August 3 Update From Lay Pastor Kathy

Dear Friends –

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I hope you are enjoying the cool down as much as I am. While I love the heat, the coolness of the day allows me a time to recharge, slow down a bit, and relax. God knows when we need a break and he offers it to us in many ways. Sometimes we recognize it, give thanks and are able to redirect our focus to the one who gives us life and other times we are so caught up in the business of the day that we miss it. Sunday worship often becomes the only time where we hit the pause button. I encourage you to pause today, just for a moment, and look around at God’s creation, receive His peace, and be assured His grace is shining on you.

This is Communion Sunday and Rev. J.P. Kang joins us again to lead us through John 6:24-35.  “35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Hope to see you in worship!

Blessings,

Lay Pastor Kathy

July 27 Update From Lay Pastor Kathy

Dear Friends –

I hope you are all finding ways to enjoy this summer. I heard a report that Seattle is the most under-air-conditioned major city in the country, so staying cool can be a challenge. I can picture the five thousand plus people, who are in the passage this week that came to see Jesus, were probably really hot with that many people all crowded together. Even with the grassy field, it was still probably not comfortable. I have trouble imagining why they would stay. Conversations this week helped affirm the reason they chose to stay. Hope. Jesus brought hope to the many then as he brings hope to us today. I heard it this week through friends who are struggling with family issues, I heard from folks in the shelter who are working toward a more stable life, I heard it through strangers just needing to share with someone. Jesus gives us hope. Don’t’ be afraid to share that with someone, because we all need a little assurance that things will be alright.

Sunday, Pastor Ed Park joins us again to lead us through John 6:1-21. Jesus tells his disciples to feed the five thousand plus he walks on water!  Take a look at this story with new eyes.

Hope to see you in worship!

Blessings,

Lay Pastor Kathy

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July 20 Update From Lay Pastor Kathy

Dear Friends –

I hope you are enjoying the cooler weather and are able relax and enjoy the day. Heidi and Rick are now on their way, slowly coming back down from Canada. They are still talking to each other and enjoying a well deserved time to relax. I know we will hear a lot of stories from both of them when they return.

This Sunday, I’d like to invite any and all who would like to join me for a walk about through Freeway Park; just a stroll to take in the beauty of our neighborhood and to continue our fellowship after lunch.

This Sunday Rev. J.P. Kang returns to join us and will be leading us through Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. We had some interesting reflections with our friends at Compass @ First Pres last Wednesday as we explored these passages.  I look forward to hearing Pastor J.P. and your reflections this Sunday. 

Hope to see you in worship!

Blessings,

Lay Pastor Kathy

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July 12 Update From Lay Pastor Kathy

Dear Friends –

God brings us into relationship with others at the right time for His purpose. As I looked round the congregation last Sunday, I realized the larger impact that the Compass shelter in the basement had on our church. We needed the shelter as much as they needed us. There were 7 current or former guests from the shelter, some new to us and some who have come to think of First Pres as their community. The Sister Sledge song, “We are Family” came to mind; all our brothers and sisters in Christ coming together to worship, to connect, to be reminded that God loves us and we are not alone. I encourage you this Sunday to meet someone new, whether they are a guest in the shelter or just someone coming in off the street. Listen to their stories; they are full of the grace and mercy of God. And if you’d like to join us for Bible study on Wednesdays at the shelter, you’ll learn our stories are not that different.

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While Pastor Heidi is away this summer, we have several other pastors filling in for the sermon time together. This Sunday Pastor Ed Park from Sanctuary Church will be leading us through Mark 6:14-29. Promises, regret, and John the Baptist’s head on a plate. If reading scripture seems a little boring at times, take a look at this one and you might be changing your mind.

Hope to see you in worship!

Blessings,

Lay Pastor Kathy

July 5 Update From Lay Pastor Kathy

Dear Friends –

Have you met Helen, Sue, Mona, RJ, Esmaeil, or Mitra?

Helen lives in the neighborhood and she’s the one you can thank for all the bread and goodies on Sunday. She is active in the schools assisting the teachers and passing on her knowledge. Sue used to live in the neighborhood when she first moved to Seattle from Texas to help care for her granddaughter. Mona and RJ live across the I-90 bridge. Mona found First Pres because she was looking for a church that was easy to access. She invited RJ to come with her when they were dating and they recently have gotten married. You’ll see Sue and Mona greeting at the door and also helping serve the lunch.

Esmaeil is our building manager. You usually see him running around on Sunday morning, and then joining in worship at the back in case there is a problem. His wife, Mitra, is the person to thank for the delicious lunch each week. 

These are just a few of the members that have been at First Pres. for a number of years. They all have interesting stories about their own journey and how they came to be at this particular church. I want to encourage you to say hi and share your own story.

Doing just that is what building the kin-dom is all about.
 
While Pastor Heidi is away this summer, we will be having several other pastors filling in for the sermon time together. This Sunday Rev. Dr. Vonna Thomas will be leading us through Mark 6:1-13. Jesus goes home, but doesn’t get the response you would be expecting and then sends his disciples out with only a walking stick!

Hope to see you in worship!

Blessings,

Lay Pastor Kathy

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June 28 Update From Lay Pastor Kathy

Dear Friends  –

As I picked up the email list to make sure everyone was added, it struck me again how diverse our congregation is. This one sheet of paper tells a story of who God has brought together for His purpose. Over the next few weeks I want to share that story with you.

The first person on the list signed their name and then put down a number, no email address. The number was not a phone number, but just to my eyes, a random number. That got me thinking. Does this visitor think of himself as just a number in a system? Was he so used to just being a number, that he automatically just adds it to his name? I remember this man engaged in worship. He stayed not just for the meal, but for the fellowship; not sitting by himself for lunch, but at a table of new friends, sharing his story and listening to others.  I pray that as he left he felt more than a number at First Pres.

I see this happening every Sunday. People reaching out to each other, whether they are known to them or not. Lifting each other up, listening to each other’s stories, connecting to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Reminding us all that we are more than a number.

While Pastor Heidi is away this summer, we will be having a variety of other pastors filling in for the sermon time together. Most of them you will know as they have joined us before. This Sunday Rev. Eliana Maxim will be leading us through Mark 5:21-43 – two stories about healing, a woman and a little girl, one very public and one in private. Take a look.

Hope to see you in worship!

Blessings,

Lay Pastor Kathy

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June 21 Update From Pastor Heidi

Dear Friends, 

I am scrambling to get ready to take off on vacation which begins right after worship this Sunday.  I just keep chipping away at my to do list:

o   get preachers for the Sundays I’m gone (hoo boy – we’ve got a great line up! And Jana and Kathy will be here every Sunday holding done the fort while I’m gone!);
o   write a bunch of papers and posts in online discussion forums, and participate in a Zoom call – all for my first “Church Planting & Revitalization” intensive;
o   pack all our gear and provision the Willie C (our old 25’ troller boat; think tiny home on steroids) for the 120 miles (as the crow flies) up to Desolation Sound, British Columbia – which is still wilderness (don’t forget the bear spray!)  
o   and, clean the house because people will be coming to stay in it while we are away!

As Rick and I prepare for this voyage I had to laugh when I first saw that our sermon text for Sunday is Mark 4:35-41 – where Jesus hops in a boat with the disciples and the mother of all  storms whips up, scaring the living daylights out of the twelve (at least 4 of whom are seasoned sailors).  So what do they do?  And what does Jesus do? 

And, have you ever felt like you were about to go under?  So, what do we do?  Let’s talk about it this week together.  And maybe pray for smooth sailing? :)

Hope to see you in worship!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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June 13 Update From Pastor Heidi

Hello Sisters and Brothers  –

This eNews is coming a little early this week due to a change in staff schedules:  EJ Lee, Director of Operations in the Presbytery office, faithfully sends out the eNews every week, and she is headed to St. Louis tomorrow to help support our Presbytery Associate Executive, Eliana Maxim, who is standing for Co-Moderator of our General Assembly – which is a pretty big deal!  (We’ve been blessed to have Eliana preach a couple times in the past at First Presbyterian, and we’re delighted she will do so again on July 1). The General Assembly votes to elect new Co-Moderators this Saturday night.  Go Eliana!

Also, the sermon text for Sunday is Mark 4:26-34.  In Mark 4 Jesus is speaking in parables about the Kingdom (Kin-dom) of God.  Parables are pithy, super short stories…  Jesus says the Kin-dom of God is like a seed that grows all on its own…  Or, the Kin-dom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds that grows into a massive bush…  Pretty simple stuff, right?  So I wonder then why did Jesus have to “explain everything in private to his disciples” (verse 34)?!   

I imagine this Sunday we’ll be scratching our heads a bit together and wondering about what the heck Jesus is trying to tell us about the reign of God! 

Hope to see you in worship!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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June 8 Update From Pastor Heidi

Hey Everyone  –

I’m still in Pennsylvania for the Church Planting and Revitalization Initiative I started this week at Pittsburg Theological Seminary.  I catch a flight home Saturday evening, and will see you all on Sunday, perhaps a bit bleary-eyed, but so grateful for the things I am learning – not the least of which is there is no quick fix for church decline; there is no silver bullet to renew a congregation. We can only seek God, listen for and discern God’s direction, trusting God together.

I wanted to make sure to send you the sermon text for Sunday – Mark 3:20-35 – where everybody thinks Jesus is going bonkers, even his own family – which actually causes Jesus to take the bold step of redefining family.  I wonder what you think about that?  Check it out!

Hope to see you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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June 1 Update From Pastor Heidi

Dear Sisters & Brothers  –

Several months ago I heard about a year long program of study at Pittsburg Theological Seminary (PCUSA)  called “The Church Planting and Revitalization” Initiative – and it captured my interest. So I put together my application…and got accepted…and next week I head to Pittsburg for the first of five 4 day  intensives (1 other meets in Pittsburg, 1 in Minneapolis, 1 in Denver, and 1 in San Francisco over the next 12 months).   I’ve been reading books, thinking deep thoughts and writing papers like crazy, and loving it!  I look forward to sharing with you along the way, and seeing what ideas this generates!

If you get a chance, check out our sermon text for this Sunday – Mark 2:23-3:6.  It’s always good to read through it a couple times before Sunday if you can. This passage is one of a number of “controversy scenes” that come early in Mark’s gospel, and it’s interesting to note that when Jesus (who people often describe as meek and mild) gets in hot water for breaking the law, he doesn’t back off!   He persists.  Kind of makes you wonder why… 

Hope to see you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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May 25 Update From Pastor Heidi

Hello Friends  –

Last Sunday on Pentecost we celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit – the Advocate who comes to both comfort us and make us uncomfortable.  Pentecost is revolutionary; it brings a great equalizing. The Spirit is still at work in the church and world, breaking down barriers, forming a new multi-cultural community.  

Next up the Lectionary dubs this Sunday Trinity Sunday.  And one of my favorite preachers/Bible commentators, David Lose, cautions, “Don’t even mention it, him, her, they (proper noun, please?)”

Oops, I already did.

So why not preach on the Trinity this Sunday?  Lose says, “Because it’s a doctrine”… and “a confusing doctrine…” at that!  For many people it has become “little more than a formula” that doesn’t really mean anything.  The problem is, when we describe God formulaically, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it gets so confusing or clinical sounding that what we often lose sight of is…the loving God of the Bible!

Interestingly, the very thing the Lectionary seems to want to help us remember this week is…the loving God of the Bible!  Read through the sermon text from John 3:1-17 a couple times. We’ll meet a guy named Nicodemus, who has some questions for Jesus. Notice how the ensuing conversation gets a little confusing.  But also notice we end up with probably the most famous verse in the whole Bible – John 3:16 – “God so loved the world…”  Yep, we’ll end up with love.

If we do end up preaching on the mystery of the Trinity on Sunday, maybe we can try to do it in terms of love…

Hope to see you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Heidi

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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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