Advent in July and December

It is sunny and warm … my pop up tent trailer is all set up … my dogs are begging to go swimming … my kayak is calling to me.  I have in front of me a pile of books and resources.  I have in front of me a spectacular view of Timothy Lake and Mount Hood. It is July and I have in front of me the task of creating the themes for worship during Advent.

I confess to feeling a bit of a disconnect between the scripture readings before me and all the lure of summer fun on the lake. I read all the Advent scripture readings but felt uninspired.  I looked up various Advent devotional and books and nothing spoke to me.  I gave in to the dogs desire to go for a swim, “Yes, Kula and Sandy, it is time for a break, let’s go swim.”  I read, reflected and prayed some more.  Then I gave in to my own desire to kayak, “Yes, Wendy, it is time for a break, let’s go for a paddle.

When I returned from my time on the lake, I read the gospel reading for Christmas Eve, Luke 2:1-20 and was struck by a few words spoken by the shepherds after receiving the tidings of good news from the angels, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place ….”  There was no longer a disconnect.

I realized that what I was hoping and praying for our season of Advent was that by the time we get to Christmas Eve, rather that being exhausted, we are ready to respond to the invitation of the angels with the same words as the shepherds, “Let us go.”  That we are ready to exclaim, “Yes, let’s go the manger.”

Each week fell into place:

  • “Let’s Go, Awake and Ready!”
  • “Let’s Go into the Wilderness”
  • “Let’s Go Jubilantly!”
  • “Let’s Go, Trusting the Promise!”

It is the prayer of your Open Door Clergy, Alyssa, Dan, Sandy and Wendy, that you find nurturance for your spirit this Advent season through the various worship services and inspiration for your Advent journey through the concerts, festivals and other activities.  It is our prayer that come Christmas Eve, you are ready to journey with the shepherds and proclaim, “Yes, let’s go to the manger!”

Blessings upon your Advent Season,

Wendy Woodworth

April Pastor’s Reflection (2017)

The Weaving Grows …

Our Lenten journey into the Lord’s prayer has been challenging at times and deeply meaningful. I must confess that I have not remembered to pray the Lord’s Prayer every day, but I have come close.

What I have been struck by most significantly is that the prayer is not all about me and my journey of faith, it is about the whole body of Christ that is praying this prayer throughout the world. We pray collectively as we say “Our Father … give us … forgive us and we forgive … lead us.” It is a prayer that people of faith are praying on behalf of the whole world and all the people’s of the world. We are praying that all have enough to eat and the basic needs of life. We are recognize the collective need for forgiveness especially as we look at issues of discrimination and injustice, both in the past and the present. We are praying that God’s kingdom — God’s reign — of peace, justice and love unfold throughout all the places of the world and that we are collaborators with God in bringing forth this reign.

As we have been sharing in different interpretations of the Lord’s Prayer each Sunday, I have decided to write my own.

Our Creator who spans heaven and earth,
We lift your name in praise.
Inspire and challenge us to bring forth
Your vision of heaven’s peace and grace
Upon all the places and peoples of the earth.
As we are blessed with our daily needs for water,
Bread and shelter, may we work to provide
The same for all your beloved children.
May we confess the acts of selfishness and harm
We have done to others,
Forgive those who have harmed us and
Open ourselves to receive your forgiveness that you freely offer.
May your Spirit work with in us to guide us away
From further acts of harm and destruction and
Turn us towards living faithfully.
For Your steadfast love and mercy endures forever. Amen.

Blessings upon you as you continue in this Lenten journey.

Pastor Wendy

March Pastor’s Reflection (2017)

The Weaving Grows…

How many times have you prayed the Lord’s Prayer? I am going to make a wild guess for myself and say I have prayed it at least 2,000 times and I wonder if it is much more. I suspect many of you have prayed it anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 times on a weekly bases and as much as 20,000 times if you pray it daily. Does it still hold meaning for you?

One of the things I always find meaningful is hearing the other voices with whom I am praying. Sometimes that voice is a young child or someone in the midst of their last days of life on earth or one who is simply going through a difficult time. The voices who are praying carry meaning for me which I appreciate as I can become careless and simply let the very familiar words roll off my tongue with little thought as to their meaning for my life of faith.

We have an opportunity this Lenten Season to reflect more deeply on the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. You will see from our worship schedule that each week we will have a phrase from the prayer be our focus. We will use different translations and versions of the Lord’s Prayer throughout Lent as well as experience it through music.

There is also a Lenten Class being offered based on the book, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of The Lord’s Prayer by John Dominic Crossan. This book will be informative and challenging as one review says, “Provides a satisfying blend of history, scholarship and theology, in researching the moral responsibilities that come with leading a Godly life.” In Crossan’s own words, he approaches the prayer as a “revolutionary manifesto and a hymn of hope. It is revolutionary because it presumes and proclaims the radical vision of justice that is the care of Israel’s biblical tradition. It is a hymn, because it presumes and produces poetic techniques that are the core of Israel’s biblical poetry.” I am looking forward to the rich dialogue we will have studying this book.

There are several opportunities to be part of a class:

  • Tuesdays at 1:30 pm at Clear Lake UMC beginning Feb. 24.
  • Tuesdays at 6:30 pm at Pastor Wendy’s home – 902 Mimosa St S beginning March 7.
  • Thursdays at 12:30 pm at Morningside UMC beginning March 2 as part of our Lunch, Bible and News Class.
  • Thursdays at 3:30 pm at Englewood UMC beginning March 2.

I will be leading the study at my home and at Morningside UMC. Books are $12 each and are on order – please sign up for a book on the bulletin board.  It is also available on Kindle.  I can find an extra copy for you as needed.

Blessings, Pastor Wendy