Last Sunday, we made a good start to our three-week excursion into the spirituality of worship, led by Professor Jennifer Davidson from ABSW. It was good to hear Jennifer preach on “Same Road, Different Journey,” based on the Luke 24:13-32 (the “Emmaus Road” story,) challenging us to take the old story and make it live in our worship. Then, in Adult Spiritual Formation, we began to wrestle with such questions as what it means for us to “practice the presence of God,” and what we bring to worship as well as take from it. Following contemporary French Catholic liturgy scholars, Jean-Luc Marion and Louis-Marie Chauvet, we began an exploration of the difference between an icon and an idol in our worship experience. An icon leads us to fleeting moments of grace and invites us to gaze beyond its obvious symbolism to a God who is the “More”; an idol tends to fix us in the moment and distract from our worship of a living God. Icons and idols can both be physical objects but they can also be patterns and beliefs around which we grow or stagnate.
The next two Sundays we will not be worshiping in the traditional mode with which we are familiar. Consider these Sundays as sort of mini-retreats, in which you are invited and encouraged to be present from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Jennifer will be leading us in some new and exciting ways to approach worship that will be beneficial to you as a worshiper and to us as a worshiping community. Childcare will be provided for younger children, but youth will join with the adults. There will definitely be elements of worship in the experience, including communion this Sunday. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to share with a skilled leader – and with one another – in deepening our understanding and practice of worship, which is such a vital element to our mission as a church.
See you Sunday morning at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning. Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us. Strangers are welcome, too!
There are two significant events to look forward to this weekend. On Friday evening in the Fellowship Hall we’ll celebrate our third annual intergenerational potluck and pumpkin carve. Come with food to share and your best creative instincts for making jack-o-lanterns. If there’s time, we’ll also do apple-bobbing and sing some pumpkin carols. There is bound to be fun and fellowship for everyone.
Then beginning Sunday we start on a three week journey exploring our life as a worshiping congregation led by Jennifer Davidson who teaches worship at the American Baptist Seminary of the West. This is a unique opportunity to work with someone who has chosen worship as the focus of her career. In our mission statement, we say that we are a church whose mission is to worship God. We list as the first – and I believe most important – pillar of our identity. Everything else we do flows from our worshipping community. Worship means many things to each of us. We come to it with the ideas, beliefs, experiences of a life-time. But what does it mean for us to worship God as the community we are today. Jennifer will help us explore this in depth so it’s important that we have everyone as involved as we possibly can.
Carolyn, Lynn, Tripp and I had the opportunity to work on worship with Jennifer this spring at the PCBA Spring Annual Conference. We were impressed and excited by the way she worked with that group. We’re looking forward to the gifts she will bring to us the next three weeks.
So don’t’ forget – Friday night at 6:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall for fun and fellowship; then Sunday morning at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning. Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us. Strangers are welcome, too!
I had a very nice trip to Seattle this past weekend. The weather was reasonable (for Seattle!) The Evergreen meetings went well. We were privileged to hear the excellent preaching of the Reverend Jacqueline Thompson, Assistant Pastor at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, who urged us to remain faithful to our calling to be an inclusive community of people and congregations. It was great to visit with old friends and a delight to preach at Seattle First Baptist Church on Sunday. The worship service was lovely, the choir and organ outstanding and the day filled with many fond memories.
By all reports it was a good day at FBCPA as well. Thanks to Tripp for preaching, to Carolyn for working with the children and youth and to Nana for hosting a “visit to Lebanon.” I heard that her presentation was very good, the décor lovely and the food outstanding. Of course, I knew it would be. I’m sorry I missed it.
Sunday we will visit India under the guidance of the Hunwicks. Worship will focus on the 38th chapter of Job at the point at which God begins to speak to the Job from the whirlwind. What happens when we bring our grievances before God with an expectation that justice will be done? Job is confronted with an order of reality that goes far beyond his comprehension, that challenges his conception of justice, and that teaches him a lesson about being a creature, albeit one attended to and loved by God.
After worship we will hold our Quarterly Business Meeting, which will include a Special Business Meeting to consider a change to our church constitution’s quorum requirements. The sole purpose of this amendment is to make it easier for us to conduct church business, since current quorums are a burden to meet. There is no intention to purge our roles or exclude anyone who wants to be a member in this process. We want every member who is willing and able to join in making this decision and, more importantly, to engage in every aspect of our community life, including its business.
So don’t’ forget – 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning and then stay for the business meeting. Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us. Strangers are welcome, too!
Diana Butler Bass is a respected and well known sociologist and historian who has written several books on the subject of the present day cultural shift of America’s relationship to its religious institutions. Here is a link to a video that some of you might find interesting. Get something to drink. Pull up a chair.
A few quick highlights:
Fewer Americans Believe in God than You Think
While the popular number may be 90%, when age categories are considered, it’s much lower. In fact, Diana says among those 40 and younger the number is less than half.
Churches Must Be More Open to Questions
Diana says too many of today’s churches are not leaving enough space for the doubters. Tomorrow’s faith communities will have to more fully commit to engaging doubt and uncertainty.
It’s About Transformation
Too much of the Church still favors comfort over change – and the transformational effects of the Gospel go untapped. Diana says this will have to change in order for the church to fully flourish.
This weekend I will be attending the annual meeting of the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches in Seattle, representing our congregation. On Sunday I have been invited to preach at Seattle First Baptist Church. This year marks the 40th anniversary of my internship at that church. From July 1971 through August 1972, I worked full time there under the able supervision of Walt Pulliam. I lived in a basement apartment under the sanctuary. During that year, among many other duties, I helped to start a young adults ministry in the congregation. It was a wonderful year, one that contributed to my pastoral identity and sense of how to do ministry in the local congregation. I am grateful for this opportunity to return.
Due to scheduling conflicts, we have pushed back our time with Jennifer Davidson form ABSW to the end of this month and the beginning of next. So she will not be with us this Sunday. Pastor Tripp will be preaching and Carolyn Shepard will be with our children and youth. Nana Spiridon will be our special guide to Lebanon and our mission work there. In Adult Spiritual Formation, we will conclude our work with Brad Berglund’s, Reinventing Sunday, as part of our journey into the Spirituality of Worship.
Don’t’ forget – 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning. Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us. Strangers are welcome, too!
October is the month we focus on the world in which we live and celebrate the diversity of its people and cultures. In many ways, Baptist denominational life began with congregations joining together to support missionaries around the world. Though the missions scene has changed considerably in recent years, there is still a significant amount of good work being done for the sake of the gospel by American Baptist missionaries around the world. In addition to supporting our American Baptist mission boards, we have also committed to helping two mission teams as our special interest missionaries. For several years now, we have been sending money to Dan and Sarah Chetti, working in Beirut, Lebanon. Last year we added Dan Buttry, who travels the globe, serving as a peace consultant in troubled lands.
This Sunday is World Communion Sunday. We will gather around the table to share the common meal that Christians everywhere will be sharing with us. We will use songs and liturgy from many countries and we will set the table with a variety of breads. You are encouraged to wear something from a different land – that of your origin or a place you have visited or with which you are fascinated. If you have some art or artifact you want to share, we will have tables, easels, etc. to help with display. (Please bring those ahead of time, if at all possible.) Pastor Tripp will be preaching on the Holy Family, using Mark 10:2-16 as his text. In Adult Spiritual Formation, we will conclude our work with Brad Berglund’s, Reinventing Sunday, as part of our journey into the Spirituality of Worship.
See you at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning. Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us. Strangers are welcome, too!
Take note of this passage from a recent article published in Associated Baptist Press News. It seems appropriate to share given our present conversations about worship at FBCPA.
“Baptists are people who have consistently desired personal connection with God, and the nature of the contemplative life is very much that God may be encountered personally,” said Pastor Eric Howell, whose congregation describes itself as ‘a Baptist church in the contemplative tradition.’
Another consistency is the belief that God is actually present and active in the worship service, and in the lives hearts of the worshipers, in a way that is not ultimately dependent on what happens from the microphone. Contemplative worship affirms the congregation’s participation in worship at the deepest level.”
The article entitled, “Contemplative Worship Fits Baptist Faith” raises many interesting questions and offers encouragement to congregations which are exploring various ways of renewing worship practices. Some congregations are even practicing weekly communion! Surprising stuff!
We have met for three weeks now to discuss what worship means to us as individuals and a community of faith. We’ve talked about history and spirituality. Just this week we discussed how baptists like Brad Berglund, John Skoglund, and Molly Marshall (the present Dean and President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary) are using language like “sacrament” again. What does this mean for the present and future of worship in the Baptist tradition? What might it say to us at First and who we proclaim to be in the midst of the world? How might our worship bear witness to God?
Join us. We meet after worship on Sunday mornings at 11:30. All are encouraged to come. If you need child care, please contact the church office this week and I will make certain that it is available.