Happening Now Blog

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wednesday message

The lectionary we follow for worship walks us through an amazing amount of the Bible in a 3-year cycle. For each Sunday there is a 1st reading, usually from the Old Testament; a 2nd reading, often from one of Paul's letters, a Psalm and a reading from one of the Gospels (1st year selected mostly from Matthew, 2nd year from Mark, 3rd year from Luke). The Gospel of John is featured on particular occasions, church holidays and during significant seasons such as Lent and Easter, as is the reading for this coming Sunday.

Actually John is featured twice in this Sunday's appointed readings. Occasionally there is an "alternate" reading listed. This week our Gospel reading is a short section from one of the last teaching conversations Jesus had with his followers who are concerned about how they will recognize him in the Holy Spirit. Jesus reminds them that as his followers, they will know him.

The alternate reading is the story of a man who had waited by a pool for healing. The Spirit was recognized in the movement of the water: when it stirred, those who could get in the pool in time might be healed. This man's condition had, for 38 years, made it impossible for him to get in the water while it was stirring; he would be caught and cast aside in the stampede. There was no one willing to help him get into the water. Jesus restored the man to health and he was able to walk.

Most of my 30+ years of serving as a pastor have been marked by faith conversations about who has the "right" answers. Fundamentalism suggests a God unable to be those who haven't yet invited God in the "right" way to be with them. Literalism holds that there is one "right" way to understand the bible, usually the way of the loudest voice at the moment. Debates raged within our tradition questioning God's call of women into public ministry or the inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in the worshiping community.

Rarely do faith communities acknowledge boldly how much people of faith need one another. The man at the pool needed to be recognized as one of God's beloved and assisted in his quest. The disciples needed one another to discern the presence of the risen Jesus in the Spirit. Paul needed partners like Timothy and Lydia to make real the gospel in his life and message. And each of us needs others to know the presence of God.

Like Paul, we need companionship in which God's love becomes real.

Like the disciples, we need the community to point out Christ's presence in life.

Like the man at the pool we need partnership that affirms.

We, too, need to be carried at times. When there is loss, change, fear and doubt, we need others to speak the presence of God and to remember for us who God is; we, in turn, will remember faith for them when they are in need.

An early theologian of Christianity suggested that faith was like wandering in a wilderness filled with thick cloud. Once in a while the fog parts, the sun is bright, we see clearly and adjust our courses before the clouds close in around us again. Good thing we're not alone in our wanderings,

along the way.



Wednesday  7:00 am Coffee group at Bethany Starbucks

Friday     5:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday  9:30 am  Choir rehearsal
                 12:00 - 1:30 pm Walk in the Park at SOV

Sunday    10:00 am One Worship Service
                 1:30 pm OEC

This Saturday, May 25th
Walk in the Park at SOV

Transport 5 in Concert and Spaghetti Dinner
June 8th
Dinner at 5:30 pm
Concert at 7:00 pm
Please RSVP/Sign up so that we can be sure to have enough Spaghetti

June 2nd, One worship service at 10:00 followed by Congregational Annual Meeting

June 9th One worship service at 10:00 Day of Pentecost (wear Red Sunday) Confirmation Sunday

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Wednesday Message

"It is the will of God."

I always flinch a little when I hear these words. It has nothing to do with God's presence in the world which I believe is always there and always at work. It has nothing to do with a notion that sometimes God wins, sometimes God lets evil win; God's purposes are always being worked out, God's kingdom is always being revealed even in the messiness and in the face of the painfulness of the human journey.

I guess I flinch because these half-dozen words seem to be used sometimes to justify the suffering we see in life as well and reinforcing passivity in the face of evil; sometimes these words seem to project an image of God who is be cruel. This image has been popularized by the modern fundamentalist movement in which God has no choice but to torture a person who has not prayed the appropriate prayer.

At the age of 10 my younger sister died after a long journey shaped by cancer. When I heard people say "it is the will of God" I raged within; no god worthy of praise would put a child through the agony and hopelessness she experienced. Rather I experience the God whom Presbyterian and UCC pastor William Sloane Coffin cries out to at the death of his young son: "My own consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex die; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God's heart was the first of all our hearts to break." (from the eulogy he delivered at his son's funeral in January, 1983.)

Sunday's gospel reading is a small excerpt from the traditional Maundy Thursday reading from John. The excerpt begins with Judas (the disciple who would sell out Jesus to those who wished him dead) leaving the table. "Now", says Jesus, "the Son of Man is glorified." Scholars point out that the Greek word we read as "glorified" carries with it a sense of a reputation being made; an identity being set forth.

Our God has the reputation of being love and hope even in the face of betrayal, agony and death. God does not ever abandon us in our confusion but joins us in the work of making sense of the world around us as the first place we glimpse God's realm. Anna Madsen, a Lutheran theologian and teacher for the sake of the world, encourages us to seek out God's agenda and not to presume so much to understand the divine will. I appreciate this suggestion as I strive to see God's purpose at work in the world. I hang on to an image of a God who is always re-weaving the loose and broken threads I leave behind into the glorious tapestry of the God who is love, presence, forgiveness and hope

along the way.


Wednesday 7:00 am Coffee Group at Starbucks in Bethany

Friday      5:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday  9:30 am Choir rehearsal
                 10:00 am 4T Hike

Sunday    8:30 & 11:00 am worship
                 1:30 pm OEC
                 Last Scrip Sunday

Last Sunday for Scrip Orders, May 19th

Dinner and Concert!
Please plan to join friends on Saturday, June 8, starting at 5:30 for a spaghetti dinner followed by a special concert at 7:00 by the Transport 5.  It has been several years since we have enjoyed the music of Kevin Cope and the Transport 5, and we are in for a treat! Please take a moment to put your name on the list on the fellowship table and indicate how many of your friends and family will be attending.  That will give our chef, Bill Hessler, an idea of how many to cook for.  Thank you!

Just a reminder
One Service at 10:00 am

May 26th
June 2nd
June 9th

Summer Worship Schedule
starts June 16th

8:30 & 10:30 am worship

Monday, May 13, 2019

Annual Congregational Meeting


Shepherd of the Valley's 2019 Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, June 2, after the 10:00 a.m. service.  Please plan to attend this important meeting.

At the meeting we will elect a President and Treasurer to serve on the Executive Committee, Council Committee members, and Memorial and Endowment Committee members.  In addition, Jacob Tabor will share a peek at SOV's new website and the new directory that will be available to all soon.

Hoping to see everyone there!

Linnea Harmon
Council President

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Wednesday Message

"Today I Baled Some Hay to Feed the Sheep the Coyotes Eat"

This is the catchy title of a book a ranching neighbor named Bill wrote and illustrated about his experience as one who strove to be a good shepherd. He spoke of the beauty of birth in his flock and shared his laughter watching the littlest of lambs bounce around learning how to control their long legs. He acknowledged with respect the "clean-up" function of predatory animals while grieving the havoc left behind when they attacked his sheep randomly. He lamented the fact that veterinary costs for saving a sick or dying sheep often outweighed the financial worth of the animal, possibly by several times. His love for his flock and his vocation are obvious in his drawing and writing; his commitment evidenced by his stewardship of those whom he shepherded. His appreciation for the beauty of creation, even amid the ugliness that too often might break through, moves me each time I read his little book.

Our Gospel reading for Sunday is of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. As we move through this week I invite you to think about a God who loves all of creation even in the harshest of times—in the face of death, destruction and hatred; in spite of the name-calling and separation which is so easily fueled; in the innumerable times each day God's presence is denied, diminished or negated. I invite you to think about a God who knows you not only at your best, but at your worst as well, and continues to be the force of love that keeps you moving forward.

The 4-year-old pre-school class at KOK is working on the concept of "kindness" this month. Chapel this week was a joy as they identified for me all the things that make them feel happy, good and proud, and how they might be able to use the things that make themselves feel worth as ways to be kind to others. Not a bad lesson, I think, for any of us.

Bill Stockton's book title acknowledges the frustration of trying to be a good steward of all that God places before him. I have no idea how God experiences futility or how the Divine might "deal" with the negation of God's love. When I look to my favorite shepherd, though, sometimes I glimpse a path which does not deny the harsh, but doesn't let it have the final word at the end of the day.

Along the way,



Wednesday 7:00 am  Coffee Group at Bethany Starbucks

Friday          5:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday     9:30 am Choir rehearsal

Sunday        8:30 & 11:00 am worship services
                     1:30 pm OEC

Come join friends on a hike—
thru Washington Park and Council Crest area
Saturday, May 18.

The hike, known as the 4T trail, is moderate in difficulty with varying elevation.  It starts at Washington Park Zoo (but we will start at the Sunset MAX station).  Hikers travel to the south of Hwy 26 on the "T"rail then take the OHSU "T"ram to the waterfront.  They then catch the "T"rolley to the Max.  From there we take the MAX "T"rain back to our cars.

Due to a busy parking lot in May, we will actually meet at the Sunset MAX   station at 10:00.  Taking the MAX to the Zoo exit.  Please buy an "All Day Pass" which will be valid for the trolley and return trip on MAX. You must RSVP to Kristi so that we can hike together and not miss anyone.  Friends are welcome to join.  Hope to see you there.

Walk in the Park at SOV
May 25th, 12:00 - 1:30 p

Please note
Upcoming Sundays with One worship Service

May 26th  at 10:00 am
June 2nd at 10:00 am, Followed by Annual Meeting
June 9th at 10:00 am, Pentecost Sunday/Confirmation Sunday

Mark your calendars
June 8th

Transport 5 in concert at SOV
5:30 pm Spaghetti Dinner
7:00 pm Concert

May newsletter is available online