Happening Now Blog

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wednesday Message

The grave is empty! Hallelujah! Our Easter celebration on Sunday was filled with joy and celebration. The breakfast was excellent. We heard again the story of the discovery of an empty tomb, the words of the divine messengers and the shock and disbelief of the first apostles, the story we are sent out to live in the world.

One of my favorite Easter stories from the Bible is the text for a service on Sunday evening, one in which we rarely have opportunity to participate. That story is of the appearance of Jesus on the Emmaus Road.

Two of the disciples are walking toward the village of Emmaus on Sunday afternoon, talking about their loss. In addition to the confusion and grief of the death of Jesus they have heard the reports of the tomb being empty. They don't know what happened to the body of their teacher.

A stranger joins them along the way and asks them about their conversation. They unload all their pain and frustration and he shakes their head. This stranger is obviously familiar with scripture and helps them understand the message of the gospel. They are comforted and, at the end of the walk, tired. They invite the stranger to stay at the inn with them, and while eating supper they realize that their guest is Jesus!

How often have I been tired, frustrated, grieving angry or empty? How often have I headed down my personal path, walking in the darkness of my own feelings and not willing or able to look around myself and see the world? How often have I been attended to, listened to by a stranger who turns out to bring the living presence of God into my vision?

Once in a while I get to be that stranger. While waiting for a friend to join me in a coffee shop in Minneapolis (a friend who is very busy and involved with many things and people and so is chronically late for casual appointments) a young woman from a nearby college came up to me and asked me if I would be willing to participate in a neighborhood survey which was part of her sociology class project. "I am willing," I said, "but perhaps not helpful. I don't live in this neighborhood." She was disappointed and went back toward the coffee shop entrance to await a qualified interviewee.

About 15 minutes later she came back to my table. "Where are you from?" she asked, and we began to talk. I told her who I was, what I did for my living and then she told me of her life.

She was the daughter of a small town pastor in western North Dakota. While she and her siblings never felt wealthy, they always had enough and some to spare. As part of her college experience she spent a month in a small village in Nicaragua where she witnessed two things that changed her life: first, the absolute poverty of people who lived on nearly nothing along the edges of conflict and violence. Second, she saw and shared in the joy of a people who are simply glad to be alive.

By this time my new friend was crying. "I have so much and am still unsatisfied," she confessed; "they have nothing and they taught me about true riches. I'll never be able to feel faithful again." We visited for about 45 minutes and found bits of light and hope, laughter and future. Whatever this woman is doing today I am convinced she is living and teaching faith that matters in real life. What a gift. (And when my friend who did live in that neighborhood finally arrived, I made him sit down and answer her survey questions!)

The two disciples on the walk to Emmaus are from the larger circle of those who followed Jesus, not of the inner circle of 12. One of them is named Cleopas. The other is never named. Perhaps her name is Beth, once a sociology student and now a servant of God's Word in the world. Perhaps this disciple carries a name from your experience—maybe even your's.

along the way



Friday      5:00 - 6:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday  9:30 am Choir rehearsal
                 12:00 pm Walk in the Park

Sunday     8:30 & 11:00 am Worship Services

† Walk in the Park
This Saturday, April 27th, at 12:00 pm at SOV

† Next Scrip Sunday is May 5th 

† Committee Awareness Day is next Sunday, May 5, between services. Tables will be set up for each church committee to present their mission. We want everyone who attends SOV to find a calling and join one or more of the committees that provide a vital service to our church community.

† Mark your Calendars for May 18th
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.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Wednesday Message

During one of the non-violent actions in Ferguson, Missouri which followed the shooting of Michael Brown, a picture emerged of a young woman praying in a line face-to-face with guards in full riot gear. The picture shows two faces separated by a bullet-proof shield, eye to eye, each with their own commitment to reducing violence.

I know this young woman; I have known her since her birth. She will soon be ordained as an ELCA pastor and will bring to the church a deep commitment to the gospel, to pastoral care and to Jesus' proclamation of justice among all of God's people. I think of her often this week as we approach Palm Sunday (liturgically known as "Sunday of the Passion".

When Jesus entered Jerusalem that Sunday he came into a town, a country and a faith under siege by a foreign power. The Roman Empire was never slow to demonstrate its force and not unwilling to back up that force with violence. I suspect the "Chief Priests and Scribes", those whom preachers can be so quick to criticize, had their hands and hearts full as they tried to sustain a faith and a way of life centered on God the Creator which was always in conflict with the absolute commitment required by Rome of the nations it occupied. The Roman forces, it seems, would demonstrate their power and might with triumphal marches into the cities. It is not hard to imagine the great war steeds brushed into gleaming splendor, bedecked with plumes, brasses and the finest tack, ridden by soldiers in polished armor, carrying spears, across the "red carpet" path set out before them.

Jesus' ride into Jerusalem on Sunday morning was a open act of civil disobedience; his entry was a non-violent protest. Instead of a "war-steed" he came in on the foal of a donkey; instead of the finest path spread before him, the people (once they quit gasping in fear at his audacity) threw down cloaks and cut branches from the trees as they joined in the exhilarating opportunity to claim some agency in their perilous existence.

I have tried for years to come up with an image to carry the feelings of this protest, and this year I might have stumbled on to one that captures at least some of the first stirrings of fear and exhilaration among the crowd when Jesus came through the gates.

Imagine a parade where the military might of a nation was shown to its fearful small neighbors by first seeing the most decorated officers coming through the gates on the biggest, baddest, chrome-laden, shining Harley-Davidson's, roaring their throttles. Then the next day along comes Jesus, pedaling a child's tricycle. The contrast is huge. The irony is obvious. The risk is beyond calculation. The crowd gasps, then begins to laugh, then joins in the spirit of making fun at that which terrifies them.

The protest of Palm Sunday could not be ignored. The Romans were embarrassed. The Temple Leaders were terrified that this might be the tipping point beyond which the way of faithful life for a people would not survive. The commemoration of the Palm Sunday entry begins our worship this Sunday; from their we go on to walk through the events of Holy Week, leaving Jesus in the tomb. With him we await the day of resurrection.

along the way

Pastor Dan



Wednesday  5:30 pm Soup/bread potluck supper
                    6:30 pm Holden Evening Prayer service

Friday          5:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday     10:00 am Community Easter Egg Hunt

Sunday        8:30 & 11:00 am Palm Sunday Services
Join us this Saturday
Community Easter Egg Hunt

10:00 am at SOV
bring your own basket
All children ages 0-8 invited.

April Newsletter link

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Wednesday Message

In the animated movie "UP", Ellie and Carl meet as children sharing a common interest in adventure and exploration. From their first days on through all the stages of their life they nurtured a dream of visiting "Paradise Falls" in South America, the unexplored frontier made famous by their explorer hero and his canine companions.

Soon after their marriage they set up a savings account in a big, empty water-cooler jar into which they put all their spare change. The purpose of this account was to fund their journey to South America, to realize their goal of visiting Paradise Falls.

However life intervened again and again. Essential auto repairs, storm damage to the roof of their home, illness and other needs forced them to break open the jar time and again. Each jar broken open sustained their life in the moment, but pushed back their dream of Paradise Falls.

This coming Sunday's gospel reading is the story of Mary breaking open the jar of costly perfume at a dinner for Jesus a week before he was killed. We're getting close now. Next Sunday is Passion Sunday, the Sunday of the palms, remembering Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, four days before the last supper with the disciples, five days before Jesus' death and a week before Mary Magdalene would announce the empty tomb.

In the reading Mary opens the jar, lotions Jesus' tired feet and dries the feet with her hair. This is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Mary is the one who from the beginning grasped the mystery of God's Word alive in Jesus Christ, bathing in his teaching while Martha prepared a meal as she does again in this week's reading.

Again she is caught in the mystery of the moment, expressing her love and her grief without words, beyond words, in her beautiful and impractical actions. Jesus pulls her actions into the timelessness of God's realm reminding the disciples ahead of time that she is anointing his body for burial.

Like Carl and Ellie's jar in the movie, Mary's jar holds more than it seems. Both hold life: in nurturing by soothing the needs of the moment; and in embracing the timelessness of purposeful dreams.

As we draw closer to Holy Week we are immersed in the timelessness of God's realm. We recount the last days of Jesus, remember the events of particular significance in the biblical witness and draw the experience into our time and space.

In the end, Carl makes it to Paradise Falls. Ellie is no longer alive, but her dreams and her purpose live on and she becomes real to Carl again as he lives their shared dream.

In the end we live in story of an empty tomb, another container which holds nurture in the moment and purpose for today, tomorrow and the next day,

along the way.




Wednesday 5:30 pm Lenten Soup/bread Supper
                    6:30 pm Holden Evening Prayer Service

Thursday    12:00 pm  All Church Luncheon @ Elmer's Restaurant

Saturday     8:30 - 12:00 pm Spring Cleanup

Sunday       8:30 & 11:00 am Worship Service
                   11:00 am Little Lambs SS
                   12:00 pm Volunteer Meeting for Community Easter Egg Hunt

Scrip order Sunday, April 7th

Community Easter Egg Hunt
April 13th
10:00 am
Children 0-8 years old
Bring your own basket