March 16, 2017

Lent as a Journey to Serve

Today, with my father’s departure from this life so fresh in my heart, I find myself reflecting on the many images of dying and rising that are offered in scripture.

In contrast to a wider culture that often views death through the lens of denial and fear, the Christian way invites us to look at dying as a gateway into something more. At the end of our earthly life, death is the gate into life eternal.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)  How comforting, to live with this heartful knowledge of Jesus’ caring, both in this life and the next.

This brings to mind the words of a good friend of mine, a hospital chaplain – “people die the way they lived.”  Jesus speaks about this continuity as well, going even deeper as he describes “dying to self” as a way of entering and living in the Kingdom of God. This dying and rising is therefore not only a future thing, but rather a lifelong process. Recall, for example, how last week’s Gospel spoke about “being born from above,” (John 3:1-17) as having our eyes opened into a new life and a new reality, right here in the life where we find ourselves.

Surely, this “new reality” is nothing less than the imperative to love. What does authentic, Christian love of neighbor look like in our world today? The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) describes how one man literally crosses over the many barriers that divide human beings, giving generously of himself (there’s that language of dying to self again,) to care for a stranger that becomes neighbor in the act of Christian love.

As Christians today, we are continually reminded and challenged to live into this imperative of love. This means a generous and radical hospitality towards all people, and a generous outpouring of ourselves to engage with the needs of the world. As I look at the social and political realities of our time, the imperative to love compels me to “cross over” and see the world differently, to learn new ways of acting, responding and relating, and to do the risky work of creating a life, and a community, that authentically reflects the calling of Jesus.

In Christ,

Serving Our Community with Socks and Underwear

Tillamook Family Services is coordinating a county-wide collection of new underwear for children and youth for the month of April. To be part of the effort, you can make a financial contribution, or bring your newly purchased items to church on Sundays and look for the collections basket. Items will be distributed via the local schools and numerous assistance programs to support the children and families who need help.

During the rest of March, we will also be collecting new socks for the children at Nehalem Elementary. As you know, partnering with our local elementary school is one of our community service priorities. Your donations will go directly to local kids.

Supporting our Latino Congregation:

What does it mean to support our Latino community in these times?  How would Jesus ask us to walk alongside each other? After all, these are our children, members and families of St. Catherine’ and baptized in our font. We are all extended family, sometimes their godparents, and certainly support system for each other.

Things each one of us can do today:

  • Hold our Latino community in your prayers every day.
  • Attend the 6 PM service as a symbol of solidarity and caring.
  • Consider making a financial contribution to St. Catherine’s to support our mission committee and our ability to devote more resources to the needs of our Latino congregation.
  • A very tangible support is eating at the Bunkhouse, Gabriel and Marisol’s restaurant, which supports their business and the people from the local community they employ.

Pastoral Note:

Richard Jones died on Sunday morning March 12 about 4 AM. Plans for services will be forthcoming. Rise in glory Richard. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Photo from the service for his wife Nancy.

Nehalem Elementary School Partnership 

The cold and rainy weather has taken a toll on the sock supply in the Family Resource Center at the elementary school. If you would like to help with this ministry, please purchase some socks to drop off at St. Catherine’s or drop off a check if you prefer.  The younger children find it easier to manage footie-style socks.

The children are in Kindergarten through Grade Five.

Thank you so much for your continued support and assistance with the needs of the children in our community.

Nehalem Elementary School Partnership Coordinator,
Beverly  Goertzen

Book Study for Lent

It is not too late to join the book study – here are the upcoming meetings. All sessions begin at 5:00 PM. The last session is during Holy Week:

Wed. March 22: Chapters 4-5

Wed. March 29: Chapters 6-7

Wed. April 6: Chapters 8-9

Wed. April 12:  Chapter 10 and Afterword

March Meetings

Sunday March 19 (after 9:30 AM service) Bishop’s Advisory Committee (Parish Council)

Saturday March 25 at 10:00 AM Labyrinth Committee for all interested in the future of this project. Molly Oliver chairs this committee.

Lenten Reflections from St Catherine’s

A weekly reflection on the meaning of Lent by members of St. Catherine’s. This week: Chip MacGregor: member of the Bishop’s Advisory Committee

Lent: Hungry for God

We are beginning to realize that we hunger for God and that for far too long we have settled for far too little.  —John Kirvan

For centuries in many cultures around the world, an important spiritual practice was that of fasting—giving up food (or other things we enjoy) for a certain amount of time, in order to focus on God and pray. It is still common in many parts of the world, and part of the Lenten tradition.

But let’s face it… in our culture, fasting is not popular, though it is perhaps necessary for spiritual growth. Fasting can take many forms. For some, their appetite for things is far greater than their appetite for food. Fasting from the Internet for a day might be harder (and more spiritually healthy) than simply abstaining from eating. So don’t think of fasting as merely skipping a meal, but as putting off a desire in order to focus on God.

When Jesus taught on fasting, he began by saying, “When you fast . . .” He didn’t say, “If you fast . . .” Fasting was a normal part of religious life for Jews in his culture.

Why would we even want to deny ourselves in this way? Obviously we can pray without fasting, so why bother?
Marjorie Thompson, in her book Soul Feast, writes: “In the ancient Jewish tradition, fasting had two primary purposes. The first was to express personal or national repentance for sin. The second purpose was to prepare oneself inwardly for receiving the necessary strength and grace to complete a mission of faithful service in God’s name.”

Perhaps the reason we don’t fast is that we really don’t do much repenting. We take grace for granted and label our sins as “youthful indiscretion” or simply “mistakes.” We’re also a bit weak on the concept of mission—we grind through life and do not see the challenges in our way as a God-given mission. We substitute watching others engage in battle (in sports) or adventure (action movies or video games) and never consider the possibility that perhaps God has a real adventure he wants us to embark upon. (Read the rest click here)