. Enjoy the nearness of the Holy One and receive the good news.
Monday 2/19: Read Gen 6: 5-6 and 9: 8-17
Question: How many times today do you hear a unique news item about a violent human encounter? (murder, armed robbery, rape, shot, killed, etc.) How many times do you hear a “good news” story?
Pray: O Lord, have mercy. My grief is great, my heart is heavy. Lord, have mercy. Bless me that I may be a bearer of good news for your people. In Christ, I pray. Amen.
Tuesday 2/20: Read Gen 6: 5-6 and 9:8-17
Make a peace jar. For every time you hear or say the words, “kill,” “shoot,” or related words of violence, even as a joke – ‘you kill me, you’re so funny,’ – deposit a quarter. Do this throughout Lent.
Pray: O Lord, have mercy. My grief is great, my heart is heavy. Lord, have mercy. Bless me that I may be a bearer of good news for your people. In Christ, I pray. Amen.
Wednesday am 2:21: Read Ps 25: 1-10
Question: Do you remember a “sin of your youth?” Confess it to God. Write it down. Tear up the paper into as many pieces as possible and throw it away. Reread verse 7 and say aloud, “O my God, in you I trust.”
Pray: God of love, grant me a teachable spirit. Help me follow your path of steadfast love and faithfulness.
Wednesday pm 2:21: Read Ps 25: 1-10
Question: Who are your “enemies?” Are they flesh and blood or disease, aging, personal struggles, your own self-talk? All of this or something else entirely? Name your enemies.
Pray: God of love, do not let my enemies exult over me. Grant me a teachable spirit. Help me follow your path of steadfast love and faithfulness.
Thursday 2/22: Read 1 Peter 3: 18-22
Tell someone what you know or remember about you baptism. Wonder together why it matters today that you were baptized.
Pray: God of the waters, thank you for delivering me through the flood.
Friday 2/23: Read Mark 1:9-15
Who are those around you that call you “beloved?” Call, text, or write them a brief note to tell them you love them.
Pray: God in heaven, may I become your voice for someone who needs to hear the words, “you are loved.”
Come to worship the God of love at “Gospel @ The Rock.”
Saturday 2:24: Read Mark 1:9-15
Share good news of any kind with 3 people today.
Pray: Bless me that I may be a bearer of good news.
Sunday 2:25: Come to worship the God of Love at Sanctuary Worship.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Keeping it? Do you traditionally “give up” something during Lent? Want to?
For the next 6 weeks, the Christian church observes a season of fasting and prayer focused on self-examination. We’ll pick up six themes. You are invited to spend time during the week with the Scriptures and a question towards considering that theme. The hope is to come to end feeling more centered in God and less scattered in the world.
And another thing, our thoughts and prayers are clearly not what God calls us to in the words of Isaiah 58. God pushes us out of the boat of safety from the storm and into the chaotic waters of serving others. Prayers are critical for the strength we need to move forward in action. They are not the remedy God demands when sin abounds. Thoughts for the wounded must remain upon us to move our feet. But thoughts are not the consolation we give to the needy when evil erupts in violence. This movement from prayer, and thought, to active service will be the Lenten theme. We will be regularly invited to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, even at the risk of our own lives.
Set aside 12 minutes every day for reflection.
February 14-18, 2018
Read this Scripture every day: Isaiah 58: 1-12
Review what you ate and the cost. FYI: The Atlanta Food Bank provides $9 of food or 4 meals for every dollar donated.
Question 1: How much food do I throw away and can I reduce the waste? Write down how much you save between now and Sunday.
Thursday 2/15: Count the number of garments you have worn in the last week. Then count the number of garments you own for this particular season.
Come to Gospel @ The Rock Worship.
Question 2: Can I donate 10%, a tithe, to a clothes closet? If so, shall I do so?
Friday 2/16: Go into each of the rooms in your home and remember something special that happened here. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for your home when you are finished. FYI: Clifton Presbyterian Church began a homeless ministry in 1979 that continues this day even though the church closed in 2003.
Question 3: To whom have I offered “shelter” when they were in need of a safe place to land?
Saturday 2/17: Say a prayer by name for your living relatives.
Question 4: Is there anyone for whom I harbor anger? Is there anyone from whom I am “hiding?” Imagine reconciling and write a letter of forgiveness, even if you never mail it.
Sunday 2/18: Come to Sanctuary Worship.
“Who are you,” asks the children’s catechism. The response is, “I am a child of God.” We are then to know that we are children of God because we belong to God who loves us. As we grow up and continue to learn about our faith, there is another answer for this question of what makes us children of God. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says peacemakers are children of God. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, he explains that our ministry is the same as Christ’s ministry: reconciliation.
The Prince of Peace calls us to become peacemakers and to work for reconciliation just as Christ does. This theme runs through the Biblical witness regarding God’s intention for humankind.
When I was a teenager one of the popular songs in church was, “Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now….” This sentiment and calling still tugs at me.
When I preside at the communion of the church in Christ’s name and at God’s table, it is a daunting experience. I truly believe that everyone is invited. Which means that sometimes I am uncomfortable when I think about who might sit next to me in coming reign of Christ. Maybe the person next to me bullied me. Maybe I thought that person across the table was mean. What if I am afraid of that person? What if that one there did something really heinous and violent? What if I just think they’re snobs and won’t like me so I don’t like them?
See the problem? That thinking is all about me, and not about the life and work of Christ. It is all about becoming God the Judge instead allowing God to be my loving parent.
The miracle of grace we have in Christ is this: no one is excluded and yet everything evil is purged by God such that the guests of God are blameless before their host through the life and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Even me.
I am welcomed and healed as well. Healed of my hatred,
my judgements, my desire for punishment for those evildoers, and ultimately, healed of my own evil-doings. Everything that disrupts peace is removed so that I can see
both the image of God in my fellow dinner guests and the
image of God in the mirror as well.
We come to the table of grace now not because we are already free of the grip of sin but because we know none of us can be eternally in its grasp. We belong to God, who loves us. We have been reconciled to God in Christ. We come to be nourished for the job of making peace. We come to practice peacemaking at this table. We come to remember that we all belong together.
Bring your “despicable me.” I’ll bring mine. Let peace begin, here, now, between us.
In Christ, through Christ, for Christ,
Recently some friends of friends of Facebook friends were lamenting the possibility of Rock Spring closing and selling to a developer. If you were one of those people, please be aware there is a lot of inaccurate information about the sale on that thread. RSPC does have a contract to sell property behind the church and we did approve a new proposal that will create 9 single-family homes, which the buyer will likely present as part of a rezoning application. The property where the manse sits has already been sold and closed and the house is occupied by tenants not affiliated with the church.
Back to the Facebook commentary, one person said they attended our worship and paraphrasing her, she posted, “they need people.” Another person suggested the church start a GoFundMe campaign. Another cited our denominational affiliation as the problem.
Sorrows about an historical property selling out and a few solutions offered—all by interested but not currently affiliated friends and neighbors. Three ideas proposed for the church: people, money, change of identity.
Let’s start with the identity question. We are a church of Jesus Christ. This is our primary loyalty. As a progressive church situated between two less progressive religious institutions, we offer our community another face of God. As a welcoming church we are open to doubters and people with questions. It is our hope that intellectual engagement with great questions of faith will lead to personal exploration that is spiritually enriching. We do put devotion before dogma and righteousness before rightness.
If you want to think about meaning and purpose and if you want a community building relationships across the divides society imposes, if you want a place where hope for the future is believed, RSPC may be for you.
And we are also Presbyterian, PCUSA, without apology. There’s room for you, if not with us, with another PCUSA congregation in Atlanta where there are more than 30,000 of us worshipping in many different styles and representing different understandings of God’s word to us. Let us help you find your place.
Which leads to the question about membership. Yes, we are small and we need more friends. If you do, too, you are welcome, no matter who you are, who you love or who you think God is. Because we are all made in God’s image, we need everyone together to get a sense of who our Creator is in full.
Membership at RSPC is less important than participants. We’re less interested in whether you join us and more interested in joining you on this journey of life.
So what do you need? We’re really good at organizing events—do you have a philanthropy near and dear to your heart—let us help you go bigger. Do you want to know more about the God of the Bible but are done with hatred and judgment—come meet the God of reconciliation who wants people to get along even if they have different opinions. Do you want to offer a few hours here and there changing the world one person at a time? Volunteer for our sandwich ministry or one of the advocacy training groups we support.
Money—who doesn’t need money? We do not have a GoFundMe page because we have a GoFundMe moment every Sunday. We believe the administration of the church is the responsibility of the members of the church. BUT, anyone who wants to invest in the mission of RSPC is welcome to send us a contribution. You can even designate your gift. So, yea, Go Fund Us at the address and office hours below.
Back to the thread prompting this post:
Yes, the church sold some property;
Yes, we’d love more people to be part of the ongoing history of this people of faith—you are all welcome;
Yes, we’d be grateful for your investment in creating a better world through our ministry with your time, talents, or tithes (money);
Yes, we’d love to get to know you!
No, we can’t do it alone, so if you think our history has a future that you can be part of,
What are you waiting for? Say yes.
Sundays: Book Study – 10:00 a.m. We Make the Road By Walking, by Brian McLaren
Sanctuary Worship – 11:00 a.m.
Thursdays: Gospel at The Rock –G@TR-- a praise and conversation time with our Bluegrass band, in the Loudermilk building
For our full calendar go to www.rspc.org or www.facebook.com/RockSpringPresChurch/
Our address: 1824 Piedmont Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30324
If you have any questions about our ministry, please call me. I’m the pastor and I look forward to meeting you.
Rev. Beverly Friedlander as our contract call pastor. Rev. Bev has served a number of churches as an Interim Ministry Specialist and has served in grief ministry for hospice. The good news is the ever-present God, who meets us in joy and sorrow to be our peace.
Rock Spring Presbyterian Church at 1824 Piedmont Ave NE Atlanta has been presenting a live nativity scene in the days directly preceding Christmas continuously for over 60 years. 2017 makes it 64 years in a row, the longest continuous Live Nativity in Atlanta history. On Saturday December 23rd the Live Nativity begins at 6:30pm and goes on (in half hour shifts) until 8:00pm. On Sunday December 24th, Christmas Eve, the Live Nativity starts at 6:30pm and goes 'til 8:30pm. The evening concludes with a candlelight communion Christmas eve worship service in the beautiful historic sanctuary beginning at 8:45pm.
Early each December the stable is erected in the front yard of the church directly across from Piedmont Heights neighborhood Fat Matt's Rib Shack. A split rail fence encloses the area around the stable where the live animals will be during the scene (usually sheep, goats and a donkey).During the Live Nativity Scene live costumed volunteers come out to the stable and play their parts (shepherds, kings, Mary, Joseph, Angel) as recorded music is played and scripture depicting the birth narrative of Jesus is read. This scene is repeated in half hour shifts and at the end of each scene the people viewing the Live Nativity are invited inside the church for festive food, hot drinks, fellowship and music in fellowship hall.
This Atlanta Christmas tradition is free and open to the public. Parking is at the back of the church. In addition to the Live Nativity outside and food and festivities in Fellowship Hall inside, the church sanctuary will be also be open during the Live Nativity with guided tours available. As Barbara Wright Cheshire says in her book The Spirit of Rock Spring, "It [The Live Nativity Scene] is a heart-felt gift of love from Rock Spring Presbyterian Church to the community."
New day and time for Rock Spring's Bluegrass Gospel Service
Starting Thursday evening December 7th and weekly thereafter sounds of Bluegrass will ring from the Loudermilk building behind the main building of Rock Spring Presbyterian Church at 1824 Piedmont Ave NE. Begun about 5 years ago, this casual service was on Sunday mornings and now after a short hiatus it is back in the saddle but now on Thursday evenings from 7:30pm-8:15pm. It features bluegrass music, scripture and prayer and includes rousing sing a longs, traditional tunes and house made favorites.
With couches and chairs instead of pews and an overall casual atmosphere Gospel at the Rock (GATR) offers a discussion oriented approach to scripture, encourages acting on one's faith, and praises our creator through music that can quicken anyone's pulse.
If you are curious about Christianity but are intimidated by imagines of churches in the media (judgmental, rigid, scary) come visit Gospel at the Rock. We are a welcoming group of bluegrass loving musicians and friends who enjoy music, one another and have the love of Christ in our hearts.
If you are already a Christian and want to experience a different, more casual, faith community, you are welcome too.
Last night Rock Spring held a candlelight vigil for peace and unity. A week after the mass shooting at a church in a small community outside San Antonio Texas we opened our sanctuary doors to our Piedmont Heights community and congregation for a time of lamenting and grieving those killed through acts of violence and also a time to contemplate peace in the world and in ourselves.
Those present could light a candle for people and situations that are affected by violence. I found myself lighting candles for and thinking about and grieving for those of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and for those of Emanual AME church in Charleston, SC. I lit candles for people affected by domestic violence and targeted by sexual predators. I lit candles for those people whose stories of violence I don't know. I lit candles for those affected by violence caused by forces of nature: hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis...
We were offered a handout out to guide of meditations (see below) and it lead me to redirect my thoughts after grieving to consider the concept of peace and to inventory where I find it in myself and in my life. It challenged me to be open to how I might become more of an "instrument of peace" for myself and others.
If you missed our candlelight vigil consider having one of your own, at home. Use the rubric below.
A Vigil is a time set apart for lamenting and grief and also for watching and waiting.
In a quiet setting:
Heresy. Other than speaking of historical, and often ancient controversies, I have not used this word. I have spoken of the Declaration of Barmen, and the Belhar Confession, both of which address contemporary heresies of segregation and racial hatred in Nazi-era Germany and Apartheid-era South Africa, but I have not discussed religious expressions as heresy regarding current events at any time in my ministry.
What follows is a more refined statement of my unrehearsed words about the abhorrent displays of racism in Charlottesville, VA.
This is not a statement of faith from the members of the church nor their elected leaders, called the Session and elders. This is my pastoral discourse about white supremacy and white nationalism.
Yesterday, Sunday, August 13, 2017, with gratitude of the call to the preaching ministry of this particular church, I prayerfully waded into deep waters with many other white pastors across this nation, and declared to our mostly white congregants that
White Supremacy, White Nationalism, and the pursuit of white race based policies promulgated by people in the name of Christianity are heresies.
They are not faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the grace and love of God for God’s beloved creation, nor the ongoing work of reconciliation in the Holy Spirit. The Triune God of Christian faith is not, I repeat, not compatible with any form of differentiation that pits “white against black” and claims or enforces any form of superiority for whites. To believe in white supremacy is to believe in an idol and to reject our God.
We are all one in Jesus Christ our Lord who teaches us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no love in demeaning another person, in word or action, for the color of their skin. There is nothing inherently good about classifying oneself as being white, and nothing inherently bad in being classified as black.
From Genesis and God’s idea to create humankind in the image of the divine and Holy One, to the ministry of Christ that reconciled all divisions between peoples into one new human being, to the birth of a religion called Christianity that recognized no differences between “Jew and Greek” and claimed one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, the witness of the Holy Spirit in the Bible is for our common inheritance as beloved children of God, without distinction.
However, there are privileges associated with whiteness in America that create an unequal and unjust system of socioeconomic power and freedom suggesting a special blessing upon white people. This is a false blessing. It is not an endowment by our Creator. The advantages have occurred due to inequality begun in this nation with the enslavement and domination of a subjected, kidnapped, and imprisoned people from the nations of Africa. Chained to their owners, they were subjected to patriarchal religious oppression by their white slave masters and clergy. Yet, the descendants of these slaves who came to believe in Christ have much to offer whites just as Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, came to rescue the Israelite people of ancient times. If white people will listen and learn.
For white Christians, some faithful responses to the hatred, bigotry, and idolatry of white supremacy is to actively work toward racial reconciliation and communion, to actively understand the nature of racism and its roots in American society, to actively uncover one’s own biases and advantages with an eye toward repairing the breech that prevents black and African-American people from being able to achieve the same positive outcomes from the same level of opportunity and efforts.
The best chance for success in any of these avenues is in conversation, in truth-telling, in the painful honest dialogue between white and black citizens. Go, learn, grow.
Or come to Rock Spring Presbyterian and grow with us.
This week we will prayerfully consider the 3 words of our goal: Justice, Mercy, and Humility (faithfulness), and the 4 words I introduced as a posture for achieving those: Welcome, Authenticity, Laughter, Love (building the WALL).