Pastor Tripp: September 26

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.

Peace and All Good Things,

Pastor Tripp

Pastor Rick: September 26

Thanks to everyone who helped make last week’s Talent Show an evening to remember. From Ron Fredlund, Mary Martin and Joanne Jones to the Ramirez family of fine performers, we covered the gamut of congregational talent. Alan Plessinger made his singing debut, films were premiered and the pastors even took the plunge. I was quite surprised to hear that it was Pastor Tripp’s first talent show ever! Hopefully, we now have him thoroughly hooked into planning an even bigger extravaganza next year.

We continue our conversation on the Spirituality of Worship on Sunday mornings. I encourage all of you to be part of this rich mix of sharing our experiences and learning about worship. In the promotional comments for our study book, Reinventing Sunday, Ken Medema, several of whose songs we have sung, including our prayer response, “Lord Listen to Your Children Praying,” writes: “Brad Berglund has captured what I believe is the rock-bottom essence of worship; namely, that it is offering ourselves to God.” Those words really stood out for me – the rock-bottom essence of worship is offering ourselves to God. How does that strike you? It certainly says that worship on Sunday morning is more than just the service order we follow. It is fundamentally about our relationship to God. What do we bring to that relationship? What do we expect from it? How we prepare for and how we experience this weekly encounter has been a key topic in our conversations so far. We would love to have your input on these matters, too, as we search to know what it means for our community to gather in worship.

This week concludes our journey with James. In the final chapter of this letter, the writer reminds us to sing songs of praise when we are cheerful, to pray when we are suffering and to pray for one another when healing is needed. Consistently throughout the letter the writer is concerned that we make practical application of our spiritual understanding. What more significant thing can we do than to pray for one another? To remember sisters and brothers both here and around the globe as we bring our joys and concerns to that healing, empowering, enlivening relationship that God offers each of us?

So, let’s join together in prayer and song, in sharing our joys, our concerns and our experience of worship. See you at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary. Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us. Strangers are welcome, too!

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick

Pastor Rick: September 19

We have begun an important conversation about worship on Sunday mornings during our time for adult spiritual formation. This Sunday morning time for adults is different than what we used to do in the Adult Forum. The Forum was particularly challenging intellectually and we worked a lot “in our heads.” But there is knowledge and wisdom that also emanates from the heart and from the spirit. I would like to encourage all our adults to engage in this in-depth exploration of The Spirituality of Worship. What we are doing during this hour can help to shape our understanding of what worship is, why we do it and how we do it. As Thelma Parodi has reminded us more than once, worship is the “practice of the presence of God.” How do we experience God’s presence? How do we discern what God is communicating to us? How do we identify where God is leading us? How do we say “Thy will be done,” “help,” “please” and “thank you” to the One who made us and, through grace, is constantly drawing us back into that Oneness? It would be beneficial to you personally and to the congregation as a whole to have your participation in this conversation that is vital to our future.

We continue our journey through the book of James, considering this week what it might mean to be “born of wisdom.” James has some timely thoughts especially for us, immersed as we are in this high political season. “Who is wise and understanding among you?” James asks and then responds, “Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.” A lovely turn of phrase, a challenging word to follow. How can we navigate this world in which we live as people whose lives are “born of wisdom,” the wisdom that comes from God and promises to transform the world?

Let us join together in song and prayer, in word and the search for wisdom as we worship and work on our spiritual formation. See you at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary. Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us. Strangers are welcome, too!

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick