The session is hosting a community picnic this fall and you're invited! Please join us for our community picnic on Sunday, September 12, 2021, immediately following our worship service. Our service will be at 11am and the picnic will start around noon. In the event of rain, the picnic will be held on Sunday, September 19, 2021.
- Pastor Rebekah
This summer I have been preaching on each verse of the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth." But did you know that I have been using other songs for inspiration as well? Here is my summer 2021 sermon playlist!
In years past, it has been the norm that summer is a time of dormancy for the life of the church. Sunday School is over for the year, families travel, so worship attendance is down, services tend to be more casual. If this were a ‘normal’ year, that is what would be in our immediate future.
But, as we all know, we are in the midst of getting to know our new normal. After over a year of erring on the side of caution, social distancing, and not meeting in person for worship, it seems that we are now at a time we feel comfortable revving back up.
I have loved worshipping together over the past month. I understand and respect everyone’s decisions, to come or to stay home. We are doing our best to meet all of these needs. It is far from perfect, but my hope is that whether you come in person, or join in worshipping virtually, you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and the love of the community. At this time we feel like we can continue to worship in person on Sunday mornings, and we will continue to offer online options.
We will also be doing a book study over the summer. The book is called, “Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the United States.”
It is written by Rev. Lenny Duncan, who is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The purpose of studying this book is to help us, as a majority white congregation, see worship from a different perspective. This aids in our goal as a Matthew 25 congregation to work towards racial justice.
If you are interested in participating in this book study, please let me know and I will order the book for you. We will meet three times over the summer, Wednesday June 2, Wednesday June 23, and Wednesday July 14 at 7pm. Please prayerfully consider joining.
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.”
Grace and peace be with you,
The world is changing again. This time a year ago we were all under lock down, fearful of what the future would look like. In the past year we have lost loved ones, lost precious time, and learned how to cope. It seems like this past year has been a perpetual Good Friday – living in the reality of death. And yet, we have the promise of Easter. We have the promise of resurrection. As the flowers bloom, the birds sing, and the bunnies hop, we are reminded of new life, of hope. I, like so many of you, have received my vaccination. In fact, I received my second shot on Good Friday. (If you have not received your vaccination yet, I pray that you soon will.)
This truly is a new time. And yet, even on Easter we remember the pain of Good Friday. We remember the pain of death. We remember what has been lost. So, as we enter this time of new beginnings, this time of resurrection, I ask you to reflect on the question: what now? What do we do now, as people of faith? What happens now that we have entered this new time? What does it mean now that we are safer? What now?
We cannot go back, we can only go forward, so what will we do with this gift of newness? How will we embrace this new time? What now?
I pray God’s blessings upon you all as you discover what this newness means for you and for OPC. I pray that when we gather, we will be safe. I pray that we do not forget our time of Good Friday, even as we rejoice in the promise of Easter.
- Pastor Rebekah
Although we have just finished the Advent and Christmas seasons, Lent is quickly approaching. It amazes me every year how quickly the liturgical seasons fly by. I love how each season brings something new to the forefront of our hearts and minds. During advent we contemplate and anticipate the coming of Christ to this broken world. In Christmas time we celebrate the birth of our savior. In the summer we observe the order of the year with ordinary time. And during Lent we practice penitence and repentance.
As we come up on the year mark of the COVID pandemic I find myself contemplating what it means to repent of sins. While I like to think of myself as mostly a good person, the reality is I, along with everyone else who has and will ever live, have failed and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, I must repent. I must repent that many times I do not love my neighbor as myself. I must repent that many times I covet what my neighbors has. I must repent that many times I hold contempt in my heart especially as the year mark gets closer and closer.
While I repent, I trust in the mercy of God. I trust that Jesus lived and died so that we all might live. I trust that I am surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. During this liturgical season of Lent, I invite you to journey down this road of repentance. I invite you to spend time in prayer and meditation, trusting that the community of saints, and Jesus the savior will surround you as you seek repentance and know the grace of God.
The peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ be with you all!
- Pastor Rebekah
n Church and its members. Ms. Caroline Pastor Rebekah
Things I am grateful for at OPC
Time shared in worship
Helping one another without question
Answer God’s call together Not giving up in times of trial
Kindred spirits, united in Christ
Serving the larger community
Giving of our time and talents
Inviting the Spirit in
Visiting, volunteering, venturing Interpreting the scriptures through love
Navigating this new season
Giving ourselves to God
- Pastor Rebekah
It has been over six months since we have gathered together in worship. In those six months we have improvised, and organized new ways to worship.
I hope that you have been able to experience worship through our YouTube services. I hope that you have experienced community through phone calls and letters. I hope that your spirit has been filled by prayer meetings, devotion time, and theological discussions. I hope you have felt the spirit moving these past six months.
After much prayer and discernment, the safety team has deemed that we are at a point where it is safe to gather once again. In October OPC will have a soft reopening. This means that we will ease our way back into a time of gathering. Specifically here is what this will look like:
Oct 4: we will have another drive-thru communion service. There will be a pre-recorded worship service on the website and the Facebook page, where the word will be proclaimed and the words of institution spoken. After you have participated in that service, you are invited to come to the parking lot to receive pre-packaged communion elements between 10-11 that morning. Please wear a mask and remain in your car for this part of the service.
Oct 11: we will have an outside Blessing of the Animals service. We will gather at 11 in the playground area for this service. If you feel so called, please bring your pet, or a picture of your pet with you to be blessed. Again, please wear a mask and practice social distancing for the duration of this service.
Oct 18: Chelsea, our music director, will host an hour long organ concert in the sanctuary at 11. Please come and go as you please. This will be a contemplative service with no talking or singing. Again, please wear a mask and practice social distancing for the duration of this service. The safety team will be present to guide us in our safety procedures.
Oct 25: we will have an informal gathering for about 15 minutes starting at 11 that morning. There will be music but no singing, prayer but no speaking. Again, please wear a mask and practice social distancing for the duration of this service. The safety team will be present to guide us in our safety procedures.
For all of these Sundays, there will also be a service available on the website and the Facebook page for those who are unable to attend in person. The risk of COVID is still very present, and the safety team is doing everything in its power to keep us all safe in this time of pandemic.
I would like to thank the members of the safety team, Lynn Clements, Mike Saxton, May Saxton, Robert Kendall, Amy McClung, and Buckshot Clements, who have worked diligently for months to plan and prepare for this time.
Thank you and God bless!
- Pastor Rebekah
Let’s talk about stewardship!
Maybe it seems a bit early in the year to have such a discussion, but really, we are stewards of God’s good gifts all year long, so why not talk about them all year long?
Last year’s stewardship campaign was “I love to tell the story.” We talked about how God has provided for humanity since the very beginning, and continues to provide for us even today. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, and great losses, and society tension, God is providing.
God provides space for us to have difficult but deep conversations. God provides us resources to be God’s hands and feet in this world. God provides us hearts and minds that seek to do God’s will. God provides.
The question of stewardship is - what will we do with all that God has provided? What will we do with the time, the talents, the treasures, the influence, the privileges we have been given? As disciples, as good stewards, these are the questions we must ask ourselves all year long.
So as we continue in this unprecedented year, let’s consider these questions in unprecedented ways. As the story of God’s love continues to be told, let us do our part in the story. Let’s keep telling the story, let’s love to tell the story.
That is what my Homiletics professor would say to someone who would get fixated on something that really wasn’t that big of a deal. For example, my class was setting up the sanctuary for a service and two of my classmates were having a heated discussion of where the candles should be placed. “Folks, it’s adiaphora,” my professor chimed in.
She wasn’t trying to be dismissive or curt, she was trying to remind us all that there are things that are necessary and important to stand up for, and then there are things that are adiaphora. These are things that are not essential to the Christian faith, such as the placement of candles.
Because we are not able to meet together and have our usual worship service, or do our usual mission projects, or have our usual meetings, we have been forced to change and reconsider how we do things. We are starting to see what really is adiaphora.
We have started a new sermon series, “The Essentials.” During this time we will be looking at bible stories that show us what God thinks is essential. We will look at stories about community, faithfulness, and love. We will see how God calls us to lift one another up, support one another, and love one another throughout all seasons of life.
In 2 Corinthians Paul talks about things that are essential to life. He says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Of all the things God gifts us, of all the things we have the ability to do, the greatest is love.
Now that we are in a time when we are unable to meet, and be near one another, let us always remember that the one things that is essential above all else to to love God and to love our neighbor. Until we meet again, grace and peace be with you.
- Pastor Rebekah
- John 11:35
Most of us are familiar with this verse because it is the shortest verse the the Bible. But today, let’s talk about how pertinent and meaningful this verse is. Today, more than ever, this verse speaks to me. During this time of pandemic there are some days I need to weep.
I need to mourn the loss of expectations. I’m mourning for all the students and teacher who are missing out on their school year. I am mourning for those who have lost their source of income and for those who are working too long hours right in the face of danger. I am mourning for those who have lost their lives and who will lose their lives because of this. I am mourning for the future that will not be, and the uncertainty of the future to come.
And I know that Jesus is mourning too. So, if you are feeling like you need to grieve during this time, know you are not alone. Know that Christ is with you as you mourn; know that Christ is present while you grieve. My former professor Dr. Bill Greenway said recently that we are in a worldwide season of lent. We are in a time of lament. God laments with us. And God continues to love us. God is present with us in this time of grief.
Take the time you need to mourn and grieve, and also take time to look for the love of God in your life. I see the love of God in the gift of spring. New life abounds and the sun still shines. I see the love of God in you all as we rally together to support one another. I love you all with the love of the Lord. Until we are together again, peace be with you,
- Pastor Rebekah