 9-4, at First Presbyterian Church Seattle
Cost $10

Racism dehumanizes us all — Dismantling racism heals us all.

Recognizing that racism goes beyond personal prejudice, Crossroads offers a distinctive power analysis of how racism functions in institutions, and offers tools to create antiracist transformation.

REGISTER NOW:
--at http://seattlepresbytery.org/events/2017/923-crossroads-anti-racism-training, and let Heidi or Kathy know you are planning to attend.
OR
--sign the sign up list on Sunday morning, and we will register you.

Aug. 2 Update from Pastor Heidi

Ahoy Sisters and Brothers –

Rick and I have just returned from a week of vacation – a maiden voyage on our 25’ Swedish made 36 horse-power troller boat, putt-putting out of Hood Canal and all the way up to Bellingham at 6 knots.  Except for the pea-soup fog out of Port Ludlow (we don’t have radar), the little “small craft advisory” we ran into outside of La Conner (let’s see, were those winds 10 mph or 25 mph?!?!), heading south out of Bellingham Bay into 16mph winds, and eventually rounding Foulweather Bluff as it more than lived up to its name (were those waves 4’ or 6’?), everything went just fine!  The Volvo MD-17 diesel engine that Rick rebuilt last winter ran flawlessly.  I love that we burned only a little over a ½  gallon of fuel an hour.  Yeehaw! 

I suspect a sermon illustration or two will come of it.  But as I keep telling people, “Nobody died, and we are still married!” And we had a blast.  But it’s good to be back on terra firma, for a while anyway!

~                ~                ~                ~                ~

So, we’ve got a super familiar text for this Sunday – Matthew 14:13-21 (the feeding of the 5,000). My advice? Try to forget everything you’ve heard and think you know, and read it with new eyes!  We’ll also be celebrating the Lord’s Supper this Sunday, too.

~                ~                ~                ~                ~

I also want to get the info below in front of you…  I’m hoping as many of us as possible from First Pres. can go together.  The church can help cover the cost, just let me or Kathy Smith know.  So please make every effort to save the date on your calendar!

Many blessings, friends – hope to see you Sunday!

Pastor Heidi


SAVE THE DATE:

Seattle Presbytery/  Saturday, September 23, 9-4   /  at First Presbyterian Church Seattle

Racism dehumanizes us all —
Dismantling racism heals us all.

Recognizing that racism goes beyond personal prejudice, Crossroads offers a distinctive power analysis of how racism functions in institutions, and offers tools to create antiracist transformation.

Led by nationally recognized leaders with experience training church leaders, this event is open to all our churches.

MORE INFO:  http://seattlepresbytery.org/events/2017/923-crossroads-anti-racism-training

You can:
-- register yourself at the link above, and let us know you are planning to attend.
OR
--let us know you want to attend (sign list on Sunday morning), and we will register you.

July 20 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends –

First, a little housecleaning is in order…literally.  :) 

With Compass Housing Alliance working diligently downstairs in order to move the Shelter in later this summer (yay!), we need to get the upstairs kitchen cleaned up and a little more functional for Sunday mornings.  We’ve planned a WORK DAY at FPCS on Thursday July 27th from 9:30 am – 4 pm. We hope to clean and organize the upstairs kitchen as well as pack dishes. (I’ve never seen so many dishes!)  If you have questions or want to help you can contact Kathy Smith (kathryngear@gmail.com) or Gail Irving (gailirving@comcast.net).

Second, I’m loving the sermon text for this week, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. Our latest ticking-time-bomb (aka parable) includes more seeds this week, but then (tick-tick-tick) some weeds get thrown in, too! 

I remember a Bible teacher once saying that this parable is perfectly suited for the world we live in; more precisely, that if ever there were a Bible passage designed to help people make it Monday through Saturday – this is it!  (A pretty bold claim in a culture that thinks the Bible and churchy stuff is pretty obsolete!)

So, wanna know why? 

Let’s talk about it together on Sunday!

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

July 6 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends –

I don’t know - maybe it’s because we’ve had a steady stream of houseguests for the last two and half weeks out on the Canal – but, while it’s been great fun, a part of this Sunday’s sermon text from Matthew 11:25-30 seems to be resonating with me a bit more than usual…

28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Ah yes, great fun, but a little weariness has set in…and the need for some rest, too!

Eugene Peterson’s translation in the Message helps us see it’s not just the general busy-ness and heavy loads of life that Jesus is addressing, but more the burden of a legalistic, Jesus-less life of faith or religion that he has in view:

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Check out the whole passage we’ll be looking at this Sunday:  Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30.  Try to avoid what other people have written or said, and just wallow or marinate in the text, reading through it over and over again, paying attention to what you see, what speaks to you…

Learning the “unforced rhythms of grace”,

Pastor Heidi

July 1 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends –

We’ve got a houseful of people out here already for the 4th, so I’ll keep this short…

·       sermon text for tomorrow is only three verses, but some good stuff!  Check it out – Matthew 10:40-42 – and bring your questions & insights to share.

·       stick around for lunch after worship this Sunday…and a teeny bit longer if you can for a little bit more cleaning out in the basement.  It should go quickly.  (FYI, remodeling of the space for the Compass Shelter has begun!)

·       Got questions about the “Listening Team” process and what we’re trying to accomplish (that I wrote about last week)?  We’re still figuring it out!  Kathy Smith and I can help fill you in a bit.  And pretty soon Jessica Sofie and Glenn Bell will be up to speed too. No secrets! Just ask! 

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

June 23 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Hoo boy – we’ve been enjoying some beautiful, sunny days out where we live on Hood Canal – with the added bonus of hostingsome out of town visitors – my nephew and his wife from Washington, DC; and, my niece and her fiancé (an Irishman) direct from 5 years teaching English in So. Korea.  It’s meant lots of catching up, and rich conversation. Man, do I feel blessed!

So, a few quick, bulleted points for the eNews  this week…

·      We have identified the members our FPCS Listening Team that will help us begin the process of discerning our way forward and prayerfully discovering what God has in mind for the future of FPCS. We’ve got: Jessica Sofie, FPCS; Glenn Bell, FPCS; JP Kang, AC/Session; Charlie Scoma, Seattle Police Dept., Chaplain; Dani Forbess, Pastor Northminster Pres., Presbytery Catalyzing Missional Community Committeemember; Kathryn Smith, AC/Session member (and experience with new church development); and, Heidi Husted Armstrong, Transitional Pastor.  We are starting to nail down our meeting dates, and scheduling the folks we will be listing to (a diverse lot!) – so it’s a bit of a logistical challenge.  We appreciate your prayers in the weeks and months ahead!

·      Don’t forget THIS SUNDAY we’ll be cleaning out some of the basement after lunch in anticipation of the Compass shelter beginning to move in. If you are able to stay afterwards we sure would appreciate your help!

·      I feel like the sermon text this week - Matthew 10:24-39 – should come with a warning:  “Caution: do not read in isolation; read only in community.” We will DEFINITELY need each other’s help to find our way through this challenging call to discipleship! Check it out in advance – but remember, no commentaries J

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday.

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

June 16 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends in Christ –

The Lectionary Gospel readings land us back in Matthew for the rest of the year, and our text for this Sunday is Matthew 9:35-10:8. If you get a chance to read it before Sunday, read it slowly, and just pay attention.  What pops out for you? What do you find confusing?  How does the text connect - or not - with our lives today? 

One of the things that grabs me in this text is in verse 36: “when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them….”  Jesus cared about people.  Com + passion = to suffer with.  Jesus felt their pain.  His gut ached for them.  His heart went out to them. 

There have been times when followers of Jesus have excelled at embracing the compassionate way of Jesus. 

Some years ago I came across the words of one historian recalling “the dark times in ancient Roman history when city-wide epidemics wiped out whole sections of the population.  The empire did its best to quarantine those sections of the cities, though the remaining people were abandoned to a slow and painful death.  The only people willing to risk their lives to care for these suffering souls were Christians. Many of them flocked to the areas most infected and literally gave their lives to care for the dead and dying.  This heroic example was one reason the empire took a second look at Christianity.” Wow. Jesus-like compassion is evangelistic! 

So what does this mean for us today?

The historian I quoted above kind of gets in our faces when goes on to suggest that it means that “Christians at their best must concern themselves less with the church’s institutional survival, or even their own survival, and more with the welfare of those who are suffering.”

If that sounds a teensy bit overwhelming, maybe we could just start by letting our hearts go out to one person today. 

And day by day let’s keep figuring out how to…

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

June 9 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends in Christ –

Once a year the Lectionary designates the Sunday after Pentecost as “Trinity Sunday” (this this coming Sunday). Trinity refers to the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – although the words Trinity or Triune never appear in the Bible.

Have you ever tried to explain the Trinity to someone?  Um, good luck!  Finding the words to explain the mystery of the Divine Three-in-One sometimes feels like trying to carry a huge pile of uncontained sand in your arms.  We tend to rely to our old standby Trinity metaphors, saying the Trinity is like water (it comes in three forms: solid ice, liquid water, gaseous steam - but it’s all water). Or, the Trinity is like an egg (it has three parts: shell, yoke, white - but it’s all egg).  But those explanations always feel a little silly if you ask me.  Worst of all, it makes us think of the Trinity as three objects. It took me a long time to grasp that the Trinity is not a math problem or a science experiment, but a relationship of persons. The Triune God is a community in which we too are invited to participate. Not only is the Trinity “incomparably hospitable to each other” (Daniel Migliore), but to us as well! 

Our text for this Sunday – Matthew 28:16-20 – the final text is that gospel is usually dubbed “The Great Commission.” If you get a chance to read it before Sunday try to forget everything you’ve ever learned about it before, and read it with fresh eyes.  Just pay attention.  Notice what jumps out at you…  What seems weird or odd or confusing about it?  How does the text connect (or not) with our lives today? 

And…any idea why the Lectionary folks appointed this text for Trinity Sunday?

See you Sunday!

Pastor Heidi

June 1 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Brothers and Sisters –

This Sunday is Pentecost!  In celebration of the Holy Spirit coming and appearing as tongues of fire, and alighting on the early believers like they were life-sized candles (Acts 2:3) – wear some bright colors – red, orange, yellow—this Sunday! 

Tom Long, who has taught preaching for years, and is a darn good preacher himself, has noted that preaching the Pentecost event in Acts 2 can be more than a little intimidating: “What sermon can possibly come up to the drama of this passage?”  At Pentecost a steady stream of audio-visual assaults our senses.  Tom Long points out we’ve got everything from --

“a freight-train sized sound of wind from heaven, to
tongues of fire dancing on the heads of the disciples, plus
United Nations-styled multiple language proclamation, and
cries of amazement mingled with yelps of mockery among the hearers…” 

All topped off with a killer sermon from Peter, and people jumping at the chance to follow Jesus… resulting in 3000 converts that day!

Um, so maybe you’ve noticed:  It’s not always like this in the church!  About the loudest sound  we hear is some earsplitting feedback from the sound-system!  And, well, we’ve usually got maybe ONE candle lit!

Maybe that’s why we tend to think, How about we just leave Pentecost to the Pentecostals?

Well…or, how about we become Pentecostal Presbyterians?!

I love Pentecost because it reminds me that the church is not pastor- or personality-dependent; the church is not 3-year-plan or written-mission-vision-values dependent; the church is not big numbers-, or program-, or gothic building-driven; but, the church is Spirit-dependent!  Pentecost means the church is Spirit-created, Spirit-led and Spirit-sustained.

So c’mon Presbyterians – a little less handwringing! 

Let’s get our Pentecost on, and keep it on!

Sermon texts for this Sunday: a quick read of Acts 2:1-13, and then John’s Pentecost at John 20:19-31 (you might recall we just read this text at Easter, too!)

See you Sunday!

Pastor Heidi

May 25 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Sisters and Brothers  –

I’ve been reflecting on the “Compass at First Presbyterian” neighborhood outreach meeting that happened last Monday night. It was a great turnout – some 75 folks from the neighborhood and city, with lots of enthusiasm and support voiced for the 24/7 enhanced services shelter that will begin later this summer. (Read the article from The Capital Hill Times here). 

My overwhelming thought has been, Well, that was fun!  There were ten folks from First Presbyterian that we slapped name tags on, and then they did a great job welcoming people – sharing their smiles, shaking hands, and being their awesome friendly selves!  It was a great way to meet some of the neighbors, and for them to meet some of us.  Go church!

There was one gentleman who sat near the back, who spoke briefly to the whole group – really he gave his testimony about how Compass sort of saved his life some years ago by giving him shelter and support. Compass literally gave him a safe place to face his challenges including a bipolar diagnosis.  He is now clean and sober, gainfully employed and reconciled with his family.  As he shared, it felt like church!  I thanked the man afterwards for sharing, and as we chatted he kinda joked with me, "You know Pastor, I'm a lapsed Presbyterian!" And I said, “Well, come home!”  He gave me his business card.  I don't know if we'll see him in worship, but we might! 

I sure got the sense there IS a neighborhood out there waiting to be known...and loved...  It just felt like Jesus is with us, the Spirit is guiding us, showing us the way.  We are not alone!

So, here’s the sermon text for Sunday: John 17:1-11. Remember no commentaries.  Just engage the text – read it slowly, several times, over and over again, and pay attention: What jumps out at you?  What do you love about this text?  What seems weird or odd or confusing about it?  How does the text connect (or not) with your life or the world today?

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

It takes a community - Capitol Hill Times article

First Hill residents give blessings to 24/7 homeless shelter at First Presbyterian

By Brandon Macz
5/23/2017 12:27 PM

While organizers of a 24/7 homeless shelter at Seattle First Presbyterian Church had braced themselves for pushback, First Hill residents provided mostly words of support Monday night, as well as questions about how it will work.

“I’d like to say that poor people are not bad people,” said Alice Wesley, a resident of the Skyline at First Hill. “I know that because I used to be poor. I wasn’t bad then, and I’m not bad now.”

Wesley was one of several residents who came with signs of support, identifying themselves as part of the First Hill Y.I.M.B.Y (Yes In My Back Yard) Group. They also provided 22 letters of support for the 100-bed shelter, which is slated to open in the lower half of the church in August.

First Hill Plaza resident Helen Goehring said she thinks the low-barrier shelter, operated by Compass Housing Alliance, will make the neighborhood safer. She said she’s frightened for the people she sees sleeping on benches or talking to themselves on the street, adding it’s also scary for her.

Not scared away by the homeless population in First Hill are developers, said Suzanne Hittman, another Skyline at First Hill resident. She added they’re also not constructing affordable housing in their new, big buildings.

First Hill has Therapeutic Health Services, a major hospital that also provides mental health and substance abuse assistance, plus a program that helps people recently released from prison, Hittman said.

“The First Hill neighborhood is a welcoming neighborhood,” she said, “and we would like to bring this message to Laurelhurst, Magnolia, West Seattle…” and so on.

Seattle First Presbyterian began talks with Compass Housing about using its large space in the lower half of the church back in January, said Pastor Heidi Husted Armstrong.

“For us, as people of faith, it seemed like God was smack dab in the middle of this thing,” she said during the community discussion on May 22. “There are a lot of things that we can’t do here, but that we can do, and we are honored and humbled to be a part of this partnership.”

Read the complete article online.

May 19 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Sisters and Brothers  –

I want to remind you that this coming Monday, May 22, at 6:30pm, Compass Housing Alliance will be having a Community Meeting at First Pres. in the Chapel.  We have been reaching out to our neighbors and interested others - inviting them to come and learn more about the “Compass at First Presbyterian” Transitional Shelter that will begin later this summer.

Francesca Martin, Chief Program Officer at Compass, and our major contact person, reports they’ve already been having some great smaller meetings in the community with interested parties, including individuals, the First Hill Improvement Association, and others.

I want to encourage you to come on Monday evening if you can – because as we start to think about what FPCS ministry redevelopment might look like, this will provide us a little glimpse of who is in the neighborhood…and give the neighborhood a little glimpse of who is in the church. 

In fact, can you let me know if you’re planning on being there?  AND would you be willing to help welcome people?  We’ll probably slap a name tag on you – but if you can smile and say hi, you can do this!  Just shoot me a quick email at Heidi@seafirstpres.org and let me know if you are in!

 

Two more things…

You may have noticed – ha! – but the sun is shining! So be sure and get outside in the next several days and go for a walk and soak up some Vitamin D! 

And, I’ll give you the sermon text for Sunday if you promise NOT to read the commentaries!  DON’T STUDY the “experts.” Just engage the text – read it slowly, several times, over and over again.  Just pay attention: What jumps out at you?  What do you love about this text?  What seems weird or odd or confusing about it?  How does the text connect (or not) with your life or the world today?

OK – remember – no commentaries, right?! 

John 14:15-21.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Heidi

 

Good Friday

 “It was nine o’clock in the morning when they nailed Him to the cross.  Even the bandits who had been crucified with Him insulted Him.   -Mark 15:25

     And at noon, the whole country was covered with darkness which lasted for three hours.   -Matthew 27:45

     At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why did you abandon Me?” 
-Matthew 27:46