Happening Now Blog

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wednesday Message

When Jesus prays…..

The gospel reading for this coming Sunday is again from John's story of the life of Jesus, continuing with the last few words of Jesus prayer for his followers, the last words before Jesus went to the garden where he would be arrested. Two things have always struck me about this short passage.

First, Jesus prays for us. After praying for God's presence with his disciples, Jesus prays "for those who will believe in me through their word"; that's you and me. That is the church, those who live to follow the teachings of Christ in their lives as individuals, as members of the community of faith and as members of society, the world around them.

Jesus' prayer entrusts those whom he loves, particularly his disciples and followers to God's care.

Second, Jesus prays for the disciples and us "so that the world may believe that you sent me". Jesus prayers are for the sake of the world, as ELCA Bishop Mark Hansen so often reminded preachers. Faith is not for our individual sentimentality or assurance (although that is part of what we experience) but so that the world may experience the real presence of God.

Jesus' prayer calls those whom he loves, particularly his disciples and followers, back into the world.

My grandmother (the Norwegian one) kept prayer diaries throughout her adult life. No one, not even her daughters, was aware of this practice: she believed that "wearing one's faith on their sleeve cheapens it" as she once explained to me. As she aged her mind began to fail as her brain started to wear out. After she was moved into a facility where she could receive the level of constant care she needed for her safety, her daughters cleaned out her house. They found this amazing collection that reflected her spiritual discipline. She kept track of her prayers and how they were answered; not always how she expected, maybe not in ways she wanted, but how God was revealed in the answers as they were revealed. Her diaries had nothing to do with how often she got her way with God but were a constant confession about God's presence in the world and in her own life in community.

When we pray so we entrust our cares and concerns to God and releasing our desires and wants to God's way of responding? Too often I suspect my prayers are more about what I want and when and how I want it. Too often my prayers, I suppose, are about letting God know what I think the right way is for God to be about God's business. The longer I practice, though, the more often I am able in some way to release my concerns to the God I trust to be God.

Jesus entrusts us to God's care for the sake of the world God so loves. May all my prayers be summed up in this along the way.



Wednesday  7:00 am Coffee Group at Bethany Starbucks

Friday          5:00 pm  Women's Bible Study at SOV

Saturday    9:30 am Choir rehearsal
                   3:00 pm Memorial service for Cal Sugyima's Mother,  All are welcome

Sunday     10:00 am One Service
                  11:00 am Annual Congregational Meeting and election

Please plan to attend the Annual Congregational Meeting this Sunday following worship at 10:00 am

All Church Luncheon
Thursday, June 6th
Elmer's Restaurant

Next Saturday, June 8th
Transport 5 Concert and Spaghetti Dinner
If you have not done so and plan to attend the dinner please RSVP to Tammy or directly to Linnea

Sunday, June 16th
One Service at 10:00 am
Confirmation Sunday
Pentecost Sunday

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

Friday, May 3, 2019

Wednesday Message

Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." (John 21.10-12a)

The gospel reading for this coming Sunday tells the story of yet another appearance of the resurrected Jesus to his disciples. In short it tells the story of a group of the followers going fishing but having no success at all during the night. A stranger on the shore tells them at dawn to "put the net down on the other side of the boat", a technique not unlike my grandpa wearing his hat backwards to change his luck on Carter's Pond. What didn't work for Grandpa, though, worked for the disciples. The nets threatened to split with the huge catch of fish. They realized the stranger was indeed Jesus.

One hundred fifty-three fish were caught, John tells us. My favorite explanation among the guesses for this seemingly odd number is that according to some there were 153 known nations in the world. Jesus' love and acts of redemption are for the whole world, caught up in the net of resurrection.

This matters to me because it clearly challenges all the limits and conditions humans expect to find in God's love. Can God only forgive you if you are of the right faith or say the right words? Can God only forgive those who have truly and completely forgiven their enemies? Does God expect to choose from those who have true faith without doubt? I hope not, for I am never sure of the right words, but, as the apostle Paul says, rely on the Spirit's intercession "with sighs too deep for words." This matters to me because I have discovered that a few days or weeks after I think I've truly forgiven and enemy and forgotten the harm they did to me, I will suddenly find myself steaming with anger as I remember how I have been forgiven. Indeed, again as Paul writes, the good I would do, I do not. This also matters to me in these days when words and bullets strive to divide and diminish God's people based on creed, color, language; whenever political gain is assumed to be found in hatred and conquest. This is important to me as I live my journey in faith marked more by doubt than certainty; especially true the further I travel in this journey.

I visited the World Trade Center Memorial a few years ago with my Campus Ministry students. I was amazed as I read the names etched in the boundary around the fountain at how many nationalities, colors and presumable faith traditions were represented in memory of that day of death and destruction. I felt God's love and grief for each and every one of God's created beings whose journeys came to an end on that day which started out to be so ordinary.

God's catch is 153; all the peoples of the world.

Along the way,

Pastor Dan


Wednesday 7:00 am Coffee Group at Starbucks in Bethany

Thursday    12:00 pm All church luncheon at Elmer's Restaurant

Friday        5:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday   9:30 am Choir rehearsal

Sunday      8:30 & 11:00 am worship services
                 Scrip Order Sunday  

This Sunday, between services
Committee Awareness Day
Tables are 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
Come join friends on a hike thru Washington Park and Council Crest area on 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.

Sunday, June 2 – Annual Meeting and election after service.
                      Please plan to attend.

Saturday, June 8 – Spaghetti dinner followed by return of Kevin Cope and the Transport 5 for a live concert.