Jeff’s Jottings April 2019

From One Sermon Series to Another

Pastor Jeff

We are only two sermons into our Lenten sermon series, “The Saint In You,” as I sit down to write this column. Already I’ve found it rewarding, learning new things and hearing new invitations to spiritual practice and orientation. I hope you are, too.

This series will soon come to a close and it will be Holy Week, the most sacred eight days in the Christian calendar. I hope you will read the collection of short articles about how we will mark Holy Week this year. Pastor Brenda and I have worked to inject both creativity and familiarity into these services. The really new thing we’re doing is how we will approach Good Friday.

I know we think of Easter as a Sunday, but in the church calendar it is a season lasting seven Sundays. Pastor Brenda and I are planning another sermon series that will start on April 28, the second Sunday of Easter. We are going to look at six women from scripture.

As you know, women are often overlooked in the Bible. They are typically placed at the sidelines and don’t have much influence in the narrative flow. Well, we’re going to lift up six women and share some things about them that might intrigue or inspire.

The idea for this series came from the Ministry of Christian Education Team. They got their hands on the book Meet Me at the Well, by Barbara Goldin and Jane Yolen. They wanted to use it for the Sunday School curriculum, so while Pastor Brenda, Joy Barnitz, and I are preaching on these six women, our children will be learning about them in their Sunday School classes. I hope this will create a meaningful synergy in the life of our church.

Emergency Temporary Homeless Shelter

Our newsletter deadline also makes me write about the proposed Emergency Homeless Shelter before the Congregational Meeting, though you’ll be reading this after the meeting. This is a big deal. If the vote on March 31 is to move forward with negotiations with the city, and if we are able to come to a mutually agreeable contract, the presence of this shelter will impact our church in ways we can’t even imagine. Having a homeless shelter on our property for five years will impact our sense of what it means to be church at this time and in this place.

I suppose, as I write this column, that a vote on March 31 not to move forward with negotiations with the city would also impact our sense of what it means to be church at this time and in this place.

I admit that most of my musing has been about how the presence of a homeless shelter on our property would change us. While the proposal is for a temporary contract (5 years), we all know that homelessness will not be solved in five years. Maybe the city will want to continue the program and we’ll have to come back to the decision we’re making now and decide all over again if we want to continue. Maybe we’ll want the program to continue, but the city will want to pull the plug on it and we’ll have to decide if there’s a way to make with happen without any government funding. Or maybe we’ll think it’s time for this program to end and that we are called to do something different with that land. Who knows?

Regardless of how the vote on March 31 turns out, we will be changed.

Which shouldn’t surprise any of us. Jesus is in the change business. Jesus calls fishers and tax collectors, and disrupts their lives, their senses of self. He calls them and he calls us to change, to pick a new direction, for the kin-dom of God.

That’s what we’re seeing in the lives of the saints we’re considering during Lent. It’s what we’ll see women we’ll be lifting up during Easter:  God transforming us to wholeness, to bravery, to leadership, to hope, to truth, to justice. That’s what God does.

Pastor Jeff

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