May 18 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey Everyone  –

After the risen Christ left this earth, the disciples were told to wait for the promised Holy Spirit who would empower them for ministry.  Before long things got pretty wild as the Holy Spirit arrived as a violent wind and tongues of fire, and the Holy Spirit them gave the disciples the ability to speak in other languages – so that all the people gathered in Jerusalem could hear the good news about Jesus in their own language!

In our sermon text from John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 Jesus makes a big deal about sending the Holy Spirit after he’s gone, and calls the Holy Spirit “the Advocate”, or sometimes it’s translated “Comforter.”  That’s a good thing, right? – the Holy Spirit is Comforter.  Unless maybe we get too comfy? 

Read back through Acts 2 and you get the sense Pentecost is not very comfortable.  In fact, I don’t think it’s too farfetched to call Pentecost totally revolutionary.  The Spirit was, and still is, shaking things up bigtime. 

So what does this mean for us today?  Well, let’s seek ask Spirit.  Afterall, in John 16:13 Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” 

I hope you can join us this Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi       

P.S. Celebrate Pentecost this Sunday by wearing a fiery color – red, orange, yellow – or all of the above – underscoring the fact that today we Presbyterians are still figuring out how to get our Pentecost on! 

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May 4 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends in Christ –         

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

That’s straight from our sermon text this Sunday – John 15:9-17 – if you want to give it a slow read.

In A Book of Uncommon Prayer (my favorite book of prayers), author Brian Doyle writes,

“Granted, it’s a tough assignment, the original assignment…   Love – Lord help us, could we not have been assigned something easier, like astrophysics or quantum mechanics?  But no – love those you cannot love… the blowhard, the pompous ass, the arrogant liar.  Find Christ in each heart, even those.”

And how does that even sit with you – a command to love? Can you make people love?   Especially as Jesus loved? I mean the bar is set pretty high, no?

I think this would all feel very heavy and burdensome, except the text is loaded with all kinds of good news, as well – though not always easy for us to detect.  Still, it’s kind of like Jesus works overtime here not only to help us take the command to love seriously, but also to help us not freak out, too…  I absolutely love some of the good news images and words of assurance in our text this week.  Come and let’s dig around together – I think you’ll love them, too! 

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Here’s a quick update about the FPCS Litigation:  We received word this week that the Washington State Supreme Court has declined to hear the court case appeal, deciding instead to transfer it to Division I of the State Court of Appeals – which must uphold the Rohrbaugh decision/precedent (as the King County Superior Court decisions have already done). We will know more about the court timeline in coming weeks.

Be the church!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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April 27 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends in Christ  –        

Our sermon text this Sunday is John 15:1-18, where Jesus says “I am the vine, you are the branches…abide in me.” In fact, check it out – and you’ll see the word “abide” is repeated no less than 8 times in as many verses.  You think maybe Jesus is trying to tell us something? 

So what does the first moon landing have to do with abiding in Christ?  It’s an interesting story – come this Sunday and find out…

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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April 20 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey everyone  – 

Have you ever felt like an outsider, like you didn’t belong, like you were different, or “other”?  

How many of us had the horrible experience as a kid in elementary school out on the playground during recess, with two popular classmates choosing up teams, and dying in a pile wondering if we’d ever get picked! 

I was always tall for my age, and skinny as a bean-pole, with firey-red curly hair, and super shy (I know, hard to believe!) – and most days I never quite felt like I fit in.  Even as a late-comer to Christian faith and the church, though I was warmly welcomed, sometimes I felt like I didn’t really belong.  Every so often I still feel “other” in the church!

So there’s a curious thing in our sermon text this week that I absolutely love.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also…”  I love that Jesus values “otherness.”  I love that Jesus values inclusiveness.  It’s so…well, good shepherd-y!

Usually we say the others that Jesus meant here were the Gentiles (as opposed to the Jewish Pharisees with whom Jesus was talking). 

But could there be other others?

I hope you get a chance to take a look at John 10:11-18 – and bring your questions and insights to share as we engage the text together this Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

 Christ the Good Shepherd Catacomb of Priscilla 2nd half of the 3rd Century

Christ the Good Shepherd
Catacomb of Priscilla
2nd half of the 3rd Century

April 13 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Sisters and Brothers –   

Have you ever thought about how vital reading Scripture is for Christian faith?

We saw that last week in John 20 – when Thomas finally sees Jesus with his own eyes (and makes the chief confession of faith in John’s Gospel – “My Lord, and my God!”), Jesus says to Thomas, “29Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Blessed are those who have not seen – that would include us.  Nice to know we are on Jesus’ radar! He is rooting for non-eyewitnesses to his bodily resurrection.  Jesus is blessing US.

And then the gospel writer adds these words:  30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

The gospel writer couldn’t write everything down, but he did write THIS down, and “these are written so that...” Did you catch John’s two part purpose statement?  He wrote what he wrote

(1) so that you will believe, so that what happened to Thomas will happen to you, so that you will say, My Lord and my God!  Last Sunday I pointed out the gospels are not neutral accounts; they are, in the best sense of the word, propaganda; that is, they intend to propagate faith in us.  That’s why we read!

(2) So that you may have LIFE in Jesus’ name.  Knowing Jesus changes everything. Knowing Jesus means we experience abundant life. That’s why we read!

At first, the stories were told orally, then eventually they were written down and read together in community. That’s a big reason we gather together on Sundays:  To read Scripture in community.  I’m pretty sure this makes God happy, but according to John’s gospel there’s a more important reason that we do this.  It’s so that we might encounter – or be encountered by – the risen Christ.  As we read these written words IN COMMUNITY we hear Jesus speaking to us, we see Jesus, and we experience fullness of life in him.

Holy cow:  Who would want to miss out on that?!

If you get a chance, take a look at our text for this Sunday – another Easter text – this one from Luke 24:36b-48.   Then come and let’s be open to meeting the Living Lord together!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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March 29 Update From Pastor Heidi

Dear Sisters and Brothers –   

Reading through the “Journey to the Passion of Jesus” texts this week, I so identify with the disciples. They are at a pivotal point, facing an unknown future – and they are so sad, pathetic really, in the way they don’t get what is happening.  In a swirl of confusion and anxiety they utterly fail Jesus. All of which I find surprisingly comforting. Because the Lord doesn’t give up on them, which is to say he doesn’t give up on us.  He doesn’t say, “Ok you guys, I’ve so had it with you.  Enough. Go try Buddha.” In fact, they will soon be on the receiving end of everything Jesus has to give:

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If God has done anything at First Pres. in the last couple years, God has called us out of our comfort zones.  As a congregation we are up to our eyeballs in the unknown, experiencing not a little vulnerability and anxiety ourselves.  Apparently, this is pretty much the job description for disciples (translate: students of Jesus, people apprenticed to him).  We are called to lean into that unknown, the unfamiliar, the fear, the loss, and all that freaks us out – and learn to follow Jesus, even if it’s two steps forward, one back (or even one forward, two back).

Truthfully, I think I’ve probably lived too much of my life with a sense of dread and gloom.  You know, bad things happen to good people.  The worst is yet to come.  We’re doomed.  Play it safe. Just. Give. Up. Now.

But the cross and resurrection say something different. Yes, there’s death, but ultimately there’s new life. This is what God is up to:  New creation.  God’s not dead, but on the loose in the world!  Think about that:  I mean, what if we let the gospel really happen to us?!

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Speaking of being outside of one’s comfort zone – the Good Friday Event – an art exhibit – being hosted by Sanctuary Church in the FPCS Chapel, on Friday night 7-9pm, just might do that for us! But perhaps God just might have a prophetic word to say to us through it?  Come and observe and listen…

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The sermon text for Sunday is John 20:1-18.  I think you know this one, but go ahead and give it a read through a few times in anticipation of Sunday… 

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And, since Easter falls on April 1, to close with an April Fools metaphor, resurrection gets the last laugh…so hope I don’t offend too many by signing off with this irreverent cartoon:

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Grace and peace friends!

Pastor Heidi

You Do Not Disappear (Friday, 3/30, 7-9pm @ Seattle First PC)

A one night art show featuring the art of Naima Lowe, Serrah Russell, Barry Johnson, Anne de Marcken, and Hanita Schwartz.

(event image by Serrah Russell: "To grow into each other", 2015, photographic collage using Life magazine)

Every year, Good Friday invites observers to reflect on the experience of obstruction, obfuscation, covering over and covering up; the kind that happens to us, and the kind we do to ourselves. The kind that takes time, like the blurring along the edges of a memory, or the sudden, like a family member ripped away from us by violence. Good Friday invites observers to contemplate erasure, a word which came to life in the academy, referencing the tendency of ideologies or religions to dismiss inconvenient facts. It was then adopted by communities of color to highlight the systematic silencing of their lives and stories by white supremacist, patriarchal and capitalist power structures.* Later, the word was extended to other communities marginalized because of gender, sexual orientation, class, or body type.

Learn more.

March 22 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear brothers and sisters –

This coming Saturday a parade of people will march through the streets of our nation’s capitol, and many other cities and towns, including Seattle, led by a bunch of kids – sadly dubbed “the school shooting generation”.  In their “March for our Lives” these virtually powerless children and their families are standing up to the powerful to say “Enough!” to gun violence, and to demand change.  It is heart-wrenching and awe-inspiring to watch these articulate and tech savvy youth put into action their promise to stop at nothing. I don’t know anyone who expected this.  These kids are heroes.  May God grant them wisdom, and safety.

It is not lost on me that the next day, as Lent wraps up, we will recall another parade that took place on Palm Sunday, this one too comprised of a seemingly powerless group. All four gospels give us a snapshot of Jesus riding into Jerusalem, Israel’s holy city, astride a young donkey. I picture Jesus’ awkward posture, his feet dragging in the dust. The visual just seems rather comical; it’s difficult for us to appreciate the deep political overtones here, and even the argument for an end to violence.  Indeed, this Palm Sunday parade is THE MARCH THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING. For Jesus is on his way to the cross, to turn the world upside down.  He will stop at nothing – not even death – to turn the imperial notions of power and rule on their head.

Read through Mark 11:1-11 a few times before Sunday, and we’ll talk about these things as we engage the text together in worship…

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And then just a quick heads up about Holy Week, which is next week…

§  No Maundy Thursday Service – because we will be setting up for a special event to take place on Good Friday…

§  GOOD FRIDAY EVENT  March 30, 7-9 pm at First Presbyterian Church Seattle in the Chapel (enter on Spring St)

Hosted by Sanctuary Church, Seattle…

you do not disappear

A one night art show featuring the art of
Naima Lowe, Serrah Russell, Barry Johnson,
Anne de Marcken, and Hanita Schwartz

  “The inconvenient truth is the historical church has often not only contributed to the erasure and oppression of [various] groups…but instigated it.
  “These artists will help prepare us to contemplate the narrative of Good Friday by first listening well to the contemporary narratives of erasure around marginalized groups.”  
 --Pastor Gabe Molinaro, Sanctuary Church

§  EASTER SUNDAY WORSHIP  April 1, 10:30am

(Sanctuary Church, Seattle, will be joining us for worship on Easter)

Think about inviting your family members, friends and neighbors as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord (which we actually do every Sunday – but sometimes on Easter people are a little more open to being invited!)

Please note: Our lunch on Easter will be less “substantial” than usual – just sweet breads and cookies – to allow time and space for members of the congregation to gather for meals with their families after worship. 

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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March 14 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello friends!

Don’t forget -- THIS FRIDAY MARCH 16TH 7PM -- PIE & GAME NIGHT -- in the Whitworth Room.

The invitation has gone out to Compass shelter guests, our friends at Sanctuary Church, and through Alex Hudson, the First Hill Neighborhood…so feel free to bring a friend! 

Come enjoy some time hanging out together – we’ve got board games, and Linda’s homemade berry pies! We’ll have some gluten free and vegan options, too J 

Free street parking is available after 6pm.  Please enter the church building through the 8th Ave entrance. Questions? Contact Kathy Smith at kathy@firstpres.org

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The SERMON TEXT for this week is John 12:20-33, which begins with a few Greeks (read “outsiders”) saying, “We wish to see Jesus.” While it’s not evident they ever do get to SEE Jesus, what is evident is this is pretty much the last time Jesus speaks publically in John’s gospel (he’ll have much more to say privately to the disciples) – and there are some things that Jesus wants to make very clear about himself to all.  I hope you get a chance to read through the text a few times, and then let’s be all eyes and ears as we come together on Sunday…

And I want to add a quick word of thanks to J.P. Kang and Kathy Smith for covering for me last Sunday while I was away helping co-lead the Transitional Ministry Workshop with Scott Lumsden and Eliana Maxim in Portland, OR.  During the week we had the privilege of guiding 54 pastors who are pondering (or up to their eyeballs in) the mysteries of interim and transitional ministry, and on the weekend I took a little time to recover.  And although Rick and I sat in another Presbyterian congregation on Sunday morning, I must say, I am totally spoiled by the way we preach together at FPCS – and I missed it at can’t wait to be back!

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And may I just add a quick personal note – today would’ve been my dad’s 86th birthday. You may remember I was 14 when he died (he was only 37) – and it was the loss of my Dad that drew me to faith in the first place.  People look at this picture of him below (an able-bodied seaman in the Merchant Marine) and tell me I have his eyes…  I hope I have his adventurous spirit and kind heart, too. 

Join me in trusting him, and all whom we love, to God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ – this day, and always,

Pastor Heidi

 My Dad, Don Husted

My Dad, Don Husted

March 9 Update from Pastor Heidi

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SERMON TEXT for Sunday March 11 is John 3:14-21 – including perhaps one of the most well-known and most-loved verses in the Bible, John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  Come and let’s dig a little deeper together…

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PIE & GAME NIGHT at First Pres. – including Shelter Guests!  Friday, March 16th, 7pm, in the Whitworth Room. Bring a friend!  Enter the building through 8th Ave doors. Questions? Contact Kathy Smith at Kathy@firstpres.org

March 1 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello friends!

Emerald City Comic Con comes to Seattle again, starting today through Sunday. Last year the 4 day event brought 91,000 people to our church neighborhood, which made parking on Sunday a bit tighter than usual.   So, this Sunday we’ll have the church parking garage open from 10:00 am until 10:35 am.  Enter the garage at the corner of 7th Avenue (near the corner of Spring).  The garage door will be open, and someone will be there to direct you how to enter the church building and head upstairs to the Chapel.  (There will still be someone at the Spring Street entrance to welcome those walking to church.)

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This Sunday’s sermon text is John 2:13-22, and while I don’t invent sermon titles anymore, if I did, this one might be something along the lines of “Jesus Not-So-Meek-And-Mild,”, or, “The Day Jesus Lost His Cool,” or, “Jesus Gets Ticked Off in Church.”  When Jesus goes to the Temple what he sees so angers him that he turns over the tables and drives everybody out – with a whip no less! Like some kind of Wild West Jesus.  This is one of those, “What in the Sam Hill is going on here?” kind of texts!   If you have questions and/or insights – bring ‘em on Sunday!

You might find it interesting to know that some commentators even think that maybe Jesus is trying to giving a good reason to stop going to church!  But I guess you’ll have to come to church to find out what it is :)

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We’ll bring back that lovely Celtic-ish tune Christ Within, written by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (based on St. Patrick’s Breastplate, an old Irish prayer) again this week – to help remind us of Christ’s presence all around, willing to fill us…

     Christ within, before and behind

     Christ beneath, above, beside

     Christ every hour, every day, every night

Here’s the link so you can hear it as a round – and maybe even practice singing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkH6FjTfCtI

Hope to see you Sunday!

Grace and peace!

Pastor Heidi

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February 23 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey everyone!

I’ve mentioned recently that sometimes we make Lent too much about giving up something (fasting from chocolate, or Facebook, or alcohol…or church!). But we miss the point if we just see Lent as an opportunity to empty our lives of something, and do not seek to be more open to the presence of Christ all around us.  Lent is not just for emptying, but spiritual filling. 

That’s why I love the new little song we started learning in worship last week, by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, titled Christ Within (based on St. Patrick’s Breastplate, an old Irish prayer). It reminds me of Christ’s presence all around, willing to fill us…

     Christ within, before and behind

     Christ beneath, above, beside

     Christ every hour, every day, every night

We’ll bring this tune back as the Sending Song again this week, and hope to tackle it as a round.  To that end, you might want to give it a listen a few times and get it in your head so we can pull it off!  Here’s the link so you can practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkH6FjTfCtI

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Sunday’s sermon text is Mark 8:31-38 – and it’s kinda of a doozy.  After Jesus spells out what’s ahead for him (namely suffering, rejection, death, and rising again) Peter freaks out and reads Jesus the riot act. Then Jesus reads Peter the riot act!  The next thing you know, Jesus paints a picture of what discipleship looks like – to follow him in self denial and take up your cross. I’m pretty sure this did not go over so well either, at least initially.  So, how does it go over with us?

I hope you’ll take time to read through the passage a few times and see what you think, and let’s talk about it together on Sunday. 

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And before I sign off, a few updates

Mark Smutny recently resigned as the Program Director for Compass at First Presbyterian (the shelter in the church basement) to take a position as Operations Manager for Sound Generations’ Hyde Shuttle transportation program.  Robert Taylor is now the Program Director, and we wish him very success!

Gail Irving has decided to make a change - while she loves being at FPCS, she desires to use her ordination and be more directly involved in pastoral ministry (including preaching and leading worship more regularly) and has been invited by Rev. Doug Early to do so on Sunday mornings at Queen Anne Presbyterian Church.  As a result, Gail's last Sunday being in charge of the meal at FPCS will be this Sunday, Feb 25. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us, Gail – we pray God’s blessing on your new adventure!

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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February 15 Update from Pastor Heidi

Friends in Christ -

The season of Lent – the 40 days (minus Sundays) leading up to Easter – began yesterday on Ash Wednesday (also VaLENTine’s Day)!  We had a few folks show up for “ashes-on-the-go, and then Pastor J.P. Kang and I went downstairs to the basement and offered “ashes for Lent” to the Shelter guests. “Oh, yes, I know what that is!, said one woman, and stepped right up.  “What’s Lent?” asked another person.  I explained it’s a season before Easter when we’re honest with ourselves and with God about how we’ve messed up, that we made mistakes; we don’t hide from God, but tell the truth, we repent, and God forgives us.  “Oh, that’s good,” he said, “but I think I’ll just save ‘mine’ for somebody else who really needs it.”  That kinda cracked me up.  I went through the women’s dormitory area, and adminstered the ashes to 3 or 4 women chillin’ in their bunks.  One woman seemed particularly fragile and sweet.  I said to her, “The ashes remind us of how fragile we are – we are dust, and to dust we shall return.  But remember, God doesn’t hate anything God has made. When we mess up, or find ourselves in a mess, God loves us, and forgives us.  God never gives up on us.  I want you to remember that.”  We were looking at each other eyeball to eyeball:  “I want you never to forget that God loves you very much, OK?” “Yes…” she said. 

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I’ve always been a little ambivalent about giving up something for Lent.  It just seems like we end up focusing on the thing we are giving up, and feeling deprived, rather than making space for God or experiencing spiritual growth or life.  But the point of spiritual practices like prayer, fasting, works of love, simplicity, and reading and mediating on the God’s Word is to connect us with God.  We’re not just giving up something, we’re giving up ourselves to God.

A couple days ago I came across a list of Simple Lenten Spiritual Practices written by Annie Corson Lambert, a member of a church I served in Tacoma a few years back (Trinity Presbyterian, on the Hilltop). I really liked her suggested spiritual practices because, well, so many of them seem so practical.  I asked Annie if I could share her list with you, and she eagerly gave permission, so I’ve attached it. Please take the time to open it – I think you will find it to have some really creative and helpful suggestions for your Lenten journey. 

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Sunday’s sermon text lands us back in Mark 1:9-15 (again!), which starts with Jesus’ baptism (check), and ends with Jesus at the beginning of his ministry in Galilee “proclaiming the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near” (check).  But sandwiched in the middle is the shortest Gospel version of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.  Just. Two. Verses.  Gonna be short sermon, right?  Ha! Well see!  Read through this passage and see what you think is going on and let’s talk about it together on Sunday. 

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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Ash Wednesday

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40 days of Lent begin today on Ash Wednesday. Join us for a very brief service in the Chapel at 5pm - more like “ashes to go.”

February 9 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hello Brothers & Sisters -

I want to give you a heads up and let you know this Sunday might be a little different – because we’ll have another small church of 15 or so folks joining us for worship this week.   Sanctuary Church is a small congregation that has been located in the Capital Hill area for a number of years. For some time now their church leadership has been discerning a call to leave their present denominational affiliation and become a congregation in the Pressbyterian Church (USA).  As part of helping their congregation know what that means, they’d like to worship with a PC(USA) congregation on a Sunday morning, and well, we’re right here in the neighborhood J

I know, I know – the story we usually hear is about congregations leaving the PC(USA).  But, actually, at recent Presbytery meetings we’ve received pastors who have come into the PC(USA) from different denominational backgrounds, and new worshipping communities, too.  The Holy Spirit keeps doing a new thing.  Like our General Assembly Stated Clerk, Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, recently said, “We’re not dying! We’re reforming!” 

So, be ready to get your “hospitality” on, and warmly welcome a few more unfamiliar, but friendly faces to worship this Sunday!   The PC(USA) thanks you!

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Also, this Sunday is “Transfiguration Sunday” – our sermon text is Mark 9:2-10 – when Jesus is basically “metamorphosed” on the mountain before Peter, James and John, in a blaze of light and mysterious cloud.  It’s a spectacular manifestation of divine glory, or maybe that’s glow-ry.  I remember someone once saying this might be the original event that first produced the phrase, “I guess you had to be there!”, because no matter how hard we try, it seems we’re never quite able to explain it.  Of course, maybe trying to explain it isn’t the point.   Sometimes we just need to be willing to enter the mystery.

Notice Peter and company were terrified.  I wonder why?  What were they afraid of?   And, is there anything in the passage that helps to allay their fears…and ours?  Lots to ponder together this week…

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And finally, just a quick note to let you know that next Wednesday is not only Valentine’s Day, but Ash Wednesday – which marks the beginning of the season of Lent leading up to Easter.  We’ll be offering a VERY short and simple opportunity that evening at 5pm in the Chapel to have your forehead marked with ashes in the sign of the cross.  It’s not really even a “service” – though we’ll say a prayer, and read a Scripture, but it will take only 5-10 minutes.  More like “ashes to go.”  So take a few minutes to come by after work, and begin your Lenten journey of repentance by remembering “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It’s a meaningful way to begin our journey to Easter and the celebration of the resurrection…

In the meanwhile…

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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February 2 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey friends!

So you know how we’ve been prayerfully trying to discern how God might be leading First Presbyterian into the future.  As a first step, last July we put together a little group of folks from FPCS and Seattle Presbytery that we called the “Listening Team.” Their job over the last several months was to…well, listen to what God might be saying to us through the voices of various people and partners in our neighborhood.  It ended up being an incredibly rich experience, and we now have a summary report of what we learned through these conversations.  Copies of the “FPCS Listening Team Summary Report” will be available on Sunday morning.  

It’s certainly not the end of the journey, there’s more to discover and discern, but this has been a great start.  Let me know if you have any questions about the report, or where we are…

I was invited to meet with another church in the Presbytery one evening this last week – they were curious about what was happening at FPCS – and especially wanted to know about our Listening Team process.  It’s a congregation that is also a little bewildered about their future – somedays even a little fearful if they’ll make it.  (You know, we’re not the only ones).  I was glad to share our story, and remind these folks (and myself!) that the Lord is the Lord of the church. We may not know where this whole thing is going, but what a Companion we have along the way, showing the way! 

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Our sermon text on Sunday is Mark 1:29-39 – lots going on in this text – including Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law, and, by that evening, a whole bunch of other people (“they brought to him all who were sick or possessed by demons”… “the whole city lined up at his door.”)  No wonder Jesus then tries to get away for a little prayer retreat…but the disciples hunt him down…which results in Jesus clarifying his mission.  Like I said, lots going on here.  Read it through a few times before Sunday, and take note of what strikes you in the passage.

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And again, just a reminder – the ferry schedule has changed, so I don’t have to skedaddle quite so quickly after lunch on Sundays.  So on Sunday morning plan on sticking around a little longer if you’d like and let’s hang out and chat.  I look forward to visiting a bit more with you all!

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

 Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, Rembrandt sketch

Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, Rembrandt sketch

January 26 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey everyone!

Just touching bases real quick before Sunday…

I’m wondering what feelings or reactions the word “authority”conjurs up for you?  Is it a good thing?  Bad thing?  A good experience for you? Negative experience  for you?  Who has authority?  Parents, teachers, police, and um, maybe pastors? Who else?  Anybody ever slap a bumper sticker on their car that said “Question Authority”?  What makes authority…authoritarian?

I’m asking because our text on Sunday is Mark 1:21-28, which says regular folks were impressed with Jesus because he taught as “one having authority” – not like the scribes, who were the ones who had, well, authority!  So, what made Jesus different?

Just something to be thinking about…

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Also, just a heads up – the ferry schedule has changed, so I don’t have to skedaddle quite so quickly after lunch on Sundays.  So on Sunday morning plan on sticking around a little longer if you’d like and let’s hang out and chat.  I look forward to visiting a bit more with you all!

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Oh, and one last thing – Kathy Smith, member of the Administrative Commission and Clerk of Session was approved by Seattle Presbytery to serve as a Commissioned Ruling Elder at First Presbyterian Seattle – meaning she will keep doing ALL the awesome things she’s been doing at FPCS, plus now she can partcipate in the sacraments (communion and baptism) if we ever need her to. Kathy is a kind and faithful soul, with a generous heart, and we are blessed to have her be a part the beloved community here.

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

January 19 Update from Pastor Heidi

Hey friends –

True confessions: I don’t usually look to Presbytery meetings for inspiration…but the one we had this week – wow, just WOW!  Two things rocked our little Presbyterian meeting…

First, the inspired preaching of The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), and, notably, the first African-American in that position.

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Dr. Nelson is a gift to the church – he’s a life-long Presbyterian (pastors in the family go back three generations!) who is pastoral, humble, prophetic, Jesus- and neighbor-loving, justice-seeking, engaging and inspiring.   Acknowledging that our denomination has shrunk from over 4 million members to 1.3 members now, Dr. Nelson urged that a church beset by worry needs to remember: “The church belongs to the Lord, and we belong to the Lord.”  I loved it when he said: “We’re not dying; we’re being reformed!”  What a good word for us at First Pres., huh?!

Our Presbytery meeting was also rocked by the commissioning of Alexis Ruhumuriza as Commissioned Lay Pastor of the New Hope Revival Congregation, a multi-ethnic outreach to people of mostly East African descent that is nested at Bellevue Presbyterian Church.  Man, what an energetic ball of fire Alexis is, full of the Holy Spirit and hope! He exudes trust and joy in Christ. When the New Hope Revival Band led us in singing songs in various African languages, the Presbyterians actually cut loose!   It was kind of crazy – and pretty special!

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This Sunday we’ll take another look at what it means to follow Jesus through the lens of Mark 1:14-20.  Come ready to engage the word together – a word that calls, transforms, and gives life!

I’m so glad we get to do this together!

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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January 12 Update from Pastor Heidi

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Yesterday when the FPCS Administrative Commission/Session (our church leadership board) met, last week’s sermon text from Mark 1 on was still rattling around in my head and heart…   

10 And just as [Jesus] was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 

11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

In our preaching we noted that not only does Jesus identify with us sinners in his baptism, but God identifies with Jesus.  The divine affirmation is repeated in all three synoptic gospels: Jesus hears the words every kid longs to hear.  And in fact we went on to explore that what God says to Jesus in his baptism, God says to all of us in ours: through Jesus Christ we are all dearly loved children of God.

But yesterday at our meeting I shared with the Session some unpreached leftovers that didn’t get said last Sunday, namely, that what God says to us in our baptism, God longs to say to others through us.  We become the voice through which God speaks, saying to others, You are dearly loved by God.  As a result, barriers come down, and the circle of God’s beloved community expands.  (By the way, that was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s preferred term for what God is all about – “the beloved community” – a good reminder as we observe MLK Day this coming Monday.)

Father Gregory Boyle, who wrote “Tattoos on the Heart”, which describes his life-changing work with gangs in Los Angeles through Homeboy Industries, uses a different word to describe the ever expanding beloved community. He calls it kinship, and he often illustrates what that means by telling a stories from his work... 

Father Greg does a lot of speaking, and often tries to bring a couple homies with him, guys who have usually never flown, or even travelled, much less spoken publically.  On a trip to Gonzaga University, the Catholic University in Spokane (where every freshman was given a copy of Tattoos on the Heart to read) Father Greg brought Bobby and Mario with him. Mario was the most tattooed individual Father Greg had ever seen – all sleeved out, neck blackened with his gang name, his face covered with tattoos.  Father Greg had never been out in public with Mario before – and kind of watched in horror as people sidestepped them at the airport, and mothers pulled their kids in close.  And yet, Father Greg noted, everyone at Homeboy would agree that Mario was the gentlest of men.

When they got to the event at Gonzaga, Mario and Bobby – voices shaking, beyond nervous – told their stories of violence, terror, and abuse, with people hanging on every word. This was followed by Q & A.  One woman stood and directed a question to Mario:  “You say you’re a father, that your son and daughter are starting to reach their teenage years.  What advice do you give them?”  As she sat down, Mario clutched the microphone:  “I just…” He started to tear up…  “I just…”  And then he choked out the words:  “I just don’t want my kids to turn out to be like me.”

Then the woman stood up again…now it was her turn to cry:  “You are loving…you are kind,” she said.  “I hope your kids DO  turn out to be like you.”  And then the audience to a person stood and began to clap. And all Mario could do was hold his face in his hands.

What just happened?  In Father Greg’s words:  “A lanky, tattooed gang member [had] revealed [his full humanity], his wounds in front of a thousand strangers, who lost the temptation to despise him and recognized themselves in his brokenness. Suddenly [there it was –] kinship – an exquisite mutuality.”  All of God’s children dearly loved, in it together.

Somehow, that’s what we are trying to do most of all here at First Pres. Not just protect our assets or property, or win a legal battle, as critical as that may be.  We are here to promote and protect kinship. To be the beloved community.  To remember that we are baptized, and be thankful that we belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ and to one another.

At the end of the day yesterday I felt the urgency of this invitation to kinship more than ever. I am compelled to affirm that no one comes from a sh**hole country, that every human being is created in the image of God, that everyone is beloved and needs to hear it.  That includes my Haitian God-daughters, who have enriched my life immeasurably.  And our dear friends Celestin and Maggui and their family and friends from Congo who are an enormous blessing to our little congregation.  As well as our guests experiencing homelessness who are living downstairs in the Shelter and trying to find a sustainable path forward, just to name a few.

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This Sunday we’ve got a great text for doing “evangelism – 21st century style”.  Check out John 1:43-51, especially Jesus’ interaction with “can anything good come from Nazarath” Nathanael.

Be the church!

Pastor Heidi

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